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Französische Revolution - 4.Version - Referat

The French Revolution
Before the French Revolution began, France was divided into three Estates, the clergy, the nobility and the Third Estate. 98% of the total population were counted into the Third Estate. These people had just about 1/3 of the landed property, but had to pay about 90% of the taxes, which were collected in France. At that time France had a monarchy and Louis XVI was like its head. He was king and married to Marie Antoinette, who was born in Austria and daughter of an emperor. In year 1708 there was a terrible winter in France. The harvests were destroyed and the population had to starve (in this case: hungern). 1780 France was in desperate need of money, so elections for the Estates-General, where a solution for the shortages may be able to have been found, were ordered and on the 5th May, 1789 the Estates-General met at Versailles. But the king was against it and so the the meeting got closed down. On the 7th June, they went to a tennis court and made the tennis court oath, in which it was decided, that the members wouldn’t leave the place, until a constitution would have been drawn up. So the king legalized the National Assembly. But the French got more and more desperate and couldn’t wait any longer, so they started the storming of castles and manors and burned feudal documents, which would have made them free and independent of their (land-) lords, if they have destroyed them. 1789 the citizens got the Declaration of the rights and 1791 also of Women and Citizen. They got the right to be equal, free, to have an own opinion, to do everything, which doesn’t injure someone else, etc. Then, during the night of 20-21 of 1791, Louis tried to escape out of France to Montmedy, near the Austrian Netherlands, to let other absolute monarchs invade France, put down the Revolution and then he would get back to France as an absolute monarch. But the plan, his wife Marie had created, was filled with problems and on June the 22nd, he and his family got captured and brought back to Paris. Now there was the question, what they should do with Louis XVI? France decided to make him constitutional monarch in their new constitution. So he just had the power to appoint or dismiss minister, and the power, which he had before the constitution was drawn up, now was divided into the legislative, the judicial and the executive branch. In April 1792 war on Austria was declared by Louis and the Legislative Assembly. Louis’s plan was to re-establish the monarchy. But anyhow, Louis’s enemies convicted the Legislative Assembly and his contacts to fled nobles and the Austrian emperor became known and in December 1792, King Louis XVI wasn’t more than `Citizen Louis Capet’. In January 1793 Louis was executed. The war against Austria brought many hard soluble problems like unemployment; bad harvests and the consequence of this were higher getting prices and a peasant revolt
in Vendee in March 1793. In the same year in August, the new radical Jacobin government declared that “Terror is the order of the day”. Many people died, because they could have been guillotined by having been charged by someone else, for something they might not have done. One of the most surprising supporters of the Terror was Maximilien Robespierre, who first defended the poor folk. But as the Terror, in 1794 came to an end, Robespierre found his death on July the 28th 1794, after having been arrested, at the guillotine. After the Terror was over, the Jacobins and Sans-Calottes were out of power and a new constitution, which would have been accepted by the French people, should have been created. So five Directors were elected to be the leaders of the government and look for the laws to be carried out correctly. But again problems turned up and France reached crisis point, what meant that the government had no money, because of costly foreign wars, the armies weren’t enough defeated in wars in Italy, food shortages, etc. That was the reason why one of the Directors searched for an involved leader to control France. Napoleon Bonaparte, born in 1769, was at that time, the most successful military general, so he was chosen to get back to Paris and leave his armies, still fighting in Egypt, in November 1799 and after a new constitution was introduced, following the `coup d’ e’tat’, he got First Consul of France. Five years later in December 1804 he crowned himself emperor, in the presence of the pope and though he made himself emperor on his own, he got encouragement of the French. During his term of office, he created rights for men and women, called Code Napole’on, which made life more liveable, but in many cases, like the freedom of speech, because he had the power to decide, what was allowed to say and what not, more difficult.

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