The French Revolution For Dummies

Eugene Delacroix: La liberte guidant le peuple

The wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn’t believe what I’d become

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

ColdPlay:Viva La Vida

I bring you basically a dummies guide to the French Revolution, we could go into much more detail. This would of course go against one of the core aims of the History Guys Project to provide history for the general public to pick up and read. The Reasoning for the ColdPlay song is pretty clear, as in a way it is a micro history of the storming of the Bastille and also the be heading of King Louis XVI. The Birth of a Republic, grown from the lower classes, not like the American Revolution started by a bunch of wealthy middle class slave and business owners. In a sense both can be called a Republic that was just my personal view of course. There is a lot to cover so  pointing out the main facts.

The Basics :

1789: With the economic fall out of the American War of Independence , King Louis XVI needed to in a sense pay back loans and maintain Frances powerful fleet, and funds which helped the American war effort. (American history in their schools never give the Prussians and the French enough credit). This meant that he had to go to the Nobility for the funds, which the clergy had certain tax breaks from in a sense. The Third Estate had to carry most of the burden.( for Estate system see below).

The Estate system:

First: Clergy

Second: Nobility

Third: Common People

The Calls for the Third Estate to get greater political power, was frowned upon by the Second and First. This mounted pressure on the King to stop any threat of uprising.  27th June 1789 The National Assembly created. Followed Quickly by Georges Lefebure, Declaration of the Rights of man, the circulation of this paper was astronomic. The first edition can still be seen under lock and guard in the Paris Archives today, but with special privileges.

The Assembly was run by Mirabeau, in some of the Kings inner circle he was seen as a radical of some sorts. Mary Antoinette’s wanted him replaced as she feared her husband’s power was being eroded. Baron de Bretenil replaced Mirabeau. This caused political problems especially in Paris. At the time the country was in a way starving, the Price of wheat and Grain was high and people could not even afford bread. Problems where brewing.

Antoinette’s statement of “Let them Eat cake” is not true .

Storming of the Bastille 

The 14th July 1789, a group of people started to march towards the Bastille the power and symbol of Bourbon rule in France. The interesting fact is that no one knows why this group started to march towards the Bastille on that day it just sort of happened.  The rest as you know is History. “Housing only seven old men annoyed by all the disturbance: four forgers, two “lunatics” and one “deviant” aristocrat”


1791: New French constitution adopted which included some form of the Rights of man. France became in a sense a Constitutional Monarchy.

1791: Alliance between Austria (King Leopold II) and Prussia ( Friedrich William II) wanted to move against France but not without British help.

1792: The Revolutionary Wars begin. King Louis arrested as he tries to flee.

                          22nd September: proclamation of the Republic

 21st January 1793: King Louis and Mary Antoinette executed.

Cool Facts:

La Marseillaise (French National Anthem) Came from the aftermath of the Revolution

The whole of Paris during the Great terror smelt of blood and guts

Set the Basis for the Human Rights laws, through the declaration of the Rights of man

The metric System became adopted in France and Europe during the following wars…thank you France

Below is the Death of King Louis XVI ( what is not shown is that by this time the square was soaked in blood, people even put bits of clothing into the kings blood, as a keep sake)