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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
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Flag of France

- World History -
The French Revolution and
The Napoleonic Era

The French Revolution
The Reign of Terror and the Guillotine

The Guillotine
Similar machines had been used in Scotland, Germany, and Italy. In France, the guillotine became the accepted method of execution following tests on sheep and cadavers. Joseph Guillotine, a doctor, suggested its use for all executions, because it was a quick, painless death. Prior to this, only nobility had the option to die this way. After an execution, two men would toss the body into a large basket, while a third would do the same to the head. With well-known people, the executioner would hold up the head and the people would cheer.

The guillotine became the preferred method of execution and became known as "The National Razor."

The Reign of Terror
There was a radical takeover of the government to create a Republic. This was called the "Reign of Terror." It was controlled by the Committee of Public Safety - the Jacobins. Robospierre ran the country. He got an army of 800,000. It was the biggest army ever, in Europe, up to that time. Between 20,000 - 40,000 people were executed. At their trials, they could not speak in their own defense. The victims were clergy, aristocracy, and common people. Anyone who disagreed with the Jacobins was a "threat to the Republic."

18th-century political cartoon
Louis XVI's plans to escape from Paris across the border into Austria failed after he was captured at Varennes.

The king and queen tried to escape to Austrian-held Netherlands dressed as common people, but were caught. When they were returned to Paris, the soldiers wouldn't salute, people didn't remove their hats, and the people were silent. The royalty had lost all support of the people.

Marie Antoinette execution
Marie Antoinette showed great courage at her trial, but was executed in October 1793.

The king was guillotined on January 21, 1793 - by one vote of the National Convention - for being a threat to the Republic. The queen was guillotined nine months later.

Louis XVI execution
A guard holds the severed head of King Louis XVI for the crowd to see.
Moments later, thousands of triumphant citizens yelled, "Vive la Republique."

She accidentally stepped on the foot of the executioner and apologized. She never said, "Let them eat cake." That came from a Rosseau writing published before she was born. Little Louis died in prison in 1795 at the age of ten.

Robespierre wounded
Robespierre lies wounded before the Revolutionary Tribunal.

Christianity was banned for awhile. Robespierre even executed some of his fellow leaders. Danton and others were executed in 1794.

Danton execution
As Danton approaches the scaffold, he predicts that the people will
turn against Robespierre in less than three months.

Thermidorian Reaction
In 1794, the Bourgeosie arrested and executed Robespierre. The Revolution began to swing back to the moderates.

The Directory
France had a new Constitution in 1795. It was now a Republic, but weak. People were mad because there were severe economic problems.

Results of the French Revolution
The French Revolution ended feudalism, absolute monarchy, and the special privileges of the nobles and clergy. The Constitution guaranteed individual rights (lost during the Reign of Terror). The Bourgeosie gained power and became the most powerful class in France. They started "Nationalism," the love of country, instead of love for a monarch or small group.

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The French Revolution
1. The Old Regime and the Estates General

2. Tennis Court Oath / Storming of the Bastille

3. The Reign of Terror and the Guillotine

The Napoleonic Era
4. The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte

5. Napoleon's Problems /
Results on Europe of the Napoleonic Era

Related Information
Marseillaise, the National Anthem of France

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Historical Periods of
World History Class Study

| Prehistory | Mesopotamia & Phoenicians |
| Ancient Egypt | Greece | Rome |
| Medieval History | Renaissance and Reformation |
| Exploration | National Monarchies |
| The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment |
| Colonial America and American Revolution |
| The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era



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