French Revolution



Approx. 1789

The catalyst of most revolutions is the gaining of some type of knowledge, in this case, it is the enlightenment which provided in the French Revolution new ideas of the unnecessary monarchy. The enlightenment was brought on by the Renaissance and caused new ideas to form about the 3 estates that were heavily enforced within the French society along with hunger that was sweeping through the country at the exact same time. All these factors made the situation highly likely to revolt due to the exasperated opinions of the third estate members that were suffering due to the other two states. this led to multiple different events that caused a strengthening in the revolution such as the storming of the Bastille and the Women's March. these situations strengthened the revolution all due to the working of enlightenment writers such as John Locke and many others. these people were one of the most influential members of the French Revolution since they catalyzed other revolutions such as American along with the French.

Robespierre Reign of Power

April 1789 - July 28, 1794

Within the French Revolution, there were many forms of leadership that were inevitably turned upon such as Louis XVI Napoleon end and then eventually Robespierre. All of these leaders took very different stances yet they all were killed by their people. Robespierre was the leader of the revolution in my opinion and was the main reason it spread through France as well as it did. If it wasn't for him and Maret the revolution wouldn't have ended up like so. Prior to Robespierre joining the Jacobins, he was a lawyer, therefore, he had prior speak experience. Once joining the Jacobins he led the revolution through spreading the radical ideas through the group and created a political power that was capable enough to set the City of Paris into a frenzy. Robespierre's words were eventually his downfall and ironically shot himself in the jaw for it. After his unsuccessful suicide, he was killed at the guillotine which he did to himself since he was one of the main influences that caused the reign of terror/guillotine.

Meeting of the Estates General

May 5, 1789

The calling of the Estates General was a significant moment in the history of the French Revolution since it was quite rare that all three Estates were called to have vote due to its being rarely used and was last used in 1614. The Estates General was the congregation of the 3 Estates (clergy nobility and peasants) to be called and have a vote on certain political matters, in this case, it was discussing the financial taxation of the population of France. One of the larger factors of the Revolution was the starvation of the people and this was an attempt from the Third Estate to fix it. They eventually fail at it and make the Tennis Court Oath which forms the National Assembly which evolved into the National Convention and then into the directory and then eventually falls into Napoleon's control and back into the old monarchy system. Either way, the Estates General was highly flawed due to it was a voting system of where 3% of the population got two votes out of 3 and then the 97% got one vote out of 3. Overall the rich always out ruled the poor which was the majority.

Tennis Court Oath/Creation of the National Assembly

20 June 1789

The Tennis Court Oath and the National Assembly was one of the first political movement that truly altered the course that the Revolution that was taking a step into the right direction before it was inevitably corrupted. The Tennis Court Oath was an act of defiance to the Estates General and the monarchy due to them being excluded from the meeting to discuss political matters that affected them the most. The Tennis Court Oath was the initial stepping stones that led to the creation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and other belief that spread throughout the revolution reading it even stronger. In my opinion, this was one of the more pure portions of the Revolution since it was an idea that was based only on saving others from hunger and oppression.

Attack on the Bastille

14 July 1789

Declaration of the Rights of Man

August 26, 1789

Women’s March to Versailles

October 5, 1789

Another effect of food shortages within this time period in France was the Woman's March to Versailles. The hoarding of food within the palace caused outrage within the community and greatly affected the “fish woman” of the poor regions of France. After storming the Bastille the rest of nobility was still remaining within the Versailles. This again caused the outrage since everyone believed that they were holding grain and eventually all the pent-up contempt for the King and Queen was released and storming the palace. This resulted in the women storming the castle killing multiple guards and then inevitably catching the king and queen taking them to Paris and then leaving the palace ransacked of grain and abandoned. This was one of the first instances where the nobility was affected by the food shortages. Ironically it was not due to hunger but more so that they were responsible for others hunger and therefore caused the rage that started the demise of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.

Jacobins and Sans-culottes

October 6, 1789 - 11 November 1794


1791 - 1793

National Convention

September 20 1792 - October 26, 1795

Execution of Louis XVI

January 21, 1793

The Committee of Public Safety

April 1793 - July 27th, 1794

Reign of Terror/Guillotine

September 5, 1793 - July 28, 1794

Execution of Marie Antoinette

October 16, 1793

Adoption of the Tricolore

15 February 1794

The Thermidorian Reaction

27 July 1794

la Marseillaise


French Directory

2 November 1795 - 10 November 1799

The directory was the government that ruled during the period of the Revolution and took control after the reign of terror and was the span of time where there were no other factors being involved such as Robespierre, the Council of Public Safety, the Jacobins and before Napoleon takes over. The Directory was a transitional government between the National Convention and then evolved into the Napoleonic era. Similar on how the National Assembly transferred into the National Convention the National Convention transferred into the Directory. This constant change of power increased the instability of howl France was dealing with the revolution and warfare with other nations. This resulted eventually in the coup that Napoleon achieved because of the instability at the time. this form of government may have lasted a long time ( for the revolutions standards) but it was quite simplistic to overthrow.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s Coup d’etat

9 November 1799

The coup that Napoleon and his army committed overthrew the directory which was governing France at that time and then took control of the revolution. This caused it to ultimately end and was the finish of what was considered the French Revolution. The coup was the start of a new era that ended the Republic setting that was changed from the previous revolution and then after the coup it created the counter-revolution which was bringing it back to how it was before but rather than a monarchy he was crowned the emperor. This overthrowing of the government caused a situation where they took two steps forward with the French Revolution and then one step back with the counter-revolution of Napoleon.

Napoleon Crowned Emperor of France

Dec 2 1804

The coup that overthrew the government (The directory) was finalized by the crowning of Napoleon during his ceremony becoming the emperor of Prince. This was a true symbol of how the revolution has been finally ended and how things were going in the opposite direction by restoring the “monarchy” or in this case just in a different way and wasn't appointed by God. This moment was highly religious and showed how the system of religiously lead hierarchy was reborn through Napoleon. Having the hierarchy of the three states were not fully appreciated but were implemented throughout the ceremony by having the religious leaders such as the Pope, the Nobles and of course Napoleon himself which was the substitute for a king but instead the emperor.

Napoleon’s Invasion of Russia

Jul 24, 1812 - Dec 12, 1812

Invasion of Russia for Napoleon was the start of the end for Napoleon. This was the point of in his rulings where he was declining. Up until this point, he was maintaining a flawless victory of all his rivals but at this moment it turned for the worse. During the invasion of Russia was during winter, therefore, the conditions became harsher over time and he lost the majority of his troops. Russians were aware of this and avoided the troops so that the weather could take effect on to the army and allowed it to drain their resources and have an advantage over them. This caused Napoleon to second doubt himself and created his own psychological barriers that affected his decline of his ruling.

Napoleon is Exiled

11 April 1814

After the decline that started in the invasion of Russia finally let up to his exilement from his ruling of France. He was sent to Elba and was a prisoner of his own Island. He could not leave the island but he was able to have a small number of troops to protect the island and call his own. This ironically did not do him any favors since if he did not govern his own little army on the island he most likely wouldn't have been able to escape and would have probably turned out a lot better for him. Even if he did not stay long on the island this, in my opinion, is one of the most important portions of the Napoleonic era since it was showing that he was not completely invincible.

The Congress of Vienna

9/1814 - 6/1815

The Battle of Waterloo

June 18, 1815

At the Battle of Waterloo was Napoleon's final chance to actually take over once again but failed. Post to Napoleons escape from Elba he was trying to seize power once again and this was his master plan takeover but inevitably failed since he was outnumbered and the conditions were not in his favor. This was also due to his planning being flawed with the terrain that his camp was remaining on was wet and caused many errors from there on and forward. This battle was considered one of the worst and one-sided in history even more so since Napoleon was known to be a strategist and in parallel to his other battles, this paled in comparison. This caused a great psychological effect on to Napoleon once again making him fully give up into feet since he knew it was impossible to win.