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Due to the political and financial situation in France Louis XVI had to call the Estates General. This assembly was composed of three estates (the clergy, nobility and commoners).The opening of the Estates General, in Versailles, also marked the start of the French Revolution.
The deputies of the Third Estate, realizing that in any attempt at reform they would be outvoted by the clergy and the nobility, formed a National Assembly. Finding themselves locked out of their usual meeting hall at Versailles on June 20 they moved to an indoor tennis court and swore to never separate until a written constitution was written.
A state prison on the east side of Paris, known as the Bastille, was attacked by the third state in act of defiance. The prison had become a symbol of the monarchy’s dictatorial rule, and the event became one of the defining moments in the Revolution.
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, one of the basic charters of human liberties, containing the principles that inspired the French Revolution. Its 17 articles, adopted by France’s National Assembly, served as the preamble to the Constitution of 1791.
There were rumors of Louis XVI's offensive court party that spread throughout the streets of Paris, it was said that the king stepped on the flag of France causing women and peasants extremely angry. This event was the drop that caused the water to spill and women lead a march to Versailles to demand bread. The mob forced the royal family to return to Paris with then and Louis XVI signed the Declaration of Independence.
The National Assembly passed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy to bring the clergy under government control. Clergy would now be elected by all citizens and their salaries paid by the state. The clergy were required to swear an oath of allegiance to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, essentially it required the clergy to acknowledge the supremacy of the French government over the Pope.
During the midnight of June 20, 1791, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and their two children tried to flee Paris with a secret convoy with the purpose of getting to Austria, where Marie's brother, Joseph II, was emperor. Louis´s purpose for escapin was the growing radicalism of the revolution. They were discovered by a local postmaster in Varennes, about 30 km from its original destination, and were soon detained and escorted back to Paris.
Rumors circulated that the 3000 prisoners held in Paris prisons were planning to stage an uprising. News that Verdun was threatened by the Prussian army was the spark that began what are called the "September Massacres". An angry mob led by Jean Paul Marat stormed the prisons and killed about 1600 prisoners.
Louis XVI, known as Louis Capet by that time, was escorted to the guillotine and beheaded in front of his many subjects in Place de la Révolution. He had been condemned to death by almost everybody in the National Convention of the past year, 1792. His execution caused sensation across France and around the world, since few monarchs had been assassinated by their own people.
This time period is the most violent of all from French Revolution. Many believe it started with Louis XVI execution. Robespierre, the Committee of Public Safety, and the Revolutionary Tribunals sent more than 50,000 to be executed in the guillotine between those two summers. The victims were accused of counter-revolutionary, or the so-called “crimes against liberty.” The total number of victims to this period is said to be closer to 250,000. Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France, was one of the victims.
Maximilien Marie Isidore de Robespierre, one of the responsibles of the Reign of Terror murders, was guided to his own death in the very same place of his many victims. With an evil twist, he was forced to watch, face up, the killer blade fall into his neck. He faced the same luck as his first victim, Louis XVI, a year and a half later.
On November 9, 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte and Abbe Sieyes pulled off a coup in France. They overthrew the current Directory and replaced it with a new government: the Consulate. Sieyes and Napoleon both installed themselves as consuls, though Napoleon became First Consul.
Even though he was unreligious, in 1801, Napoleon signed a Concordat with the Catholic pope. This agreement smoothed over the rift between France and Rome the Revolution had caused. He made Catholicism the official religion of France, saying, "the majority of France is Catholic." In exchange, the Vatican recognized the Consulate. Even under this new agreement with the Church, Napoleon supported religious tolerance, which remained a fundamental principle of France under his "enlightened despotism.
The new king had little support and Napoleon wouldn´t give up. He left the island of Elba and went back to France. The new king sent troops to capture Napoleon, who opened his coat and said: "Soldiers of the 5th regiment, I am your Emperor. . . . If there is a man among you [who] would kill his Emperor, here I am!" No one fired a shot. Shouting "Long live the Emperor!" the troops sided with him. On March 20, 1815, Napoleon entered Paris in triumph.
After his attempt of invading Russia, other European states started to rise up and attack the French army. Paris was captured in March 1814. Napoleon was soon sent to exile on the island of Elba, off the northwest coast of Italy. Monarchy was restored in France with Louis XVIII, brother of the executed king, Louis XVI.