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Chapter 1 The French Revolution| Class 9 History Notes

Last Updated : 01 May, 2024
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The French Revolution was a major event in French and world history. It turned into a length of profound social and political upheaval that came about in France from 1789 to 1799. It had some distance-achieving effects not only in France but also in Europe and beyond. The revolution was driven by a combination of political, social, and economic factors, and it had profound and far-reaching consequences that shaped the course of European and global history.

The French Revolution profoundly influenced the development of modern political ideologies, including democracy and human rights. Its impact resonated globally, inspiring movements for political and social change in various parts of the world.

French Revolution

French Revolution

French Revolution (1789)- Background

The French Revolution had its roots in a complex set of social, economic, and political factors that had been developing over decades, if not centuries. Several key background elements contributed to the eruption of the revolution in 1789. The important contexts to the French Revolution are as follows:-

1. Political and Social Context: France within the overdue 18th century turned into an absolute monarchy under King Louis XVI. Society divided into three estates: the Clergy, the Aristocracy, and the Commoners (the Third Estate), with the bulk of the populace belonging to the Third Estate. The gadget turned into characterized with the aid of sizeable inequality, economic crisis, and political discontent.

2. Estates-General and the Formation of the National Assembly: In 1789, going through a severe economic crisis, the king was known for an assembly of the Estates-General, an assembly representing the 3 estates. Disputes over balloting techniques led the Third Estate to interrupt away and form the National Assembly, affirming its authority as the consultant frame of the humans.

3. Storming of the Bastille: On July 14, 1789, Parisians stormed the Bastille, a symbol of royal authority and a prison. The occasion marked the beginning of the French revolution and is widely known as 14 July in France.

4. Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen: The National Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August 1789. It proclaimed the standards of liberty, equality, and fraternity, and hooked up the foundation for a democratic society.

5. Reign of Terror: The revolution took an intensive flip with the upward thrust of the Committee of Public Safety and Maximilien Robespierre. The period referred to as the Reign of Terror (1793-1794) turned into characterized by means of mass executions and suppression of perceived enemies of the revolution.

6. Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte: In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte, an army standard, seized strength thru a coup d’état and mounted himself as First Consul. This marked the give up of the modern period and the start of the Napoleonic era.

The French Revolution stays a pivotal moment in history, symbolizing the warfare for freedom, social justice, and the electricity of popular movements. It remains studied and analyzed for its impact on political ideologies, social transformation, and the complexities of innovative trade.

French Revolution

French Revolution and the idea of the Nation

Causes of the French Revolution 1789

The French Revolution, which passed between 1789 and 1799, became a length of radical social and political upheaval in France. Several key elements contributed to the outbreak of the revolution. Here are a number of the primary causes of the French Revolution:

1. Socioeconomic Inequality: France at the time became characterized by a stark socioeconomic divide. The majority of the population, especially the lower instructions, and peasants, faced excessive poverty, while the nobility and clergy enjoyed privileges and exemptions. The burdensome taxation system and the unequal distribution of wealth created resentment and discontent among the various hundreds.

2. Financial Crisis: France changed into pressured by a widespread financial crisis. Years of wars, extravagant spending via the monarchy, and a regressive tax system had left the United States of America in a dire financial state of affairs. The monarchy’s efforts to elevate revenue, inclusive of enforcing new taxes, sparked competition and in addition, exacerbated social unrest.

3. Enlightenment Ideas: The Enlightenment, a highbrow movement that emphasized cause, liberty, and equality, had a profound effect on French society. The ideas of philosophers like Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu spread at some stage in France, questioning the authority of the monarchy and advocating for political and social alternatives.

4. Influence of the American Revolution: The fulfillment of the American Revolution against British rule stimulated many French intellectuals and revolutionaries. They noticed the American Revolution for instance of the triumph of liberty and the overthrow of tyranny, further fueling the choice for political exchange in France.

5. Weak Leadership and Royal Absolutism: King Louis XVI and his advisers were perceived as vulnerable and useless in addressing the country’s issues. The monarchy’s absolute power and brushing aside the grievances of human beings eroded its legitimacy and contributed to the developing demand for political reforms.

6. Economic and Food Crises: In the years leading as much as the revolution, France witnessed intense financial downturns and substantial meal shortages. High bread expenses and scarcity of fundamental necessities brought on a significant problem, main to public unrest and anger directed at the monarchy.

7. Influence of the Estates-General: The Estates-General, the reign meeting representing the 3 estates of French society (clergy, nobility, and commoners), was convened in 1789 to deal with the financial disaster. However, disputes over balloting processes and representation led to the formation of the National Assembly by means of the Third Estate, signaling a task to the authority of the monarchy.

These reasons, along with a variety of different social, political, and cultural factors, contributed to the eruption of the French Revolution. The revolution added about profound modifications in France, along with the overthrow of the monarchy, the upward push of radical political factions, and the status quo of a brand new social and political order.

Timeline of the French Revolution

The French Revolution, a tumultuous period from 1789 to 1799, unfolded in distinct phases that reshaped the political, social, and cultural landscape of France. It began with the convening of the Estates-General in 1789, leading to the formation of the National Assembly and the storming of the Bastille in July of the same year. The complete timeline of events has been given below.




The Estate-General convened for the first time in 175 years, where The Third Estate demanded more representation.


National Assembly was created as a result of the Tennis Court Oath, where delegates from the Third Estate pledged to remain until they reformed France’s government.


The National Assembly drafted the Constitution of 1791, which created a limited monarchy.


 War of First Coalition, France declared war on Austria.


The Reign of Terror began, and thousands were executed including King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.


The Reign of Terror ended with the fall of Robespierre


As a result of the Thermidorian Reaction, The Directory was established, which ruled France until 1799.

Stages of French Revolution

Being one of the largest events in the world history, the French Revolution occurred in various time frames. It brought with itself a wide variety of changes and upheavals in France and the world history. The important stages of French Revolution are as follows:

Stage I- The meeting of the Estates- General

Before meeting of Estates-General on 5th May, members of the Third Estate began mobilising the support of equal voting rights on the basis of head and not on basis of status. The nobles were against the idea for giving up privileges they enjoyed in traditional system. When meeting was held, open hostility broke out between the thee orders and the original purpose of the meeting was not attended.

Third estate met alone and adopted the title of National assembly on 17th June,1789 and took an oath known as Tennis Court Oath. Seeing no other option, Louis XVI had to absorb the three assemblies into the new order.

Stage II- The French Revolution Begins

The National Assembly continued to meet at Versailles and speculations went around for imminent military coup and this led to insurgency, resulted in the seize of Bastille fortress on July 14th of 1789. This marked the beginning of French Revolution.

Stage III- Declaration of Rights of Man

The National Assembly adopted the Right of Man and the Citizen on August 4th of 1789. The charter came to be grounded on democratic principles, on the philosophies as well as political ideas of Enlightement thinkers like Rosseau. The declaration came to be published on 26th August of 1789.

Stage IV- Reign of Terror

The revolution came to take a more radical turn when a group of insurgents had attacked the royal residence in Paris and arrested by Louis XVI on August 10, 1792. Legislative Assembly came to replace the National Convention which proclaimed the establishment of Republic of France and also abolition of Monarchy.

King Louis XVI was condemned to death on 21 January 1793 and executed for treason, marking the most violent as well as turbulent phase of French Revolution, known as Reign of Terror.

Stage V- End of the French Revolution

The National Convention on August 1795, which composed of moderates who had survived Reign of Terror, came to approve the creation of new constitution which made France bicameral legislature. The power would be in the hands of Directory, a five-member group which was appointed by the Parliament. There was resentment against the Directory rule, which was headed by Napolean and was appointed as “first consul” and Napoleanic era began with French domination.

The French Revolution and Everyday Life

In France, after 1789, many changes took place in the lives of men, women, and children. Revolutionary administrations took the blame for shifting laws that had turned the antithesis of liberty and equality into everyday practice. Through the French government, the idea of ​fraternity, equality, and liberty all translated into everyday practices.

1989- Abolition of Censorship

1989- Abolition of Censorship

A resultant constitution, which later came into effect, breathed the repression’s invalidation. The ideals of liberty and republican birthright were the most consequential legacy of the French Revolution. They broadcast from France to the rest of Europe during the 19th century.

  • The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens declared freedom of speech and expression a natural right.
  • Censorship in French was abolished. Books, newspapers, and plays could now be read and performed without the approval of the king’s censors.
  • The repression ended after the Bastille was smoked in the summer of 1789.
  • The opposition to the rights of man and citizen called for self-determination of declaration and expression as a birthright.
  • Magazines, pamphlets, books, and published large screens overwhelmed the city of France, from where they rapidly roamed the countryside, drawing and depicting the events and anomalies of displacement in France.
  • The plays, songs, and gleeful processions attracted a considerable composition of people who breathed away and could contrast with ideas such as liberty or justice.
  • Magazines, pamphlets, editions, and printed prints overwhelmed the French cities and country

Significance of the French Revolution

French Revolution is regarded as a turning point in modern history, as there was a rise of new philosophies and ideas deep-rooted in democracy, liberalism, and enlightenment. These ideas were carried out to other parts of Europe by the French armies that fought many wars in order to preserve the Republic’s existence. It inspired the common masses throughout Europe to rise up against their own monarchs in a wave of revolutionary urges.

The French Revolution put an end to feudalism and craved a path for future advances from a more individual freedoms perspective. Although there were some difficult times, the revolution had a lasting impact. It inspired ideas about freedom and fairness that spread to other parts of the world, influencing how countries think about government and people’s rights even today.

Global Impact of French Revolution

Global Impact of the French Revolution

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FAQs on French Revolution

What is French Revolution?

The French Revolution was a significant and transformative period in the late 18th century (1789-1799) when the people of France revolted against their monarchy and sought radical political, social, and economic changes. Fueled by widespread discontent over inequality, heavy taxation, and an absolute monarchy, the revolutionaries aimed to establish principles such as liberty, equality, and fraternity.

What are the causes of the French Revolution?

There were various causes of French Revolution. The main causes can be categorised into 4 categories:

  • Economic Hardships
  • Enlightenment Ideas
  • Poor Leadership
  • Social Inequality
  • Crop Failures & Food Shortages

When did the French Revolution start?

The French Revolution started on 5th May 1789 and continued until 1799. The revolution led to the overthrow of the monarchy, the rise of the First French Republic, and various phases marked by events like the storming of the Bastille, the Reign of Terror, and the eventual rise of Napoleon Bonaparte.

What were the impacts of French Revolution?

The French Revolution led to unification of France and also enhances the power of the nation state and played important role in establishing democratic institutions like elections, representative governments etc.

Delineate the condition of France before the revolution.  

  • France was under the rule of an emperor, Louis XVI.
  • All political powers were in the hands of the first two estates.
  • All taxes were paid by the people of the Third Estate.
  • The government was deeply indebted.

What was the significance of the French Revolution?

  • The French Revolution is one of the most consequential cases on record in Europe. This was a proven achievement for the idea of ​a republic when it put forward the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity.
  • The greatest presentation of the French Revolution was the example of equality. The fraternity was the epitome of the new French nationalism. It was the most concentrated force in the reshaping of the borders of Europe. Total Western Europe between the Pyrenees and the Baltic became invested with the ideals of the Revolution.
  • The French Revolution played an important role in the success of Greek independence (1830) as the struggle for Greek independence drew strength from the ideals of the French Revolution.
  • The French Revolution also revolutionized the development of nationalism in European countries.
  • The French Revolution also inspired mass movements of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century along with the nationalist passion around the world including India.

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