French Revolution

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HistoryMiddelbare schoolhavo, vwoLeerjaar 2

This lesson contains 33 slides, with interactive quizzes, text slides and 12 videos.

Items in this lesson

Slide 1 - Slide

Why France revolted
In 1789, a revolution tore France apart. Some causes had been building up for years. 
King Louis XVI was an absolute ruler.
  • He and his nobles lived in luxury. Nobles did not have to pay most taxes. For ordinary people life was hard. They had to pay most taxes. 
  • The Church supported the king. It told people to obey him as a ruler chosen by God. It, too, did not have to pay all taxes. Ordinary people had to give the Church part of their income as a tax. 
  • From 1770, there were many bad harvests, which pushed up the price of grain (and therefore the price of bread). The population rose, pushing bread prices up even more. Bread was the main food of the poor.
King Louis XVI (16th)

Slide 2 - Slide


Slide 3 - Video

The Three Estates
(de 3 standen)
All the people in the country belonged 
to one of the 3 estates.

An estate is a group of people 
you belong to from birth.
An estate is hereditary.

You can not easily 
change into 

Slide 4 - Slide

1st estate: clergy

Slide 5 - Slide

2nd estate: nobles

Slide 6 - Slide

The Third Estate
The Third Estate representatives in the Estates General was made up mainly of professional people such as doctors, lawyers, bankers and rich merchants. Many third estate people were just as rich as nobles.

These rich people in the third estate are called: bourgeoisie
Most 3rd Estate representatives in the Estates General were bourgeois people. 
Farmers and poorly paid city workers did not have time or money to come to Versailles to join the Estates General meeting that lasted several weeks.

So, despite the fact that bourgois people were just as rich as many nobles, they lacked the same rights as nobles. 

Slide 7 - Slide

3rd estate: peasants

Slide 8 - Slide

3rd estate: city workers

Slide 9 - Slide

3rd estate: bourgeoisie

Slide 10 - Slide

  • In 18th century France, people were divided into 3 groups called "estates" (= standen)
  • 1st estate: the clergy (= geestelijkheid)
  • 2nd estate: nobility  / aristocracy (= adel)
  • 3rd estate: the rest, but can be subdivided into:
  •        - poor, uneducated people: city-workers and farmers
  •        - wealthy, educated people: lawyers, bankers, merchants,               doctors. This group was called the Bourgeoisie
Lesson 5.1  Problems in France

Slide 11 - Slide

Looking at the rights and duties of the 3 estates, 
it becomes clear why the 3rd estate 
(90% of the people) were unhappy.

Slide 12 - Slide

Source A: A cartoon about the Three Estates, published in the 1780s.

Slide 13 - Slide

Which estates do the people in the source represent?

A : clergy B: nobility C: commons
A: commons B: clergy C: nobility
A: nobility B: commons C: clergy
A: nobility B: clergy C: commons

Slide 14 - Quiz

What do you think the stone on top of the figure lying on the ground is supposed to mean?

The stone symbolizes the taxes the third estate had to pay (which is a
heavy weight) and the first and second estate did not.

Slide 15 - Slide

Slide 16 - Video

Meeting of the Estates-General
  • In 1789 the king called for a meeting of the Estates-General.
  • He had run out of money and he wanted to ask the representatives of the 3 estates to agree to his plans to raise the taxes.
  • In May, 1200 representatives gathered in Versailles 
  • to listen to the king.

Slide 17 - Slide

The 3rd estate members wanted to make some radical changes though......
The meeting would lead to the start of the French Revolution

Slide 18 - Slide

How to vote?
This is when trouble started..
The Estates-General sat for several weeks in May and June 1789 but came to an impasse over the first item on the agenda: whether they should vote by estate, giving the first two estates an advantage, which was the King's choice, or vote all together, giving the Third Estate the advantage.

first estate:        300 representatives
second estate:  300 representatives
third estate:       600 representatives
1 vote
1 vote
1 vote
2 votes
1 vote

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The National Assembly and the Tennis Court Oath
June 20, 1789

Slide 20 - Slide

The National Assembly and the Tennis Court Oath
June 20, 1789
The National Assembly and the Tennis Court Oath

  • We want a CONSTITUTION that gives us:
  • - more power for the people
  • - less power for the king
  • - equal rights

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Slide 22 - Video


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Slide 28 - Video

Slide 29 - Video

Napoleon's Legacy.
  • France needed to give back the countries Napoleon had conquered.
  • Many changes that Napoleon had made though remained in many European countries, like:

  •         the Code Napoleon (burgerlijk wetboek): more equality by law.
  •         the same measures: kilo, liter, meter. (the metric system)
  •         the registry office (burgerlijke stand), last names for everybody.
  •         military conscription (dienstplicht).
  •         In many countries that were conquered by Napoleon people became more           nationalistic: they loved (and were proud of) their own country and culture
  •         In the 19th and 20th centuries this would lead to new wars....

Slide 30 - Slide

Slide 31 - Video

Which 19th century inventions did you see in the video? Mention as many as you can.

Slide 32 - Open question

Slide 33 - Video