The French Revolution Class 9 Notes History - Chapter 1

Chapter: 1

What are The French Revolution ?

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    Important Dates

    • 1774 – Louis XVI of the Bourbon family king ascended the throne of France.
    • 20 June 1789, representatives of the Third estate assembled in the hall of an indoor tennis court in the grounds of Versailles.
    • 5 May 1789, Louis XVI called together an assembly of the Estates General to pass proposals for new taxes.
    • 4 August 1789, the Assembly passed a decree abolishing the feudal system of obligations and taxes.
    • April 1792, the National Assembly voted to declare war against Prussia and Austria.
    • 14 July 1789, the agitated crowd stormed and destroyed the Bastille.
    • 1791, The National Assembly completed the draft of Constitution and Declaration of the right of Man and Citizen.
    • 21 January 1793, Louis XVI was executed publicly at the Place de la Concorde.
    • 1793 to 1794 is referred to as the Reign of Terror.
    • 1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of France.
    • 1848 – Slavery was abolished in French Colonies.
    • 1815 – Napoleon was defeated in Battle of Waterloo
    • 1946 – Women in France won the right to vote.

    Important Personalities

    • Louis XVI: The King of France at the time of the revolution was an averagely intelligent man who disliked intellectual activities. The king believed in the Divine Right of Kings and was blind to the new ideas that were spreading across his country and oblivious to the fears and needs of his subjects. He was obsessed with his beautiful wife and spent his money on lavish celebrations. He drove France into useless wars bringing the country to the verge of bankruptcy.
    • Maximilien Robespierre: The leader of the Jacobin Club whose policies led to the Reign of Terror. In 1794, he was sentenced to death by guillotine.
    • Napoleon Bonaparte: The military dictator of France who conquered many European countries until he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.
    • Olympe de Gourges: In 1791, she wrote a Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Citizen. Critical of the Jacobin government, she was charged with treason and executed. She was one of the most important politically active women in revolutionary France.
    • Montesquieu: The French thinker and author of the ‘Spirit of Laws’ believed that executive, legislative and judicial powers should not be concentrated in one person as this can lead to tyranny. He emphasized individual liberty and separation of powers.
    • Jean Jacques Rousseau: He believed that government should be based on the consent of the governed. His
      writings played a significant role in bringing about the French Revolution and encouraged people to fight for their rights. In his most famous work “The Social Contract” he talks about a contract between the ruler and his subjects in which the former guarantees the freedom and happiness of his subjects. It is implied in his writings that men have a right to change their government if they are not satisfied.
    • Voltaire: He was a famous and influential French writer who emphasized religious toleration as well as freedom of speech and is credited with the statement, ‘I do not agree with a word you say, but I will defend your right to say it to the death’. He savagely attacked all things he considered sham or superstition and he was a vehement critic of the Catholic Church.

    Political Symbols Used In French Revolution

    The majority of men and women in the eighteenth century could not read or write. So images and symbols were frequently used instead of printed words to communicate important ideas.

    • The broken chain: Chains were used to fetter slaves. A broken chain stands for the act of becoming free.
    • The bundle of rods or fasces: One rod can be easily broken, but not an entire bundle. Strength lies in unity.
    • The eye within a triangle radiating light: The all seeing eye stands for knowledge. The rays of the sun will drive away the clouds of ignorance. The entire sentence depicts that knowledge will remove ignorance.
    • Sceptre: Symbol of royal power. Sceptre is a state or wend held in the hand by ruling monarch as an item of royal.
    • Snake biting its tail to form a ring: Symbol of Eternity. A ring has neither beginning nor end.
    • Red Phrygian cap: Cap worn by a slave, it became an emblem of liberty during French Revolution.
    • Blue-white-red: The national colours of France.
    • The winged woman: Personification of the law.
    • The Law Tablet: The law is the same for all, and all are equal before it.