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The Outbreak of the Revolution


Louis XVI had to increase taxes for the several reasons. In practice the monarch had no powers to increase the taxes on his own wish and he had to call the meeting of the Estates General to pass the proposal. This Estates General is a political body to which the third estate sent their representatives. But the Monarch alone had the powers to decide about the meeting.

Louis XVI

The third estate had the most powerful people. They were business people, educated men, and prosperous people. The peasants, artisans and women were denied entry. This time the Estates General demanded a democratic method of voting, to which the king declined. The king discarded the advice of the representatives; it led to a quarrel between the king and the representatives. They took a pledge (Tennis court oath) not to return home till the drafting of the new constitution was completed. The new constitution was to be framed to limit the powers of the king.

The king was forced to accept that his powers would be thereon checked by the constitution. On the night of 4th August, 1789 France passed the law for abolishing the feudal system. When the king dismissed Turgot (Finance Minister) rumours spread that he would dissolve the National Assembly also. The Swiss guards were killed and a few political prisoners were set free. The royal power was weakened further when the revolutionaries drove out royal officials from Paris and established their own government in Paris. (Paris commune). The king summoned troops to frighten the Paris mob. It led to further escalation of mob fury. The Hungry women of Paris marched to the royal palace of Versailles and demanded bread. When there was no proper response, the mob entered the palace and ransacked it. They forced the king, the queen and their children to live in Paris.

The National Assembly completed the drafting to the constitution in 1791. According to this constitution the king’s power came to be reduced. Laws were to be made by the Legislative Assembly, and members of this assembly were to be elected by the tax-paying people. The king was not happy with the civil constitution of the clergy. Thus ended the hope of the Moderates who desired a constitutional monarchy. The National convention, which met in September 1792, began to draft a new constitution. It abolished monarchy and declared France as a Republic.


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