What important events occurred in 1789
The year 1789 brought great changes in France, which then also had an impact throughout Europe.
France was an absolutist monarchy at the time. That is, France was a kingdom with a king who was very powerful. Others, especially the people, could not have a say in politics. There was no parliament. This form of rule is also called absolutism. In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, absolute monarchy was the common form of rule in Europe. The typical absolutist ruler is Louis XIV of France, the Sun King.
Since 1774 Louis XVI was now. King of France. But the problems in the country grew bigger and bigger. The life of the king and his court in luxury swallowed up vast amounts of money, plus expenses for wars in which France had participated. Then there were the ideas of the Enlightenment, which put reason at the center. New ideas were also developed in politics, for example the division of powers. Not one person has the power, one makes the laws, one ensures compliance and another punishes non-compliance. The Enlightenment no longer allowed the absolutist idea of a representative of God on earth.
Louis XVI but had another problem, namely that his country was broke. That is why he convened the Estates General on May 5, 1789. He wanted to push through tax increases. The Estates General was last convened in 1614! They represented the three estates that existed: the clergy, the nobility and the rest of the people, the third estate. Such an assembly actually contradicted absolutism, according to which the king alone exercised all power. But now Ludwig had no other choice, because he had to find a solution to get France out of national debt.
Although the third estate represented almost the entire population - 98 percent of all French - it only had one vote in the vote. The clergy and the nobility each had one vote and could therefore overrule the third estate at any time. Ludwig had increased the number of their representatives to 600, while the nobility and clergy each sent 300 people, but that didn't help if they still had 1 vote.
The third stand therefore called for head-to-head voting and thus real majorities. But Ludwig refused. Thereupon, after weeks of unsuccessful negotiations, the representatives of the third estate declared themselves to be the National Assembly, i.e. to represent the people. That was on June 17, 1789. Ludwig, however, did not want to acknowledge that. The MPs met on June 20 in the ballroom at Versailles Palace and vowed not to part until a new constitution was drawn up. At the same time they declared themselves to be a "constituent assembly". A week later, on June 27th, Ludwig finally gave in. He thereby granted the National Assembly to meet as a representative for the entire French nation - and no longer just as a representative of its class.
The National Assembly met from July 9, 1789. This constituent national assembly is also called the constituent assembly. It met until September 2, 1791 to give France a constitution.
And what about the people? It was still starving, because the prices, especially for bread, had risen enormously in recent years. Besides, the king was not trusted. Maybe he'll pull together his soldiers and undo everything? Now the displeasure of the people discharged in the storm on the Bastille. That was on July 14th, 1789. This prison is a symbol of the absolutist arbitrary rule. That is why this day, even if the storming of the Bastille is politically insignificant, is considered to be the actual beginning of the revolution. July 14th even becomes France's national holiday.
In the countryside, too, the peasants rise up against nobles and monasteries. The representatives of the nobility and clergy then renounce their privileges and the feudal system is abolished. This happened on the night of August 4th to 5th, 1789.
On August 26, 1789, the National Assembly declared human and civil rights. In 17 articles the right to freedom, property, security and resistance to oppression was granted to the human being. These human rights should be included as a preamble to the new constitution.
But the people were still no better. The women of the Parisian markets led a protest march on October 5, 1789. Because the people in Paris were still starving. They moved now to Versailles, to the magnificent palace of the king and forced Louis XVI. to move to Paris, to the Tuileries Palace. So he was no longer far from the people, but more or less in the midst of them.
In Paris the interest of the common people, but also of the bourgeoisie, in co-determination grew more and more. Many political clubs were founded in which people now discussed. One of these clubs is that of the Jacobins. They strove to abolish the monarchy. They wanted the republic as a form of government. So there should no longer be a king and the people should rule through deputies. The supporters of the republic soon had a majority in other clubs as well. You can find out how the French Revolution continued in the video "The Abolition of the Monarchy."
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