Present a critical overview of the circumstances that led to Revolution in France.

Published: June 29, 2020

France was in rough shape in 1789. King Louis XVI desperately needed money, so he was forced to call the Estates General in May. The disgruntled Third Estate of commoners loudly shouted for a new constitution and formed the National Constituent Assembly. After the storming of the Bastille on July 14, the Assembly got its constitution with a limited monarchy and the Declaration of the Rights of Man.

The Assembly, however, could not control the situation and was replaced by the Legislative Assembly in 1791. This group did no better, and the National Convention took the reins of government in 1792. The revolution entered a radical phase, which was marked by the declaration of France as a republic, the execution of Louis XVI, radical secularism, and the Reign of Terror led by the Committee of Public Safety, including Maximilien de Robespierre and Georges Danton. Thousands of people fell to the guillotine.

Eventually, Frenchmen reacted against the radical nature of the revolution and called for order. Another new constitution formed the five-man Directory in 1795, but it proved to be weak and unpopular and had to rely on the military for support. Popular officer Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the Directory in 1799 and became consul.

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