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C O U R S E 
The French Revolution
Peter McPhee, The University of Melbourne
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
An Introduction to the French Revolution
Notes taken on July 7, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
the half century after 1760 was one of the most tumultuous and significant periods in European, American, and world history
at the heart of this extraordinary half-century of upheaval is the French Revolution
a time of social, political, economic, and military upheaval
Louis XVI
1774: his coronation at the age of 20
came to the throne in a time of upheaval: bad crops and a military crisis
he rode out these crises and the early years of his reign went well
1789: had to confront another crisis
would eventually change the world in which he had grown up
was fatal to him and to members of his family
May 1789
Louis XVI was confronting a fundamental financial crisis
convened the clergy, nobility, commons for them to offer him advice through the financial crisis
a gathering that hadn't met for 175 years
it was an advisory-only gathering, but arose expectations among the French people
Louis believed there should be three separate meetings, one for each estate
the commoner deputies refused to consent to this
June 1789: ACT 1: Serment du Jeu de paume
Commoner deputies took an oath not to separate until they had given France a constitution
started calling themselves the "National Assembly"
Jacque-Louis David never finished the painting of this since by the time he got back to it, some of the people in it had become opponents to the revolution
it was clear that the king, the court, the clergy and the army were going to expel these commoner deputies
as they had been asked to give Louis the XVI advice, not to set themselves up as a National Assembly
July 1789: ACT 2: Prise de Bastille
high bread prices
people were anxious, hungry and full of expectation of what might be achieved by the Estates General, and suspicious of troop movements within the city
14th of July, seized the Bastille
the governor of the fortress commanded his troops to open fire
100s killed
he paid with his life when he finally surrendered
August 1789: ACT 3: La Grande Peur
vast majority of France's 28 million people lived outside of Paris
when news reached the countryside
the repercussions were explosive
countryside was full of expectancy and hunger
when the people in the countryside heard what blow the revolutionaries had dealt the authorities in Paris, they felt that the landowners in the countryside would find a way of exacting revenge
common people started arming themselves
the landlords never suppressed them
the peasants rose up instead
confronted nobles and stewards in their castles and chateaus demanding
food and wine
list of feudal dues often ceremoniously destroyed
only a few open, physical attacks on castles
August 1789: ACT 4: La Nuit du 4 août
the response to these three acts by the National Assembly was deeply significant
tried to meet the grievances of the people
Declarations of the Rights of Man and the Citizen
a blueprint for a future France
new regime
Louis XVI would rule with a National Assembly
next years
tried to put into place the blue print of the new France
Jacques Louis David
artist deeply involved in and fiercely committed to the French Revolution
painting not without a propaganda intention
painting: Death of Marat, 1793
painting: Napoleon Crossing the Alps, 1800
Jean August Ingres
painting: Napoleon on his Imperial Throne, 1806
in some ways Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 resembled Louis XVI in 1774
France was still in the hands of an extremely powerful individual