French Revolution Phases and Napoleon's Rise to Power

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Phases of the French Revolution

Constitutional Monarchy (1789-1792)

Once in the Estates General, the Third Estate proposed to change the voting system to one individual vote per member. The king refused, and the bourgeoisie declared themselves the true representatives of the nation. They proclaimed a National Assembly and pledged to draft a constitution. The king eventually agreed to demands, and a National Constituent Assembly was formed to abolish feudalism, approve the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens, and draw up a constitution based on the separation of power and national sovereignty with limited male suffrage (suffrage censitaire). The Legislative Assembly began to govern with the rules of the constitution, forcing the nobility to pay taxes, abolishing the guilds, creating a new army to defend the revolution (the National Guard), and expropriating and selling church property to the state.

Social Republic (1792-1794)

The royal family's refusal to accept the changes and their appeal to absolute monarchies in Europe for help led to the proclamation of the republic by the common people. This republic had two phases: the Girondin Convention (1792-1793), a moderate government elected by universal male suffrage that accused the king of treason and executed him, and the Jacobin Convention (1793-1794), which granted universal male suffrage and social equality. The executive power was held by the Committee of Public Safety, led by Robespierre, who ordered a mass levy to reject the Austrian invasion. To stop counter-revolutionaries, freedoms were suspended, and opponents of the government were executed. Social laws were introduced, controlling prices and salaries, selling church lands, and making education compulsory. A military coup ended the Jacobin government.

Conservative Republic (1794-1799)

The moderate bourgeoisie regained control of the revolution, restoring limited male suffrage and establishing a collegial government, the Directory. The Directory faced opposition from the aristocracy and common people, and in 1799, General Napoleon organized a coup and ended the Directory.


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