French Revolution (Part 1) - Khan Academy
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French Revolution (Part 1) - Khan Academy<br>Introduction to basic algebraic equations of the form Ax=B
This video we're going to talk about the French revolution.
And what makes this especially significant is that not only is this independence from a monarchy controlled empire.
like in the American independence. This is an actual overthrowing OF a monarchy,
of a monarchy that controls a major world power.
So this is on some levels, depending on how you view it, the American Revolution came first
and kind of put out the principles of self-governance and 'Why do we need kings?' and all of that.
but the French Revolution was the first time that those type of principles
really took foot in Europe and really overthrew a monarchy.
So just to understand kind of the environment in which this began, lets talk about what France was like in 1789.
Which most people kind of view as the beginning of the revolution.
One, France was poor!
Now, you wouldn't think France was poor if you looked at Louis the XVI, who was king of France.
If you looked at Louis the XVI and the clothes he wore.
Or if you looked at Marie Antoinette, his wife.
They don't look poor. They lived in the palace of Versailles, which is ginormous!
It's this massive palace, it would compare to the greatest palaces in the world
They were living a lavish lifestyle, and in case you want to know where this is now whats now almost a suburb of Paris,but at the time it was a village 20 or 30 kilometers away from Paris.
So they don't seem to be poor, but the actual government of France is poor
And when I say poor, they're in debt. They just had two major military adventures, one was the American Revolution.
They played a major part in supporting the revolutionaries because they wanted to stick it to their enemy Great Britain.
And they wanted their empire to shrink a little bit so France sent significant military help and resources.
And you can imagine that's not a cheap thing when you're doing it across the Atlantic Ocean.
Even before the American Revolution, the Seven Years War that ended in 1763.
This really drained the amount of wealth that the French government had.
And for those of ya'll who are more American history focused,
the Seven Years War is really the same thing as the French and Indian war.
The French and Indian war was the North American theater of the Seven Years War.
But the seven years war is the more general term because there was also a conflict going on in Europe simultaneously.
The French and Indian was just a part of that conflict and the seven years actually engulfed most of the powers of Europe at the time.
So France had participated in this, ended in 1763. You had the American Revolution.
Both of these really just drained the amount of funds that the government itself had.
At the same time the French people were starving!
There was a generalized famine at the time, they weren't producing enough grain, people couldn't get their bread to eat.
So you can imagine when people are starving, they are not happy.
And to make, kind of add insult to injury, you would see your royals living like this.
But even worse than the royals who you don't see everyday. You saw your nobility!
Who was roughly a little over one and a half percent of the population. You saw the nobility really really living it up!
And the nobility, just so you know these are people with fancy titles
who inherit land and wealth from generation to generation.
They, don't dress too differently from the king, and they essentially live in smaller versions of the palace of Versailles.
And you work if you're a peasant. You work on their fields, do all the work.
You send them some of your crops, and they pay no taxes.
So from your point of view, and it's not hard to understand why you would think this.
These are essentially, kind of parasites who are completely ignoring the fact
that you're starving and you're paying all the taxes.
You can imagine people weren't too happy about that.
And then to top it all off, you had all of these philosophers hanging around, talking about The Enlightenment.
And this is kind of the whole movement. Where people and authors and poets and philosophers are starting to realize
that 'Gee, maybe we don't need kings. Maybe we don't need priests to tell us what it means to be good or bad.'
Maybe people could, essentially, could rule themselves all of a sudden.
And obviously, the biggest proof The Enlightenment was the American Revolution.
That was kind of the first example of people rising up and saying 'You know gee, we don't need these kings anymore.
We want to govern ourselves.' You know 'For the people. By the people.'
So you also had kind of this philosophical movement going around.
Now if you ask me my opinion of what the biggest thing. I think the people starving,
you can never underestimate what people are willing to do when they're actually going, when they're actually hungry
And you know, this is kind of more from the intellectual point of view.
People said 'Oh there is this Enlightenment movement here.'
So this is the state of France, they had a financial crisis.
So, a meeting was called, kind of an emergency meeting of the major groups of France
to try to resolve some of these problems. France is in fiscal crisis, people are starving, what do you do?
So they called the Convocation of the Estates General. Let me write that down.
Which was a meeting of the three estates of France. Now that sounds like a very, and what are the three estates of France.
You can really just view them as the three major social classes of France
The first estate, the first estate was the clergy
The second estate is the nobility
And then the third estate is everyone else! Let me do it in a different color.
And this gives you a sense of how skewed the power structure because people kind of grouped the power as
okay these are the three groups and maybe they can vote against each other
but this was only point five percent of the population
This was one and a half percent of the population. This was 98 percent of the population
But these people had equal weight with these guys, but these people had the burden of most of the taxes.
These are people who are doing all of the work, producing all of France's wealth, dieing in the wars. But these guys, despite their small population, have more weight than everybody else
So you have the Convocation of the Estates General,
where representatives from these three estates met at the palace of Versailles
to, essentially figure out what to do about this fiscal crisis. Now obviously, these people right here, the third estate.
They were angry. They're like look 'We've taken the burden on ourselves for much of the recent history of France.'
'We're tired of you guys getting away with not paying taxes and kind of leeching off of us.'
They were afraid even more of the tax burden was going to be put on them.
And thought that nothing, the nobility or the king or the clergy, that they wouldn't have to make sacrifices
So they came in already angry. And so they really wanted to meet in one room together,
because they actually had roughly 600 representatives.
Which only the king at the las minute agreed to, before it was going to be equal numbers of them.
These guys had 300 roughly and these guys had 300 as well.
These guys were able to say 'Hey we're at 98 percent of the population, maybe we should have at least 600 representatives.'
But even there, they wanted to meet in the same room and essentially try to make it so that its one representative one vote.
But obviously these other estates, the clergy the nobility said 'No, no, no, no. Lets each vote as estates and all that.'
At the end of the day these guys lost, so they were essentially forced to kind of organize independently as the third estate.
So that made them even angrier. So they met in an assembly hall and said 'You know what? If these guys are going to ignore us, not only are we going to be in this room and start organizing ourselves.'
But we're not going to call this the Convocation of the Estates General. We're going to declare that we are the National Assembly of France.
That we represent the people, we are essentially going to become the parliamentary body of France
instead of just being this emergency Convocation of the Estates General.
And they actually got some sympathy from some elements of the Clergy and some elements of the nobility.
Now obviously Louis the XVI, you know, he was not amused by this whole turn of events.
Here he was, he was an absolute monarch, which means that he held all of the power to do as he saw was fit.
And all of a sudden you had this group of upstarts, you know they're taking advantage of this emergency situation.
where he cant continue to buy as many silk robes as he was before.
They're taking advantage of this situation to declare a National Assembly of France.
To declare somehow that I'm not an absolute monarch, that my powers are going taken by this assembly.
So he wasn't happy. So when they took a break, he locked the door of the assembly room. So they couldn't get in.
And he said 'Oh I think there needs to be some repairs in that room, maybe you all can assemble later.'
and that was kind of his way of saying 'No.
If you're declaring your National Assembly of France, I'm not going to let you assemble.
I'm not going to even let you get in the rooms.' So that clearly didn't
didn't do a lot to make these guys, or in particular, these guys any happier.
People are hungry. These people are living lavishly. They've already been not allowed to vote in one room together.
When they vote in their own room and declare themselves as representatives of the people of France,
which they really are. The king locks the room, doesn't let them go in.
So they go to an indoor tennis court in Versailles.This is a picture of it right here. This is an indoor tennis court.
This is a picture of it right here. This is an indoor tennis court.
And it's in Versailles, it gives you an idea of how lavish Versailles was,
that it had indoor tennis courts in the late 1700s
And they proclaimed, the Tennis Court Oath.
Where they proclaimed not are we only the National Assembly of France, but even more than that,
we all pledge to not stop until we create a constitution of France.
So they went from being a national assembly to essentially morphing into a constituent assembly.
We are going to create a constitution. Let me write that a little bit neater.
Constitution for France
And they had sympathy from some elements of the clergy and the nobility.
So eventually, Louis the XVI, you know he kind of saw the writing on the wall and he didn't like. You know people are angry.
Every time he tries to mess with them they only get angrier, and the only go to even more extreme measures.
So he, you know. To kind of make it seem like he was going along. He said 'Okay you know that's cool guys, whatever you want to do. Yeah, yeah, maybe I'm open to it we are in an emergency and maybe I have been a little bit unreasonable.'
So he lets them assemble again. But while that's happening
people start to notice, that troops are converging on Paris. Let me write that down
And they're obviously being sent there by the king. And not only are they just any troops, a lot of the actual troops even though they are French troops they're under the authority of France's military.
They're actually foreign troops. So if you think about it, these would be the ideal types of troops
to put down any type of insurgency or any type of rebellion, or even better,
to go in and dissolve the national assembly. So people started getting a little bit paranoid you can imagine.
Now on top of that, Louis the XVI's main financial advisor Necker. Jacque Necker
He told Louis, and he was sympathetic to the third estate, to the plight of the third estate.
He was sympathetic to their plight.
He said 'Hey, you know. Mister king. Why don't you. I think it's reasonable for you to essentially budget your expenses a little bit better.
Maybe a little bit less of a lavish lifestyle considering the state of our government's budget.
The state of the people of France, they're starving. Why don't you do that a little bit.'
But Louis the XVI, instead of taking his advice, he fired him. He fired the financial advisor. Fired advisor
So taken together. You know, troops are converging on Paris,
you have this Tennis Court Oath, Louis the XVI has fired his advisor
People are going hungry, they're generally going hungry.
People in Paris said 'You know what? The king is going to try and suppress us again. This is no good.
Especially if he does it with troops. We have to arm ourselves.' So they stormed the Bastille.
So this right here is a picture of the Bastille.
And this is a. It's most famous when you first learned about it, or maybe this is the first time you're leaning about it
'Oh it's a prison and they put political prisoners there and they freed the political prisoners.'
But in reality there were only seven prisoners in the Bastille.
So it's not like, thousands and thousands of political prisoners were being held there and they were freed.
The real value of the Bastille to the revolutionaries, we could say, is that there were weapons there.
There was a major arms cache there. There were weapons
So by storming the Bastille and getting the weapons they all of a sudden could,
essentially fend off any type of threat that the troops would have.
But this is also kind of, the very beginning of the real chaos of the French Revolution.
And as we're going to see over the next several years the chaos only gets worse and worse.
This is almost, you know on a lot of levels, a lot worse than the American Revolution.
Because what actually happened in the cities, and what fellow Frenchman started to do to each other
was really, on many levels, barbaric
And you actually saw it here for the first time where the governor of the Bastille, the guy who was in charge of it.
He had this stand off between the troops and he eventually, he called for a cease fire. Cause he said 'Oh there is too much bloodshed.'
Well, once the revolutionaries got to him, they stabbed him.
They cut his head off, and then they put it on a pike. Then they went back to the mayor of Paris, they shot him.
So clearly things were really getting out of hand. But this is kind of.
Most people associate the storming of the Bastille as the kind of the landmark event of the French Revolution
And even today people celebrate Bastille Day, and that is July 14th 1789
So just to give you a sense of how quickly all of this happened. The Convocation of the Estates General, that was in May.
The Tennis Court Oath was in June, and then in July you have the storming of Bastille
And then in August, just to kind of complete the idea that we are definitely in a revolutionary period.
In August, the National Assembly, that you know that started off in the tennis courts and the third estate.
They declared their equivalent of the Declaration of Independence
They declared their Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
Which was essentially their version of the Declaration of Independence.
And it's essentially put everything into question of you know, what is life liberty, and the pursuit of...
You know I'm using words from the American Revolution. But this was their Declaration of Independence
It wasn't a constitution. It was just a statement of the things that they think need to
govern any type of constitution or country or the ideas that any country should be based on.
So I'm going to leave you there. This was kind of. We've really now started the French Revolution
and now you're going to see that over the next several years its only going to get bloodier and bloodier and even more complex.
And when everything is said and done, its actually not going to end that well in terms of giving people liberty.



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