The French Revolution (1789 - 1799) was a period of political and social upheaval when the people of France brought down the monarchy and strengthened the middle class. The revolution ended when the popular French general, Napoleon Bonaparte, took power as emperor and France became a republic.
Fact Monster offers a hyperlinked history of the French Revolution, reprinted from the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. "Historians disagree in evaluating the factors that brought about the Revolution. To some extent at least, it came not because France was backward, but because the country's economic and intellectual development was not matched by social and political change." Related articles, such as Bastille Day and a summary of the French Revolution for younger students, are listed at the bottom of the page.
Created in collaboration with George Mason University, City University of New York and the National Endowment for the Humanities, this site archives more than 600 primary documents, and unites them with a timeline, a glossary and maps. Chapters are listed under Explore, but browsing and searching are two alternative ways to navigate the site. Some of the unique content here includes thirteen songs that "document the changing musical landscape of France in the revolutionary era" and the 330 translated primary text documents such as the 1786 Memorandum to Her Majesty the Queen Concerning the Diamond Necklace Affair.
Florida middle-school teacher Mr. Dowling explains the causes of the French Revolution in simple terms in this one-page summary. "Louis [XVI, King of France] needed help in 1789. The nation had endured a long, hard winter and most of the crops were lost. The treasury was bankrupt after supporting America in their revolution. Louis had to raise money. He could not tax the peasants, because they had no money, so he had to tax the aristocrats and the middle class."
From the PBS television special Napoleon, comes this look at the French Revolution. "In the summer of 1789, the French people's anger boiled over into the streets, and violence erupted throughout France. Mobs of citizens cried out for liberty, equality and brotherhood. The monarchs of Europe looked on in horror as revolution threatened to topple the greatest monarchy on the continent." Other website features include an interactive timeline, classroom lessons, and related video clips.
School History (from Great Britain) has a huge list of French Revolution resources for both student and teacher. The first three are internal content, and the rest of the list are links to external resources, some of which are, unfortunately, no longer live. Bad links aside, be sure to take a look at the PDF worksheets (on the Summary page), as well as Causes of the French Revolution, and Rise of Napoleon. The second link labeled Causes of the French Revolution is also worth seeing. It is an illustrated mind-map of the various pressure points that fueled the revolt.
The French Revolution (1789 - 1799) was a period of political and social upheaval when the people of France brought down the monarchy and strengthened the middle class. The revolution ended when the popular French general, Napoleon Bonaparte, took power as emperor and France became a republic. \n