2. Why did the events of 1789 cause the collapse of the ancien regime?

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  • Created by: Lauren
  • Created on: 28-05-13 20:09

Parisian Protests:

·         The economic crisis caused hardship which caused anti-government feeling which led to the rise of popular protest. Worsened by the food shortage (90% of wages spent on bread by spring).

·         The dismissal of Necker (July 11th) led to outrage among Parisians (as he had been popular as he instigated the meeting of the Estates General which represented hope of economic reform in France).

·         The search for weapons during this protest took the demonstrators to the Bastille where they wanted gunpowder and cartridges.

·         Crowd outside the Bastille denied entry and the governor (de Launay) refused to hand over any gunpowder. He then ordered his troops to open fire on those demonstrators that had made it into the courtyard, killing 98.

·         This sparked the attack on the Bastille (July 14th), de Launay was murdered and decapitated.

·         Significance: The King lost control of Paris, and the Assembly prepared to draw up a constitution. Real power had passed from the King to the representatives of the people; Louis was no longer in the position to dictate to the Assembly. The fall of the Bastille (an emblem of everything that stood for the ancien regime) and marked the beginning of the dismantling of the ancien regime. Those who had taken part were sans-culottes. This was the first and most famous of the journees (day of popular action and disturbance linked to great political change).

Rural Revolt:

·         Peasants played no part in events that led up to the Revolution until Spring 1789.

·         The Parisian protests inspired rioting against taxes, taille and feudal dues. Food riots fuelled by the economic and food crisis- barns were attack to release grain.

·         Chateaux were attacked (like the Bastille, these were a symbol of the monarchy and nobles and therefore symbol of the ancien regime). ‘Terriers’ (documents that listed peasant obligations) were seized and destroyed.

·         This became known as the ‘Great Fear’ and spread through most of France. However, some areas further away from Paris (such as Brittany, Alsace and the Basque region) were unaffected.

·         It left the Assembly with a dilemma-it couldn’t ask the Kings troops to crush the peasants- they would turn on the Assembly. Equally, they could not leave the peasants revolting.

·         Significance: It showed that discontent was not only within the urban population. The Assembly was forced to respond and on the 4th of August created the August Decrees that were arguably the most important reason for the collapse of the Ancien Regime in 1789.

August Decrees (most important):

·         Abolished obligations referring to personal service (serfdom and the corvee). Many deputies were happy to renounce


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