French Revolution Timeline
Causes of the French Revolution

This French Revolution timeline gives you major events of the French Revolution. These major events will give insight into the causes of the French Revolution. In creating this it really helped clarify for me the history of France during this important and tumultuous time.

What you should know first:
France was on a Feudal system consisting of three groups of people called Estates.
The First Estate was the clergy who paid no taxes and owned 10% of the land. They had major influence on the government.
The Second Estate was the nobility who paid very little taxes and got all the important government jobs.
The Third Estate was everybody else from poor peasant to rich businessmen (the bourgeois). They paid the most taxes. This is the group that wanted change.

French Revolution Timeline
The Beginning

1775 – 1789
American Revolution. The French military help the American colonists defeat the British. This cost the French a lot of money adding to their huge financial problems.

King Louis XVI and his minister of finance Charles Alexandre de Calonne decided the only way out of France’s huge financial dept was to make Estate One and Two pay their fair share of the taxes. No success. The parliament (the nobility) voted no. Sound familiar?

Summer: Poor harvest leads to high bread prices and unemployment goes sky high.
September: King agrees to assemble the Estates General. This hadn’t happened in over 100 years.
December: King agrees the Third Estate will have twice as many representatives as the other two.

May 5: Estates General meet at Versailles.

French Revolution Timeline

June 17: The Third Estate changes their name to National Assembly.
July 12-14: Riots in Paris
July 14: Fall of the Bastille (the prison in Paris)

This day is celebrated in France every year and called Bastille Day. They have all sorts of fun Bastille Day traditions you can enjoy when you're there.

July- August: The Great Fear
August 4: Feudal rights abolished by the National Assembly.
August 26: Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen
October 5-6: March of the market women to Versailles
October 6: The Royal Family and National Assembly are moved from Versailles to Paris.
November 2: Church property seized.

February 13: Suppression of religious orders of nuns, priests and monks (except for those engaged in teaching or charitable work).
June 19: Abolition of the titles of nobility.
July 12: The Civil Constitution of the Clergy adopted
July 12: The king asks foreign countries for help against the revolution.
Fall and Winter: Growing unrest sparked by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.

March 10: The “Civil Constitution of the Clergy” is condemned by the Pope.
June 20: The Royal family flee Paris to Varennes; the king is brought back to Paris five days later.
September 14: King accepts a new constitution.
Fall and Winter: Legislative Assembly meet for the first time; rise of the Girondins.

April 20: War is declared on Austria (then Prussia)
Spring: Army loses too many battles; economic situation gets worse; sans-culotte become more dissatisfied.

French Revolution Timeline

August 10: The Tuilleries is stormed, the king overthrown and imprisoned.
September 2-6: Massacre of prisoners in Paris.
September 20: French defeat Prussian army at Valmy; setting up of the National Convention.
September 21: First meeting of the National Convention; monarchy abolished.
Fall: Tensions grow between the moderate Girondins and the extreme Jacobins.
November 6: French army gain more victory in the war with the Prussians.
December: The king brought to trial.

January 21: King Louis XVI executed.
February 1: France declares war on Britain and Holland.
March 7: War declared on Spain.
March 9: Convention authorizes recruitment of 300,000 men for the army.
March 11: Revolt in the Vendee begins.
March 26: Committee of Public Safety established replacing Parliament.
April 4: General Dumouriez deserts to the Austrians.
May-October: Federalists revolt in the provinces wanting greater local freedom.
May 29-June 2: Te moderate Girondins overthrown.
June 24: Constitution gives voting rights to all males.
July 13: Charlotte Corday, a supporter of the deposed Girondins, murders Marat, a revolutionary extremist.

French Revolution Timeline
Jacobin Power

July 27: Robespierre joins the powerful Committee of Public Safety.
August 23: Universal Military Service is mandated “levee en masse”
September 5: Herbertist (extreme Jacobins) uprising; Reign of Terror is declared leading to 40,000 “enemies” executed.
October 16: Execution of Marie Antoinette.
October 24-31: Trial and execution of Girondin leaders.

March 14-24: Execution of Herbertists
April 5: Execution of Danton and his supporters (moderate Jacobins).
June 8: Festival of the Supreme Being.
June 10: Law of 22 Prairial increases power of Reign of Terror to arrest “suspects.”
Summer: French military re-conquers Belgium.
July 28: Execution of Robespierre and his followers (extreme Jacobins); repeal of the law of 22 Prairie

French Revolution Timeline
End Years

July 31-August 10: Reorganization of the Committee of Public Safety and Revolutionary Tribunal.
Fall: “Gilded Youths” attack Jacobins, the White Terror (anti-Jacobins violence)
November 12: Closure of the Jacobin Club.
December: Some Girodins return to the convention.

April 1: Sans-culottes uprising is suppressed.
May-June: Worst excesses of the White Terror occur.
October 6: The last sans-culotte uprising is stopped.
October 26: The 5 man Directory takes power and rules the country.

Napoleon’s Northern Italy campaigns win more power for France and give him a star reputation.

November 9-10:
Napoleon overthrows Directory and become First Consul on his terms: absolute ruler/military dictator.

More on the History of France

Return from French Revolution Timeline to French Culture Adventures

French Revolution Timeline source material: The French Revolution by Phyllis Corzine; The French Revolution by Adrian Gilbert; France by Colin Jones.

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