The French Revolution
The French Revolution began in 1789 with an uprising of peasants, artisans and middle classes against the monarchy. King Louis XVI ruled France with almost unlimited authority. The lower and middle classes had no say in how the country was governed but paid high taxes to finance the monarchy, aristocracy and clergy. Wanting a fairer form of government, the lower and middle classes demanded a constitution (set of laws and principles governing a country) which the king would also be answerable to.

The king refused and so the representatives of the lower and middle classes formed a new government called the National Assembly. Its supporters believed in liberty and equality. The king tried to close the National Assembly and so people began to revolt against their masters throughout France. The period known as the Reign of Terror began and violent members of the new government took charge such as Robespierre and Danton. Many people were executed including the king, queen and members of the aristocracy. Although a constitution was now in place the French people tired of the violence, and in 1795 a more moderate government called the Directory was established. However, this government had many problems and the French Revolution ended in 1799 when Napoleon took complete power.