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French Revolution

The Storming of the Bastille, 14th July 1789The Storming of the Bastille, 14th July 1789 In 1789, a bad harvest and high taxation had led to widespread discontent in France. On 14th July 1789, a Parisian mob stormed the royal prison in the capital, the Bastille. Although there were few prisoners inside, the storming seriously weakened the authority and power of the French king, Louis XVI. At the same time, riots broke out across the country. The French Revolution had begun. Four years later, the king and his wife were dead and France had become a republic. 

Louis XVI, King of France from 1774 to 1791Louis XVI, King of France from 1774 to 1791

Causes of the Revolution

In the 1780s, discontent about taxation was growing among ordinary French people. Neither the clergy nor noble families in France paid any taxes. The burden of taxation fell on working people and peasants. In 1788, a bad harvest meant that many people were close to starvation. The country was almost bankrupt as a result of costly wars and the extravagant lifestyle of the monarchy. When the king refused to listen to the demands of the people, they formed the National Assembly. On 26th August 1789 the National Assembly made a Declaration of the Rights of Man, giving the same basic rights to all citizens, including liberty and equality.

On 14th July 1789, the day the Bastille was stormed, King Louis XVI wrote in his diary just one word: “Nothing”. He was referring to the results of his day’s hunting trip.

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