Old Regime
The political and social system that existed in France before the French Revolution
One of the three social classes in France before the French Revolution-the First Estate consisting of the clergy; the Second Estate, of the nobility; and the Third Estate, of the rest of the population
Louis XVI
Became king in 1774. He inherited part of his parents debt in France and borrowed money heavily to help the American revolutionaries in their war against Great Britain. This doubled the government's debt. This leader was indecisive and paid little attention to his governments advisers and spent time hunting and tinkering with locks.
Marie Antoinette
Married Louis XVI when he was 15 and she was 14. She was a member of the royal family of Austria (Frances long time enemy) causing her to become unpopular at the start of her reign. She spend much money on gowns, jewels, and gifts being known as Madame Deficit.
Estate General
An assembly of representatives from all three of the estates, or social classes, in France.
National Assembly
A French congress established by representatives of the Third Estate on June 17, 1789, to enact laws and reforms in the name of the French people.
Tennis Court Oath
a pledge made by the members of France's National Assembly in 1789, in which they vowed to continue meeting until they had drawn up a new constitution.
Great Fear
a wave of senseless panic that spread through the French countryside after the storming of the Bastille in 1789.
Abbe Sieyes
A leading spokesperson for the Third Estates viewpoint was a clergyman sympathetic to their cause. This person would argued "What is the Third Estate? Everything. What has it been up to now in the political order? Nothing. What does it demand? To become something herein."
Declaration of the Rights of Man
a statement of revolutionary ideals adopted by France's National Assembly in 1789.
Legislative Assembly
A French congress with the power to create laws and approve declarations of war, established by the Constitution of 1791.
people who leave their native country for political reasons, like the nobles and others who fled France during the peasant uprisings of the French Revolution.
in the French Revolution, a radical group made up of Parisian wage earners and small shopkeepers who wanted a greater voice in government, lower prices, and an end of food shortages.
a machine for beheading people, used as a means of execution during the French Revolution.
Maximilien Robespierre
Him and his supporters set out to build a "republic of virtue." They tried to wipe out every trace of France's past monarch and nobility.
Olympe de Gouges
Wrote a declaration of the rights of women. Her ideas were rejected and eventually lost her head as an enemy of the Revolution.
Committee of Public Safety
a committee established during the French Revolution to identify "enemies of the republic."
Reign of Terror
the period, from mid-1793 to mid-1794, when Maximilien Robespierre ruled France nearly as a dictator and thousands of political figures and ordinary citizens were executed.