French Revolution

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The Tennis Court Oath (1789).
The Execution of the French King Louis XVI in Paris, January 21, 1793.
During the French Revolution (French: La Révolution Française; 1789-1799) democracy and republicanism replaced the absolute monarchy in France, and the French sector of the Roman Catholic Church was forced to undergo radical restructuring. While France would oscillate among republic, empire, and monarchy for 75 years after the First Republic fell to a coup d'état by Napoléon Bonaparte, the revolution nonetheless spelled a definitive end to the ancien régime, and eclipses both subsequent revolutions in France in the popular imagination. It is widely seen as a major turning point in continental European history, from the age of absolutism to that of the citizenry, and even of the masses, as the dominant political force.

The Start of the French Revolution

The Tennis Court Oath. (French: serment du jeu de paume), was a pledge signed by 577 members of France's Third Estate 1 on June 20, 1789. It is often considered the start of the French Revolution.

The relation of the French and Haitian Revolutions

The French and Haitian Revolutions are interconnected in many ways and one might say that it was Toussaint Louverture's and Jean-Jacques Dessalines genius that enabled them to lead the rebels in Saint-Domingue (later renamed Haiti) toward their final victory over France through successful military, political and diplomatic navigation of the upheavals of the outgoing 18th century, These upheavals of course were very much related to the emergence of capitalism as a driving economic force and the revolutions in countries such as the United States and France.

Roume and Jean-Paul Marat

One example of the interconnectedness of these two important revolutions in the outgoing 18th century, is the relationship between Roume one of the the French envoys - sent to Saint-Domingue in November of 1791 just months after the events at Bois Caïman and the Boukman Rebellion - and Jean-Paul Marat, a leading figure of the French Revolution. Roume did use his influence in Spain, to obtain the directorship of the Academy of Sciences in Madrid for Marat. (Belfort Bax chapter III) While Roume was ultimately expelled by Toussaint Louverture in 1800 after his second stint in the colony, he was an important representative of revolutionary France in Saint-Domingue at the time and therefore sent to enforce the bourgeois ideals of France, that did not coincide with the slaves wishes for freedom and equality.

Note 1: France, under the Ancien Régime (the monarchy before the French Revolution), divided society into three estates: the First Estate or clergy; the Second Estate or nobility; and the Third Estate or commoners.

See Also


  • French Revolution. (2005, December 5). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:20, December 5, 2005 [1].
  • Belfort Bax, Ernest. (1900) Jean-Paul Marat, The People’s Friend. London: Grant Richards. (Available online at
  • James, C.L.R. (1989). The Black Jacobins. Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. (2nd Ed., Revised) New York: Vintage Press. ISBN 0-679-72467-2.
  • Wikipedia contributors (2006). Estates of the realm. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:08, February 12, 2006 [2].

External links