The French Revolution

The French Revolution Timeline is here:

The Haitian Revolution was caused, in part, by the French Revolution.


Olympe de Gouges, 1791

Robespierre Revolutionary Violence February 1794




L’Ancien Regime

Louis XIV (reigned 1643 – 1715) was the absolute monarch of all absolute monarchs in the age of Absolutism. He was the most powerful ruler of 17th Century Europe. Un roi, un foi, un loi. One King, one faith, one law, was the rule of his France.

Louis managed his reputation very carefully, commissioning many paintings like this one which displayed him as an individual of incomparable majesty and splendour. Under his reign, Versailles was constructed in the baroque style.

Louis XIV secured the loyalty of all the old nobles by requiring them to visit him at Versailles at least once a year. They would stay in apartments within the royal palace itself (Levack 498). They were forbidden from holding important offices in the realm (Louis didn’t want them to have too much power); instead “he recruited men from the mercantile and professional classes to run his government”(Levack 399). How did Louis get the nobles to accept this diminished role? Patronage. They were granted privileges in exchange for their loyalty.

Their economic system was deeply mercantilist (the wealth of the state depended on its ability to import fewer commodities than it exported). He was a great patron of the arts, and it was under his rule that L’academie francaise was established in 1635. His military conquests suggest he had goals of establishing an absolute empire, like ancient Rome or Charlemagne in the ninth century. Wars were costly, and were being fought on too many fronts (including in North America).



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