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France, situated in western Europe, is officially named the French Republic and is comprised of Europe and Overseas France, which is made up of French territories which are outside of Europe. France's capital is Paris, and its official language is French.

After the end of the American Revolution, the French began to slide down the slippery slope of financial insolvency. As if the the gigantic expense of their support of the patriots and the out of control spending of King Louis XVI were not bad enough, they had suffered nearly twenty years of failing crops, cattle disease, drought, and skyrocketing brea prices. The commoners had little to eat, yet their taxes were moving upward all the time. They were resentful of the government and expressed it by rioting, looting, and going on strike with more and more frequency.

In 1614, when France had morphed into a despotic monarchy. The Third Estate (the working people, or the bourgeoisie had grown to 98%, but they could still be outvoted by the First Estate (the clergy) and the Second Estate (nobility). In 1789, in an effort to save of the impending revolt, the king's advisor proposed a that the First and Second Estates no longer be exempt from paying taxes.

In 1789, there were rumors of a coming military coup, and people were uneasy, and on July 14, rioters stormed the Bastille, a military prison and fortress which held gunpowder and other supplies which would be invaluable to revolutionaries. The people also saw the Bastille as a symbol of the French monarchy's monarchy, particularly Louis XVI and his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette.

The Bastille had housed such political dissidents as Voltaire, and the Marquis de Sade, who had been moved earlier in the summer after he screamed out of the window that prisoners were being massacred. But now it was old, and it was about to be razed and turned into art of a public square and there are only seven prisoners housed there: four for forgery, two were said to be lunatics, and one was there at the request of his family.

But on the afternoon of July 14, the governor of the Bastille, Bernard-René de Launay, watched the mob, dreading where this was going. The mob demanded he surrender, and he asked them to send in delegates to negotiate. He had no orders from the king, and he appeared to be negotiating in good faith. But the people outside only knew that their delegates were inside for a very long time, and they believed that their delegates had been imprisoned. Soon a group climbed over the outer wall, lowering a drawbridge to the courtyard, letting the crowd to swarm the Bastille. They were working on a second drawbridge when Launay, forgetting his promise entirely, shouted orders for his soldiers to open fire. almost 100 people died, and dozens more were wounded.

Later that afternoon, a detachments of French Guards bent on mutiny arrived. It was well-known that many of these guards were sympathetic to the revolutionaries' plight. The guards b read blasting their cannons at the Bastille, and de Launay soon surrendered. They arrested him and walked him to city hall, but before they could get there, the crowd separated him from his escort and murdered him before they cut off his head, which was displayed on a pike and then paraded around the city. Several other royalists were killed, and unbeknownst to any of them this was simply a preview of the vengeance and blood that would be the French Revolution.

Over the months, as the Assembly struggled with a new constitution, the crowd did not subdued. When the Assembly finally came out with a constitution, it had a provision for a monarchy, which the people did not want, and the king would have veto power, which they did not like even more. Radicals to whom the people listened, like Maximilien de Robespierre and Georges Danton led the crowd in staunch opposition.

The crowds seized and imprisoned the king and queen, condemning them to death for high treason and crimes against the state. He was executed by guillotine on January 21, 1793, and she was executed in the same manner nine months later.

And then things got really violent. In June of 1793, the Jacobins took control of the National Convention from the moderates and established more radical measures, including the eradication of Christianity and began a 10-month Reign of Terror during which they rounded up suspected enemies of the revolution and guillotined them by the thousands. A large number of these executions were ordered by Robespierre, who led the Committee of Public Safety imdil his execution on July 28, 1794. His death ushered in the beginning of the Thermidorian Reaction, which was a phase in which the people revolted against the excesses of the Reign of Terror.

More than 17,000 people were officially tried and executed during the Reign of Terror. Additionally, an unknown number of people died in prison or without a trial.



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