Weekly Discussion and Review Questions


Chapter 1 The French Revolution

Questions of the Documents:

  1. Concerning the nature of the French political constitution what is the major difference between the views of Lamoignon (1787) and Abbé Sieyes (1788)?
  2. Why does the latter reject the traditional organization of the Estates General?
  3. List the most important demands and requests made by the clergy, the nobility, and the third estate in their cahiers. Compare and contrast these demands and requests, i.e. what do they seem to agree on, and where do they differ. Can you account for these similarities and differences?
  4. Why is the countryside plagued with unrest during these early months? What do the peasants seem to want? Why do they attack the squires and chateaus?
  5. On 4 August 1789, "The National Assembly completely abolishes the feudal regime." What was feudalism? What was radical about this decision and how did it affect the social order of France?
  6. To what extent did the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and the decree abolishing the feudalism address the goals listed in the cahiers? Where do they fail to meet the demands of the estates?
  7. Why was there no response to the appeal of Olympe de Gourges?
  8. What are the October days and why are they so important?
  9. Today, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy might seem trivial. What was so important about it in 1790? What did it mean in terms of Church-State relations? How did the Enlightenment influence the rhetoric in the debate over this Civil Constitution of the Clergy?
  10. What is the significance of the flight to Varennes?
  11. What arguments are used in the debate on the war in 1791-92. What kinds of agendas lie hidden behind these arguments?
  12. What are the August Days and the September massacres? Why are they considered a "radicalization" of the revolution? What kind of forces come to power as a result?
  13. What impact could you imagine these accounts of events in Paris would have upon Europe?
  14. What is the "reign of terror and why was it employed by the National Convention?
  15. What characterizes the early stages of the executions?
  16. How are they related to foreign affairs?
  17. What is significant in the Decree of 6 April 1793 setting up the "Committee of Public Safety?"
  18. Analyze the Law of Suspects of 17 September 1793. On what grounds may one be arrested? How does one prove one's innocence?
  19. Why has the terror escalated? Why was it particularly brutal in the countryside? Why did it turn into a campaign of de-Christianization?
  20. Who are the sans culottes and what are their goals? How are their goals different from the original demands of the third estate before the fall of 1789? What new role do they demand of the government?
  21. Why does Minister Roland (Gironde) oppose them?
  22. In March 1791, what are the demands of the Jacobins as formulated by Robespierre? Why is citizenship an issue? How does his position differ from the way the ancien regime and the early revolutionaries thought political roles should be determined?
  23. Compare and contrast Robespierre's proposed revised version of 1793 with the original Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen of 27 August 1789. What are the major differences?

Chapter Summary Questions:

Terms to Know:


Doubling the Third

National Assembly

the "Nation"

cahiers de doleances

feudal obligations,

Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen

Civil Constitution of the Clergy



the Terror,

August Days


Thermidorian Reaction

French Revolutionary Governments

Estates General: May -October 1789

National Assembly: October 1789-1792

National Convention: August 1792-1794 [Com. of Public Safety, April 1793-July 1794]

Directory: July (Thermidor) 1794-1799

Consulate (Napoleon as First Consul): 1799-1801

Empire (Napoleon): 1801-1814


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