Study Guide

Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen Timeline

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May 10, 1774

King Louis XVI Becomes King of France

Louis was only nineteen and France was on the edge of bankruptcy, but we're guessing there are good times ahead…? Nope? Okay then.

February 6, 1778

France Officially joins the United States in Its War Against Great Britain

France had been unofficially supporting the U.S. for two years, but they finally started admitting it—and hey, they can afford it right?

Hmm…turns out they really can't.

January 24, 1789

King Louis XVI Calls for a Meeting of the Estates General

France's finances had finally gotten so bad that the king is willing to try asking a representative body to meet and solve the problem for him.

May 5, 1789

The Estates General Meets in Versailles

Things didn't go well. It turns out the privileged classes weren't willing to raise taxes on themselves and they could outvote the lower classes every time. What's a Third Estate to do?

June 20, 1789

Members of the Third Estate Take the Tennis Court Oath

After being locked out of their meeting room for declaring themselves the National Assembly and actually trying to fix France's money problems, the Third Estate met in the King's indoor tennis court (ooh, fancy!) and promised to write a constitution.

July 14 1789

The Storming of the Bastille

Angry mobs in Paris broke into and burned down a prison in a somewhat misguided attempt to get weapons and release political prisoners, neither of which were housed there.

August 26, 1789

The Assembly Adopts the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen

Finally getting something done, the National Assembly agreed on basic rights and a direction for that constitution they'll eventually get around to.

October 5-6, 1789

The Women's March on Versailles

An angry mob demanding bread marched on Versailles and forced the King and his family to move back to Paris where they're placed in a state of house arrest, the National Assembly relocates too.

September 3, 1791

France Adopts Its First Constitution

Using the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen as a preamble the French representatives finally agreed on a constitution making France a republic. Unfortunately, it doesn't last very long and they burn through two other constitutions as the Revolution became increasingly violent.

January 21, 1793

Louis XVI Is Beheaded

After a trial in which he was found guilty of conspiracy, Louis was sent to the guillotine. The queen was also beheaded about nine months later.

November 9, 1799

Napoleon Bonaparte Became the Ruler of France

After leading the French military in several victories, Napoleon returned to France and mounted a successful coup ending the French Revolution.

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