The French Revolution (1789–1799) was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France that had a fundamental impact on French history and on modern history worldwide. Experiencing an economic crisis exacerbated by the Seven Years War and the American Revolutionary War, the common people of France became increasingly frustrated by the ineptitude of King Louis XVI and the continued decadence of the aristocracy. This resentment, coupled with burgeoning Enlightenment ideals, fueled radical sentiments and launched the Revolution in 1789 with the convocation of theEstates-General in May. The first year of the Revolution saw members of the Third Estate proclaiming the Tennis Court Oath in June, the assault on the Bastille in July, the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August, and anepic march on Versailles that forced the royal court back to Paris in October. The next few years were dominated by struggles between various liberal assemblies and right-wing supporters of the monarchy intent on thwarting major reforms. A republic was proclaimed in September 1792 and King Louis XVI was executed the next year.
External threats shaped the course of the Revolution profoundly. The Revolutionary Wars began in 1792 and ultimately featured spectacular French victories that facilitated the conquest of the Italian Peninsula, the Low Countries and most territories west of the Rhine – achievements that had eluded previous French governments for centuries. Internally, popular agitation radicalized the Revolution significantly, culminating in the rise of Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins. The dictatorship imposed by the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror, from 1793 until 1794, caused up to 40,000 deaths inside France, abolished slavery in the colonies, and secured the borders of the new republic from its enemies. The bloody rule of the Jacobins sparked an internal backlash and ultimately sent Robespierre to the guillotine. After the fall of the Jacobins, the Directory assumed control of the French state in 1795 and held power until 1799. In that year, which marks the traditional conclusion of the Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the Directory in the Brumaire coup and established the Consulate. The primary successor state of the Revolution, the First Empire under Napoleon, emerged in 1804 and spread the new revolutionary principles all over Europe during the Napoleonic Wars. The First Empire finally collapsed in 1815 when the forces of reaction succeeded in restoring the Bourbons, albeit under a constitutional monarchy.
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