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Hello, and welcome back to history at the Oak National Academy.

My name is Mr Arscott, and this is the start of a brand new inquiry looking at whether the French Revolution was Enlightened.

Now if you haven't heard the word enlightened or enlightenment before, then you might want to have a go at the first two lessons of the last inquiry, which was, did the Enlightenment fuel the American Revolution? Now if you do know anything about the enlightenment already you know some things about enlightenment thinkers, then this inquiry is ready to go for you, and you'll be brilliant.

Now for today's lesson, you're going to need a piece of paper and a pen.

I'm going to ask you to start by writing down today's title, which is the Ancien Regime.

When I get my face out the way you'll be able to see how that's spelt.

And that's because in today's lesson and in the next few lessons, we're going to be looking at the events in France.

So there's going to be some French words like Ancien Regime, that we're going to come across.

Right I'll get my head out the way so we can begin.

So the Ancien Regime it just means French for roughly old system.

And that's what we're going to be looking at today, the old system, which means how France was governed before the revolution.

So I hope you've now or copy that title, the Ancien Regime and we'll begin.

So today we're going to start a new inquiry on whether the French Revolution was Enlightened.

Now, when we looked at the American Revolution, we saw that there was a bit of a debate about whether the war for independence was inspired by new Enlightenment ideas, or older conservative ideas.

Now, as we're going to find out, historians also continue to debate about the influence of the Enlightenment on the French Revolution.

So, what actually happened in the French Revolution? Well, as we can see in the picture on the right, it was violent.

Famously, the French executed their king and set up a republic.

This action certainly was revolutionary.

The king was not killed in battle, but instead by his own people.

However, was it Enlightened? Well, Enlightenment thinking was meant to use reason to discover new knowledge.

It was not meant to lead to bloody violence.

In fact, many Enlightenment thinkers like Voltaire, opposed the death sentence.

So over the next four lessons, we will look at evidence to help us answer this question, was the French Revolution Enlightened? And we're going to find out there's evidence on both sides, some which suggest it was enlightened, and some would suggest, actually, it was not at all.

Now first of all, we're going to look at what France was like before the revolution.

So to help us find out about Ancien Regime France, so France before the revolution, I want you to have a look at this picture.

Now, there's a few really interesting thing we can learn from it.

But so I want you to study it quite carefully, so if you pause the video I want you to write down two or three things, that you can see, once it's paused.

Once you've done that, unpause the video.

So, this picture can tell us a lot of what we want to know about Ancien Regime France, so France and the old system.

So the first thing you might notice is that we can see four plump and well dressed men sat in the back of a fourth man.

No sorry, we can see three well dressed men, plump well dressed men on the back of a fourth man.

Now, the fourth man who's on the floor is clearly suffering.

Each figure the picture actually represents a key and important social group in pre-revolutionary France.

So let's find out who they were.

So the two men at the top represent the clergy and the aristocracy.

The clergy means people who work for the church.

They're the people like priests or nuns or bishops.

The aristocracy they were the wealthy people who inherit their power.

We sometimes call them the nobility.

You might have learned about some members of nobility called the barons in year seven.

Now, at the front, we see the French King, Louis XVI.

So let's just briefly take stock of that.

So if you could pause the video for one minute now, and we're to write down these three definitions, and I want you to think about the man at the bottom.

Who might he be? So pause the video for one minute now and unpause it when you're done.

So, welcome back.

Who do we think the man at the bottom is meant to represent? Well, he's meant to represent ordinary French people.

Let's notice how he has no clothes on but he is wearing chains and how he's having to carry everyone else.

What do you think the message of the cartoon is? So one message might be that French's society in the Ancien Regime, was unequal.

Another message might be that ordinary French people were exploited by the wealthier social groups.

Exploited means they were used by the wealthier social groups.

So, what I'm going to ask you to do now is, again pause the video, and I want you to answer these questions.

What can you see and what do you think is the message of the cartoon? And you can see there's a couple of sentence starters to help.

Unpause the video when you're done.

So before we start looking into what France was like, before the French Revolution, this thing we called the Ancien Regime, is worth looking at this in a zoomed out timeline.

This shows a timeline of some major events that you might have studied in school already, or might go on to study.

So you might have already looked at Henry VIII's break of Rome which happened in the middle of the 16th century.

And you're probably going to look at the first World War at some point whilst you're in key stage three.

Now we're going to looking at the French Revolution, which, as you can see happened at the end of the 18th century, just after the American Revolution.

And where did it take place? Well, the French Revolution unsurprisingly took place in France, which is labelled there, in one of the pink circles.

And France is right next to Britain.

And as I just said, it happened after the American Revolution, which happened over on the eastern side of the United States of America.

Right, let's find out what France was like before the revolution.

So here we see the French King and Queen before the revolution.

In the Ancien Regime, they were the two most powerful people.

Little did they know that in a few years time, or little after these were painted, that they were both be executed by their own people.

Now France was an absolute monarchy, which meant the French King Louis XVI, that's his name.

Louis XVI did not need to share power, so he could choose new law or arrest anyone without having to ask anyone else.

His wife, Marie Antoinette, was seen as the most fashion.

as one of the most fashionable women in Europe.

Now, together they live in a huge palace called Versailles.

And they live a very, very expensive lifestyle.

But by 1789, despite their wealth and power, France was facing a crisis.

A crisis means a really big problem that is difficult to know how to solve.

So in the next five minutes, we're going to try to find out why France was facing a crisis.

You might want to write this down, why was Louis XVI facing a crisis in 1789 as a subheading.

If you want to do that, pause the video now to do so.


So, the key reason why Louis XVI was facing a crisis was that France was in debt.

So what debt means is that France owed lots of money.

In fact, it owed more money than it could pay.

Now, France had supported the USA in its war of independence against Britain.

Although France and the Americans won, the war cost huge amounts of money for France.

The French court of Versailles was also spending more money than the government was bringing in.

Now, how do governments normally bring in money? Well, the way they normally do it is that governments collect money.

they collect money through taxes, they tax ordinary people, they use that to spend on the things that government spend money on, like wars, or new buildings and things like that.

So if France was in debt, why couldn't Louis XVI not just raise taxes and pay the money off so France didn't have any debt anymore? Well, the key reason why Louis XVI could not just raise taxes was because of an old fashioned system.

This system was called The Three Estates.

And the three states said there were legal differences between different types of people in French society.

So let's go through this and then we'll come back to the question of taxes.

So, the First Estate was made up of people who worked in the church.

Now, this was only about 1% of the population, but the church was very wealthy.

It owned around 10% of land in France.

So about 1% of people owned about 10% the land.

Now despite this wealth, the clergy did not need to pay any taxes.

In return, the church taught the ordinary people that the French King was chosen by God.

So they didn't need to pay taxes because they're supporting Louis XVI rule France.

Now, the Second Estate was even wealthier.

It was made up of the aristocrats.

We could also call them nobles.

And they owned a huge 25% of the land in France.

Now this is even more shocking because only 2% of the population was part of the aristocracy.

So a small number owned a quarter of the wealth.

Now, the Second Estate did need to pay some taxes, but they also collected taxes for the monarch.

So the aristocracy was able to earn money whilst taking.

While paying some of their own taxes.

So they took some money for themselves.

As a result, the aristocracy supported the French King's absolute rule of France, because they are making money out of it.

Now the Third Estate is symbolised by the man at the bottom.

Everyone who is not an aristocrat, or a member of the church was in the Third Estate.

And the Third Estate had to pay a lot of taxes.

And this is made worse by the fact that most members of the Third Estate were very poor peasants.

So take a look at this table, which summarises the differences between the three estates.

Now I'm shortly going to change the slide, so that some gaps will appear in this table.

And I'm going to ask you to pause the video for 30 seconds now to try to remember all the different information in this table.


Get a pen.

And I'm going to ask you to try to write down from memory, what is in these gaps in the table.

Now, you might want to copy out the entire table for your notes.

So if you do want to do that, pause the video now and once you've completed it, we can come back, and we'll go through the answers.

Right, let's see if you're right.

Well done for any that you did manage to get right.

I suggest that right now you correct any you didn't get right by pausing the video here.

Now it's also worth learning a bit more about the Third Estate because they're meant to represent 97% population and as they are the ones who again pay all the taxes, they're an important group to know about.

Now the Third Estate weren't all the same in 1789.

So let's find out a bit more about them.

So there's three main groups that we could say are part of the Third Estate.

We're going to talk about all three of them.

Firstly, we're going to talk about the Bourgeoisie.

So, the Third Estate made up 97%, of the French population, but not all of them were the same.

Now the Bourgeoisie were the middle class.

And some were quite wealthy, now as you can see from this painting of a Bourgeoisie family, they can afford nice fashionable clothes.

The Bourgeoisie they tend to be the kind of people that made money from owning businesses, or they might work as lawyers or doctors.

And because of these jobs, they earn good wages.

And they are well educated.

Now as a result of a good education, they knew all about the Enlightenment ideas.

And in fact, like the American colonists, they were very unhappy that they are paying so much money to the French King, without being represented in a parliament.

Because France was an absolute monarchy, there was no Parliament for them to be able to vote for.

Now, the other members of the Third Estate were very poor.

One group had a strange name.

This is why our next weird French words, and they're called the Sans culottes.

Now the Sans culottes were poor workers who lived in cities.

Have it, the majority of the Third Estate were peasants.

And they were the vast majority and not only of the Third Estate.

But the entire French population.

Now as you can see from the painting on the right, both the Sans culottes and the peasants were poor.

In fact, both groups feared that they would starve if they had to pay any more money in taxes.

Now, both groups were desperate, and in 1789, there was a risk, or at least from the French Kings perspective, there's a risk they might rebel.

So, Louis XVI faced a crisis because France owed lots of money in debt, but it was difficult for him to raise money in taxes.

So who should Louis XVI tax more? Have a read through these options and decide what you do if you were Louis XVI.

Pause the video for one minute whilst you make your choice.

So there's no real wrong answers here it's up to you what you would decide if you were Louis XVI.

But let's look a bit more about Louis XVI's options.

So firstly, he could try to carry out reforms based on Enlightenment ideas.

In the Salons of Paris, people were talking and getting excited about all the new Enlightened ideas.

They're talking about things like getting rid of the estates so that all the people would pay the same taxes.

They were also talking about ideas like creating a parliament so the bourgeoisie could be involved in government decisions.

Now that in some way would solve Louis XVI's problems because it could bring more money in.

But it was not an attractive option for Louis XVI, because it would stop him being an absolute monarch.

He would lose control if he had to start ruling with a parliament or if he had to start breaking up The Three Estate system.

So what else could Louis do? Well alternatively, Louis XVI could decide to use his absolute control to force the people to pay more taxes.

Now in the centre of Paris was a prison called the Bastille.

And Louis XVI could potentially increase taxes and then lock up anyone who criticised him or refused to pay.

And that way Louis could maybe maintain control.

But this was a risky strategy and risky because if he forced people to pay more taxes, and it could be from any group, they would force them to pay more taxes, they're likely to be very unhappy.

And if they are poor and desperate, they might rise up in a rebellion.

Now, if the people of.

If the Sans culottes or the peasants rebelled, Louis then needed to ask another question, which is, would his army support him in keeping control? Right.

Now, you and I are in a really good position to have a go at tryna answer some comprehension questions.

So like in previous lessons what I'm going to ask you to do is to shortly, pause the video, go to the next page, read through the information in the slides and then have a go at answering the comprehension questions.

Now I'll read through the questions first.

So there's any wording that's been unclear, you'll at least get to hear it first.

So question one will be, who were the clergy? You might be in a good position to answer that before you read the information.

The second question is, what were the benefits of being part of the First or Second Estates? Question three, why were members of the bourgeoisie unhappy about paying taxes? Question four, which groups could not afford to pay more taxes? Question five, which is the challenge, a very difficult question we've got to think a bit for yourself is to try to answer why was Louis XVI's government facing a crisis? Now remember, aim to try to answer these in full sentences.

And for most of the questions, you'll need to read all the information first before you have a go answering them.

These questions are at the back of the slides.

You don't need to write them down now.

So you want to pause the video now, read the slides on the next page and then return this video to go through the answers once you're finished.

Okay, welcome back.

So, question one who were the clergy? So an acceptable answer.

People who work for the church, a good answer in a full sentence and a bit more information is, the clergy means people who work for the church.

Under the Ancien Regime, the clergy were known as the First Estate.

The clergy were a small proportion of French society, around 1%.

Now remember, if you didn't write exactly what I've written, that does not mean you got it wrong.

There's lots of different ways to phrase things in history.

Look for common language and you might have got the right answer.

Question two.

What were the benefits of being part of the First or Second Estates? Some acceptable answers, few taxes or could influence government, but a good answer in a full sentence would be under the Ancien Regime, members of the First or Second Estates could influence government decisions and work as government ministers.

They also paid few taxes than members of the Third Estate.

Question three.

Why were members of the bourgeoisie unhappy about paying taxes? An acceptable answer.

They could not influence government.

A good answer in a full sentence, members of the bourgeoisie thought they paid an unfair amount of tax compared to the aristocracy.

Members of the bourgeoisie wanted to have a say in how much they were taxed and how money was spent.


Question four, which groups could not afford to pay more taxes, an acceptable answer could be the sans culottes, which means the town workers, or we could also include the peasants.

A good answer, most members of the Third Estate could not afford to pay more taxes.

Peasants and town workers, known as sans culottes were struggling to feed their families and pay taxes.

Right, question five.

Why was Louis XVI's government facing a crisis? So some acceptable answers can include large debt or society changing.

The good answer, Louis XVI's government was facing a crisis for two main reasons.

Firstly, his government had large debts but could not collect enough money in tax.

Secondly, French society had changed and new groups like the bourgeoisie were demanding change.


Brilliant if you managed to get those answers right.

And you may at this point be running out of time, if that's the case, you can stop the video now and go on to the final quiz.

If however, if you have a bit more time, then it's worth having a go at the extension activity, which will support your thinking from tryna answer our big inquiry question, about whether the French Revolution was Enlightened.

So, our question today is, did the Enlightenment contribute to the crisis of 1789? And when we say contribute, we mean, did it help cause it.

So did it play a role in creating this crisis of 1789? So a few things that you might say, well before the.

During the ouster Ancien Regime during the 18th century, as we talked about before, there was a Salon culture, especially in Paris.

And this is where people talk about Enlightenment ideas.

And this included members of bourgeoisie and the aristocracy.

So there're lots of new ideas going around France at this point.

And that might have made some people think it'd be a good idea to try to change things that might contribute to the crisis.

It made people a bit more kind of questioning of Louis XVI.

Part of that Salon culture was that people were criticising absolute monarchy.

They liked the idea of the constitutional monarchy in England, and they also liked these new ideas about rights and liberty and equality that had come from the Enlightened thinkers, but it's also been made to work in America.

So for those reasons, it might seem like the Enlightenment did contribute to the crisis in 1789.

So let's think a bit more about what some of our different Enlightenment thinkers might have thought about what Louis XVI was doing.

Think about how they might have criticised Louis XVI.

So let's go through these one by one.

So one way that Louis XVI might been criticised, is that Enlightenment thinkers might have thought that the clergy should be taxed.

So Voltaire thought it was wrong the wealthy Catholic Church could avoid paying taxes.

Another way that Enlightenment thinkers might have criticised Louis XVI is that they might have thought he should create a parliament.

John Locke, and maybe some other Enlightenment thinkers would have said that the bourgeoisie should be represented in a parliament.

And that's something that Locke was a big supporter of, in England or in Britain.

They might have also thought that he should end absolute control.

Saint Montesquieu thought that the monarch and aristocracy had become corrupt, and he thought they are corrupt, because they were holding too much power.

So he thought that if there'd been some checks and balances, or separation of powers, then France might have been governed in a better way.

And finally, he could've been criticised, because government did not represent the people.

So Rousseau would have said that people should be able to have a say in government through democratic votes.

Now, we've looked at these ideas before, but now we're seeing how they apply to the Ancien Regime of France.

So let's get back to this question.

Did the Enlightenment contribute to the crisis of 1789? Now what you've got here is a few sentence starters and some key words you might want to use in order to create a really good answer.

So, I'm going to suggest you pause the video now and have a go at trying to answer this question.

Pause the video now and then we'll come back shortly.

Well done via hub, been really really fun tryna teach you about the start of French Revolution what was going on in France before the revolution started.

Now just finish lesson, I'm going to ask you to have a go at the end of lesson quiz so stop the video and then go on to that and then you're done.

Well done for today.