French Revolution

French Revolution

2005, History  -   40 Comments
Ratings: 6.92/10 from 78 users.

French RevolutionThe French Revolution (1789–1799) was a period of radical social and political upheaval in French and European history. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years. French society underwent an epic transformation as feudal, aristocratic, and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from liberal political groups and the masses on the streets. Old ideas about hierarchy and tradition succumbed to new Enlightenment principles of citizenship and inalienable rights.

The French Revolution began in 1789 with the convocation of the Estates-General in May. The first year of the Revolution witnessed 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 an epic march on Versailles that forced the royal court back to Paris in October. The next few years were dominated by tensions between various liberal assemblies and a conservative monarchy intent on thwarting major reforms. A republic was proclaimed in September 1792 and King Louis XVI was executed the next year.

External threats also played a dominant role in the development of the Revolution. The French Revolutionary Wars started 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 defied previous French governments for centuries. Internally, popular sentiments radicalized the Revolution significantly, culminating in the brutal Reign of Terror from 1793 until 1794. After the fall of Robespierre and the Jacobins, the Directory assumed control of the French state in 1795 and held power until 1799, when it was replaced by the Consulate under Napoleon Bonaparte.

More great documentaries

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Does anyone know where can I find the pictures of the actress that played marie antoinette with the dress that she wore in the film. Please help me find her.

Alberto Madolell
3 years ago

Too dramatically explained, perhaps, a little simplistic sometimes, and with some inaccuracies but on the whole it´s quite educational for non experts on such a complicated topic as the French Revolution is.

Jay Steff
6 years ago

The revolution in the USA was actually the precursor this revolution and they were so old world in how it was carried out (french revolution).. Maybe losers in our elections are not given the guillotine (Hillary)... at least the lies are then finished that way,,,,,

Jay Steff
6 years ago

The revolution in the USA was actually the precursor this revolution and they were so old world in how it was carried out.. Too bad losers in our elections were not given the guillotine (Hillary).

10 years ago

The links are not working.. Help?

11 years ago

I wonder how this would compare today with the internet revolution and the counter revolutionaries ?

Sarah Kelly
11 years ago

Fatuous, oversimplified, sanctimonious garbage. There are a couple of excellent scholars in this documentary participating in absolute twaddle, which overgeneralises at best and is patently false and misleading at worst. There is more than enough time to give a legitimate overview of this subject in ninety minutes; this fails on almost every level.

11 years ago

Not a bad stab at its genesis & subsequent aftermath. As with all politicians it is a matter of what is their motive & shows how absolute power corrupts absolutely? Even Ideals!!!!!!
Problem is with this programme is that it tends to focus too much on Robespierre! There were other clandestine / sinister characters i.e. a certain Joseph Fouche' rarely mentioned, a murdering so & so, who did more to topple Robespierre than anyone else, (in my view). He survived every regime & went on to become Napleon's chief of Police who finally gave Napoleon his order to leave Paris.
A classic example of politicians who think that they are more than human!!!!

11 years ago

only a matter of time before history repeats it's self.... it always does

11 years ago

This is a great lesson in history and also a cautionary tale. As we all seek justice and equality, we must always remember that to replace one regime of dehumanization with another is jut more of the same and is not revolutionary-Great Documentary.

11 years ago

Many Docus here are real pieces of art : congratulations guys

11 years ago

Good documentary. The story of the French Revolution raises some of the most important, enduring and unanswered philosophical questions of civilization. How should major societal change be enacted? Is such change possible without violence? If not, then when is violence acceptable? And what sort of violence? And how much?

It also offers some fantastically poignant philosophical lessons. The rise and fall of Robespierre is one of the best examples I know of the corrupting influence of power. His story is also a reminder that a strict moral compass will almost always disintegrate when the sociological issues it pretends to address are no longer hypothetical. Theories of morality and ethics and government often sound wonderful before anybody tries to implement them, but they are inevitably recognized as simplistic and badly flawed once they are faced with the real complexities of human sociology. And of course finally, it is important to recognize and never forget the overwhelming destructive power of raw human emotion - even amongst otherwise well-behaved and intelligent people. This should serve as a caution to us all, especially these days when it seems that nearly everywhere you look in the world, cries for revolution are being raised.

mark gaboury
12 years ago

Well done, and not so biased as some would claim. In the beginning one believes the Revolution is a good thing. But soon its bloody terror shows it to be bad. A republic attained by Reason alone can only lead to the worst kind of injustice: execution of anyone suspected of disagreeing with the powers that be, whose only measuring rod is their own philosophy.

free soul
12 years ago

"Well done but absolutely biased. It looks like it was commissioned by the Bourbons, or quite simply Americans just don’t like the French.. It represents the revolution as the work of few ideologues and radicals, without mentioning at all the rise of new bourgeoisie which was paying all taxes without any say in how the country was run."

I agree with Andy except the part "well done". This is a total hollywoodesque version of the french revolution. So many inventions, science break throughs, the roots of socialism... but no, let's just focus in the king, the queen, Robespierre and the guilhoutine.

12 years ago

the fabulous lives of wall street 'bankers' ..(criminals)
food for thought .. start here

12 years ago

follow the money ...
who bankrolled the money (14:45) that put them in debt ?

12 years ago

Sounds like a gr8 idea ...

12 years ago

Cheney’s head is NOT going to roll.
That is why we need a revolution.

12 years ago

Who made this film!
What is the title?

12 years ago

One inaccuracy has kept us from enjoying this documentary: the castle that is shown throughout the documentary as the chateau of Versailles is in actuality the chateau of Vaux-le-vicomte (built by nicolas fouquet during the rule of Louis XIV).

I'm assuming the producers couldn't get a proper licence from French authorities, but it was missleading nonetheless.

12 years ago when’s Cheney’s head going to roll?!

12 years ago

The pattern was pretty simple. Break despotism/monarchy, then let things stabilize. Add a required amount of bloodshed to the process. I wonder what Mr. Robespierre would say if he saw the state of France today, the whole of it. Or the true state and nature of the modern "democracy", dictatorship by those who have been selected by the people. Free press.. hah! You can maintain that illusion by allowing the little magazines write what they like, and make sure the very few biggest news sources don't show anything they're not supposed to.

Declaration of rights was just the beginning, we are now in process of writing the declaration of responsibilities. The next thing coming after that, should be the creation of a more fair and working trading system, than our money that's made out of thin air. 5% or less of it in gold, the rest thin air.

I wonder what comes after that.

13 years ago

re: "shall we see the same revolution in USA"

It was called the American Revolution which occurred, with France's aid, shortly prior to the French Revolution. Both wars were the result of a revolt by the people against the government for the purpose of gaining personal freedoms and proper representation within their respective governments. Both resulted in a constitution. The main (which is huge) difference is that the Americans were fighting the policies of the British Parliament and the French were fighting for personal freedoms against the autocratic rule of their own kings and nobles.

Will we see another revolution in America? It appears to be heading that way...doesn't it? I think that if Americans revolt in the near future it will be to regain our past constitutional laws and to make sure the checks and balances set in motion by our forefathers is enforced.


13 years ago

@Ras Khafila:

"...quite simply Americans just don’t like the French.. I don’t think they like anyone."

I really dislike it when someone lumps all Americans into a group like this. Not all of us have issues with other countries and their people. I feel sorry for you. I think you have encountered a few "ugly Americans" or assumed our government here is representative of all Americans... and it certainly is NOT. You yourself have become a hater. You'd be amazed at how many Americans are really interested in other cultures and peoples- from a friendly and curious standpoint...myself being one of them. Embracing others is the best way to learn and understand them, hence respecting them.

Anyway- this was an interesting piece of work- regardless of being biased or not.

13 years ago

what a powerful work of Illuminati !!! shall we see the same revolution in USA? I guess they are working hard to establish their global slavery at the expense of the very nations within which they engineer such changes. this documentary has a lot of signs and symbols left for those who have eyes to witness the bloody massacre illuminati inflicted to gain their rule over france. United States is going to see a massive changes in coming days. iluuminati achieved quite a lot lately got rid off aristocrats that didn't help in their cause, stripped nations from religions foundation and secularised public life so that they can bring forth a world of very centralised domination.

13 years ago

Interesting, informative. A great documentary!

13 years ago

Andy has it partly correct-quite simply Americans just don’t like the French.. I don't think they like anyone. When I arrived there in 1946 they were on about the Japanese and Germans, then the North Koreans and Chinese. It has never stopped and continues today ie Viet Cong, Cambodians, Pathet
Lao, Cuba, PLO, Iran, Hugo Chavez, Hamas, Hezbolla, Libyans.
Lift up any rock and they will find an enemy hiding under it.
It's simply mindboggling.

David Yates
13 years ago

It's irritating when the third part of a three part documentary will not play. Thanks so much.

13 years ago

Very interesting documentary about one very especial moment in history. Well narrated and performed.

13 years ago

Well done but absolutely biased. It looks like it was commissioned by the Bourbons, or quite simply Americans just don't like the French.. It represents the revolution as the work of few ideologues and radicals, without mentioning at all the rise of new bourgeoisie which was paying all taxes without any say in how the country was run.

13 years ago

Well. I am pleasantly surprised at how good this was. Great facts. Lucid storytelling. Would be revolutionaries beware!

13 years ago

What an excellent documentary!

13 years ago

Wow! That was something very informative. Thank you for posting :)

13 years ago

Looks like another interesting doc. You're on a roll!