Sang-won Kim 10-11-09 IB European History HL 1 French Revolution Essay Prompt: Explain why the assembling of the Estates

General in 1789 led to the overthrow of Louis XVI. The Estates General met together in 1789 for the first time since 1614. Louis XVI called for the assembly because he wanted to strengthen his power and collect more taxes. However, it actually led to the opposite result, which was the weakening of his power and his overthrow in 1792. This was due to three events that came forth as a result of the meeting of the Estates General. These events were: the public display of Louis XVI’s indecisiveness and incompetence, the formation of the National Assembly, and the Storming of the Bastille. The loss of public support that resulted from these events was crucial to the overthrow of the monarchy. Louis XVI inherited the throne of France at the young age of twenty. He was unfit for the Herculean task of managing a nation of 27 million people. Although this was not obvious to the French people at the time, his indecisiveness and general incompetence showed its true colors at the assembly of the Estates General. One of the issues raised at the Estates General was the decision of whether the votes would be counted by order or head. Louis struggled to make a quick decision, and in doing so, he infuriated the 3rd estate, who read his actions as disregard for the 3rd estate. He exacerbated this by treating the 3rd estate with cold indifference by forcing them to wear black attire, while the other estates wore colorful and extravagant clothing. Another fatal move was the mobilizing of the Royal Army toward Versailles and Paris. The people saw this event as a blatant action against the people, and their hearts turned away from the king. Due to the cold attitude that Louis XVI had against the 3 rd estate, the 3rd estate felt that they could no longer be a part of the Estates General. They separated themselves and they formed a new group called the National

Assembly, calling themselves the real representatives of the people of France. Because of the lack of progress in the Estates General without the 3 rd estate, Louis XVI was forced to make the other estates meet with the National Assembly as well. The National Assembly created a new constitution that forced the king to share power with the people. Later on, this National Assembly would turn into the government that would put the king on trial and execute him on accusations of treason. As the quote famously says, “With this act, the monarchy unwittingly signed its own death warrant. “ The final event that came as a result of the assembly of the Estates General was the Storming of the Bastille. Parisians lost their hope in the king, and they felt that they had to take matters into their own hands. Fearing military action against the city (because the Royal Army was advancing toward Paris), citizens grabbed whatever arms they had and laid an all out attack against the Bastille, a long-time symbol of the cruelty of the Old Regime. After suffering heavy losses, the citizens broke in and mercilessly slaughtered the guards and Bernard de Launay, the governor of the Bastille. This was the first act of revolution against Louis XVI; it symbolized direct opposition to the monarchy and the loss of public support for the monarchy. The events that came as a result of the meeting of the Estates General dealt devastating blows to the support and power of the monarchy. These were: the incompetence of the king, the creation of the National Assembly, and the attack on the Bastille. Without support and power, the monarchy was unable to defend itself from the new revolutionary ideals of citizenship and inalienable rights that man has. Ultimately seen as an obstruction to these revolutionary ideals, Louis XVI was stripped of his title as king in 1792 and was executed in 1793.

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