The French Revolution (1789–1799)
Study Questions & Essay Topics
Always use specific historical examples to support your arguments.
1. Although many accounts of the French Revolution focus on the actions of the Girondins and Jacobins, nearly every major step of the Revolution was incited by the sans-culottes. Support or refute this statement.
2. Although the financial crisis of the ancien régime was the immediate spark that set off the French Revolution, which broader factors within France contributed to the Revolution?
3. Assess the validity of this statement: by attempting to escape from France in June 1791, Louis XVI effectively destroyed the prospect of a moderate Revolution resulting in the installation of a limited or constitutional monarchy.
Suggested Essay Topics
1. To what extent was the French nobility responsible for the crisis that destroyed the ancien régime?
2. What role did women play in the Revolution? Were they simply a reactionary force—as when bread shortages prompted a march on Versailles—or an active part of the revolutionary public?
3. To what extent did the Thermidorian Reaction owe its success to the excesses of Maximilien Robespierre?
4. Make an argument as to which governmental arrangement—monarchial rule, the National Assembly’s constitutional monarchy, the National Convention’s republic, or the Directory—was best suited to revolutionary France.
5. What problems in France and beyond contributed to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte?