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Chapter-1 The French Revolution Notes | Class 9th SST History NCERT

Hi students, this is Krati. I understand how social science could be boring for some students ,however i did my best to make it easy for you all. Section-1 of class 9th History Ncert contains three chapter 👇

Section I: Events and Processes

I. The French Revolution

II. Socialism in Europe and the Russian Revolution

III. Nazism and the Rise of Hitler

So let's check the notes for first chapter and do leave your review down at the end of the post 🤩


Introduction : The Storming of the Bastille

  • Date and Event: On the morning of July 14, 1789, Paris was filled with fear and excitement.

  • Royal Troops in the City: The king ordered his troops to move into Paris, causing widespread alarm.

  • Rumors of Violence: Rumors spread that the king would command the army to shoot at the citizens.

  • Formation of a Militia: About 7,000 men and women gathered at the town hall and decided to create a people's militia.

  • Search for Weapons: They broke into several government buildings looking for weapons.

  • March to the Bastille: A large group marched to the Bastille, a fortress-prison in the eastern part of the city, hoping to find ammunition.

  • Attack on the Bastille: An armed fight ensued, resulting in the death of the Bastille's commander and the release of its prisoners, though there were only seven.

  • Symbol of Tyranny: The Bastille was hated as a symbol of the king's absolute power.

  • Destruction of the Bastille: The fortress was demolished, and its stones were sold as souvenirs.

  • Widespread Rioting: The days following saw more riots in Paris and the countryside, mainly due to the high price of bread.

  • Historical Significance: Historians later viewed this event as the start of a series of events that led to the king's execution, although most people at the time did not foresee this outcome.

This series of events marked a significant turning point in French history, eventually leading to the French Revolution.

1.French Society During the Late Eighteenth Century

Louis XVI and Economic Problems

  • Louis XVI: Became king in 1774, married to Marie Antoinette.

  • Empty Treasury: Long wars and the expensive court at Versailles drained finances.

Financial Crisis and Debt

  • American War of Independence: Added over a billion livres to France's debt.

  • High Interest Rates: Lenders charged 10% interest, worsening the financial strain.

  • Increased Taxes: Needed to cover expenses but insufficient to solve the crisis.

Structure of French Society

  • Three Estates:

  • First Estate: Clergy.

  • Second Estate: Nobility.

  • Third Estate: Common people (peasants, artisans, merchants, etc.).

  • Taxation:

  • Only the Third Estate paid taxes.

  • Tithe: Tax to the Church (one-tenth of agricultural produce).

  • Taille: Direct tax to the state.

  • Indirect Taxes: On items like salt and tobacco.

Feudal System and Privileges

  • Land Ownership:

  • 90% of the population were peasants but owned little land.

  • 60% of the land owned by nobles, Church, and wealthy Third Estate members.

  • Privileges by Birth:

  • First and Second Estates had tax exemptions and feudal privileges.

  • Peasants owed services and dues to the nobles.

Economic Strain on the Third Estate

  • Tax Burden: The Third Estate bore the full burden of financing the state.

Population Growth and Subsistence Crisis

  • Population Increase: From 23 million (1715) to 28 million (1789).

  • Food Demand: Led to rising bread prices, the staple diet.

  • Wages vs. Prices: Wages did not keep up, leading to a wider gap between rich and poor.

  • Subsistence Crisis: Frequent crises due to bad harvests, leading to food scarcity and increased deaths.

Emergence of the Middle Class

  • New Social Groups: Merchants, manufacturers, lawyers, officials.

  • Ideas of Equality: Influenced by Enlightenment thinkers, advocating merit-based society.

Influence of Enlightenment Ideas

  • Philosophers:

  • John Locke: Opposed divine right of kings.

  • Jean Jacques Rousseau: Advocated government based on social contract.

  • Montesquieu: Proposed separation of powers.

  • Spread of Ideas: Discussed in salons and coffee-houses, spread through books and newspapers.

Visual Representation

  • Society of Estates:

  • First Estate: Clergy.

  • Second Estate: Nobility.

  • Third Estate: Common people (peasants, artisans, big businessmen, merchants, court officials, lawyers, etc.).

Accounts of Lived Experiences

  • Georges Danton: Described lack of opportunities for non-nobles.

  • Arthur Young: Noted harsh treatment of peasants and potential for violent backlash.

Growing Middle Class and Demand for Change

  • Economic and Social Change: Middle class demanded an end to privileges based on birth.

  • Philosophical Influence: Inspired by Locke, Rousseau, and Montesquieu.

  • American Influence: American Constitution served as a model for political thinkers in France

2. The Outbreak of the Revolution

Calling of the Estates General

  • Reason: Louis XVI needed to increase taxes due to financial crisis.

  • Estates General: The political body consisting of representatives from the three estates (clergy, nobility, and commoners).

  • Last Meeting: The Estates General had not met since 1614.

Assembly of the Estates General (May 5, 1789)

  • Location: Versailles.

  • Representation:

  • First Estate: 300 representatives (clergy).

  • Second Estate: 300 representatives (nobility).

  • Third Estate: 600 representatives (commoners).

  • Seating Arrangement: First and Second Estates sat facing each other, Third Estate at the back.

Third Estate's Demands

  • Voting Method: Traditionally, each estate had one vote.

  • New Proposal: Third Estate wanted voting by individual members (one member, one vote), influenced by Rousseau’s democratic principles.

  • Rejection by King: Louis XVI rejected the proposal.

Formation of the National Assembly

  • Protest: Third Estate representatives walked out.

  • Tennis Court Oath (June 20, 1789): Third Estate declared themselves the National Assembly, vowed not to disband until a constitution was drafted.

  • Leaders: Mirabeau and Abbé Sieyès.

Growing Turmoil

  • Economic Hardship: Severe winter, bad harvest, high bread prices, and hoarding by bakers.

  • Military Movement: King ordered troops into Paris.

Storming of the Bastille (July 14, 1789)

  • Symbol of Tyranny: The Bastille was a fortress-prison symbolizing royal despotism.

  • Outcome: Bastille was stormed and destroyed by an angry crowd.

Peasant Revolts in the Countryside

  • Rumors: Spread that nobles were hiring brigands to destroy crops.

  • Reactions: Peasants attacked chateaux, looted grain, and burnt documents of feudal dues.

  • Result: Many nobles fled to neighboring countries.

Recognition of the National Assembly

  • King's Concession: Louis XVI recognized the National Assembly and accepted a constitution to limit his powers.

  • Abolition of Feudal Privileges (August 4, 1789): Decree passed to abolish feudal obligations and taxes, tithes were abolished, Church lands confiscated.

Visual Representations

  • Tennis Court Oath: Depicts the unity and resolve of the Third Estate.

  • The Great Fear: Map shows spread of peasant revolts across France.

New Political System

  • Constitution of 1791: Established France as a constitutional monarchy.

  • Separation of Powers:

  • Legislature: National Assembly.

  • Executive: King and ministers.

  • Judiciary: Independent courts.

  • Voting Rights: Only active citizens (men over 25 who paid taxes) could vote, others were passive citizens.

Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen

  • Natural Rights: Rights to life, freedom of speech, opinion, and equality before the law, considered inalienable and protected by the state.

3. France Abolishes Monarchy and Becomes a Republic

Tensions and Secret Negotiations

  • Louis XVI: Signed the Constitution but entered into secret negotiations with the King of Prussia.

  • Neighboring Countries: Rulers were concerned about the French developments and planned to intervene.

War with Prussia and Austria

  • National Assembly: Declared war against Prussia and Austria in April 1792.

  • Volunteers: Thousands joined the army, viewing it as a people's war against European aristocracies.

  • Marseillaise: Patriotic song composed by Roget de L’Isle, later became the national anthem.

Economic and Social Strain

  • Revolutionary Wars: Brought losses and economic difficulties.

  • Women's Role: Managed households and coped with economic challenges as men fought.

Political Clubs and Jacobins

  • Political Clubs: Emerged as discussion and action centers for revolution supporters.

  • Jacobins: Most successful club, led by Maximilian Robespierre, included less prosperous individuals (shopkeepers, artisans, etc.).

  • Sans-Culottes: Jacobins who wore long trousers to distinguish themselves from the nobility.

Insurrection and Overthrow of the Monarchy

  • Summer of 1792: Jacobins organized a large-scale insurrection.

  • Storming of the Tuileries: August 10, 1792, Parisians stormed the palace, killed the king's guards, and imprisoned the royal family.

  • Universal Male Suffrage: Elections allowed all men over 21 to vote.

Establishment of the Republic

  • Convention: Newly elected assembly abolished the monarchy on September 21, 1792, and declared France a republic.

  • Louis XVI's Execution: Sentenced to death for treason, executed on January 21, 1793. Marie Antoinette followed shortly after.

Reign of Terror

  • 1793-1794: Period of severe control and punishment led by Robespierre.

  • Enemies of the Republic: Ex-nobles, clergy, and political opponents were arrested, tried, and often guillotined.

  • Economic Controls: Ceiling on wages and prices, rationing of meat and bread, mandatory wholewheat bread (pain d’égalité).

  • Cultural Changes: Adoption of "Citizen" as a universal form of address, closure of churches.

Fall of Robespierre

  • Moderation Demand: Even supporters demanded moderation.

  • Arrest and Execution: Robespierre was arrested and guillotined in July 1794.

The Directory

  • Post-Jacobin Government: Wealthier middle classes took power, introduced a new constitution.

  • Limited Suffrage: Denied vote to non-propertied sections.

  • Executive Structure: Two legislative councils and a five-member Directory.

  • Political Instability: Frequent clashes between the Directory and councils, leading to instability.

Rise of Napoleon

  • Political Vacuum: Instability paved the way for Napoleon Bonaparte's rise as a military dictator.

  • Enduring Ideals: Despite changes, ideals of freedom, equality before the law, and fraternity continued to inspire future political movements in France and Europe.

5. The Abolition of Slavery

Background and Context

  • Caribbean Colonies: Martinique, Guadeloupe, and San Domingo were key suppliers of tobacco, indigo, sugar, and coffee.

  • Labor Shortage: Europeans were reluctant to work in distant, unfamiliar lands, leading to a shortage of labor on plantations.

  • Triangular Slave Trade: Developed in the 17th century between Europe, Africa, and the Americas to meet labor demands.

The Triangular Slave Trade

  • French Merchants: Departed from Bordeaux or Nantes, traded goods for slaves on the African coast.

  • Slave Voyage: Slaves were branded, shackled, and packed tightly into ships for a three-month journey across the Atlantic.

  • Plantation Labor: Slaves were sold to plantation owners in the Caribbean, providing labor for the production of commodities for European markets.

  • Economic Impact: Port cities like Bordeaux and Nantes prospered due to the flourishing slave trade.

Debates and Legislative Actions

  • 18th Century Views: Little criticism of slavery in France, economic interests hindered legislative action.

  • National Assembly Debates: Considered extending the rights of man to all French subjects, including slaves, but feared opposition from businessmen.

  • Convention's Action in 1794: Legislated to free all slaves in French overseas possessions, marking a significant social reform by the Jacobin regime.

Reintroduction and Final Abolition

  • Napoleon's Reversal: In 1804, Napoleon reinstated slavery, aligning with plantation owners' interests.

  • Final Abolition: Slavery was permanently abolished in French colonies in 1848.

6. The Revolution and Everyday Life

Abolition of Censorship

  • Pre-Revolution Censorship: Under the Old Regime, all cultural activities required approval by the king's censors.

  • Declaration of Rights: The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen proclaimed freedom of speech and expression.

  • Freedom of the Press: Laws abolished censorship, leading to a surge in printed material like newspapers, pamphlets, and books.

  • Spread of Ideas: Printed materials disseminated rapidly, reaching towns and countryside, discussing events and changes in France.

Cultural Expression

  • Diverse Mediums: Plays, songs, and festive processions became popular forms of cultural expression.

  • Grasping Ideas: These mediums helped people grasp concepts like liberty and justice, which were previously discussed in texts accessible only to the educated elite.

  • Opposing Views: Freedom of the press allowed for the expression of opposing views, fostering debates and discussions among the public.

Impact on Society

  • Accessibility: Ideas previously confined to the educated few became accessible to a wider audience.

  • Engagement: Increased participation in cultural activities fostered a sense of involvement and identification with revolutionary ideals.

  • Democratic Discourse: Freedom of expression facilitated democratic discourse, allowing for the exchange of diverse opinions and perspectives.

In conclusion, Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power and subsequent reign as Emperor of France marked a pivotal chapter in European history. Initially hailed as a modernizer and liberator, Napoleon's ambitious military campaigns and reforms left a lasting impact on the continent. While Napoleon introduced laws aimed at modernizing France and spreading revolutionary ideals, his imperialistic ambitions and military conquests soon made him a symbol of oppression for many across Europe. Despite his eventual defeat at Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon's legacy endured through the spread of revolutionary ideas such as liberty and democratic rights.

The French Revolution's legacy extended far beyond France, influencing the abolition of feudal systems and inspiring movements for sovereignty and nationhood across Europe and beyond. Figures like Tipu Sultan and Rammohan Roy responded to these revolutionary ideals, adapting them to their own struggles for freedom and independence.

Ultimately, the ideas of liberty and democratic rights propagated by the French Revolution reshaped the political landscape of Europe and beyond, leaving an indelible mark on the course of history.


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