The French Revolution began in 1789 and ended in the late 1790s with the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte. During this period French citizens razed and redesigned their country’s political landscape uprooting centuries-old institutions such as absolute monarchy and the feudal system. Like the American Revolution before it, the French Revolution was influenced by Enlightenment ideals particularly the concepts of popular sovereignty and inalienable rights. Although they failed to achieve all of its goals and at times degenerated into a chaotic bloodbath, the movement played a critical role in shaping modern nations by showing the world the power inherent in the will of the people.
As the 18th century drew to a close, France’s costly involvement in the American Revolution and extravagant spending by King Louis XVI 1789. There the royal coffers depleted, but two decades of poor cereal harvests, drought, cattle disease and skyrocketing bread prices had kindled unrest among peasants and the urban poor. Many expressed their desperation and resentment toward a regime that imposed heavy taxes yet failed to provide relief by rioting, looting and striking.