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How to Write a French Revolution Essay Guide

Jacky M.
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Last updated:
Jul 3, 2024
Mar 15, 2022
How to Write a French Revolution Essay Guide
french revolution essay

When Was the French Revolution?

Primary Causes of the French Revolution

The Effect of the French Revolution

French Revolution Essay Topics

How to Write a French Revolution Essay?

The Post-Writing Stage

The Key Symbols of the French Revolution

Historical Figures Who Took Part in the French Revolution

French Revolution Essay Example



The French Revolution is a historical period in late eighteenth-century France. The monarchy's reign had to change and reform due to multiple social and political factors, leading to the aristocracy's terror. As an outcome, it was the beginning of democratic principles formation. Read further to know every cause and influence of the French Revolution.

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When Was the French Revolution?

The French Revolution began in 1789 and caused significant revolutionary fervor and political upheaval. By the end of 1799, the French government had changed completely, and French society was unrecognizable. Let's go through every pivotal moment of this part of European history:

Date Significant Events
May 5 The first convention of the Estates-General since the early 1600s was the moment the French Revolution started.
June 17 The Third Estate participants created the National Assembly to express their political discontent and readiness to overthrow the French monarchy.
June 20 The rebels swore the Tennis Court Oath and refused to leave until they saw a written Constitution.
July 14 1. Rebellious French citizens stormed the most famous French prison, Bastille, freeing its political prisoners.
2. The birth of French constitutional monarchy by the newly formed National Constituent Assembly.
April 20 The French Revolutionary Wars began with France's declaration of war on Austria.
August 10 Insurgents stormed the Tuileries Palace, killing the Swiss guards of King Louis XVI. This way, the first French republic started to form.
September 22 The French win the Battle of Valmy, stopping Austrian and Prussian forces from moving forward.
January 21 The execution of King Louis XVI by guillotine led to the end of absolute monarchy.
June 2 An influential political party, the Montagnards, overtook the National Convention. This political change led to the Reign of Terror.
July 13 On this day, the death of an essential member of the National Convention, Jean-Paul Marat, at the hands of the opposition due to political strife in the French Republic happened.
June 24 The French Constitution of 1793 was adopted, establishing a new framework for the republic.
July 27 The Thermidorian Reaction took place, resulting in the fall of Maximilien Robespierre and the end of the Reign of Terror.
November 9 The coup of 18 Brumaire led by Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the Directory, effectively ending the French Revolution.

Primary Causes of the French Revolution

To have a comprehensive understanding of why the French Revolution happened in the late eighteenth century, read the information below:

Primary Causes of the French Revolution
  • Social Injustice

The pre-revolutionary French Empire deeply lacked social justice. There was no such thing as the middle class. Instead, there were three estates. The power marked First and Second estates were the Catholic Church and the nobility accordingly. Despite being the smallest, they had the most wealth and influence. Contrarily, the Third Estate mainly consisted of peasants and had the least freedom and the most tax obligations because of the current tax system. The rigid social structure prevented the Third Estate representatives from moving up to the First and Second Estate.

  • War Expenditures

Another thing that fueled resentment among the Third Estate was the enormous financial spending in the French and Indian War or the Seven Years' War. Because the French army was fighting the British crown in attempts at imperial expansion, the economic instability inside France only worsened. Moreover, the French later joined the American Revolution to weaken British troops despite the considerable cost of such a decision.

  • Royal Lifestyle

While the Third Estate suffered from continuous wars, poor economic policies of the finance minister, and food shortages after bad harvests, the French royalty thrived. They lived in a separate world with luxurious palaces, exquisite meals, and jewels.

King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette were probably the most notorious symbols of overconsumption. French society even gave Marie Antoinette the nickname Madame Deficit. It hinted that her spending was enough to cause a whole financial crisis.

When the revolutionary ideas were brewing, a rumor spread that Marie offered Third Estate members to eat cake instead of bread. Eventually, her and Louis XVI's posh and over-the-top lifestyles led to their demise.

The Effect of the French Revolution on the European and World History

Undeniably, after the French Revolution occurred, the world changed forever. Look how it affected other countries and France itself:

Effect of the French Revolution on the European and World History
  • Abolishment of the Monarchy

Louis XVI became the last king of France after the representatives of the Third Estate executed him. Therefore, the enduring legacy of monarchies in other European countries was also relatively unstable.

  • Spreading of the Nationalism

After the French Revolution, political ideologies related to nationalism and patriotism significantly boosted France and Western Europe. The national identity became more critical to regular citizens.

  • Blooming of Revolutionary Ideas

Some ideas of enlightenment began to form thanks to the philosophers even before the French Revolution. And the political and social reform that came after only made the democratic ideals more widespread. The human rights the Third Estate desperately lacked became a reality in the emerging world.

  • Church Reforming

Previously, the Church was on the top of all three Estates. In the aftermath of the French Revolution, the state separated from religion, and the political culture significantly altered. Also, the Catholic Church later lost its absolute power across Central Europe.

  • Reign of Napoleon Bonaparte

In the Post-Revolution world, the general and conqueror not only took the place of Louis XVI but also established power over Europe. It made France the primary force on the continent, opposing Britain.

  • Global Effect

The French Revolution became a catalyst for revolutionary changes in multiple countries. Before it, only the American Revolution was a significant event. But, afterward, there were desires for transformations even in colonies.

  • Cultural Advancements

Culture and politics constantly intertwine, so it is no wonder the French Revolution affected the cultural segment. Thanks to the rapidly spreading enlightenment ideas, a human and their wellness became central in literature, theater, paintings, and other works of art.

French Revolution Essay Topics

As a Humanities student, there is a high chance you’ll be told to compose an essay on the French Revolution. Why so? The French Revolution is one of the most significant revolutions that happened in France but changed world history. It was the French Revolution that inspired the 19th-century abolitionists or 20th-century socialists to act for human rights. Guess what? The first Declaration of Human Rights emerged due to French revolutionaries too.

When choosing a topic, aim for the one which presents a deep interest for you. Make sure you have at least minimum expertise in it. Meanwhile, keep the topic concise and clear.
In case you don’t feel like writing an essay and searching topics, you can ask our expert writers, “write my paper for me,” and they will deliver an A-worth paper at a friendly price.

Possible Topics to Focus Your Essay On

  • The Opposition of the Divine and Secular as a Premise for the French Revolution
  • How the Enlightenment Changed the Human Thought and Led to the French Revolution
  • Robespierre’s Influence on the French Revolution
  • The Uprise of Nationalism as the Main Post-Revolutionary Effect
  • Power Dynamics as One of the Main Causes for the French Revolution
  • Absolutism and Democracy as Two Oppositions during the French Revolution Period
  • Social Classes: Division Before and After the French Revolution
  • Is Napoleon the Epitome of the French Revolution? 
  • How Industrialism Influenced the French Revolution
  • French Revolution in Art and Music

How to Write a French Revolution Essay?

Below, the academic writing tips will teach you how to effectively organize the data in your French Revolution essay.

The Planning Stage

The greatest writers plan their work meticulously. Remember Joan Katlin Rowling? Before creating the first book of Poterriana, she thoroughly elaborated the universe, its laws, and the characters residing in it. The same goes for the French Revolution essay or any other academic project. In other words, think about the main elements and how they relate to each other. 

Steps to consider in this stage are:

  • Choosing the topic. Pick the one that sparks your interest and has enough peer-reviewed data to collect;
  • Think of the essay structure. Will it be a traditional 5-paragraph essay? Will your work include more than three body paragraphs?

Creating an Essay Outline

This stage implies you put all the necessary essay parts on paper. Start with the Intro section. What are you going to begin your essay with? Work out the thesis statement and add it to the end of the first paragraph. Are you going to add some French Revolution facts or statistics as an attention grabber?

When working on body paragraphs, you may write them in the form of French Revolution essay questions to be answered. By doing so, you’ll outline the main ideas your writing should focus on later. Here, you can also ‘assign’ the academic sources which you're going to use for the proof of the thesis statement.

Start Writing Your French Revolution Essay

Once you’ve successfully completed the outline stage, time to start the actual writing. In fact, you’re pretty settled up. Why so? Your outline already includes your essay ideas and the sources to prove them. What is left is coherence. You should link the sections with each other so the whole writing is smooth and well-balanced with facts and answers to the counterpoints. 

For instance, your essay focuses on the effects of the French Revolution. Obviously, your thesis statement will contain three effects to be explored in the project. If you’ve chosen a 5-paragraph style, make sure you use at least one different source for each paragraph.


The introductory part familiarizes your reader with the topic you’re going to explore. We advise you to use an effective attention grabber. This element allows you to set a tone and establish close contact with the reader. Think of a fun fact or surprising French Revolution statistics.

In your French Revolution Essay introduction, Describe the time period in a few sentences. By doing so, you’ll let your reader stay on track. For instance, mention when did the French revolution start and end.

The last sentence of your intro is a thesis statement that contains the main idea to be proved in your essay.

Body Paragraphs

When writing the body of your essay (which might equal 80% of the entire writing), keep your thesis statement in mind. For instance, your essay focuses on the French Revolution causes, three of which you’ve already mentioned in your thesis statement. To effectively organize your body paragraphs and prove the causes of the french revolution essay, follow this paragraph structure:

  • 1st sentence. State the cause you're going to analyze;
  • 2-3rd sentences. Write down what you think about the cause. For instance, why it was important;
  • 4-5th sentences. Cite facts from the sources to prove your thoughts;
  • 6-7th sentences. Conclude the paragraph by summarizing the idea.


Once you google ‘essay topics French Revolution,’ you’ll find a daunting number of them. Easy topics make easy conclusions. Hence, the complexity of your topic will directly influence the amount of effort you’ll have to put into writing your essay conclusion. Don’t worry; writing the essay's concluding paragraph is not as tedious as you might think.

  • 1st sentence. Restate your thesis;
  • 2-3rd sentences. Write down the results of your study. As a tip, follow the ideas you’ve explored in the body paragraphs;
  • 4th sentence. Some essay instructions might ask you to add the impediments your study encountered or some general ideas about future research.

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The Post-Writing Stage: Proofreading and Editing

The last stage of your essay writing process is editing and proofreading. So, you’ve written the last sentence of your French Revolution essay conclusion. Which activities do proofreading and editing include? 

  • First of all, cite your sources. If you don’t know how to do it properly (most of us don’t, let’s be honest), use the online magic tools. For instance, the Citation Machine. It will save you time and organize your source details properly; 
  • Secondly, correct grammar, style, and punctuation mistakes. Again, use online software like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor to make sure your essay has a cohesive structure and is error-free;
  • Thirdly, avoid plagiarism. For this purpose, use tools like PlagScan or PlagTracker. 

Other things to check for are:

  • No passive voice;
  • The paragraphs transition is smooth;
  • Each body paragraph explores only one idea;
  • Each paragraph follows a clear structure;
  • The in-citations follow the necessary academic formatting style;
  • The whole essay is coherent and easy to read.

The Key Symbols of the French Revolution

Just like a cross is a symbol for Christianity, so is a Phrygian cap for the French Revolution. Why is symbolism important? Any ideology has symbols. A symbol is a visual sign, an object, or even a sound one can relate to a specific event or a historical period. 

The guillotine, the Phrygian cap, the French flag, and ‘La Marseillaise’ are the French Revolution symbols.

The Guillotine - French Revolution Symbol

Sure, not the most peaceful symbol one can associate with the French Revolution. However, the guillotine is the epitome of the French Revolution and Robespierre’s power. It tells you about how the revolution was held. The Parisians executed the monarchs, while during the Reign of Terror, the tool was used for capital punishment of the Revolution opponents.

The Phrygian Cap - Symbol of Liberty

The symbol of ennoblement of the ‘commons.’ The Phrygian cap or the Liberty cap was worn by all revolutionaries and had roots in Greek and Roman culture. When a Roman slave was given freedom, they received a bonnet. Yeap, the same tradition is in ‘Harry Potter’ when Dobby gets a sock from Mr. Malfoy (obviously, unintentionally). Pretty cool, right?

The French Flag - Blue, White, and Red

The same combination of colors was used in tricolor cockades. Traditionally, blue and red are the colors of Paris. Later, white, the color of nobility, was added to the red-and-blue pair. The new colors were supposed to symbolize the new state of affairs. At the same time, the combination of colors was used to distinguish the Parisian military forces

La Marseillaise - France National Anthem

Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle is the author of the song that later became the official anthem of the First French Republic in 1795. The song has a melody and lyrics that evoke a solemn mood. The first time the song was performed publicly was during the peaceful march organized by the Marseille volunteers.  

The song is considered an anthem of the French Revolution.

Historical Figures Who Took Part in the French Revolution

Revolution is made by people. Hence, you’ll need to mention a few historical figures in your essay. Those are names to mention in your French Revolution essay answers. Make sure you indicate representatives from the aristocracy, famous politicians, clergymen, and the advocates of the Revolution. This will help you write a paper.

Check the main participants of the French Revolution and learn the facts about their lives below. 


Louis XVI 

Louis XVI was among the monarchs who felt the anger of the ‘commons’ and the guillotine’s power on their heads. The King of France and Navarre disappeared into history books as the last absolute monarch in France. He was criticized for leading the country to bankruptcy due to supporting the American colonies when it came to military action.

Marie Antoinette

Queen of France and Navarre, Marie Antoinette, was guillotined along with her husband Louis XVI. She is the last absolute queen in French history. Marie Antoinette is known for opposing the French Revolution and keeping the court resistant to social changes. She failed to organize the counterrevolution, was accused of treason, and was publicly punished in 1793. 

Maximilien de Robespierre

The voice of the poorest and a former lawyer, Robespierre, is the first historical figure you have to mention when asked, ‘who was involved in the French Revolution?’ The Robin Hood of the French, Robespierre became a member of the Committee of Public Safety. Along with radical Jacobins, he punished the opponents of the revolution. Ironically, Robespierre was publicly executed a few years later. 

Jean Paul Marat

With ink and paper, Marat is an example of a journalist and politician who inspired others without directly ordering them to participate in the revolution. Marat defended the need for violence while spreading pamphlets. The latter triggered bloodshed and gave rise to radical nationalism. As a politician, he supported Jacobins. In 1793, Marat was stabbed to death. 

Georges Jacque Danton

The president of the Committee of Public Safety, Danton, was both a lawyer and politician. Just like his colleague Robespierre, Danton radicalized the Revolution and made the capital punishment of the Revolution opponents legal. Along with Robespierre, he introduced the Revolutionary Tribunal. In 1794, Danton was stabbed by Charlotte Corday, a political activist who saw the revolution through the eyes of a modern liberal. 

Marquis de Lafayette

A notorious general of the army and politician, Lafayette is mostly known for his active participation in Revolutionary Wars. Before the latter started, Lafayette ignited the French Revolution in 1789 and drafted the first document on human rights - the Declaration of the Rights of Man itself. The general later supported the American colonies in their war against the British and defended democracy till his death in 1834.

Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes

A clergyman and politician, Sieyes was a National Assembly member. He participated in creating the first draft of the Declaration of the Rights of Man. As a politician, he voted for the monarch’s execution, wrote pamphlets that contained the values of revolutionaries, and supported them during the most difficult days. Later, Sieyes helped Napoleon come to power as the First Consul of France.


A prominent journalist and politician, Mirabeau was among the top members of the National Assembly. He is mostly known for Revolutionary speeches at Versailles that persuaded the masses to join the Revolution and stand against tyranny. When the Revolution turned into a radical movement, Mirabeau started supporting King Louis XVI, trying to save the country from Terror. Eventually, his views led to a nationwide scandal. 

Jacques Necker

A banker and politician, Necker, is known for introducing economic reforms that positively affected the ‘commons’ and the country’s budget. First of all, he introduced an economic policy that reduced royal expenditures and increased interest rates rather than taxes. Necker persuaded the crown to introduce a system of loans when France decided to contribute to the American revolution. He was later dismissed because of his sympathy for the ‘commons.’

Camille Desmoulins

A lawyer and journalist, Desmoulins is known for writing the ‘Free France’ pamphlet. The document inspired the Third Estate to take arms and dethrone the monarch. Desmoulins is known for his less radical views on the French Revolution and his friendship with Robespierre, which was later destroyed by a difference in their political views. Under Robespierre’s order, Desmoulins was guillotined in 1794.

French Revolution Essay Example

If a student's curriculum covers the topic of the French Revolution, most likely, they would need to write an academic work about this period. Luckily, we provide an excellent example of an essay on French Revolution in 300 words, which can significantly help!

Reasons Why the French Revolution Was Unavoidable
Reasons Why the French Revolution Was Unavoidable


The French Revolution was a ten-year-long transformational period that brought massive political, societal, economic, and cultural changes in France. It greatly affected the whole European continent and ignited revolutionary processes worldwide.

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What Is a Good French Revolution Thesis Statement?

The French Revolution (1789-1799) is a historical event that made the world more similar to our modern one due to social and political change.

What Is the Main Summary of the French Revolution?

The French Revolution abolished the centuries-long principles of monarchy and feudalism. The poor social class that suffered oppression overthrew its rulers and took their place. The historical influence of the French Revolution spread across Europe and even further.

What Are the Three Main Causes of the French Revolution?

The first cause was economic instability due to poor financial decisions of the government and natural causes. Next, peasants resented the current social inequality and strived for change. Thirdly, the lavish lifestyle of the richest became the final straw for the poor.

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