6. French Revolution and Napoleon: Essay frames and writing exercises

    This page contains a variety of essay writing exercises and essay plans for this topic.

Task one

In pairs, plan out the following essay. Write out an introduction in full.

Click on the eye for hints. There is also a PDF version of the frame below.

Discuss the reasons why the Third Estate challenged the power of the King and nobility in the summer of 1789

Introduction

In 1789, the authority of the King and the Nobles was attacked by all sections of the Third Estate: the Bourgeoisie, the workers of Paris and the peasantry. By the end of 1789, the authority of the King had been severely weakened and the nobility no longer held their privileged position in society; indeed the August Decrees and the Declaration of the Rights of Man meant that the ‘ancien régime’ was at an end. The Third Estate challenged the authority of the King and nobles in 1789 due to a combination of long and short term factors which first came to a head at the meeting of the Estates General.

Paragraph One

The Third Estate had many reasons for wanting to challenge the King and nobility by 1789………..

Paragraph Two

The opportunity for the Third Estate to challenge the King came in the summer of 1789 when the King called the Estates General in an attempt to deal with his financial difficulties…..

Paragraph Three

The expectations of the Third Estate were high (cahiers….) and the King’s actions made a direct challenge by the Third Estate inevitable………………………

Paragraph Four

So far the challenge had been only from the Bourgeoisie of the Third Estate. However, the workers of Paris also challenged the authority of the King through their attack on the Bastille. This event was triggered by events at the Estates General but was also the result of………………….

Paragraph Five

The events in Paris had the effect of triggering rioting in the countryside by the peasantry. This was a direct challenge not only to the authority of the King abut also the nobles and was again the result of both long and short term factors……………

Conclusion

(Come back to the question and directly answer it based on your evidence – which do you consider to be the most significant reason/s?)

Essay frame: Discuss the reasons why the Third Estate challenged the power of the King and nobility in the summer of 1789

Task Two

Essay frame

In pairs, plan out the following essay. Then write it up in full

Click on the eye for hints. There is also a PDF version of the frame below.

To what extent was the financial crisis the main cause of revolution in France in 1789?

Introduction
•    Give the context
•    Indicate the structure of your argument
•    Set out your argument


Paragraph 1

The financial crisis played a key role in the cause of revolution in France as it ultimately forced Louis XVI to call the Estates General which led to revolution.
Go on to explain the problem of taxation, debt and war which forced Louis into this situation

Paragraph 2

However, it could also be argued that it was the failure of earlier reform and the refusal of the nobles to pay taxes as indicated in the Revolt of the Nobles…


Paragraph 3
In addition, Louis himself contributed to the events leading to revolution (events before the Estates General and actually at the Estates General)


Paragraph 4
The enlightenment movement had led to ideas circulating France that further undermined the Ancien Regime and helped give extra impetus to the events leading up to the Estates General…(Revolt of Nobles, Cahiers, What is the third Estate?….)

Conclusion:
In conclusion…
Make you answer the question!

Essay Frame: To what extent was the financial crisis the main cause of the Revolution in 1789?

Task Three

Essay Frame

In pairs, plan out the following essay. Then write it up in full.

Click on the eye for hints. There is also a PDF version of the frame below.

‘The National (Constituent) Assembly was successful in satisfying the demands of the third Estate between 1789 and September 1791’. To what extent do you agree?

Introduction

Give the context i.e. that between these dates, the Constituent Assembly was writing a new constitution and introducing reforms to cover all areas of society. You also need to address the ‘demands of the Third Estate’ which had been set out in the cahiers.

Set out your judgement.

Section One

The first part of your essay  should be on the successes of the National Assembly in addressing the demands of the Third Estate. These are some possible opening sentences which link to the question and lead you into an analytical discussion….

One of the key demands of the Third Estate was to get rid of the burdens of the feudal system. This was clearly addressed when……

The demand of the Third Estate to get rid of the unfair taxation system was also addressed by….

Demands for an end to unfair justice with the ‘lettres de cachet’ were addressed by the new justice system which…

For the second part of your essay, look at areas where the Third Estate did not benefit equally or did not have their demands met e.g.

Voting system

Chapelier Law

Sale of Church lands

Use opening sentences which allow you to develop your argument.

Conclusion

Make sure you answer the question. Do you think that the Third Estate were completely satisfied? Is it a case that some parts of the Third Estate were more satisfied than others with the reforms?

Essay Frame: 'The National (Constituent) Assembly was successful in satisfying the demands of the Third Estate between 1789 and September 1791' To what extent do you agree?

Task Four

Essay Frame

In pairs, plan out the following essay. Then write it up in full.

Click on the eye for hints. There is also a PDF version of the frame below.

To what extent was Louis XVI responsible for the breakdown of constitutional monarchy and the establishment of a republic?

Intro:

Remember to set the question in context. You may want to give some dates here - when France moved from an absolute monarch to a constitutional monarchy to a republic. Also set out the main points that you are making and state your overall argument.

First section of essay

As the question focuses on Louis, start with this first.

Look at Louis’s actions from when he became a constitutional monarch – what was his attitude towards the new constitution? Consider the impact of the flight to Varennes and the impact of vetoes.

Make sure you consider the impact of all of these actions and how they might have contributed to making people more willing to accept the idea of Republic

Second section of the essay

Now you need to consider other factors that lead to the republic:

The constitution itself - what were the problems with it? What was the issue with the Civil Constitution - how did this affect the King’s position?

Consider also the growth of Republic sentiment and the influence of the different political clubs and the sans-culottes on this

The impact of the war - crucial! How does this lead increased republican feeling?

Conclusion

Make sure you come back to the question and state how far you consider Louis to have been responsible for the change from Monarchy to Republic.

To what extent was Louis responsible for the breakdown of constitutional monarchy and the establishment of a Republic?

Task Five

Essay Plan

To what extent did the National (Constituent) Assembly of 1789 to September 1791 reform French government and society?

In pairs, plan out the following essay. Then write it up in full.

Click on the eye for hints. There is also a PDF version of the frame below.

Introduction

Briefly give some context – give an overview of the key changes between these dates

Set out your main argument (which should be restated in conclusion)

First section

  • Look at ways in which the National Assembly was successful in reforming French society and government.

Consider:

  • Administrative changes
  • Introduction of democracy
  • Reform of taxation
  • Economic reforms
  • Legal system
  • Reform of church

Second section

For a ‘To what extent question..’ you need balance, so now you need to consider ways in which it was not successful in reforming government and society. Consider the following:

  • What was the problem with democracy?
  • What were the problems with the constitution? Did it actually work?
  • Did financial reform work and solve financial problems?
  • Did divisions still remain in society?

Conclusion

Make sure you answer the question based on what you have argued. (You may decide that some parts of society were easier to change than others and were thus more effective than others)

Essay Frame: To what extent did the National(Constituent) Assembly of 1789 to September 1791 reform French government and society?

Task Six

Essay planning

In pairs, plan out the following essay:

‘Napoleon’s reforms successfully reformed and modernised France’

To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Click on the eye for hints:

Introduction: show the examiner that you know what you are talking about in this essay e.g. that Napoleon introduced a wide range of reforms – some very modernising but some looking back to Ancien Régime. State your overall judgement on this – whether you agree with the quotation overall or not.

Part One

Here you need to look at examples of how Napoleon reformed and modernised France e.g. Concordat, civil code, education (two sides to this), finance

For each example you give, make sure that you focus on how this change did actually modernise France/ change it for the better e.g.

The civil code was a key way in which Napoleon reformed and modernised France. Before the code, the laws of France had been…..but the code ensured that….

Part Two

Here focus on changes that Napoleon brought in that did not modernise France i.e. that were more a return to the Ancien Régime e.g. titles, legal system, indirect taxes. Again do not just describe these – make sure that you focus on how/why they were a step backwards. Your first sentences to the paragraphs are key:

Napoleon’s reform in introducing titles was not a modernising reform, but rather a return to the Ancien Régime with the establishment of a court….

Conclusion

Make sure you answer the quotation directly!

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