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Soon after the American Revolution, there was a revolution in France. French society, during this time, was divided into three classes or ‘estates’- the clergy, the nobility and the commoners. The king and the royal family, along with the clergy and the nobility, lived in great luxury. All political power was concentrated in their hands. They owned vast quantities of land and paid no taxes. The entire tax burden was borne by the common people comprising of the merchants, the artisans and the peasants. The merchants, despite being tax-payers, were denied political rights. The peasants too were extremely unhappy as they were always on the brink of starvation. The revolutionary ideas of the French philosophers such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu inspired the common people to demand their rights. The representatives of the commoners declared themselves to be the National Assembly of France. On 14 July1789, the people rose up in revolt, broke open the state prison of Bastille, in Paris (this incident is commonly known as the Storming of the Bastille) and set free all the prisoners. This event marked the beginning of the French Revolution. The revolution ended soon afterwards. The French king, Louis XVII and his wife, Marie Antoinette were arrested and later executed. Monarchy ended in France and a republican form of government was established. The National Assembly adopted a famous document- Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, which promised the basic rights of life, liberty and equality to all citizens of France. The ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity became the guiding principles of the republic of France.
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