The French Revolution

Students will be examining the main causes and key events of the French Revolution. The unit begins in 1789, when France was a monarchy and continues to include the Tennis Court Speech, storming of the Bastille, execution on King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the Reign of Terror and ends with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte.


By the end of this unit it is expected that all students will: Be able to define the concept of revolution and identify a number of long and short term causes of the French Revolution. They will also be able to explain why the storming of the Bastille was such a symbolic event and why it is still remembered today.

Most students will: Be able to explain, categorise and prioritise the long and short term causes of the French Revolution and explain the changes that were made during the revolution. Students will be able to confidently use topic and subject specific vocabulary.

Some learners will have progressed further and will: Be able to judge whether France changed for the better after the revolution and confidently discuss the significance of the Declaration of Independence and the Rights of Man as key motivators for the French Revolution. Students will also be able to explain changes in society for example the rise of the middle class and the growth of new concepts like nationalism.

Key Assessments

Students will answer the essay question ‘Why was there a revolution in France in 1789?’

How to help your child

Parents can watch a number of films or documentaries related to the topic with their child, one of which has recently been shown on the History Channel and is available to watch on YouTube. There are also two Horrible History books that parents can purchase that cover the French Revolution; they are entitled ‘France’ (a HH special) and ‘Rowdy Revolutions’ which parents can use to make links to other revolutions and discuss whether the causes and consequences were similar or different to the French Revolution.  Parents and children can also read ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens and watch  Les Misérables for a discussion on social inequality during the backdrop of the time.

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