When the Estates General met in Versailles in May of 1789 they took an oath not to adjourn until a Constitution like the United States had been created. From 1789 to 1799 France was ruled in some form as a Constitutional monarchy and later as a Republic. Perhaps the most important document that was created by France’s government during this time was the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens. The Declaration was adopted on August 26, 1789.
Many historians compare the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens of France with the English Bill of Rights and the American Bill of Rights. Together they encompass the beliefs in government and individual human rights that all people of the world strive for. During the French Revolution these precious liberties were to be enjoyed for a short time. In 1799 a military dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte came to power in France. On one hand Napoleon was a brilliant general that led France to many victories against the enemies of the French Revolution. He introduced long-range reforms such as the Napoleonic Code, which was a system of laws that brought order to the often-chaotic legal system of Europe. Even though Napoleon was defeated in 1815 the people kept the ideas of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Code alive.
THREE IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
The three documents that you have accessed are perhaps the most important documents in human history. Use the links below to review these important documents. They are not too long and you should print them out to read.
· Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens
· English Bill of Rights
· United States Bill of Rights
All three documents have several things in common. Find the enduring similarities on the political expectations for self-government and individual liberty.