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The French Revolutions – How Many Have There Been?

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QUESTION: I am wondering about the French Revolution. Was it the first, or is history here also cyclical, and there have been revolutions in France earlier and after? How often they repeat themselves historically and is todays tractor protest part of it?

Best regards Vesa.P

Louis XVI Execution

ANSWER: How many revolutions did France have? That is an interesting question one would assume has a straightforward answer – THREE! As with everything, academics will disagree, arguing over what constitutes a revolution. Some define a revolution as a regime change involving collective physical force. This definition yields the key dates of 1789, 1830, and 1848. The first revolt is the famous one where the French Revolution was against monarchy following the events of the United States. That was the one where they beheaded Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. This is when Napoleon comes to power.

Charles X AU20 Francs

The 1830 Revolution, which is usually called the July Revolution, saw the House of Bourbon dethroned in favor of the House of Orléans. Charles and his family fled France and lived in exile in Savoy, his wife’s native country. Meanwhile, in Paris, Louis XVI was struggling against the National Assembly.


1848 Second Republic

1848 RevolutionThe third is sometimes called the February Revolution or the French Revolution of 1848. It ended the Orléanists and brought in a period known as the Second Republic. This was the Communist Revolution that swept most of Europe.

What we must understand is that this was a period of turmoil and although they are three separate revolutions, they were all part of the same discontent spanning 60 years.

In 486, Clovis I, leader of the Salian Franks, defeated Syagrius at Soissons and subsequently united most of northern and central Gaul under his rule. Clovis then recorded several victories against other Germanic tribes such as the Alamanni at Tolbiac. In 496, pagan Clovis adopted Catholicism. This gave him greater legitimacy and power over his Christian subjects and granted him clerical support against the Arian Visigoths. He defeated Alaric II at Vouillé in 507 and annexed Aquitaine, and thus Toulouse, into his Frankish kingdom..

The Goths retired to Toledo in what would become Spain. Clovis made Paris his capital and established the Merovingian dynasty but his kingdom would not survive his death in 511.