The French Revolution - OverSimplified (Part 1)

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Jun 28, 2019


The French Revolution - OverSimplified (Part 1)
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  • (At a French party)
  • - So I said to the Marquis de la Foofayette
  • What do you think I am? Some dirty peasant?
  • I've never worked a day in my life!
  • (Laughter)
  • - Wow, that Marie Antoinette sure is pretty.
  • - Sure is!
  • - Wouldn't want to be Prince Louis though.
  • That's gonna be a lot of responsibility when he becomes king.
  • -Especially since France is in financial ruin!
  • - Quite!
  • - Thank you one and all for attending the royal marriage
  • of my grandson, the future King of France
  • to the archduchess of Austria.
  • Now for the very awkward, yet historically accurate
  • part of the ceremony, where we all watch
  • them get into bed together.
  • (Inside Louis XVI's bedroom where the guests proceed to watch him in bed).
  • - Alright, now that's out of the way
  • let's leave the royal couple to it.
  • (In a menacing tone) - You better give us an heir
  • you FAT
  • BOY!
  • (Creepily) - Nighty-night.
  • (turns lights off and closes door)
  • - That's gonna be a lot of responsibility.
  • - France is in financial ruin.
  • - You FAT, ILL-BRED BOY!
  • - Quite!
  • (Random voices moving around)
  • (Prince Louis freaks out)
  • - Oh great, he's a freaking weirdo.
  • France
  • The most prosperous, cultured
  • and beautiful nation in the world.
  • As it had been, for centuries.
  • An exquisite social culture, with
  • the king and the upper classes
  • throwing crazy parties every night,
  • enjoying high living, and fine dining.
  • Who cares if they were only able to do so off the backs of the hard-working, starving poor?
  • What are they gonna do? Revolt??
  • They're only 80% of the population.
  • No. Life in France is great.
  • What's that France? You want to go to war with
  • Britain and increase your power?
  • Go for it, little buddy. You do you.
  • Aaaaand you lost. (Britain kicks France out of North America)
  • Now you're in severe financial debt.
  • - We have no money. What do we do?
  • - Should we stop partying?
  • - Heck NO! Party HARDER!
  • (Party randomly starts) That's ok.
  • The peasantry will pick up the slack.
  • They were created by God to do all the work,
  • and you were created to reap all the benefits and party hard
  • That's how society works, and we've all just accepted it for centuries.
  • - Why?
  • - Why what?
  • *Beer splashes onto the poor man's face* -Why do the nobility get to be all rich and stuff?
  • Just because they were born into it?
  • And the rest of us shmucks just have to accept that? *spills some more beer*
  • Hell, why do we even need a king? *spills even more beer*
  • Who decided that?
  • It all just seems very unfair and unequal
  • and I, for one, am starting to question it. *spills the last bit of beer*
  • (Soaked) - Wow. That's very enlightened of you.
  • *burps*
  • And so began the Age of Enlightenment.
  • Great philosophical thinkers across France and beyond
  • began to question whether this beautiful nation
  • was really all that beautiful after all.
  • - Hey Prince Louis. Bad news.
  • Your grandpap died of smallpox this morning.
  • Which means, GOOD NEWS
  • You're now the king. So just to sum up:
  • France is in severe financial debt
  • and the angry populace are beginning to question
  • how necessary you are. But hey!
  • I believe in you, champ! You got this.
  • (softly) maybe.
  • -OOOoOoh NOoOoOo!
  • Prince Louis Capet became King Louis XVI in May 1774.
  • He was a notoriously weak man, and he knew it.
  • He barely had the wisdom to rule a nation, never mind one in crisis.
  • And he was easily manipulated by those around him.
  • One of his first acts was to try to get revenge on the British
  • by financing their American colonies' revolution.
  • - Hey! We're an independent nation now.
  • That was real swell of ya, Louis.
  • Couldn't have done it without you.
  • - Glad I could help. So hey, about all that money
  • we lent you. When can we get that back?
  • (proceeds to walk away) - Yep, you're a great guy!
  • I'll never forget what you've done for us.
  • - Real glad I could help friend
  • but about that money--
  • (continues to walk away) - Gotta go now, chum. Best of luck to ya!
  • - OOOoOh NOoOoOo!
  • And now France was in even more debt.
  • France's poor, suffering under the strain of
  • economic ruin, watched as the nobility
  • continued to live as though nothing was wrong. *Intense partying*
  • In particular, they grew increasingly disdainful of the queen, Marie Antoinette
  • as she continued to spend all of France's money on her own luxurious lifestyle
  • and fashion. While the peasants were breaking their backs in the fields,
  • she was walking around like:
  • - Hey. My hair is a boat.
  • I'm not making that up.
  • Her hair really was a boat.
  • And her lavish spending earned her the nickname "Madame Deficit."
  • And speaking of the queen, there was also a long standing scandal around the fact that
  • the King took a very long time to boink her.
  • And the working classes of Paris began ridiculing the royal couple
  • with lewd pamphlets depicting the Queen as a court THOT and the King as a wuss
  • unable to fulfill his marital duty.
  • Respect for the monarchy was at an all time low
  • as France's finances were spiralling out of control.
  • And the King and his aides really only had one solution to the crisis.
  • - Tax the poor.
  • - We could do a sexy calendar shoot.
  • Uh,
  • I mean...
  • Tax the poor...
  • And so it was. The poor, who were already struggling to make ends meet
  • found themselves being taxed from every direction.
  • - Hey. I'm the royal tax collector. Looks like you've yet to pay your
  • income tax, head tax, ...
  • by the way, how many windows you got on that house of yours?
  • - Ummm, three?
  • - Oof, yep, there's gonna be a tax for that.
  • - Hey, your local priest here. Have you paid your church tithe yet?
  • - Well at least this one is going to the good work of God.
  • - Sssssure, God.
  • I think this year, God wants me to buy a new swimming pool.
  • - Hey, private tax collector here.
  • Oh, and I've brought some goons with me.
  • Just a few quick questions... How much
  • salt did you buy this year?
  • - About 7 kilos, I think.
  • - Yep ok, there's gonna be a tax for that.
  • Oh! What's that over there?
  • - That's extra salt I held over from last year so I wouldn't have to buy as much this year.
  • - Ooh yeah, there's a tax for that.
  • ummm... aaand... what are you doing with all of this salt?
  • - Well, obviously cooking.
  • - mmhmm
  • - On the table.
  • - yep.
  • - And preserving fish and meat.
  • (holds back laughter) -oh. Oh no,
  • yep, there's a tax for that. (her son pops out of nowhere)
  • Hey! How old is he?
  • - He's 9.
  • - And so he's purchased his required amount of salt for this year, right?
  • - What? No, he's 9!
  • - Uh-oh, sorry little Timmy. Looks like I'm gonna have to tax you for that.
  • (Timmy starts crying)
  • (Tax collector tastes his tears)
  • - Yep, salty. There's gonna be a tax for that.
  • And that's not all. A huge portion of the peasant's harvest had to be given up.
  • And there was also the labour tax.
  • Where peasants were required to work a certain number of days for their local lord without pay.
  • Obviously, people weren't too happy with these taxation policies.
  • And the aggressive nature of these private tax farmers sometimes even escalated to violence.
  • In particular though, the people really hated how inconsistent the taxation rules were across the nation.
  • And also the fact that the first two estates often had to pay very little, if any, tax at all.
  • And so, the anger continued to grow.
  • France had a population that was just about ready to explode.
  • What could push them over the edge?
  • How about a touch of natural disaster?
  • A series of harsh summers and winters left the peasant's harvests in ruin.
  • meaning they had no food or money. And the cost of bread skyrocketed.
  • Of course, the upper classes had massive stocks of grain and wheat,
  • so they were virtually untouched by this new crisis.
  • But now the poor really were starving.
  • And they began to riot.
  • Women took to the streets.
  • Bakeries were raided and bakers
  • suspected of keeping bread for themselves
  • were sometimes even hanged.
  • - Wow. This is really getting out of control.
  • - Your majesty, we need some decisive action.
  • YOU need to step up and lead us. What will you do?
  • - Ok, ok, I've got this...
  • I KNOW! I'll summon the Estates General and they'll decide what to do.
  • *silence*
  • *gets angry*
  • - You really are a fat, ill-bred boy.
  • The Estates General was the closest thing France had to a government, apart from the king.
  • It was a purely advisory body and was rarely summoned.
  • In fact, it hadn't been summoned for 175 years
  • prior to this.
  • But with France in a severe crisis,
  • the king felt the time was right to call in the government to help.
  • The Estates General was made up of representatives from the three estates
  • that is the Clergy, the Nobility, and everybody else.
  • - Okay
  • Thanks for coming, everyone.
  • The first order of business is regarding the clergy and nobility
  • You all get BRAND NEW PORCHES!
  • You get a Porsche!
  • And YOU get a Porsche!
  • And YOU get a Porsche!!!
  • And now onto the second order of business
  • France is completely out of money
  • Like-
  • it's never been this bad before
  • Anyone got any ideas?
  • - How about we all get Lamborghinis next time?
  • (massive applause)
  • The king decided that in order to make a desicion
  • they had to come up with a voting system.
  • OK
  • The clergy
  • You have the population of a hundred and thirty thousand
  • So you'll get
  • one vote.
  • The nobility
  • You have the population of three hundred and fifty thousand
  • so you'll also get
  • one vote.
  • And the third estate
  • You have the population of twenty seven million people
  • and make up ninty eight percent of the population
  • VERY impressive!
  • You'll get
  • ...
  • one vote.
  • The third estate were obviously pretty unhappy with this system
  • because they kept on finding that this would happen
  • We propose to raise taxes on the third estate.
  • All in favor?
  • All opposed?
  • Two to one!
  • Taxes will be raised
  • on the third estate.
  • - We propose a motion that says the first two Estates
  • are a bunch of poo-poo heads.
  • - All in favour?
  • - All opposed?
  • Two to one!
  • - It's official! We are NOT poo-poo heads.
  • (massive applause)
  • The Third Estate realised that any attempt at reform
  • would be outvoted by the two upper estates.
  • And they thought that was kind of lame.
  • So they decided that since they were 98% of the population, they can go off to form their own government,
  • make their own laws, and take over the running of the country.
  • And so, the National Assembly was born.
  • The Third Estate was now in control
  • and there was nothing the king could do to stop--
  • - Haha! I've locked you out of your building. What are you gonna do about it?
  • - We'll probably go find a different building that isn't locked. (roasted)
  • - OOOoOoh NOoO--
  • The National Assembly did find another unlocked building, just down the road
  • an indoor tennis court, where on 20 June 1789,
  • they all took the Tennis Court Oath
  • pledging to continue meeting until the King gave into their demands
  • for more equality and economic reform.
  • This new National Assembly included many of the most educated members of the Third Estate
  • including two young lawyers by the names of
  • Maximilien Robespierre and Georges Danton
  • Some members of the first two estates even joined their cause.
  • Some of these men formed a radical new political party
  • called the Jacobin Club
  • and quickly became leading figures
  • while many members of the Third Estate simply wanted more equality.
  • A growing number in this Jacobin faction would begin calling for something even crazier:
  • The removal of the King entirely.
  • And this is where FEAR began to take hold.
  • With such a volatile situation developing,
  • everyone was afraid of something.
  • The King feared his position was under threat,
  • and he called in the military to take position around Paris.
  • The Third Estate heard rumour of the gathering military force
  • and they feared the King was planning to round them up and arrest them.
  • Maybe, he'd even execute them.
  • It also didn't help that the King had just dismissed France's popular Finance Minister
  • who had been trying to make reforms himself.
  • It seemed, the King was done negotiating.
  • Fear, left unchecked, often boils over into anger.
  • And anger detonates with violence.
  • The angry people of Paris, after centuries of cruel inequality, harsh oppression, even starvation,
  • fearful of having their new movement for reform demolished so soon,
  • decided that it was now or never to take action.
  • Screw reform! They decided that they'd do one better.
  • How about:
  • The people of Paris, believing the French Military was preparing to attack,
  • decided they should arm themselves.
  • The National Assembly announced the creation of a "Bourgeois Militia"-
  • The National Guard-
  • -and immediately, many troops from the French Military defected over to the revolutionary side.
  • In the early hours of July 14th, 1789,
  • a large crowd stormed and raided the Hôtel les Invalides
  • A military hospital, where they were able to secure a large number of rifles.
  • The Bad News was- they weren't able to find any gunpowder for their new weapons.
  • The Good News was- they knew exactly where to get some.
  • A prison fortress, and a symbol of royal tyranny, towering over Paris:
  • The Bastille.
  • Midmorning, the crowd gathered around the Bastille, and demanded that the man in charge
  • Governor de Launay, surrender the prison, and hand over the gunpowder.
  • Obviously, Governor de Launay was like:
  • "No way!"
  • So, he stalled for time by inviting a few members of the crowd in for negotiations.
  • The crowd, still waiting outside, quickly became impatient
  • and before long, they stormed the fortress, taking on the French troops inside.
  • - Your Majesty, we've received word that the people have surrounded the Bastille
  • - Governor de Launay will hold them off. No need to worry.
  • - Aaaaactually, your Majesty, it appears the crowd is now headed away from the Bastille.
  • - You see?! What did I tell ya!
  • Clearly Governor de Launay has defeated them, and has them on the run.
  • No need to worry.
  • - Uh, your Majesty
  • Isn't that Governor de Launay's head on a pike?
  • - Well...
  • Clearly, Governor de Launay has taken on the form
  • of a bodyless, pike-head deity
  • and the people are so enamored with him,
  • they're parading him around the city.
  • No need to worry AT ALL. (quickly drives away)
  • When the National Assembly heard about the violence that had taken place,
  • they had two options: either one, they denounce it,
  • and try to carry on the Revolution using peaceful means,
  • or two, they say: "Damn, you stuck his head on a pike?
  • That's pretty hardcore, and WE LOVE IT!
  • Incidentally, they went with option #2.
  • Some historians believe this reaction paved the way for the utter violence and bloodshed
  • that would become the legacy of the French Revolution.
  • This widespread acceptance of violence during the Revolution
  • is also largely accredited to the writings of a certain Jean-Paul Marat.
  • A man of science, with a horrible skin condition that kept him confined to a bathtub.
  • He began writing a radical newspaper he affectionately named: "The Friend of the People"
  • - Citizens of France, be very afraid
  • Given the chance, the King and the nobility won't hesitate to massacre us all.
  • The solution is simple: EXECUTE THEM!
  • Kill every last one of them! Cut off a thousand heads, and if that isn't enough,
  • CUT OFF A THOUSAND MORE! (rubber duck rises)
  • Oh! Hey Mr. Squeaky. What are you doing down there?
  • You're so cute! (squeezes duck)
  • Awwww, I love you too, Mr. Squeaky. (kisses duck)
  • Now where was I?
  • Oh yeah...... Kill them all
  • It became one of the most popular publications in Paris
  • during the revolution, and succeeded in spreading ever increasing fear and anger among the people.
  • In August, leaders of the National Assembly, with help from a certain Thomas Jefferson,
  • adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen-
  • an incredible document that guaranteed liberty and equal rights to all men.
  • And when I say men, I mean men. (not women)
  • Despite its glaring shortcomings in gender equality,
  • the massively influential Declaration would go on to inspire the struggle for liberty
  • and equality across the planet for centuries.
  • However, back in France, the vast majority of the people
  • weren't really so concerned with enlightened ideas of equality
  • as much as they were concerned with the fact that they were still starving.
  • Bread was still expensive as hell and hard to come by.
  • The people felt that one reason that nothing had been done yet about the crisis
  • was because the King simply couldn't see the problem.
  • He lived in Versailles, a full 20 km southwest of Paris.
  • And as a result, lived in comfort, separated from his dirty, stinking subjects.
  • On October 5, a crowd of women, 7,000 strong,
  • decided to do something unprecedented.
  • They decided they'd remove that separation, and confront the king directly.
  • The women marched all the way to the King's palace in Versailles.
  • Along the way, the crowd continued to grow into the tens of thousands.
  • And when they arrived, they demanded an audience with the King.
  • - What are those "things" outside the palace?
  • - They're poor people, your Majesty
  • - They say they're hungry.
  • - Hungry? Then let them eat cake.
  • - Wow. See, this is the exact BS that led to this whole mess in the first place.
  • You're SO out of touch.
  • They're writhing around in the filth breaking their backs to barely scrape by
  • and they come to you demanding just the basic ability to feed themselves
  • and you think a slice of cake will sort them out?
  • - Well...
  • then let them eat Taco Bell Crunch Wrap Supreme.
  • - Wow!
  • They're not THAT desperate!
  • Members of the crowd actually managed to break into the palace
  • with the intention of killing the Queen
  • who narrowly escaped through a secret passage in her bedroom.
  • The enraged mob killed several members of the Royal guard, and raised their head on pikes,
  • which if you haven't noticed yet, is something they were quite fond of doing.
  • The King had no choice, but to come out and talk to the crowd.
  • He agreed to accept his new position, sharing power with the Revolutionary government
  • and to return to Paris with the crowd, removing the separation between King and Subject.
  • King Louis had a problem with people constantly raiding his palace.
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  • *Outro music* Check out the second video- it's right in your face. shouldn't be too hard.

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--------------- ATTRIBUTIONS ---------------
Music (licensed under a Creative Commons license):

From Epidemic Sound:
Bonn Fields – Spodumene
Trailer Worx – Trailed By Horror
Christian Andersen – Faboulous Destiny
The New Fools – It’s Funk O’Clock
Trabant 33 – Memories Of Paris
Trabant 33 – Sunset Over Seine
The Flax – Give This Night A Chance
Stationary Sign – Simple Magic
Stationary Sign – Confused Minds
Golden – Hymn To The Rising Sun
Kikoru – Night Owls
The Waiting World – Slide On Over
Spectacles Wallet And Watch – Sneaky Sneaky Sir
Vieveri – Ostinato
Grant – Last March Of Heroes

From Artlist:
Ian Post – Eminence Landscapes
Max Herve - War
Stanley Gurvich – The Rains
Imop – The Whisper Man
Constance – The Descent
Kevin Graham - Autumn

By Kevin MacCleod:
Fast Talkin
Covert Affair
Face Off
I Knew A Guy
Marty Gots A Plan
Spy Glass
Ave Marimba


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