The French Revolution

Week 7: King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette & the French Revolution


Read K – 4:  View/Read the following:

5 – 8:   View/Read the following:

 Note:   King Louis XVI was king of France and had all the power.  He lived a very wealthy lifestyle; however the peasants in his kingdom were starving.  They had to pay high taxes and do unpaid work for Lords and Nobles who did not have to pay taxes.  The peasants hated this injustice.  They heard how America had become independent of their King and wanted independence for themselves.  In 1789 a group of people attacked the prison fortress called the Bastille because it was a symbol representing the King’s power.  After people heard about the attack against the Bastille, groups of peasants started attacking noble castles all over France.  They declared that all men were free and equal.

The King was terrified.  He tried to get friends and relatives from other countries to help him stop the Revolution.  His wife, Marie Antoinette, had a brother who was emperor of Austria.  He began to realize his life was in danger and tried to escape out of France but was caught.

The French people declared war on Austria and Prussia, both of whom were acting to help the King.  The people took the King to court and proved that he had been plotting against the revolution.  He was taken to the guillotine and his head was chopped off.   Months later his queen’s head was also chopped off.

After this, the French people were threatened by Austrian, Prussian, English, and Dutch armies.  They decided that anyone who was not loyal to the French Revolution would be arrested and killed.  About 400,000 people were guillotined or killed – most of whom were innocent of anything deserving death.  This time was called “The Terror”.  The revolutionary army was successful because people were fighting eagerly for their freedom.

The French commemorate “Bastille Day” every year on July 14th with celebrations and fireworks.  It is similar to our 4th of July celebration of our independence.



  • What injustices started the French Revolution? (King & queen’s great wealth, starving people, high taxes)
  • What country influenced the people to start a revolution? (America)
  • What prison did people attack to start the revolution? (The Bastille)
  • Why do you think other countries wanted to help the King and Queen stop the revolution? (terrified people would do the same thing in their own countries)
  • What was the guillotine? (Wooded structure with a huge blade; it chopped off people’s heads)
  • How did King Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette die? (heads chopped off – the guillotine)
  • What happened during “The Terror”? (thousands of people were killed, many of who were loyal to the  revolution and did not deserve death)
  • What made the French army so successful against the armies of surrounding countries? (they were fighting for their freedom.)
  • What is “Bastille Day”? (French’s Independence day celebration.)

Questions for Grades 5 – 8:

  • What country was Marie Antoinette from? (Austria)
  • How old was she when she married the King of France? (just a teenager)
  • Did Marie know her husband before she married him? (no – it was an arranged marriage)
  • How did the people of France react to the marriage? (great celebration)
  • T/F Crowds of people came to watch Marie dress & eat & go to bed each day. (T)
  • Did Marie and her new husband get along well? (no)
  • How did the previous king, King Louis XV die? (smallpox)
  • Describe the luxury of Marie Antoinette? (500 servants , wardrobe filled 3 rooms, diamond jewelry, fancy wigs, gambled, parties, balls, spent money freely)
  • How did French nobles, her mother, and the French people feel about her choices? (felt she was not behaving properly)
  • Did she listen to them? Why? (No, she was queen, so she could do whatever she wanted to)
  • What was going on in America at this time? (American revolution – Americans no longer wanted to be ruled by the English King, King George)
  • How did Marie’s husband, King Louis XVI feel about the American revolution? (supported it, sent help with money and soldiers, but then England declared war on France)
  • Did Marie Antoinette get involved in politics? (no)
  • After Austria and Russia went to war against France what happened to Louis XVI and Marie? (put in prison – France became a republic with all elected leaders and no need for a king.)
  • Who ended the French revolution with his leadership? (Napoleon)
  • Who did French people tend to blame their problems on? (Marie Antoinette)
  • What was the “Third Estate”? (National Assembly – the common people started their own group with power to make laws; this group started the French Revolution)
  • At first the National Assembly wanted to start a new government where the king would share power with elected officials.  How did the King react? (Depressed but gave in to demands of the people.)
  • Why did the King & queen try to escape France? (The people had become very angry and they feared for their lives.)
  • Why did Austria & Prussia go to War against France? (Marie’s brother and sisters tried to restore the King’s power in France.)


K – 2:  Bastille coloring page:

3 – 4: Write a paragraph on the following: Do you think King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette deserved their fate?  Why or why not?

5 – 8:  Write an essay on one of the following essay topics:

  1. In what ways was King Louis XVI a weak king? Write a 5 paragraph, 3 point essay.
  2. Do you think King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette deserved their fate? Why or why not?  5 paragraph 3 proof essay.
  3. What made France a difficult place to live for peasants before the Revolution? What made France a difficult place to live for nobles and middle class during the Revolution?  Discuss in detail.
  4. Write a 5 paragraph 3 proof essay discussing Marie Antoinette’s character flaws.

Copyright October 21st, 2016 by Gwen Fredette



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Filed under Charlotte Mason, The Enlightenment & Scientific Revolution

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