Class 9 Social Science | Chapter 1 | The French Revolution | Expected Questions

Here are expected questions from chapter 1 of class 9 Social Science the French Revolution. You can find answers to textbook questions here.


1. When did the fall of Bastille take place?

The fall of Bastille took place on July 14, 1789.

2. When did the French Revolution begin?

The French Revolution began with the fall of Bastille on July 14, 1789.

3. Briefly describe the event which led to the French Revolution of 1789.

People belonging to the third estate attacked the Bastille State Prison on July 14, 1789 and set the prisoners free. This event led to the outbreak of French Revolution.

4. Describe the events that led to the fall of Bastille.

Paris was in a state of alarm in the July of 1789. Rumours were ripe that the King had ordered troops to enter the city and fire at citizens. This caused some 7,000 men and women to form a people’s militia and break into government buildings in search of arms. A few hundred of these people stormed into the fortress prison of Bastille in search of hoarded ammunition. In the armed fight that followed between the rioters and the troops, the commander of Bastille was killed. The jubilant rioters released the prisoners and that led to the fall of the state prison which people hated because it was a symbol of the despotic power of the King. The fortress was eventually demolished and its stone fragments were later sold in the market as a souvenir.

5. Describe the significance of the fall of Bastille

The fall of Bastille was significant for many reasons. For one thing, it catalysed a chain of events which ultimately led to the execution of the King of France, the end of the authoritarian regime and the establishment of liberty and democratic rights.

6. What was the immediate cause of rioting in Paris?

The immediate cause of rioting was the high price of bread.

French Society During the Late Eighteenth Century

7. Who was the ruler of France at the time of French Revolution?

Louis XVI of the Bourbon dynasty was the ruler of France at the time of the revolution.

8. When did Louis XVI ascended to the throne of France?

Louis XVI ascended to the throne of Paris in 1774 at the age of 20.

9. How did France’s involvement in the American War of Independence affected its economy?

France already had a debt of 2 billion livres and its involvement in the American War of Independence increased this debt by another 1 billion livres.

10. Why were the treasury of France empty under the rule of Louis XVI?

France had been fighting wars for several years and incurring debts. Its involvement in the American War of Independence further worsened the economic situation by adding more than a billion livres to the debt that had already crossed 2 billion livres.

The lenders who gave credit to the government now began to charge 10% interest on the loans and thus the burden of interest payments increased. This forced the French government to spend more of its budget on interest payments alone.

Though the country was going through a financial crisis, the King continued to live a luxurious life.

The taxation system was faulty and another cause of the economic crisis. The first and second estate who could pay more taxes were exempt from paying it. At the same time, the underprivileged with meagre resources had to bear the brunt of taxes.

11. Explain the term Society of Estate

The term Society of Estate refers to the division of the French society based on classes or estates. French society was based on a feudal system dating back to the middle age and it had three estates or classes. The clergy and nobility belonged to the First and Second Estate and they enjoyed all the privileges. Traders, businessmen, manufacturers, professionals, peasants and artisans belonged to the Third Estate and had hardly any privileges.

12. How was the French society organized? What privileges did certain sections of society enjoy? Describe

The French society was divided into three estates or classes.

The clergy and the nobles constituted the First and Second Estate and enjoyed all the privileges.

Peasants who accounted for 90% of the population belonged to the Third Estate. Most of them were landless and they enjoyed no political rights or privileges.

The privileges enjoyed by the clergy and nobles by birth were:

Exemption from paying tax

Control over all the important positions in the army and administration

Ownership of land. The nobles were the landed gentry and owned much of the land. They also enjoyed privileges such as feudal dues and services from the peasanty.

13. Give a brief account of the Third Estate

The Third Estate or Commoners was a division of the French society. The Third Estate constituted peasants who made up 90% of the French society. Traders, businessmen, professionals and artisans also belonged to the Third Estate. They enjoyed no political rights or social status and yet they were responsible for paying all the taxes. Having said that, not all people who belonged to the Third Estate worked on the land. Some of them were professionals like doctors or lawyers and some were traders and businessmen. There were obvious disparities in wealth and status among people belonging to the Third Estate.

Peasants were mostly landless and depended on subsistence farming. Though they were free, their condition was no better than that of serfs. Heavy taxes, feudal dues, direct taxes to the church and state, indirect taxes and forced labour brought them to the brink of starvation especially in those years when the harvest was bad.

Almost 60% of the land was owned by nobles, the Church and some wealthy members of the Third Estate.

14. What are tithes and taille?

Tithes are the taxes that the Clergy extracted from poor peasants. Taille was a direct tax to the state paid by the peasants.

15. Name the three taxes on the Third Estate

The three taxes were:

Tithe – extracted by the Church from peasants

Taille – direct tax to the state

Indirect taxes – they were the taxes on items like salt and tobacco that the Third Estate paid to the state.

16. How did Louis XVI bring about the French revolution?

Louis XVI’s inefficient and corrupt administration was instrumental for bringing about the revolution.

He was a pleasure-loving king who did not care about the sufferings of the poor.

He believed in the theory of Divine Right of Kings and his wife Marie Antoinette constantly interfered in the affairs of the state.

He led an extravagant life and squandered away huge amounts of money. Also, his foolish decisions drove France to many wars and worsened its financial situation.

17. Social disparity was one of the major causes of French Revolution. / The inequality that existed in the French society in the old Regime became the cause of French Revolution.

The French society was divided into three Estates or Classes.

The clergy constituted the First Estate and the nobility constituted the Second Estate. They enjoyed all the privileges and were exempt from paying taxes.

Although they accounted for only 2% of the French population, they owned more than 50% of the land and controlled all the high ranking positions in the army and administration.

The Third Estate which constituted 98% of the French population did not enjoy any political rights, privileges or social status. About 90% of them were landless peasants who depended on subsistence farming. The peasants and other members of the Third Estate had to pay direct and indirect taxes to the Church and the State. They earned small, fixed wages which often failed to keep pace with the rise in the price of essential commodities. Consequently, they led miserable lives.

The businessmen and professionals among the Third Estate had access to education. Some of them earned well and even owned land; thus, there were disparities among the members of the Third Estate as well.

It was the poor condition of the Third Estate, their lack of rights and privileges that ultimately forced them to revolt against the French Government and cause its downfall.

1.1 The Struggle to Survive

1. What is subsistence crisis? Name the factors responsible for this in France. / Which factors led to subsistence crisis in France during the old regime?

Subsistence crisis refers to the dire situation in which people’s basic means of livelihood are endangered.

Causes of subsistence crisis

While the population of France was 23 million in 1715, it had risen to 28 million by 1789. The rise in population increased the demand for food grains; however, production could not keep pace with the growing demands.

Consequently, bread which was the staple food of much of the population became more expensive and less affordable.

Most workers employed in workshops had fixed salaries. While the cost of essential commodities increased, their wages remained the same and this increased the disparity between the rich and the poor.

Sometimes drought and sometimes hail affected the harvest and were also responsible for the subsistence crisis.

Subsistence crisis led to the outbreak of food riots. People who could not afford to eat healthy food became weaker and this led to the spread of epidemics and more deaths.

2. The 18th century witnessed the emergence of which social group in France?

The 18th century witnessed the emergence of the middle class.

3. What role did the middle class play in the French revolution?

While the peasants and workers used to revolt against the rise in the price of food and other commodities, they lacked the financial means to launch a full scale revolt that would bring about a real change in the socio-economic order.

The middle class mainly constituted the educated and moneyed class of the Third Estate. They were greatly influenced by the rational ideas of French intellectuals and questioned the Divine Right of Kings.

Inspired by the intellectuals, the middle class started dreaming of a society based on merit, not birth.

To bring about the change they wanted to see, they started providing the peasants and workers the leadership and assistance to launch a large scale revolt.

4. Define the term Middle Class

The term Middle Class refers to a new social group that emerged within the Third Estate in the 18th century. They were prosperous and educated and consisted of professionals like doctors, lawyers, judges and teachers. The richest among them were bankers, manufacturers and businessmen. However, despite their education and wealth, they lacked political rights and social status. The Middle Class were highly influenced by the radical views of the intellectuals and played a crucial role in the outbreak of the French Revolution.

5. What was the source of income of the Middle Class?

The merchants among the Middle Class made money from overseas trade with French colonies in America. They traded in commodities like sugar, tobacco, coffee, indigo and slaves. The manufacturers among them made money by trading in woollen and silk textiles which was either bought or exported by rich members of the society.

6. Name three philosophers who inspired the French revolution

John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu.

7. Who is the author of The Social Contract?


8. Who is the author of Two Treatises of Government?

John Locke

9. Who is the author of The Spirit of the Laws?


10. Which ideas were put forward by John Locke in his book ‘Two Treatises of Government?’

In his book, Two Treatises of Government, John Locke refuted the doctrine of divine right and absolute right of the monarch.

11. Briefly explain the ideas put forward by Rousseau in his book Social Contract?

In his book Social Contract, Rousseau argued that the governments should be based on the consent of the governed. The government he proposed was based on a social contract between the people and their representatives.

12. The Social Contract theory was put forward by ……………………………..


13. What ideas were put forward by Montesquieu in his book The Spirit of Laws?

In his book the Spirit of Laws, Montesquieu proposed that the power of the government should be divided between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. It was this model that came into force in the USA after the 13 colonies declared their independence from Britain.

14. Briefly explain the contribution of philosophers in the outbreak of French revolution

There were many revolutionary thinkers in the 18th century France. The most important among them were Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu and Diderot. Through their revolutionary ideas, they encouraged the people to fight for their rights.

Voltaire attacked the Catholic Church and exhorted people that their destiny was in their own hands, and not in heaven. His ideas encouraged people to fight against the privileges and the unquestionable dominance of the church.

Montesquieu believed that power should not be concentrated in one hand. He proposed a division of power within the government between the legislature, executive and judiciary.

Rousseau believed that the government should be based on a social contract between the rulers and the people.

These ideas were a direct attack on the privileges and feudal rights enjoyed by the First and Second Estate. They were widely discussed everywhere and spread among people through books and newspapers. It was also common for people to read these ideas aloud for the benefit of those who could not read or write.

Thus the philosophers played a crucial role in fuelling the discontent which led to the outbreak of the revolution.

15. In his book ‘The Spirit of the Laws’, Montesquieu proposed a division of power within the government between the legislature, executive and judiciary. What are the benefits of this division?

The benefits of this division of power are outlined below.

If power is concentrated in one person, it will lead to an authoritarian rule. By contrast, horizontal distribution of power allows different organs of the government to exercise different forms of power.

It will also ensure that no organ has unlimited power and enable different organs to check one another.

This division of power will also ensure greater participation of people in governance and respect for diverse ideas and opinions.

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