The French Revolution brought forth great changes in the government and society of France. It lasted from 1789 to 1799, and had democratic effects of France; however the revolution did not make France a democratic country. The revolution began with a governmental financial crisis, but quickly became a movement of reform and violent change. Background leading up to the French revolution includes various social, political, and economic conditions. The conditions were the cause of much discontentment among the lower and middle classes. Legal divisions among social groups had existed for hundreds of years. The three estates were as follows: the clergy made up the first estate, the nobles the second, and the rest of the people the third. Peasants of course were the largest, most economically disadvantaged and abused group. The peasants could hardly make enough money to put food on the table, let they were the most heavily taxed. The clergy and nobles did not have to pay taxes. .
New ideas about the government challenged France's absolute monarchy. During the 1700's, the French writers were called philosophers and philosophers from other countries raised new ideas about freedom. Some of these thinkers suggested the right to govern came from the people. The financial crises really brought a lot of stress on France. With the Seven Years War (1756-1763) and the American Revolution (1775-1783), the French government was almost bankrupt. .
On May 5, 1789, at Versailles, near Paris, the Estates-General opened. This body was made up of representatives form the three estates. Most members wanted to take these troubling matters and discus and vote on them as separate estates, but the third estate urged that they combine and all as one discus and vote on the issues together. They also pushed that the Estates-General write a constitution. In June of 1789, the representatives of the third estate declared themselves the National Assembly of France.