The French Revolution (French: Révolution française [ʁevɔlysjɔ̃ fʁɑ̃sɛːz]) was a period of radical political and societal change in France that began with the Estates General of 1789 and ended with the formation of the French Consulate in November 1799. Many of its ideas are considered fundamental principles of liberal democracy, while phrases like liberté, égalité, fraternité reappeared in other revolts, such as the 1917 Russian Revolution, and inspired campaigns for the abolition of slavery and universal suffrage. The values and institutions it created dominate French politics to this day.
The causes are generally agreed to be a combination of social, political and economic factors, which the existing regime proved unable to manage. In May 1789, widespread social distress led to the convocation of the Estates General, which was converted into a National Assembly in June. The Assembly passed a series of radical measures, including the abolition of feudalism, state control of the Catholic Church and extending the right to vote.
The next three years were dominated by the struggle for political control, exacerbated by economic depression and social unrest. External powers like Austria, Britain, and Prussia viewed the Revolution as a threat, leading to the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in April 1792. Disillusionment with Louis XVI led to the establishment of the French First Republic on 22 September 1792, followed by his execution in January 1793. In June, an uprising in Paris replaced the Girondins who dominated the National Assembly with the Committee of Public Safety, headed by Maximilien Robespierre.
This sparked the Reign of Terror, an attempt to eradicate alleged "counter-revolutionaries"; by the time it ended in July 1794, over 16,600 had been executed in Paris and the provinces. As well as external enemies, the Republic faced a series of internal Royalist and Jacobin revolts; in order to deal with these, the French Directory took power in November 1795. Despite a series of military victories, the war caused economic stagnation and political divisions; in November 1799, the Directory was replaced by the consulate, which is generally seen as the end of the Revolutionary period.