The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789 and ending in 1799. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, as equality before the law the Revolution made a profound impression on the course of modern history, influencing the decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
The causes of the French Revolution are complex and are still debated among historians. The American Revolution helped set the stage for the events of the French Revolution, having shown France that a rebellion based on Enlightenment principles, including natural rights and equality for all citizens, against an authoritarian regime could succeed.