The French Revolution refers to the period that began with the Estates General of 1789 and ended in November 1799 with the formation of the French Consulate. Many of its ideas are considered fundamental principles of Western liberal democracy.
Between 1700 and 1789, the French population increased from 18 million to 26 million, leading to large numbers of unemployed, accompanied by sharp increases in food prices caused by years of bad harvests. Widespread social distress led to the convocation of the Estates General in May 1789, the first since 1614. In June, the Estates were converted into a National Assembly, which passed a series of radical measures, among them 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.