Most Important Revolutions of All Time

Most Important Revolutions of All Time

The French Revolution

The French Revolution was a time of political and social rebellion in France that began in 1789 because of the inequalities that existed between the rich and poor. The French Revolution began on July 14th, 1789 when the people of France stormed the Bastille in Paris – a royal fort that had been converted to a prison. The revolution lasted until 1799, resulting in the abolition of the French royal family, a change in government, further armed conflicts with other countries in Europe, the execution of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and the beginning of Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign in France.

France celebrates its Independence Day on July 14th each year

French Revolution Facts:

  • When the French Revolution began and the Bastille was stormed on July 14th, 1789, only seven prisoners were found inside.
  • Charles Dickens wrote a book that was set during the French Revolution titled A Tale of Two Cities.
  • Prior to the French Revolution, it was illegal to worship as a Protestant or as a Jew. These religions were illegal. After the Revolution people were free to follow these religions.
  • The French Revolution resulted in the freeing of 10,000 African slaves.
  • It is estimated that as many as 40,000 people were executed at The Guillotine during the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror that followed.
  • King Louis XVI was beheaded on January 12th, 1793. The charge that led to his execution suggested that he had conspired with Austria and Prussia, enemies of France at the time.
  • One of the main leaders of the French Revolution was Maximilien de Robespierre. He was known for sending his opponents and others to the Guillotine. In 1794 he was captured and beheaded himself.
  • In the years following Robespierre’s execution Napoleon Bonaparte seized power of France.

The American Revolution

When thirteen American colonies decided that they would form a nation independent of the British Empire in 1765, a political battle began. The fight for independence would also result in the American Revolutionary War that began in 1775 and ended in 1783. Although there were many factors leading to the fight for independence from the British, a major factor was Great Britain’s expectation that the colonies contribute financially via imposed taxes on certain goods, without being allowed any representation in Parliament. The taxes were meant to pay back some of the debt that Britain incurred during the French and Indian War, when Britain managed to secure more territory for the colonies. On September 3rd, 1783, Great Britain and the United States signed the Peace Treaty of Paris that brought an end to the conflict.

American Revolution Facts:

  • The 13 colonies that declared independence from Great Britain included Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, North Carolina, New York, Virginia, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
  • The Commander in Chief of the Continental Army was George Washington, appointed in 1775.
  • The Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776, one year after the war began, officially declaring independence from Great Britain.
  • 25,000 Americans died during the Revolution; approximately 17,000 died from sickness and other non-conflict causes, and approximately 8,000 died during battle.
  • The major battles of the war included The Battle of Lexington, The Battle of Concord, The Siege of Boston, Battle of Fort Ticonderoga, The Battle of Chelsea Creek, The Battle of Bunker Hill, The Battle of Quebec, The Battle of Sullivan’s Island, The Battle of White Plains, The Battle of Fort Washington, The Battle of Trenton, The Battle of Princeton, The Battle of Oriskany, The Battle of Bennington, The Battle of Brandywine, The Battles of Saratoga, The Battle of Germantown, The Battle of Monmouth, The Siege of Savannah, The Siege of Charleston, The Battle of Camden, The Battle of King’s Mountain, The Battle of Cowpens, Battle of Guilford Courthouse and The Battle Of Yorkton.
  • George Washington would go on to become the first United States president in 1789.

The Glorious Revolution

The Glorious Revolution was an event in the history of England and Scotland in 1688. The people of England and Scotland did not like the king, King James II because he would not let them vote or practice the religion of their choice. They invited William III of Orange-Nassau to take over as king. William was King James II’s nephew and Mary’s first cousin. He came to England with his wife Queen Mary, the daughter of King James II. They let the old king escape, so he moved to France out of fear.

William signed the Bill of Rights and became king, and England became a constitutional monarchy.

Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution is the term used to describe two revolutions which occurred in Russia in 1917 between February and October. The first revolution, known as the February Revolution, was focused on the then Russian capital, Petrograd, and led to the collapse of the Russian Empire and the abdication of its leader, Emperor Nicholas II and the establishment of a provisional government. The second phase of the Russian Revolution, known as the October Revolution was led by Vladimir Lenin who led Soviets in overthrowing the provisional government and imposed a communist government. The October Revolution was significant because out of it Moscow was chosen as the nation’s capital and the nation became a communist state.

Xinhai Revolution

The Xinhai Revolution was the 1911 revolution in China which led to the collapse of the last imperial dynasty in the country, the Qing Dynasty. While the revolution played a significant role in shaping the modern social and economic policies of the country, it was also one of the most violent moments in Chinese history and cost hundreds of thousands of lives. The Xinhai Revolution lasted four months and resulted in the end of imperial rule in China and saw the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of China.

Cuban Revolution

The revolution took place for five years beginning on July 26th, 1953 and ending on January 1st, 1959. In the years preceding the revolution, the Cuban public was under immense pressure due to high levels of unemployment, rising inflation, and limited water infrastructure. The rebels led by Fidel Castro, his brother Raul Castro and Che Guevara began sporadic attacks against the government and eventually seized control of the country in January 1st, 1959. Fidel Castro immediately imposed a revolutionary socialist government and nationalized major industries. The revolution also saw the government enact several policies on social-economic reform.

Revolutions of 1848

The Revolutions of 1848 were a series of political upheavals which occurred in 1848 all over Europe and became the most widespread wave of revolutions to happen in Europe. The Revolutions of 1848 involved France, Germany, the Austrian Empire, the Italian States, Poland, and the Kingdom of Hungary among others and were mainly democratic. The Revolutions of 1848 left a lasting legacy and caused the end of the feudal system of government in many countries and saw the growth of democracy in Europe.

Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution was a global movement in the early 19th century and involved the transition to mechanization of the then hand production methods. The Industrial Revolution’s origin is traced to Great Britain and was characterized by increased use of steam power and the development of heavy machinery and the rise of the factory system. The Industrial Revolution remains one of the most pivotal moments in human civilization as many significant innovations improved the standards of living of the people with many job opportunities being at the factories. Economists even view the Industrial Revolution the most critical phase of human civilization after the domestication of plants and animals.

Haitian revolution

The Haitian Revolution was a successful anti-slavery war which took place in the then French colony of Saint-Domingue (today Haiti). The revolution which lasted for over 12 years began on August 21, 1791, and ended on January 1, 1804, and cost hundreds of thousands of lives. The Haiti rebels were fighting against the institution of slavery, and their victory changed the global stance on slavery. Many subsequent slave revolts all over the Americas and the 20th-century civil rights movements were inspired by the success of the Haitian Revolution.

Iranian Revolution

The Iranian Revolution (also known as the Islamic Revolution) was a period where Iranians conducted numerous demonstrations against the US-backed Pahlavi dynasty and ended with the overthrow of the leader, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and imposing an Islamic state led by Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Iranian Revolution grabbed international attention with university students being heavily involved. The Islamic government called for the rejection of capitalism among other ideas which were considered as “Western,” an action which caused a diplomatic row between Iran and the United States. The Iranian Revolution became an inspiration to other movements all over the world including the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

Chinese Communist Revolution

On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), proclaimed the creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The declaration brought to end the costly civil war between the CCP and the National Party or Kuomintang (KMT), which began immediately after the WWII and there had been on and off conflict between the parties since the 1920’s. The formation of PRC helped to end the long governmental turmoil in China which started with the Chinese Revolution in 1911.

The Colors of Revolution

White Revolution

Laid out in early 1963 by the Shah of Iran, this series of reforms included education, land, and women’s rights. The Iranian Revolution in 1979 removed the Shah from power and installed the current regime, led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Yellow Revolution

In a span of four days in February 1986 this coup, also known as the People Power Revolution, brought down the 21-year old dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. The use of yellow ribbons throughout the demonstrations led to it being called the Yellow Revolution.

Velvet Revolution

In response to a peaceful student demonstration being suppressed by riot police, protesters took to the street for almost a month in Czechoslovakia November 1989. Named the Velvet Revolution due to its relative peaceful and bloodless nature.

Blue Revolution

This revolution started in 2002 and culminated in May 2005 when more than a 1,000 demonstrators gathered outside the Kuwaiti parliament to demand women’s suffrage. The demonstrators wore pale blue to demonstrate the long struggle for suffrage. The color of the signs of the protesters led to the naming of the revolution.

Orange Revolution

Beginning November 22, 2004, millions of Ukrainians, clad in orange, held nationwide nonviolent protests over perceived election fraud in the presidential election.

Purple Revolution

The name for the official end of Saddam Hussein’s reign in Iraq. Purple refers to the color of the ink used to stain the forefingers of people who voted in the 2005 elections.

Saffron Revolution

Named after the color of the robes of Buddhist monks in Myanmar (Burma), in September 2007 hundreds of thousands of monks, students, and political activists protested the country’s military junta and demanded democratic reform. The uprising began in response to the government ending fuel subsidies without warning, causing massive spikes in prices in food and transportation.

Green Revolution

Demonstrators took to the streets in the summer of 2009 to protest the Iranian government. The activists pioneered the use of dating websites and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook when communicating with other protestors and the media. The protestors, who accused the government of voting fraud, wore green ribbons in support of defeated presidential candidate Hossein Mousay.

Jasmine Revolution

The rebellion that launched the Arab Spring is named after Tunisia’s yellow state flower. Protests broke out in Tunisia in late 2010, sparked by a street vendor setting himself on fire. The discontent spread to other nations in North Africa and the Middle East, leading to uprisings in Egypt and Libya, and an ongoing civil war in Syria.


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