TIMELINE IN A NUTSHELL
Estates General (May 5)
Tennis Court Oath (Jun. 20)
Necker, Louis's financial advisor, is fired (Jul. 11)
Storming of the Bastille (Jul. 14)
Great Fear (July - Aug.)
Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen (Aug. 29)
March on Versailles (Oct. 5)
Constitutional monarchy declared (Dec. 1789)
Civil Constitution of the Clergy (July 12)
Parlements formally abolished, France divided into 83 departments (Nov.)
Necker resigned (Dec. 1790)
Declaration of Right of Woman and the Female Citizen (Olympe de Gouges)
Food riots across Paris (Mar.)
Black citizens in the French colonies granted equal rights (May 15)
Chapelier Law (banned guilds) (Jun. 14)
Flight to Varennes (Jun. 20-21)
Declaration of Pillnitz issued by Austria and Prussia (Aug. 27)
Constitution of 1792 (Sep. 3)
Constituent Assembly dissolves (Sept. 14),
Legislative Assembly (Oct. 1-Sep. 20 1792)
Vindication of the Rights of Women (Mary Wollstonecraft)
Legislative Assembly declared war on Austria (Apr. 20)
Began War of First Coalition (1792-1797)
Storming of Tuileries (Aug. 10)
September Massacres (Sep. 2-7)
National Convention (Sep. 20, 1792-Oct. 26, 1795)
Vote on fate of Louis XVI (Dec.)
Execution of Louis XIV (Jan. 21)
France declared war on Britain and Holland (Feb.)
Vendee revolt began (Mar. 1793 - 1796)
Committee of Public Safety established (Apr. 1793)
Girondins purged from Convention (May 31 - Jun. 2)
Montangnards control Convention (second phase, Jun. 1793-Jul. 1794)
Law of Maximum (limit on price of bread) (Jun.)
Constitution (Jun. 24) (not put into effect)
Death of Marat (Jul. 13)
Levee en masse decreed (Aug. 16)
Reign of Terror (Sep. 5, 1793-Jul. 28, 1794)
Marie Antoinette executed (Oct.)
22 Girondists as well as more than 40,000 "Countrrevolutionaries" executed.
Festival of Liberty and Reason (Nov.)
Law of 22 Prairial (Law of Great Terror) (Jun. 21)
Thermidorian Reaction (Jul. 27)
The moderate Plain controls the national Convention, Montagnards purged.
Louis XVII died in prison.
Royalist Coup attempt (Oct. 5)
Directory to power (Nov. 1795-Nov. 1799)
BEFORE THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Louis XV (1715-1774)
Louis XVI (1774-1792) (wife Austrian Marie Antoinette)
Strength of the nobles
Nobles = 2%, but chief rivals to kings for power.
Grew stronger after Louis XIV.
Parlements (regional courts dominated by nobles)
Assumed right to approve or disapprove of king’s decrees – eroding royal power
Peasants and workers
4/5 France’s 26 million people were peasants
Peasants had to pay half of their income in taxes
They also paid feudal dues to nobles, tithes to church, royal taxes to king’s agents
Paid land tax called tailles
Performed forced labor called corvee
1788 countryside suffered unsually bad harvests
Led to sharp increase in price of bread
Drove many peasants to cities looking for work, pushing laborers out of work
Caused bread riots.
Blamed king, privileged nobles and excesses of court (Marie Antoinette)
Louis XIV spending
Cost of Seven Years War (1756-1763)
Financing US War of independence (1775-1783)
Interest on debts = 1/2 government expenditures.
Inadequate banking system.
Weak taxation system
Nobility, clergy and some of the bourgeoisie were exempt from taxation.
Taxes fell on the struggling peasantry.
No consistent system for collecting taxes (tax collectors kept much of the revenue).
Reform attempts (Finance Ministers)
Jacques Turgot (1774-76)
Abolishing guilds and ending restriction on commerce of grain
Cut down expenses at court.
New tax on landowners
Opposed financial support for American Revolution
Charles de Calonne 1786
Proposed land ta without exemptions
Lightening of indirect taxes
Confiscation of some church property
Establishment of provincial assemblies in which all citizens represented.
Met with Assembly of Notables (see below)
Jacques Necker (1788-89, 1789-90)
Assembly of Notables, 1787
Louis XVI desperately called a select group of nobles and clergy.
To plead with them to consent to new taxes and economic reforms.
They refused saying they had to right to consent to new taxes.
Only Estates General had the right
Hadn't met since 1614. Nobles thought they could dominate meeting over king.
Estates General called by Necker.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
Estates General (May 5, 1789)
Refusal of Assembly of Notables to support Louis XVI’s program of tax reform
Forced king to call estates.
Each Estate presented their grievances (Cahiers de Doleances, "list of grievances")
Owned 5-10% of the land
No direct taxes, instead gave “free gift” of 2% of income
Wanted an end to bishops holding more than one diocese
Nobility (400,000 -- 2-4% of population
Owned 20-25% of land
Monopolized high offices (incl. govt., church, army)
Exempt from taxes and blocked all reforms.
Third Estate 95% of population
Abbe Sieyes wrote pamphlet, "What is the Third Estate?" (see image)
Bourgeoisie (shopkeepers, merchants, lawyers, intellectuals)
Wanted end of privilege, more political participation.
Wanted end to corvee, taille, high tithes to church. feudal dues (though they weren't serfs), high rent and banalites for use of mills, bakeries, win presses etc.)
Townspeople (urban population):
Wanted lower price of bread, higher wages
from 1730-1788 prices up 65%, wages up only 22%
10% clergy, 20% nobility, 40% peasants, rest belonged to crown or was common land.
Vote by estate or by head.
Third Estate wanted to count votes by number of representatives (by head)
By Dec. 1788, Third Estate had twice the reps. in Estates General
Because clergy and nobility voted together, Third Estate would lose votes by estates.
Tennis Court Oath, (June 20, 1789)
Jun. 17, Third Estate declared itself the National Assembly of France (1789-1791)
Assembly "of the people" - not of the estates.
Trying to take back power, Louis XVI closed the hall where the estates were meeting.
Jun 20, Third Estate decided to meet next door at a tennis court
Assembly made oath not to disband until they drafted constitution.
Jun. 27, king ordered other estates to meet with 3rd Estate and vote by head.
National Assembly was in hands of moderates from middle class and liberal nobility.
Image below by Jacques-Louis David
Center, Jean-Sylvain Bailly raises his hand to make oath.
Front - representatives of three estates (white robed monk, black robed Catholic noble, brown-clad Protestant minister of third estate) greet each other.
Storming of the Bastille Prison July 14, 1789
Louis XVI tried to reassert authority
Ordered mercenary army of Swiss guards to march on Paris and Versailles
Fear king disbanding National Assembly
Jul. 11, Louis fired popular finance minister Necker (seen as ally to people)
50,000 citizens armed themselves with pikes formed National Guard
Jul. 14, Mobs already protesting soaring price of bread stormed Bastille prison
Seen as symbol of oppression under Old Order (ancient regime)
Some guards joined them.
At Bastille, mobs freed some prisoner and took Bastille's supply of gunpowder.
Killed governor and paraded his head on a pike.
After rebellion, Bastille prison was dismantled.
Necker reinstated, Bailly became mayor of Paris, Lafayette became commander of National Guard
Great Fear July-August 1789
Rumor that landowners taking advantage of king's troubles to drive peasants off the land and take their harvests.
Peasants revolt against lords across France,
Destroyed tax rolls and documents recording their feudal obligations, attacked manors, reoccupied enclosed lands, some violence against aristocrats.
Aug. 5-11, National Assembly decided only way to stop violence was abolition of feudalism
Aristocrats gave up their feudal rights.
Peasant no longer obligated to work on lord's land nor barred from fishing in common streams or hunting in forests
All people of France now subject to same laws and obligations to society
Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen, Aug. 26, 1789
Constitution written by Marquis de Lafayette.
With help from Jefferson (writer of U.S. Declaration of Independence)
"All men born and remain free and equal in rights"
These rights include “liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression”
Based on John Locke.
Freedom of religion, freedom from arbitrary arrest, speech and press
Right to petition govt.
No social distinctions
Government's job is to preserve rights of man, liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression
Habeas Corpus, Trial by Jury, separation of powers.
Not for women
1791 Olympe de Gouges = "Declaration of Rights of Woman and Female Citizen"
1792 Mary Wollstonecraft= "Vindication of the Right of Women"
Said women not naturally inferior to men
Inferiority created by lack of education
Women got right to inherit property and divorce
Not vote or hold office
March on Versailles (Oct. 5, 1789)
Thousands of fish ladies march on Versailles, Oct. 5, 1789
Demanding cheap bread
And royal family to Paris (return Oct 6, 1789)
Dec. 1789 – National assembly legislated:
Declared constitutional monarchy.
Parlements suspended (formally abolished Nov. 1790)
France divided into 83 departments governed by elected officials (Mar. 1790)
Civil Constitution of Clergy, (July 12, 1790)
Passed by National Assembly
Bishops and priests elected by the people and paid by state
Clergy had to take loyalty oath to support new govt.
Pope Pius VI condemned act
Over ½ clergy refused to take oath
Called "refractory" or "nonjuror" clergy
These Catholics became enemies of Revolution
Church property had been confiscated in Nov. 1789
The properties were sold and used as security backing for newly issued paper money known as Assignats
This new income was used to pay the salaries of the clergy.
Also removed civil disabilities against Jews
Parlements officially abolished (Sep. 1790)
Edmund Burke (Nov. 1790)
Wrote "On the French Revolution"
Warned that mob rule woud lead to anarchy and miltiary dictatorship
advocated evolutionary change rather than revolutionary
September massacres (1792) and execution of Louis XVI (1793) vindicated Burke’s dire predictions.
Necker (Dec. 1790)
The king's popular finance minister, Necker, resigned after losing favor with National Assembly.
Mirabeau now became king's chief adviser -- but he died April 2, 1791.
Riots, March 1791
Food riots across Paris
Property of emigres forfeited
Haiti, May 15, 1791
Black citizens of French colonies granted equal rights.
Flight to Varennes, June 1791
Louis XVI attempted to flee to Austria to get help
Marie Antoinette's brother, Leopold, was Austria's emperor.
Disguised king and queen were recognized at Varennes and returned back to Paris.
Now seen as traitors.
WAR August 27, 1791
Declaration of Pillnitz:
Leopold II,Austria (Marie Antoinette's brother) + Frederick William II, Prussia
Said Austria would go to war if ALL other major European powers also went to war
Knowing British prime minister, William Pitt, did not support war)
Intention: to satisfy French emigres in Austria
National Assembly interpreted declaration as intention for war.
Used declaration to enhance its power.
Constitution of 1791 (Adopted Sept. 3)
Short lived Constitution drafted by National Assembly
The Declaration of the Rights of Man became the preamble of the constitution
King formally accepted constitution on Sept. 14, 1791.
Established a limited monarchy
With separation of powers between executive, legislative and judicial branches.
King's power (executive) limited by unicameral parliament, the Legislative Assembly
SECOND STAGE OF REVOLUTION
Constituent assembly dissolved Sept 30, 1791
After king accepted constitution
Self-Denying Ordinance (by Robespierre)
Barred any member of Constituent Assembly from sitting in Legislative Assembly
Legislative Assembly begins Oct. 1, 1791-92 (considered failure)
Under liberal Constitution of 1791
Members of Legislative Assembly sat together in separate sections of meeting hall
Conservatives who supported king on right
Moderates in center
Radicals who distrusted king and wanted revolution on left
Wanted to overthrow monarchy and create republic
Jean-Paul Marat, Georges-Jacques Danton, Maximilian Robespierre (not Lafayette)
Wanted to involve France in a war that would discredit monarchy and extend France’s revolutionary ideals across Europe
Civil marriage and divorce instituted
But vote not given to women
Titles of nobility abolished
New system of courts created (with elected judges)
Juries used in criminal trials
No more guilds (Chapelier Law, Jun. 14 1791)
No more mercantilistic restrictions on trade.
No internal tariffs
Taxes are no longer farmed out to private tax collectors.
WAR April - June 1792
Legislative Assembly declared war against Austria and Prussia April 20, 1792
Began War of First Coalition
War began badly for poorly equipped French armies
French army fled at sight of the enemy
By summer 1792, Austrian and Prussian armies advanced toward Paris.
Duke of Brunswick published call for allied attack on France
RADICALIZATION : STRUGGLE IS NOW BETWEEN BOURGEOIS AND PROLETARIAT – NO LONGER NOBILITY AND BOURGEOISIE
Was the govt of Paris from 1789-1795 (Hotel de ville after storming of Bastille)
144 delegates elected by 48 divisions of the city
In 1792 dominated by the Jacobins who were not in the Legislative Assembly
Due to Self-Denying Ordinance.
Sans-Culottes took control of Paris Commune (city govt.)
Sans-Culottes not cohesive:
Different motives (personal vendettas, professional jealousies etc.)
Different degrees of education and income
All were against rich
Believed all men equal
OK with private property but no one would control large enterprises or estates – against indulgent wealth of bourgeoisie and elite aristocrats
Wanted redistribution of grain from wealthy landowners to poor
Wanted a radical republic based direct democracy
Wanted tax on rich, price controls
Against Roman Catholic clergy
Support from anti-bourgeois factions of the Paris Commune
Lke Enrages and Hebertists
Also in paramilitary forces
Charged with physically enforcing policies an legislation of the revolutionary government (violence and executions)
Seen as the truest and most authentic sons and daughters of Revolution
Living representations of the revolutionary spirit
Public functionaries from middle and upper class adopted clothing and label of sans-culottes to demonstrate solidarity with working class and patriotism for new French Republic
Storming of the Tuileries August 10, 1792
Paris Commune became insurrectionary summer 1792
Refused to take orders from central French government
Intimidated the Legislative Assembly into deposing Louis XVI
Took charge of routine civic functions and mobilized extreme views and actions
First mayor Jean Sylvain Bailly
Aug. 9 1792 – a new revolutionary Commune
Led by Georges Danton and Jacques Hebert
Took possession of Hotel de Ville
Next day (Aug. 10) attacked the Tuileries (where royal family lived)
Lafayette fled to Austria
Swiss Guards massacred.
King's family became prisoners.
Rump Legislative Assembly (only 1/3 of deputies present, Jacobins)
Issued call for election of a national convention
New body would then form a more democratic govt.
September Massacres -- Violence in Paris (Sep. 2-7, 1792)
Alarming successes of Austrians
And surrender of two important fortresses
Caused panic in the capital
Sponsored by Paris Commune (possibly Danton)
Convinced royalists would betray Revolution
Massacre of about 1,200 Royalists held in Parisian prisons (200 of them Catholic priests)
Mobs of sans-culottes executed over 1000 priests, bourgeoisie, aristocrats
Campaign to de-Christianize
Street signs changed
Balttle of Valmy (Sep. 20, 1792)
Prussia marched on Paris to restore monarchy
Stopped by hastily assembled revolutionary armies at Valmy.
French victory emboldened the National Convention to abolish the monarchy
General mobilization, citizens sent to front
French forces begin enjoying victories
National Convention Sep. 20, 1792-Oct. 26, 1795
Convention elected by the Legislative Assembly
Remnant of Legislative Assembly formally surrendered authority
Danton was member as minister of justice
Seated up high, “The Mountain,” (Montagnards) with Marat and Robespierre
Wanted to give poorer classes more political powers
Against moderate Girondists
Who favored a bourgeois republic, anted to reduce power of Paris Commune (they were purged May 31 -Jun. 2, 1793)
Abolished monarchy Sep. 21, 1792
Established a republic on Sept. 22, 1792 (beginning of French Calendar)
Day 1 of Republican Calendar
Vote on Louis XVI (Dec. 1792)
Dec. 1792 Vote on fate of Louis XVI
Girondists (now labeled counter-revolutionaries) wanted prison
Jacobins wanted death
Girondists were ousted from National Convention
Louis XVI executed Jan. 21, 1793
At first European liberals supported Revolution
Feb. 1793 France declared war on Britain and Holland
Vendee Rebellion (Mar. 1793-1796)
In Vendee, Brittany, Langwy and Verdun
Began as reaction to conscription for waar
The Vendean rebellion was a climax in the history of the French Revolution.
Because of the obstinate, determined resistance of the Vendeans
The Jacobins escalated their policy of terror,
Noot only sentencing individuals regarded enemies of the people
But pursuing a policy of genocide
Committee of Public Safety established April 6, 1793
Assumed its role of protecting the newly established republic
Against foreign attacks and internal rebellion.
"We must annihilate the enemies of the Republic at home and abroad or else we shall perish"
As a wartime measure, the Committee—composed at first of nine, and later of twelve, members—
Was given broad supervisory powers over military, judicial, and legislative efforts.
It was formed as an administrative body to supervise and expedite the work of the executive bodies of the Convention.
Food riots in Paris and an uprising of the Paris Commune against Convention
Paris Commune was controlled by sans-culottes
Who wanted direct democracy and government controls over the price of bread
National Convention (dominated by radical members of the Mountain or Montagnards)
Voted to expel Girondists (party of compromise) from all offices
And limit the price of bread and flour (Law of Maximum) in June 1793
Constitution of Jun.-Oct. 1793
To pacify sans-culottes, Committee of Public created Constitution of 1793
Constitution based on universal male suffrage
Promised rights to education and jobs
But Constitution was suspended in October 1793
Death of Marat July 13, 1793
Journalist who wrote a popular pamphlet called "Ami du peuple" ("Friend of the People")
He used to live in the sewers where he acquired a skin disease
Requiring him to soak in a bathtub for relief.
July 1793 murdered by Charlotte Corday
A woman from the countryside who blamed him for inciting the violence through his newspaper.
She claimed she had a list of counterrevolutionaries
Marat promised her that the "enemies" of France would be executed.
Instead, Corday killed Marat.
Marat was seen by the revolutionaries as a saintly martyr of the Revolution
In his painting of Marat (see image)
Jacques-Louis David posed Marat slumped in the bath like Jesus in the Pieta.
In his hand is the list of "enemies" given to him by Corday.
Corday was executed amid popular outage.
Levee en masse (conscription decreed)
Reign of Terror
"Law of suspects” instigates the Terror
Oct 1793 Marie Antoinette tried and executed
22 Girondists tried and executed
Cult of the Supreme Being
In a slight retreat from dechristianization
Robespierre realized importance of a deity (the new Supreme Being)
Nov. 1793 – Festival of Liberty and Reason
Organized by the artist Jacques-Louis David, Robespierre took charge
Took place around a man-made mountain on the Champ de Mars
Every locality was forced to hold a commemorative event
In Paris the event is orchestrated on a massive scale
Would be the first day of national celebration of the Supreme Being
Future republican holidays were to be held every tenth day
The new day according to the Republican calendar
Tricolor flag (see above)
Becomes official flag in Feb. 1794
Revolution begins "eating its own children" Jun. 1794
Robespierre, Committee of Public Safety and Jacobin Club denounce the Hebertist, Enrages (Sans-Culottes) and Dantonists
On framed-up charges
They execute all the popular leaders (like Jacques Hebert and Danton)
Robespierre becomes virtually dictator
Robespierre decreed the new religion of the Supreme Being
June 1794 – day of inauguration of the Supreme Being
Jun. 1794 – (Prairial 22)
Procedures for mass trial and execution implemented
Victims will go to the guillotine now in batches of 50 or 60 at a time
Estimated 2,750 are executed
Of whom great majority are poor
Thermidorian Reaction – July 27, 1794
Convention calls for arrest of Robespierre
Robespierre attempts unsuccessful insurrection
Robespierre is arrested and executed
About 150 of his supprters are also killed
Terror is over
Jacobin Club is suppressed by Convention
White terror instituted against revolutionaries
Louis XVII, Jun. 1795
Dauphin (heir to the throne, Louis XVI's son, given title Louis XVII)
Dies in prison from neglect and Tuberculosis at age 10.
Comte de Provence (Louis XVI's brother) assumes title of Louis XVIII
Royalists attempt coup Oct. 5, 1795 (13 Vendémiaire)
Napoleon Bonaparte makes his name suppressing an uprising of royalists with grapeshot
Gracchus Babeuf is spokesperson of Royalist party (in favor of returning monarchy to power)
Royalists hold meetings at the Pantheon
Directory Nov. 1795 - Nov. 1799
Constitution of Year III approved establishing Directory (Oct. 1795)
Convention dissolves itself in favor of dictatorship of the Directorate
Council of Five Hundred (Lower House - 500 delegates)
Council of Ancients (Upper House - 250 delegates)
Could accept or veto legislation
Picked executive (Five Directors) from lists drawn up by Five Hundred.
Directors - new one chosen each year on rotation.
Chose government ministers, ambassadors, generals, tax collectors
NAPOLEON (see post)
Assumes command of French army in Italy
Direcgtorat bans popular meetings at the Pantheon
Leaders of Babeuf’s “Conospiracy of Equals” arrested
100s of suppoters of Babeuf attack palace