The French Revolution B

LA began Oct. 1, 1791. Majority was irresolute "marsh," which the resolute left quickly took over. Left led by a group of Jacobins called Girondins (from Bordeaux, in the Gironde district). Leader the lawyer Brisot along with Condorcet, future military hero Dumouriez, and Roland, a civil servant whose wife led an influential salon.

Girondins saw a plot against the revolution from émigré nobles and non-juring priests. Louis named as Girondon ministers Roland and Dumouriez. Leopold II died in March 1752 to be succeeded by his less cautious son Francis II. April 20, 1792 LA declared war on Austria--to last 23 years!

Prussia joined alliance and things went badly for France. No officers! Louis dismissed his Girondin ministers because they voted to exile non-juring priests. Big celebration of 3rd anniversary of Bastille Day--La Marseillaise.

July 25 Duke of Brunswick (Prussia) issued famous manifesto--stamp out anarchy in France, restore Louis to full power! If the royal family hurt, "Paris would witness a model vengeance, never to be forgotten." Results! Jacobins spread their influence over all 48 sections of Paris and on night of Aug. 9-10 seized Paris City Hall and set up an illegal Jacobin Commune. Morning of Aug. 10 the Commune and the National Guard attacked Tuileries, massacred the king's Swiss Guards, Louis suspended, royal family locked up, and a new constitutional convention ordered. Interim ministry headed by Roland and other Girondins runs the gov't, but real leader is Danton.

1st Republic. Assignats fall 40%. Marat published his incendiary Friend of the People. Prussians invade NE France, and Danton calls for de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace!

Sept. 2-7 The September Massacres! At least 1000 killed, including the Princesse de Lamballe. Foretaste of the Terror.

"The Miracle of Valmy" partly turned back the Prussians, but they recovered and France faced a coalition of almost all countries of Europe.

Theoretically the election to National Convention truly democratic, both active and passive citizens voted, but Jacobin intimidation kept the voting down to 10%. The Plain still the majority, but now the Girondins made up the right! Both Left and Mountain tended to be professionals with Jacobin backgrounds, and both detested the sans culottes.

First Republic decreed Sept. 21, 1792. Gironde wanted to decentralize the gov't, making Paris less powerful--federalism. This shows in Condorcet's draft constitution. The Mountain, led by Maximilien Robespierre, wanted a strong, powerful, centralized state. Believed like Rousseau in the basic goodness of man. Robespierre thought he knew the general will, and he wanted a "Republic of Virtue." He would "force man to be free."

The Mountain forced the execution of Louis on Jan. 21, 1793 after 100 hours of debate. Half the Girondins wanted to acquit Louis--to their risk.

Fall of the Gironde. In Feb. 1793 Convention rejected Condorcet's draft constitution and declared war on Britain, Spain, and the Netherlands (already at with with Austria and Prussia). March Girondin Dumouriez defeated in Netherlands and deserts to the enemy. Marat declares all Girondins traitors. Acquitted by a special tribunal, and then assassinated by Charlotte Corday. Armed mob invaded Convention June 2, 1793 and forced the arrest of 29 Girondins--Mountain forced the Marsh to send all to the guillotine. Beginning of Reign of Terror (See Robespierre's speech p. 575).

Revolution now ruled by the 12 man Committee of Public Safety. Committee of Public Security ran the police and handed over prisoners to the new Revolutionary Tribunal--16 judges and 60 jurors, soon divided into several courts. Gov't decentralizes; rights of the 48 sections of the Commune of Paris curtailed and "deputies on mission" sent out to the provinces, just like Intendants or missi dominici. Looks ahead to 20th century dictatorships. 20,000 killed. Marie Antoinette, noyades of Nantes in the Vendée (2000) and mitraillades of Lyon (2000). Universal conscription (see p. 573). By end of 1793 the coalition driven from France.

Maximum instituted wage and price controls. Results! The Laws of Ventôse provided for confiscation of traitors' property and redistribution to the poor. Not really fulfilled, for the "property of patriots" still sacrosanct. So more a temporary abandonment of laissez faire than real socialism. But many social reforms: calendar, clothing, religion, metric system, abolishment of slavery in the colonies, "Citoyen."

Some Jacobins created "Temples of Reason" out of churches, but Robespierre believed in a Supreme Being. June 8, 1794 The Festival of the Supreme Being, the height of his success. Increasing opposition in both committees until the 9th of Thermidore (July 27, 1794) when Robespierre not allowed to speak in Convention. Arrest and execution.

The Thermidorean Reaction. Dismantled the Terror--dissolved Revolutionary Tribunal, deprived the two committees of their authority, recalled the deputies on mission, allowed priests to hold mass, gave freedom back to press and theatres. La Jeunesse dorée. Abandonment of price controls and resulting terrible inflation. The White Terror in the SW.

New Constitution of 1795. Again, restricted suffrage based on wealth. 2 Councils: The 500 and the Elders, 2/3 of whom drawn from Convention. Council of 500 nominated and Elders chose 5 directors as an independent executive. Separation of powers and aristocracy of wealth.

Some jeunesse dorée and disgruntled royalists tried a coup, put down by the Massacre of Vendémaire (Oct. 5, 1795). That winter great suffering from inflation and food shortage. Directory placed a tariff on English goods, destroyed the plates for the old assignats and returned to metal money. Harsh economies, but helped by good harvests. Turned the old livre into the franc. Gracchus Barbeuf's conspiracy of equals (1796-97), often called communist, put down easily. But directors and councils fought each other for control and often broke the constitution, setting up Napoleon's coup of Brumaire in 1799.