The French Revolution
This was a period that lasted about 10 years (from 14 july of 1789 to 9 november 1799), it
was marked by a bloody conflict, which more than 1400000 people were killed at the end of the revolution. Before we even start, we need to understand how France and its society was, back in the time. France was an absolutist monarchy, which means that their king ( Louis XVI) command basically everything, even though many people say that he was easily manipulated and didn’t had the balls to be in charge. He was married to Marie Antoinette from Austria, this marriage means an historical bond between the house of Bourbon and Habsburg, there was some troubles in the relationship of the king and the queen of France, because they were taking too long to have kids ( that was very important back in the days), so people thought that he was a very inefficient king. And France wasn’t in a very good situation for a bad government, because, a few years earlier, France have lost the 7 years battle against England, with that defeat, came a nice debt and they lost their colonies on North America. A few years later, the America was fighting on their independence war, and France thought that it was a good idea to help them in order to screw England, so they sent troops and money, at the end America reached its independence and France now was broken, furthermore, this region of Europe was in trouble because it was facing one of the most cold winter in many years, the weather was absolutely crazy and that obviously screwed up the plantations, so France was without any money and food, meaning that France's economy was BUST. Now you get everything that I said and mix up with the enlightenment ideas, which were getting stronger over Europe. Many people started thinking and questioning about the system that they live, the poorest peasants didn’t had much access to information, but they were getting the hang of it. People were meeting in clubs to discuss about the problems of France and the possible solutions to it. Other thing that we NEED to understand is the social division of France back in the days and how the social pyramid works
On the top of that pyramid we can find the first state, which consisted of the church people
The second state we can find the Nobles ( king ,queen, prince count ...etc bla bla bla)
The third state was ALL the rest, literally, everyone else.
The problem is that the 2 first states didn’t pay any taxes and had many privileges and the third state was suffering even more with heavy taxes and lack of food. In order to solve the economic crisis, he tried to make the other states pay taxes too, on the Assembly of notable, but he couldn’t do it. Then people told him to bring up the Assembly of the general states, which was basically an assembly with the representant of all 3 social states. That made people very happy, because now they had the chance to change something and the last of those assembly happened more than 150 years ago. However, there is something that was bothering the third state. The problem is that each state had the right for 1 vote only, even though the third state was the bigger, they could only vote once. Which means that the first and the second state always got together against the third state. The states didn’t made a deal. So the third state decided to have their meeting a part from the government and they auto named themselves the National assembly . The king saw all that mess and got REKT and closed the meeting place. However, they didn’t stopped the meeting. They got 100% pissed off and went to a tennis court nearby, and swore that they would never stop meeting until France got a constitution. The king didn’t like this idea at all, so he prepared a guard to press the people in case of need. He also dismissed his prime minister called Jacques Necker, because Necker really liked the ideas of the revolution. The problem with that is that Necker were one of the few people on the government with the people’s trust with that in mind they were afraid of a possible attack from the king and created an national guard made up by civilians and some French guard people. Then they stole a few weapons, however, they needed something very important. The gunpowder, and this can be founded on the bastille, it was also a prison and a symbol of the power of French monarchy, then the National guard invaded the bastille stole the guns and killed all the guards in there. The revolution started to get on the fields as well. Many people started to form groups in order to attack their feudal lords, and with that, many feudal lords ran from France, they were scared of being killed (This is the period called: The big fear, please don’t misunderstand this with the Terror period, the terrot period was the most important and aggressive one). With that, the feudalism was abolish from France. Besides that, the declaration of the right of men and citizen happened. Based on the famous ideology of Liberty Equality and Fraternity. At that moment, power was divided on France, since the national assembly hold a lot of the power. With that the liberty of expression the midias came up. One of the journals was very important, its name was: L’ ami du Peuple (friend of the People) written by Jean-Paul Marat, who really liked the ideas of a revolution and used his journal to spread those ideas. The problem with it is that he was kind of crazy and poster about any rumor that was around. Everything is going ok so far, however people was still hungry and there was a rumor which says that the nobles were hiding food and that the king could act against the revolution. So, a crowd of angry people went to versailles palace to get some answers, they also wanted to move the king to Partis, to get next to the people. As no one left, many women that were there to claim for more rights, invaded the palace. The guards didn’t allowed them to get in it, but those women were extremely pissed and gently cut off the head of the guards, then they demanded the royal family to move to Paris ( they obviously did it because since there was no guards to defend them, they got no choice). From now on the king worked more like a prisoner, but he kept being king. The revolutionary people made him sign up a bunch of paper that reduces his power and the power of the church as well. Talking on the church, all their goods in France were taken. After this they changed a lot of things on their society, such as: Abolish of slavery, right of divorce, title of the nobles, and so on… And the king was losing his power at politics. And he became more of a symbolic figure.
Politically speaking, the France was divided into 2 groups, the: Girondins and the Jacobins
Girondins: even also being the revolutionaries they were the ones that didn’t wanted to change everything. Be careful! Here the terms Right and Left were born, the Girondins seated on the left side of the king, and wanted a more conservator regime.
Jacobins: they seated on the left side of the king as well, but the difference is that they wanted a full change on France, they were the more radicals one, that’s why when we talk about right and left today on politics we refer to conservatism and Liberalism.
In 20 of june 1791, the royal family tried to escape from France to ask help from other countries. They got disguised and almost made it, they were next to the border with Austria, but they were recognize and catched. Many started thinking that the king was a traitor and because of that the Girondins got weaker ( since the people that liked him started thinking about him as an asshole). As a consequence the Jacobin’s power were getting bigger and bigger. However the king was still a king and that made some citizens pissed, who were walking in the streets asking for signatures to take the king down from the power, and in a few days, people started throwing stones as the national guard due to that insatisfaction that led to the Champ de Mars massacre. In september of 1791 the constitution was finally done and the National Assembly was dissolved, to replace this the Legislative assembly, and now France was officially a Constitutional Monarchy. As a result Austria and Prussia threatened to interfere on the revolution, France gets ahead and declares war on Prussia. And with that, a big mobilization on France took place. However, Prussia and Austria had a fairly more organized army, so they were advancing even more on the French territory. This let French people paranoiac, so many nobles and other people suspected of helping the other countries were arrested, also in 10 august of 1792 they did the same to the royal family. However, Prussians and Austrians were getting too close of paris, people were getting nuts, so they form a group to kill all the arrested people ( royal family not included), this event was called September Massacres, about 1400 were killed. At this time, many french people didn’t want the king anymore, and the Jacobins that defended the idea of a monarchy decided that it was better if France become a Republic, with that the Legislative assembly was gone, the National convention took place, as well as a new constitution. On this convention, the Jacobins were the strongest, and their leader was also getting pretty important, his name was Robespierre. People agreed that they needed to end up with the monarchy for a republic to take place, and how we end with the monarchy? EXACTLY killing the king, so he was judged and sentenced to death on guilhotina, so on january 21 of 1793 at 10:15 AM Louis XVI was executed in public. However the revolution itself didn’t end up here, the death of the king was only the beginning.
With the king killed, the things got worse for France actually because many other countries declared war on them. With that, the people were getting too afraid and killed EVERY suspect everyday mainly in Paris and the Girondins were getting executed as well. French Death Note ( for you guys who doesn’t know what is death note: Its an anime which a dude have a notebook, if he writes the name of the pearson on this notebook, the pearson will die), this is basically what happened in France, the founder of that journal that I mentioned before (L’ ami du Peuple) was writing down the name of traitors to be killed and Robespierre was reading that and sending those people to die, so a young woman called Charlotte de Corday, tired of all this killing on France, went on Mara’s house and killed him, she was arrested and killed afterwards. Mara’s death didn’t stopped the executions, but let the population very furious, because he was very dear to the revolutionaries. But you know who was alive? Yeah exactly: Marie Antoinette. So she was judged and killed. A few months before they created the committee of public salvation, that was created to help with foreign invasions and internal as well, such as the anti-revolutionary. In september of 1793, the Jacobins fully ascended to power and the girondins fell, so one of the most iconic phases of French revolution Began:
The Reign Of Terror: Here the revolution really became dark and bloody. Many people were executed just because they were suspected of betrayal with any investigation. France’s situation was very complicated at this time because they were fighting in many fronts and internally against the anti-revolutionary people. With that the Jacobins got crazy and started executing people, if you say anything against the revolution or don’t show interest on it, you got killed. Oh, remember the declaration of men and citizen, that would guarantee the equality fraternity and liberty? Yeah, now nobody cares about it. Censorship was also used. Many spies were getting into the cities in order to find anyone that could be a potential traitor. In paris many people got killed by the guilhotina, on the fields mass execution for the anti-revolutionary. They were also killing Priests and destroying religious symbols, since christianism was one of the bases of the old society, and they wanted to change it. With the Reign of terror, the Jacobins consolidated their power, and another important Jacobin called Jacques Danton said to Robespierre that it was enough of terror, they were already on power, they should focus on a better government and Robespierre said: non. So Danton created an opposition government, and Robespierre saw that as a betrayal and killed everyone involved. Now we are on the last phase of the Reign of Terror. People were executed all the time and that pissed off the french and they thought that Robespierre was getting crazy. In June 26 of 1794, he said that he got a list with a lot of names of traitors, some deputies got scared, because he have even killed his own friends. So the deputies catched him and he got arrested. And on june 26 of 1794 he was executed. Now the Reign of terror was over. Now France was under the control of the Directory of the 5, which was a girondin government and the killing on France was over
Now the main worry of France was the war against other nations. Under the command of a little general (Napoleon Bonaparte, who wasn’t that short, he was probably taller than Yas, the websites founder haha), the France got a very good result, but that is another story…
Unnecessary to say that it was a pleasure writing this and Thanks everyone for reading so far!! Next post is about Napoleon Bonaparte! See you there, and as always, take care.