What impact did the Revolution have on France?

What impact did the Revolution
have on France?
Lecture time!
1. To establish the atmosphere created by the
2. To explain how the Terror developed.
3. To assess the long term impact on France.
Louis XVI
Assessment of
Louis’s actions
• Born in 1754 and in 1770,
he married Marie
Antoinette, daughter of the
emperor and empress of
• In 1774, Louis succeeded
his grandfather Louis XV as
king of France.
• France is changing –
becoming more politicized,
bourgeois becoming more
self-aware. Role of the
Enlightenment is significant.
France is near bankrupt due to
successive wars.
In 1789, to avert the deepening crisis,
Louis agreed to summon the 'estatesgeneral' , but refuses to allow them to
meet together – leads to 3rd Estate
proclaiming itself the “National
Bastille stormed on the 14th July 1789
and this marked the start of direct action
from the people.
Louis was still supported by some
moderates, including Mirabeau.
Louis was forced to accept the
Constitution on the 14th of September
1790, having seen many of his powers
This led to the creation of the Legislative
Assembly and further undermined Louis’s
Louis Losing the Love
• The Constituent Assembly began to
rearrange the laws.
• Still no direct calls to remove Louis,
Constitutional Monarchy was
• Torture was banned and Louis was
renamed ‘King of the French’.
• However, Louis still held onto a
belief in Divine Right and Marie
Antoinette encouraged this.
• King forced to stay in Paris, tries to
escape to Varennes in 1791.
• Louis becomes a prisoner in Paris
and loses the respect of the people.
Refuses to go along with the
constitution fully, despite signing it
in 1791.
• Louis believed that European
powers would come to his rescue.
• He did appear, at times, to be
settled with Constitutional
Monarchy, allowing people into the
gardens at Versailles and visiting
the Bastille, but this was a façade.
• War in April 1792 made Louis’s
position worse, as France was now
fighting to retain the Revolution.
• Despite the Brunswick Manifesto,
In September 1792, the new
National Convention abolished the
monarchy and declared France a
republic. Louis was executed at the
guillotine on 21 January 1793.
Return of the Royal Family
from Varennes
Political groups
General change
• Become more radical after 1791
• Cordeliers persuade Jacobins to
argue for dethroning of Louis,
Feuillants split away as more
moderate and controlled the
• Looks like Jacobins have
• Champs de Mar massacre saw 50
protesters die as they tried to
sign a republican petition,
Lafayette and the National Guard
declared martial law = more
radical politics and rhetoric.
Legislative Assembly
• Louis signed constitution
13th September 1791,
ending the National
Assembly and launching the
Legislative Assembly.
• Suspicion had replaced
• Split between left (more
radical), right (support
limited monarchy) and
centre (sat on fence).
Power Struggle….
• Far left group who argued for the
Republic over monarchy.
• Estimated 420,000 supporters
across France.
• Generally attracted richer classes.
• Became increasingly concerned
about counter revolution and
helped to lead the Terror.
• Benefitted from the
disenfranchisement of royalist
sympathisers in September 1792.
• Anti-Church, wanted more
power to the provinces and
wanted a liberal economy.
• Largely fell from power and
popularity in 1793, were seen
to have failed to deal with the
war and the economic crises
that grew out of it.
• One of their leaders,
Dumouriez, defected to
Austria in April 1793.
The Terror
“Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt,
severe and inflexible; it is therefore an
essence of virtue…Break the enemies of
liberty with terror, and you will be the
justified founders of the Republic”.
"To punish the oppressors of humanity is
clemency; to forgive them is barbarity."
— Maximilien Robespierre, 1794
Spark of Terror
• The war was going
badly and the Vendee
and Britanny saw
increases in counterrevolutionary riots.
• Paris sensed that a firm
government was
needed to ‘give firm
voice to the law’.
• The Committee of
Public Safety was set up
in April 1793 by the
National Convention.
• Its aim was to tighten
control in France and
stabilise the situation so
that France could win.
The government would
be ‘revolutionary until
the peace’.
Law of Suspects –
September 1793
• Stirred up ‘revolutionary paranoia’.
• Proposed by Merlin de Douai and
de Cambaceres. Had been debated
since June 1793.
• Committee of Public Safety given
powers to arrest individuals by the
National Convention.
• Surveillance Committees were
responsible for drawing up lists of
• Approximately 500,000 listed as
suspects and between 35,000 and
50,000 deaths.
"who, by their conduct or their
relationships, either by their words or
writings, have been partisans of tyranny or
federalism and enemies of freedom, those
whose [actions] cannot justify, in the
manner prescribed by the decree of March
21, their financial means and remunerations
from their civic duties; those to whom have
been denied citizenship certificates,
removed by public officials or suspended
from their functions by the National
Convention or its commissioners and have
not been reinstated; those former nobles,
all the husbands, wives, fathers, mothers,
son or daughters, brothers or sisters, and
agents of émigrés, who have not
consistently demonstrated their
commitment to the Revolution, those who
emigrated from the interval between 1 July
1789 and its release between 30 March–8
March 1792, even though they returned to
France within the time prescribed by such
order or earlier”.
Causes and Consequences
of the Terror
• 5 September 1793 – 28 July
• Time of great uncertainty
and rumour – constant
discussion of threats both
internal and external.
• Saw mass executions of
"enemies of the
revolution." The death toll
ranged in the tens of
thousands, with 16,594
executed by guillotine
(2,639 in Paris), and another
25,000 executions.
• Saw successive scores
settled with even
Robespierre executed.
• Counter revolutions sparked
in the Vendee, in Brittany
and Lyon.
• Belief that emigres were a
threat to the Revolution.
• Peasant attacks on grain
depots also saw the death
penalty brought in for more
minor crimes.
Consequences of the Terror
• Range of massacres,
including Nantes
drownings in 1794.
• Anti-clerical attacks and
actions carried out, began
to tear people away from
the Revolution.
• By June 1794,
Robespierre was
overthrown and replaced
by more moderate
European Reaction
to the Revolution
• Early campaigns saw French defeats,
armies suffered from officer
desertion to join émigrés. Rebellions
in the Vendee also damaged morale.
• France staged a dramatic comeback
Revolution created belief in a new
between 1792-5 and continually
system of government – French
believed it should spread Europe
pushed First Coalition back from
French territory, despite
In 1792, Prussia and Austria joined
overwhelming odds.
forces to contain France.
Brunswick Manifesto issued that
• Battle of Valmy on 20th September
threatened France should they harm
1793 was won with French artillery
the King. This led to the storming of
and the Prussians withdrew.
the Tuileries Palace, killing 600 of the
King’s Swiss Guards.
• Execution of Louis united opposition
Led to further executions in the
and by March 1793 France was
prisons of Paris.
against Britain, Spain, Naples, the
Execution of Louis and his family on
16th Jan. 1793 increased European
Netherlands and Austria.
• This established the early belief in la
Threat increased Terror and rural
disturbances, particularly following
Gloire and supported the
the levee en masse.
Revolutionary fervour within France.
The First
Financial Situation
Financial Strains
• Under Louis XVI, the Finance
Minister Necker underestimated the
national deficit by 36m livres.
• The chaotic, archaic tax system
failed to meet the country’s
• The Revolution continued this
financial meltdown.
• Assignats were introduced in 1790
as paper currency. Not originally
meant to be main currency.
• They were used as a certificate to
represent the value of land
confiscated from the Church.
• The use of assignats and the
increased printing saw the notes
lose value from 1792.
• The war, begun in 1792, made
things worse with the sans-culottes
• This caused hyperinflation, food
prices rose, which had knock on
• The Law of the Maximum set food
prices and executed those that
forced a black market.
• The Maximum set ceiling prices for
grain, flour, meat and onions at the
price of 1790 + 1/3.
• The Committee of Public Safety sent
soldiers to find food in the
countryside and take it to Paris.
• The National Convention was only
able to bring sufficient money in by
plundering areas the army had
• Napoleon gained great credit for
sending artwork back from the
conquered territories.
• The army could not be allowed to
form peace, for fear of their return
to a lack of jobs.
History of Revolutionary France

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