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The French Revolution


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Indeed Vcczar ! The french society of the end of the XVIIIth century is litteraly in economical collapse, the french revolution could really have happened at any time in the last years because of the above reasons.

I will try to show how went the first year and the initial hopes.

Gathering of the general estates

États généraux - Vikidia, l'encyclopédie des 8-13 ans

The 3 orders gather in Versailles. Quickly the representatives of the "People's estate" ask for fiscal and societal reforms. They ask for the right to vote by head and not by order and are denied these claims.

Louis XVI orders them to come back to session to vote the order of the budget. But the third estate declines to do so.

Tension rise, representative Mirabeau who is a noble but a reformist replies to an envoy of the King that representatives of the people are in Versailles by the will of the people and they will only leave the room by the force of the baillonnettes.

20th of June 1789, Louis XVI closes the chamber of the "people's estate", in reply, those representatives decide to take the first room they can find in Versailles city. They find a room designed for the ancestor of tennis and oust the ones playing here.

Le Serment du Jeu de Paume de David : étude d'un chef-d'œuvre

Gathered in the room, representatives of the 3rd estate (the huge majority of the people) joined by some representatives from the low clergy and low nobility proclaim themselves "National Assembly" and swear to never separate themselves untill they will have given to France a Constitution.

This room by the way still exists, you can visit it today.

Réouverture de la Salle du Jeu de Paume de Versailles - Yvelines Tourisme

At Versailles, reactions to this declaration are not clear among the royal family.

Louis XVI is shocked by this pretention but doesn't want to react harshly, Louis XVI truly cares about being liked by his people.

The brothers of Louis XVI, the future Louis XVIII (1815-1824) and Charles X (1824-1830) want that force be used against those pretentions.

The french queen, Marie Antoinette for herself is more on the idea that the King should give the impression to listen to their concerns, and let them sit but prepares a reply when he could no longer pretend to agree.

Louis XVI will more follow what Marie Antoinette advocates for, he let representatives of the National Assembly gather, but in the meantime he calls the Swiss and german troops around Paris.

Swiss Guards - Wikipedia

This is a critical moment. Louis XVI has foreign troops who are loyal to him, he could crush a people's movement in few days, but he doesn't want to use his forces, he really cares about not being assimilated to a tyran.

Parisians start turning mad with those foreign troops threatening them around Paris. They fear that Louis XVI strikes them. In early july, Louis XVI fires Jacques Necker who is a protestant moderate who was liked by the bourgeoisie for his advocacy for taxing nobles and the clergy. 

Parisians are convinced that this change of government prevails an attack from foreign regiments on the capital, so they storm the Invalides to seize guns.

Hôtel national des Invalides - Office de tourisme Paris

And turn on the Bastille to seize pouder.

Bastille | Definition, History, & Facts | Britannica

The governor of the Bastille M. De Launay is not against a peacefull solution, he receives representatives from the attackers but misunderstandings lead the people to storm the Bastille, thinking that they are about to be attacked from the Bastille. 

The storming turns successfull when the national guard of Paris switches side and joins the attackers. Governor De Launay is beheaded and his head is put on a spike.

After this 14th of July 1789 where the Bastille is stormed, the second brother of Louis XVI the future Charles X emigrates outside of France as well as a part of the nobility.

Louis XVI renounces to use his foreign troops and call them out. From this moment, the revolution will move forward.

In the spring, the new national assembly sits in their room, preparing their constitution, however this summer paranoia crisis contaminates the rural areas where several people start attacking and burning castles. In order to calm everyone, the national assembly abolishes privileges on the night of the 4th of august 1789 then establishes the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizens on the 26th of august 1789. With this declaration a huge batch of fundamental rights are established.

This declaration, even if not official in law before the mid 20th century instores things such as : Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good. / Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law. / A society in which the observance of the law is not assured, nor the separation of powers defined, has no constitution at all.

Louis XVI pretty much ignores the situation by now and prefers to remain at Versailles doing his traditionnal job. Marie Antoinette is more and more nervous about the development of the situation.

It is known that in Versailles a lot of people around the royal couple are mocking the "parisian movement" of reform. The King does not want to sign the abolition of privileges and others reforms but doesn't put a real opposition.

The situation changes in october 1789 when women of Paris, afraid of the economical situation which remains terrible decide to march on Versailles.

The October march on Versailles

20 000 to 30 000 parisian women walk on the 20km separating Paris from Versailles, and ask the King for his support but also that he quits Versailles, and changes his residency for the Tuileries in Paris.

Louis XVI can not decline, the next day the royal family leaves Versailles for Paris, they will never go back to Versailles again.

Lafayette, Bailly, and the dream of a Constitutionnal Monarchy

Louis XVI arrives at Paris and is received by Bailly, the new mayor of Paris, and Lafayette, the new leader of the national guard

File:Bailly, La Fayette and Louis XVI at Hôtel de Ville.jpg - Wikimedia  Commons

Lafayette truly believes that France is following the United States example and is motivated by the idea of a liberal monarchy.

Louis XVI accepts to receive the cocarde and to live in the Tuileries.

In these coming months the national assembly moves forward with their constitution.

It is decided that the King will remain as head of State, and will have a veto right.

The persons among the people who are rich enough to pay some taxes will elect representatives in the national assembly.

Parliaments of judges are cancelled and abolished, the whole judiciary system is replaced by a more liberal one. Jurees from the english system are also added in several situations.

Several ideas of reforms are set forward in the national assembly, the idea is to put equality before the law as a priority. But first of all, the question constituents have to reply to is the worrying french debt. France has a 2 billions pounds of debt.

A representative from the clergy, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand proposes a radical solution. The Church of France has 3 billions of national goods, let's simply seize the goods of the Church.

Between mid october and early november 1789, all the goods of the Church that were of importance are nationalized, seized, and used by the national assembly to payback the debt.

By seizing clerical properties, the national assembly has solved in 2 weeks a century of debt and payed back the debt of the 7 years war as well as the american revolutionnary one. However this action is strongly rejected by the King who can't do anything about it but disagrees. However everyone wants to believe that the new constitutionnal monarchy will work.

On the 14th of July 1790, a large gathering occurs at the Champ de Mars (in front of the current Eiffel Tower) to swear an oath to the new Constitution.

La Fête de la Fédération (14 juillet 1790)

Lafayette, all national guards, the people of Paris watches the King swear a oath to the new regime. In some months the new national assembly will deliver a lot of key reforms and they still have to finish the Constitution. Everyone believes that the revolution is settled and in a very positive way. This is at least the narrative that people like Lafayette, Mirabeau and Bailly want to believe in.

Edited by Edouard
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 1790 to 1791, the first end of the dream

The future seems great for France in 1790.

Freedom of press is instaured alongside equality before death.

Member of parliament Guillotin boast the interest of the Guillotine, both as a way to equalize executions but also make these less "painfull". He is not the inventor of the guillotine, but the press will soon use that he boasted this machine and will give to it his name.

This year is also the pursue of the civil reforms. As I told you, french revolutionnaries are bourgeois and lawyers, most of them are secular liberals. Thus, after confiscating the goods of the Church to payback the debt, they decide to create a civil (secular) constitution of the clergy.

From now on :

-Priests and bishops are elected by french voters independently of their faith

-They are employees of the state

-The Pope has no say, only voters have

Basically judges and clergymen are now elected by voters just like members of parliament. 

This pretention is another revolution for the Church and its organization. Never a catholic priest can accept to be elected by voters like a politician, and even more, to be potentially defeated by a coalition of atheist and others religions voters while seeking "election".

Finally bishops and clergymen have to swear an oath to the Nation.

Louis XVI hesitates a lot, but finished by signing it on July 22th 1790. He clearly opposes it as a staunch catholic believer. The Papacy replies that any bishop elected by the people will not be recognized by the Holy State. On november 1790 the national assembly asks that all clergymen swear an oath to the french nation rather than to the Pope and the catholic church. Half of priests and all bishops at the exception of 4 including Talleyrand do swear the oath.

Louis XVI is more and more in an impossible situation. Mirabeau who was among the first revolutionnaries but remained a noble had suggested to Louis XVI that if he would find himself in the impossibility to collaborate with the revolutionnary government he should move to a place where he could lead a military force to take back control of his kingdom. However Mirabeau dies in april 1791.

In mid april 1791 two events change the situation even more radically. First the people of Paris refuses that Louis XVI leaves Paris to have a easter mass in Saint Cloud. They fear that he plans to flee or to ask a priest loyal to the Pope for his mass.

The second is a decision from the Pope declaring the civil constitution of the clergy schismatic and heretic. This is too much for Louis XVI who remains shared between his faith and the necessity to do concessions.

On the 20th of June at night, the Count Axel de Fersen, a swedish helps the royal family to escape the guard of the Tuileries.

Just after the last valet passes, the royal family finds its way to a carriage, the King, the Queen, her sister, her two children and someone from the surrounding.

The brother of Louis XVI flees Paris at the same time. The future Louis XVIII heads toward Bruxelles while Louis XVI and his family head toward Montmédy. The idea is to join the royalist and loyal forces which are in the north of Lorraine and from this point potentially lead an army that will take back Paris and put back order to France.

The difference between the road of Louis XVIII and the road of Louis XVI and his family is that it's easier in few times to get to Brussel from Paris than from Paris to the Luxemburg border.

On the 21st of June in the morning, the marquis de Lafayette is woke up by the news. The royal family has fled Paris.

Lafayette and Bailly order to every messengers to take a horse and go into every directions to try to catch the royal family before they leave the "french territory".

The flight to Varennes - French Revolution - YouTube

Lafayette to save appearances with the national assembly decide to say that the King has been "kidnapped", it is better than to say the truth.

Louis XVI and his family lose too many time on the road, and royal troops sent to protect him are not in place.

Near the last town before reaching Montmédy, at Varennes-en-Argonne in the eastern France, Louis XVI after being recognized by a postmaster thanks to a coin is arrested with his whole family and turned back to Paris.

The arrival of the royal family back in Paris is under a terrible silence from the population.

De Varennes à Paris, la route du retour

The trust has been breached. The King is temporary suspended but reinstated some times later. The National Assembly officializes the lie that the King was kidnapped. Barely no one believes it, but the constitutionnal monarchy must goes on.

From this moment, nothing will be like before. Before the attempt of Varennes, only one MP was for the republic, his name was Marat. From this day forward, the republican party inside the national assembly will gain more and more supports.

However the Assembly wants to finish its work, a lot of reforms are coming, and the goal is to try to put this whole story behind.



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From historical innovations to early terror 1791 - 1792

The King may has tried to leave France but the Constitutionnal Monarchy must finish its work.

However on the 17th of July 1791 10 000 parisians gather in the Champ de Mars to sign a petition to ask for the republic. Bailly and Lafayette try to calm the situation down but it fails. Lafayette did not wish that the soldiers fire, but this happens, and there are 1300 deads.

This adds on the growing people's division between revolutionnaries.

In september 1791 the National Assembly announces that the Constitution is ready, Louis XVI signs it and finally the 2 years of work are finished.

The new Constitution creates a real liberal democracy with the King as a simple head of state. In the meantime the assembly prepares the publication of another very portant code.

The penal code of the french 1791. This criminal code will be the first to innovate for centuries.

ALL religious crimes are abolished. From the legalization of saying bad words about the Church to the decriminalization of homosexuality this penal code will forever remain a historical first and one of the success of the liberal secular revolution.

From 1791 to onwards France will become the first country in the world to abolish and maintain the abolition of "crimes against nature" dicted by the Church including homosexuality. 

To compare, the UK will decriminalize homosexuality in 1967 (if I am right about the exact year) and the US will even wait the early 1980s with Illinois being the first state to decriminalize. Most of european countries will wait the 1920s and 1930s and several countries of eastern europe even the 80s and 90s. This tells how much of a revolution this criminal code of 1791 really was.

However the constitutionnalists of 1789 separate themselves. It is decided that a new assembly will be elected with 100% of news people. The election of 1791 brings a successfull result for the constitutionnal monarchists.

リバタリアニズムの批判で一理あるなと思うものに、どのようなものがありますか? - Quora

Officially this is how the right and left wing born. The right being the defendors of the regime while Jacobins at the left being republicans. However we will soon see that even among the Jacobins there were several factions.

Indeed, among the Jacobins there are more 2 political parties.

Radicalization of the French Revolution - ppt download


Girondins who are liberal bourgeois who want a republic, an universal voting system and several democratic reforms such as the idea of a public education BUT who remain strong defensors of the economic order and property rights. They also tend to be more "pro-states" in relation to decentralization.

Leaders of the Girondins are elected in regions and rural areas as well as in regional cities. Their leaders are Brissot or the Marquis de Condorcet (who for the later by the way will be one of the very few politicians of the revolution to advocate for the abolition of slavery, women's rights, public education and an universal voting system).

Jacobins on the other side are mostly elected in Paris and in eastern France as well as in big towns. Jacobins are tough centralists who share the ideals of public education and social cares but who are way more economically left-wing than Girondins. We could barely talk about the ancestry of socialism (not communism yet). But Jacobins are less liberal than they are driven by a radical ideology of getting their conception of society through. The State needs to be strong, public education should exists and belong to the State, prices need to be controled, a bigger effort has to be given to help the poors, property is less important than for Girondins and most of all the state authority needs to be centralized in Paris.

Their leaders (Jacobins) are Danton, Robespierre, Marat. Officially Jacobins and Girondins are both part of the same left-wing coalition against the incumbent regime initially. Both advocate for the end of the monarchy, but the political split will soon reveal between the two.

Spring 1792, everyone bluff poker and one has to lose

Early 1792 Louis XVI keep signing bills, however he is more like a prisonner than a head of state.

In april 1792 arrives something that everyone agrees on, France should declare war to Austria. Why? For royalists and the King, the hope is to lose the war so that a foreign army comes and put back order in Paris.

For Girondins and most of MPs the idea is that France can gain a lot of wealth in a war of invasion and spread its liberal ideology aswell to others countries of europe.

Only Jacobins oppose the war, particulary Robespierre oppose war. Because the french army is clearly not ready. A lot of officers have left the country since the revolution broke out. In addition, the whole europe is soon at war with France.

Les coalitions européennes de 1792 à 1815 - Napoleon & Empire

The incoming fall of Louis XVI

With the war there are more and more fears that Louis XVI betrays. The fact that the Queen is austrian and is the litteral daughter of the emperor at war with France adds on this.

The King doesn't help himself. In June 1792 he put his veto on the deportation of priests who do not swear an oath to the Nation rather than to the Pope.

At this moment the people of Paris invades his castle a first time and force him to drink at the good of the Nation.


It is clear that his time is now counted. In the coming weeks, Louis XVI triples the swiss guard of his castle. The Tuileries sound like a stronghold to keep by summer 1792.

Marie Antoinette more and more afraid asks her austrian family to do something. The prussian army leaders which is the one INVADING France decides to write a public letter to the parisians, threatening to destroy Paris if the royal family is touched.

This letter of intimidation is the last evidence for the citizens of the capital that the royal family is on the side of the invador, and it enrages the parisians.

Last veto of Louis XVI comes shortly when he refuses that 20 000 federate soldiers from Marseilles come to Paris. Those 20 000 men still arrive and they decide that it is time to take the King down.

On August 3rd, an important part of Paris' people asks to the National Assembly the destitution of Louis XVI. But the monarchist majority in the Assembly declines. On August 7th, the mayor of Paris reaches Robespierre to asks him to calm the people. On august 9th, the decision to no longer wait for legality is taken by a part of the Jacobins.

On the 10th of August, the leader of the bourgeois national guard is executed by an insurectionnal movement led by Danton. The Jacobins take control of Paris and the federates from Marsailles prepare to attack the Tuileries where Louis XVI and his swiss guard are.

In the morning, Louis XVI sees that the national guard is angry at his vetos while his swiss guard is still loyal. Aware in the morning of what comes to the Tuileries, Louis XVI and his family take refuge in the national assembly several hours before the attack. Louis XVI even orders to his soldiers to surrender to the attackers. The National Guard is happy to do that, but not the Swiss who decline to surrender themselves and shoot when the people approaches the castle, defying Louis XVI's order to surrender the Tuileries.

Only the Swiss guard remains protecting the Tuileries. 

The Tuileries are then attacked without the King and his family inside. The Swiss guard is exterminated.

A corsican lieutenant named Napoléon Bonaparte happens to be in Paris in this time and witness the events. He is shocked by the unwilligness of Louis XVI to hold on to his crown and assimilates it to weakness.


Louis XVI and his family remain in the National Assembly. Initially the assembly hopes to save the constitutionnal monarchy by suspending the King and in a way hopes that his cousin Philippe d'Orléans become the new King, but when Jacobins come back to the assembly after having taken the Tuileries it is well understood that there is no hope for the monarchy.

So the whole monarchy is "suspended" but the republic is not proclaimed yet. The King and his family are then 

On august 11th it is decided that there will be a new election and a new assembly called this time the Convention to copy the US. The future of the monarchy is delayed to the next assembly.

On august 12th the first divisions among Jacobins and Girondins happen when some Girondins propose that Louis XVI should be put at the Luxemburg's palace, several jacobins and insurrectionnists prefer that Louis XVI be sent to the Temple's prison in Paris. The royal family is then sent to prison.

Learning the news of the taking of the Tuileries and the suspension of the monarchy, Lafayette and his staff abandon the french armies and cross to the ennemies.

The new elected convention is officially elected at the universal voting system but inside jacobins' clubs. Thus the new Convention is left-wing and dominated by the 2 left-wing parties that the Jacobins and the Girondins are.

The French Revolution: Radical Phase (Animated Guillotine!) (4.5)

In the meantime, the prussians of Brunswick take Verdun. By early september it is likely to hope that Brunswick and the prussian army will take Paris and end the revolution.

In this hope, a lot of nobles and priests in jail are hoping for that. In a new madness moment, insurrectionnists of Paris invade the prisons and kill up to some thousands of prisonners. This will be known in french history of the september's massacres.

On September 21st, the prussian army is stopped and suffers an heavy defeat at Valmy

Bataille de Valmy (20 septembre 1792)

Under-supplied, thorn by diceases, under an intense artillery fire, the prussian army pulls back to Prussia.

French armies have secured the protection of the national territory, and thus on september 22nd, the new republic is proclaimed by the new convention.


Edited by Edouard
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Thank you Vcczar ! I do try to be complete and more complete than what already is on youtube without being too long

From september 1792, Girondins become the largest party in the new National Convention.

However divisions between Girondins and Jacobins will soon happen and get worse and worse.

January 1793, the trial of the King

On january 15th the trial starts. The National Assembly has to reply to 4 questions.

1st question : Has Louis XVI betrayed the Nation?


642 MPs say yes he did, 76 say he did not.

2nd question : Should the people decides the fate of Louis XVI?

The question is not innocent, basically Paris and the National Assembly are under the threat of revolutionnary radicals close of the Jacobins. It is obvious that never the people of France who is mostly rural catholic and politically conservative (a bit like Louis XVI himself) would accept that Louis XVI be sentenced to death.

That's why the radical revolutionnaries make sure that MPs majoritary vote for the NO. The people has no say in Louis XVI's fate.


423 MPs vote NO and 298 MPs vote YES.

3rd question : What should be the punishment for Louis XVI?

The option is between death or OTHERS penalties. There the MPs, even under the threat of radical revolutionnaries and while all of them are elected mostly from jacobins' clubs show a movement of resistance.


The Death narrowly passes with 361 votes for, suspended death penalty or others penalties or options get 360 votes.

What will create a lot of troubles in the future politic of France in the XIXth century is that one of the MPs, Philippe d'Orléans named as Philippe Egalité, direct grand grand grandson of Louis XIII, grand grand grandnephew of Louis XIV and de facto cousin of Louis XVI is voting the death of his cousin. With such a short majority his vote was among the key votes.

This is something that will later have an impact in the XIXth century with the division of the royalist side between the Orleannists and the Bourbons.

Last vote is a last minute attempt to delay the conviction to death, but it was lost from the passing of the 3rd vote.


380 MPs vote to reject the delay of the death sentence, only 310 MPs try a last attempt to delay the death sentence.

On the 21st of January Louis XVI is executed on the Concord Place

Louis XVI - Execution — Parisology

Last words of Louis XVI were about denying accusations against him and a pray that the blood spread in this execution would later be the source of happyness for the french people.

Untill his death Louis XVI remained an undecided man, unable to be severe and to punish, unable to take harsh decisions, always forgiving. A man certainly unfit to reign, but a good man. His execution is not something France is especially proud of as of today.

English had beheaded tyrans who created civil wars, Louis XVI had never did any of these, he was simply in total disagreement with the move of the new ruling classes and would have better been exiled.

This trial has showed the huge difference between Girondins and Jacobins. Most of Girondins voted against the death sentence, most of Jacobins if not all voted for the death sentence. But so far the Girondins are leading France.

Girondins with Condorcet prepare a constitution recognizing universal voting for men, more civil rights for women, a public education and the beginning of a healthcare state with entitlements is even being considered.

Several of those political considerations will not be discussed again in several countries including France itself before the 1900s to the earliest and 1970s for several others rights.

However tensions rise between Jacobins and Girondins, and by June 1793 several radicals backed by Jacobins decide to coup the Girondins.

Considered to be too moderates, 60 Girondin MPs from the National Convention are arrested.

les girondins mis en accusation le 2 juin 1793

Several of them decide to leave or escape before being arrested and go to their respective towns and constituencies to incite insurrections.

Paris against France, France against Europe


Girondin MPs manage to get several insurrections against the Republic which is now under the control of Jacobins in Marseille, Toulon, Bordeaux and Caen.

English enter and capture Toulon with the backing of the ruling families of the town.

Royalist supporters of the monarchy rise up in Lyon.

In the meantime the whole europe is still at war with France and several armies prepare to invade the country.

The only way to face so many ennemies is to raise a full class of citizens and to abandon the traditionnal system of professionnal or mercenary army. Now the french revolutionnary government needs big numbers and so they call 300 000 french under the flags.

In Western France catholic peasants decide to riot against the Republic who wants to proclaim the "levée en masse" and several royalists are asked to lead their movement. 

In addition, a woman named Charlotte Corday assassinates Marat who is a Jacobin leader in the month of July 1793 as an attempt to stop the growing rise of terror, that only enrages radicals and jacobins.

This situation is terrible, the only way the Jacobin government under the control of Danton and now Robespierre is to create a dictatorship regime called now the "Terror".

On September 5th the National Convention declares that the Terror is now the order of the day. A completely rigged court called the Revolutionnary Tribunal is created and now anyone can go to the guillotine for simply not seeming Jacobin enough.

In the meantime another trial will soon take place, but in a very different athmosphere than the somewhat fair trial Louis XVI had 10 months before.

The shamefull trial of Marie Antoinette

The trial of Marie Antoinette takes place before the new revolutionnary tribunal in mid October.

Trial and Execution of Marie Antoinette - World History Encyclopedia

This woman has been prived from the presence of being with her children since several months. The tribunal is completely rigged and the goal is to behead her as quickly as possible.

During the trial one of the revolutionnaries has convinced her own son, the now called "Louis XVII" (who by the way lives with new tutors since the execution of Louis XVI). To suggest that his mother had taught him how to masturbate because she would have lesbian relationships with one of the ladies close to her.

Marie Antoinette replies in such a shock of anger and disgust that it be insinuated that she would have teached it to her son that she calls to all mothers in the assistance, and for one of the rare times of the revolution the women of the people start sharing empathy with their former Queen. The revolutionnary tribunal sees that they have done a mistake to try this and they quickly take this accusation off but find others ways to still condemn her to death. She certainly could be accused of conspirating with the austrian crown but her execution was certainly unecessary and added on the divide created by the revolution.

Trial and Execution of Marie Antoinette - World History Encyclopedia

Mid october she joins her husband King Louis XVI in death.

The end of 1793 however is the moment where revolutionnary forces begin to see victories accross the country.

Between september and december 1793 the siege of Toulon is broken by the strategic martermind of captain Napoléon Bonaparte, who, by being friend with the brother of Robespierre soon manages to impose his military choices and finds the way to take the town to the british navy.

Siège de Toulon (1793) — Wikipédia

By december 1793 Captain Bonaparte rose to the rank of General of Brigade. He is among the ones who heavily benefit from the total shortage of officers caused by the revolution.

At this time, this Napoléon Bonaparte is close of the Jacobins and the Robespierre's circle so he definitively is among the Left.

From social changes to the Terror in all its excesses

In the meantime in Western France the french armies are committing something that is very close of a crime against humanity with the people of Vendée.

Guerre de Vendée — Wikipédia

The number of casualties in western France is estimated between 180 000 deaths and more than 300 000. It is possible than 1 inhabitant of 2 in Vendée died during the revolutionnary repression.

An incredible number of crimes of war are committed by revolutionnary authorities, in western France as well as in towns which are taken back by revolutionnary commissionnaries.

Since summer 1793 the new government of France is a club of 24 MPs named the Comité de Salut Public which is designated by the National Convention (but mostly by Jacobins called the Montagnards).

Untill then Danton has led this government untill the summer of 1793, but now it's Robespierre who leads France, from autumn 1793. He will take several measures according to his ideology.

Robespierre is a fan of Jean Jacques Rousseau, but power makes him more and more paranoiac.

Him with the National Convention abolish slavery in ferbruary 1794 and bloc prices on necessary goods, and victories accumulate both in the inside of France and in the outside.

Several Montagnards (Jacobins) like Danton start to ask to end the dictatorship regime (even if they participated to put it in place) and ask Robespierre to stop the repressive regime. On the other side, Hébert and his followers consider that the revolutionnary government is not going far enough.

In the meantime a lot of former revolutionnaries or moderates are beheaded according to the new dictatorship regime. Bailly the first mayor of Paris is executed in november 1793 for having been among the ones standing for the constitutionnal monarchy in 1791 and the Champ de Mars massacre. Philippe Orléans who voted for the death of his cousin is executed after that his son (the future Louis Philippe the Ist) has crossed to the ennemy lines. A lot of revolutionnary women who criticize the lack of equality are also executed.

When Jacobins coup Jacobins up to the fall of paranoia

In march 1794 Robespierre with the help of Danton gets rid of the radicals of Hebert. Then, in april 1794, Robespierre turned to arrest Danton and his followers because their request to cool down the dictatorship regime and apply the democratic Constitution of 1793, both Danton and several of his followers are beheaded while they are from the same political party than Robespierre.

On the 8th of June Robespierre organizes a weird deistical celebration in Paris for the devotion toward the "Supreme Cult". This kind of deistical cult sounds weird for a lot of revolutionnaries and french citizens attending the ceremony and further isolates Robespierre.

The 10th of June 1794 Robespierre submits the passing of a law to end any judicial protection and maximize the number of deaths (leaving death or acquitment as the only alternatives). The law pass and further adds to the number of execution. At this time we consider that 1000 french are beheaded each day in France.

16 days later on June 26th the french forces win a decisive battle against Austria and the Netherlands in Fleurus. Charleroi is taken and no one sees why the dictatorship should continue.

So on the 26th July when Robespierre comes with a speech at the national convention to say that further people should be denounced for treasons (without giving names) the clear majority of the National Convention (also fearing for their head) decide to riot and to say that Robespierre is now a public ennemy.

Robespierre is arrested but radicals of Paris free him. Contrary to Louis XVI Robespierre does takes refuge in the Townhall of Paris surrounded by radical revolutionnaries. However this time the Convention is decided to get rid of him and Member of Parliament Barras at the head of regular troops attacks the townhall and arrests Robespierre and his followers who are beheaded the next day on July 27th.

The whole Convention, quite under the shock of the last events decides that it is time to a "centrist shift". In the next months they will work to a new Constitution which will be less radical and closer to the defense of property and the social statute. The Directory is born.

Edited by Edouard
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@Edouard I’ve always been fascinated with the French Generals who were prominent prior to Bonaparte, like Lazare Hoche, and others who died early and may have thwarted Napoleon’s quick rise. I remember Napoleon wasn’t the first general on the top of the list for the coup. 

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Indeed Vcczar ! I will come to this shortly

The Directory : The last republican attempt of a centrist liberal government

With the fall of Robespierre the National Convention is working to make a third constitutionnal attempt to get the country forward. Now the idea is to prevent the 2 excesses which led to the Terror, namely an unique assembly which can turns into a dictatorship and the possibility for an individual to centralize the power.

People close of Robespierre and who have not been executed are in disgrace, that is the case of Bonaparte who is temporarily suspended in september 1795.

However political decisions of the Convention since the fall of Robespierre do enrage the Jacobins of Paris. Several of them still want the promises of the democratic constitution of 1793 and the blockade on prices while it is clear that the Convention has passed to something else.

In the meantime, royalists think that it is the time to act.

In the meantime the fall of Robespierre also allows to discover that Louis XVII the son of Louis XVI has been so much distreated and abandonned that he will die of several diceases at the age of 10 in 1795.

The son of the King will die in jail of an addition of diceases, only his sister will benefit from the centrist shift of the national convention after the fall of Robespierre and will be sent to Austria. The daughter of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette will be the last survivor of the royal family through the revolution.

In the year 1795 the Convention which prepares the Directory will face a political situation that will continue each year for the entirety of its existence, this new regime will permanently be caught between royalists on the right and jacobins on the left.

In early october 1795 25 000 royalists walk on the National Convention to abolish the republic. Think that 25 000 royalists is more than the 20 000 who successfully walked on the Tuileries and abolished the monarchy.

Excepted that this time Barras is still in command, and he put Napoléon Bonaparte in charge.

Napoléon Bonaparte is not Louis XVI. Instead of accepting the fate and trying to preserve human lifes, Napoléon brings cannons from the Sablons and uses these to gun down royalists rioters with canonfires. With 4000 soldiers and several batteries of cannons, he kills 300 people on sight and brings the insurrection to a retreat.

In return of his republican services Napoléon is promoted General in chief of the interior. From this moment his career will skyrocket.

Thanks to this repression the Convention is able to publish its new constitution.


The legislative is separated between 2 chambers. The council of 500 which proposes laws and which is composed by young MPs and the council of Ancients which votes laws proposed by the young MPs and also vote the budget. Each year a tierce of both chamber is up for re-election.

Now the executive is divided between 5 directors which are designed by the 2 chambers. Each director technically has a 5 years term because 1 changes each year. Those directors elect commissionnaries of the republic to direct departments.

Voters (the ones who pay the universal voting system is abandonned) of course elect great electors (30 000) who then elect MPs in both chambers and administrative staffs at the department level. While the vast majority of the people can still elect their townhall councilors directly.

The system is thought to separate powers quite directly. THe issue that the National Convention will soon be faced with when they proclaim their new regime in autumn 1795 is basically that no one wants their regime. Each year elections will bring to a big defeat for the regime, and each year will lead to a coup from the regime itself to "fix" electoral results.

1795, royalists win the first election to renew chambers

File:Élections législatives de 1795.png - Wikipedia

This is a bad result for the regime, but the ancestor of communism Gracchus Baboeuf is preparing a coup in 1795-1796 to devellop ideals that for those ones are definitively the ancestry of communism. The Convention will arrest him and this will further strenghten the royalist movement.

By 1797 they win the legislative élection even more decisively

File:Élections législatives françaises de 1797.png - Wikimedia Commons

So on september 1797 the republicans inside both rooms decide to vote the arrest of several dozens of their own MPs but who are royalists.

Up to a 100 royalist MPs are arrested and deported and their elections are cancelled.

Which leads to the triumph of Jacobins in the next year.

1798 French legislative election - Wikipedia

And because of the number of seats to renew the Jacobins manage to win enough seats among the 2 tierces which are now up for re-election in 1799

1799 French legislative election - Wikipedia

Jacobins become de facto the majority in the centrist republican liberal regime that the directory is.

In the meantime General Bonaparte who has been given the leadership of the italian army wins decisive victories in Italy (1796-1797) while the main show was supposed to be Hoche and Moreau with the army of the Rhine.

Napoléon Bonaparte knocks austria out of the war which helps the directory because the country remains under severe economic problems, the currency is in total shamble and there are issues of supply for food.

In 1798 the directory is more and more afraid of the popularity of Bonaparte and so when he suggests to capture Egyptia in order to weaken england he is gladly sent by the directory.

While Bonaparte captures Cairo and moves up to Syria, pursuing the dream of Alexander, the situation in France is more and more catastrophic.

By 1799 the assemblies of the Directory are composed by MPs who don't believe in the regime, so the political authority of the Directory is already dead. The military situation is even more severe.

The whole europe is again at war with France, the invasion of France is to be feared again. A luck will however change the things when the tsar of Russia pulls out from the coalition. 

By mid 1799 it is clear that the regime is soon to collapse. 3 of the 5 directors agree with member of Parliament Sieyes that the constitution should be changed but with the current constitution it would take close to 9 years. So only a coup can fix the regime. Several generals like Hoche or Lefévbre are imagined like Moreau. But ultimately it is Bonaparte who has just came back from egyptia who is picked as the general that should conduct the coup.

Sieyes considers Bonaparte to be less intelligent than he is and thinks he can control him. This will be a crucial mistake.

On november 9th 1799 the assemblies of the directory are moved to Saint Cloud castle due to a "royalist threat". Bonaparte is in charge to protect Paris. This same day 3 directors willingly resign while the 2 others are captured by the army. The executive power is now empty.

A day later on november 10th the army encircles Saint Cloud and tries to force both assemblies to vote in order to legitimize the new regime. The Ancient MPs are not completely against but fear the force, the young MPs however who are mostly jacobins are totally against this coup and want to declare Napoléon Bonaparte an outlaw. Napoléon comes in the assemblies which is a mistake and enrages legislators who accuses him of preparing a dictatorship. Hopefully for him 2 things will save him :

Murat and his soldiers will enter the room with his soldiers and force MPs to flee or be captured.


And Lucien, the brother of Napoléon who leads the council of 500 will find like 50 of them willing enough to back the coup and give it a legal form.

At the end of the day the Directory is dead. The Consulate is proclaimed with Bonaparte Sieyes and Roger Ducos as consuls.

But some weeks/months later Sieyes and Ducos are out of the scene and replaced with Cambacérés and Lebrun. Cambacérés is a known republican while Lebrun is a moderate royalist. Bonaparte strenghtens control over the new regime and in the next year all elements of the revolution will soon end.

By 1800 royalist insurrections end in western France for the first time in 7 years. The coalition against France is defeated at Marengo and the currency and administrative reforms of Napoléon are effective. Royalists and former nobles are given a full protection if they want to come back to France, what Lafayette does in 1800.

By 1801 Napoléon manages to secure religious peace with the catholic church and all religions through a new concordate. His popularity rises to an all times high and there's no surprises that by 1802 he is proclaimed consul for life by the senate he controls.

By 1804 Napoléon is plebiscited emperor by a clear majority of the french people (even if the real numbers would probably were less high than the official result). The revolution is officially dead even if the concept of civil equality (for men) and religious kind of secularism of the state will survive in the empire which will keep the fundamentals of the revolution by promoting meritocracy.

The ability of the empire to try to attract people from the whole political spectrum is the source of the initial popularity of Napoléon. To give a concrete example, Lafayette will be offered to become a senator in the consulate/empire (he will decline) just like he will be offered the legion d'honneur (he will also say no), in the meantime, the postmaster who caught Louis XVI in Varennes and who was a very radical left-wing revolutionnary radical who passed some times in exil will be a very loyal vice-prefect in his district by the time of the empire.

Guillotin will forever be in depression that the national razor be given his name, he will die in 1814 few days before that Paris falls into allies.

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