The French Revolution
By: Shannon Keaveney 4B
1. The Assembly Reforms France
On August 4, 1789, Noblemen in France gave speeches that told of their love for liberty and equality. The National Assembly ended up taking away the privileges of the First and Second Estates. They soon adopted the Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen, influenced by our Declaration of Independence. This document guaranteed citizens their natural rights, such as liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression. The National Assembly also tried to get the church involved in the government, which the citizens did not believe in. As the National Assembly did this, Louis XVI tried to escape France because, as a monarch, believed that it was unsafe.
2. Divisions Develop
In September of 1791, the National Assembly finally created a limited monarchy, which Louis agreed to. This arrangement stripped the King of much of his power, and it also created a new body called the Legislative Assembly. They created laws and could approve or reject declarations of war. However, this new government did not solve all of France's problems. Food shortages and government debt still remained. These problems caused theLegislative Assembly to split into three groups, the Radicals who opposed the idea of monarchy, the Moderates who wanted changes in government but not as much as the Radicals, and theConservatives who wanted very few changes in the government. Also, people called Émigrés, nobles and others who had fled France, wanted to influence the government changes as well in hopes to restore the old government.
3. France at War
Outlying countries feared that their citizens may take note in the changes in France and want to do the same. They urged France to restore Louis to his position as monarch. The Legislative Assembly then declared war in April of 1792. The war began badly for France, so they disposed of the new Constitution and called for a new election of the legislature. The new body became the National Convention who took office of September 21. Many of the people who made this adjustment were part of a big political organization called the Jacobin. Jean-Paul Marat, one of the Jacobins, wrote an editorial that suggested the death of all those who supported the king. Now guided by the Jacobins, the National Convention accused Louis of treason and found him guilty, sentencing him to death. By February 1793, the French Army had grown to 800,000, including women, to try and defeat Great Britain, Holland, Spain, Austria, and Prussia.
4. Reign of Terror
In early 1793, a Jacobin leader, Maximilien Robespierre, started gaining power. he wiped out all of France's past. He even changed the calendar. By July of 1793, he became the leader of the Committee of Public Safety. For a year, he governed France as a dictator. The time of his rule became known as the Reign of Terror. He used his power to make sure that citizens stay true to the ideals of the Revolution. Thousands of people were sent to death and even people such as Georges Danton, a member of the National Convention, was afraid.
5. End of the Terror
in July of 1794, members of the National Convention turned on Robespierre and demanded his arrest and execution. The "Reign of Terror" ended on July 28, 1794. In 1795, National Convention leaders were making plans for a new government. It placed the power in the hands of the upper middle class. It called for a two-house legislature and the "Directory," an executive body of five men.