The French Revolution
(some material adapted from http://www.assumption.edu/HTML/Academic/history/Hi118net/FrenchRevolutionChronology.html)
WHICH IDEAS DON’T BELONG TOGETHER?
- In 1789, the French Revolution started out to end the arbitrary rule of kings and their high taxes.
- Instead the Revolution brought the "Reign of Terror" and the execution of as many as 40,000 people here was runaway inflation, war and chaos, ushering in Napoleon who established the first modern police state and started more wars.
What happened? What led up to the French Revolution?
1. political reasons
2. economic reasons
3. philosophical reasons
1. political reasons - begin with the King
Pre Revolution History
- France was an absolute monarchy. (“The state is myself” - Louis XIV)
- Louis XIV (1643 – 1715), France’s Sun King, was the envy of all other rulers in Europe. During his reign he had centralised the government and had encouraged trade and manufacture.
- DOWNSIDE: Court at Versailles, 20 mi. outside Paris
* 30 yrs in the making
* Grand Canal, FOuntain of Apollo, miles of gardens, 1361 foot high chateau, 240ft long Hall of Mirrors
* 7000 court officials
* small army of servants, priets, gardeners, playwrights, musicians, doctors, etc.
* expensive food
* ate with a knife and fingers (hated forks)
* especially loved potatoes
* Versailles is very overcrowded (perfume instead of baths)
--> This many seem weird, but consider these current stats about France:
• Fully 50% of the men, and 30% of women, do not use deodorant.
* In the late 20th century, 96 percent of the French live in homes equipped with showers or baths
* But only 47 percent bathe every day, according to a roundup of national surveys published in the daily Le Figaro in 1998 (source)
• Average British citizen uses 3 pounds of soap annually. The German uses 2.9 pounds, and the average Frenchman uses 1.3 pounds. (source)
• Of those surveyed 67% of French respondents said they brush their teeth twice a day. Le Figaro did the math. If that were true, sales of toothpaste should be more than 240 million tubes a year, and not the current (1998) 198.5 million.
• Le Figaro cited experts who concluded that "more than one French person in two does not respect elementary rules of body hygiene."
- His undoing was the long list of over ambitious wars that he had participated in. His successors Louis XV (1715 – 74) and Louis XVI (1774 – 93) also participated in lengthy and costly conflicts.
- France had suffered defeat in the Seven Years War against Britain (1756 – 63). Her army in Europe was crushed by the Prussians. The involvement in the American Revolution was for revenge against Britain after the Seven Years War.
- A fatal weakness in the French absolute monarchy system, was its inability to produce strong monarchs. Louise XVI was not strong.
On the eve of revolution all sections of French society had reason to be unhappy:
* The nobles wanted power that was taken from them by the monarchy
* The bourgeoisie resented the privileges of the nobles
* The Bourgeoisie and the Peasants criticised the tax system
- Ancien Regime refers to the old order in France; the social and governmental system that lasted until the Revolution.
- The Government order in France was an Absolute Monarchy. Due to the increasingly large powers of a monarch over society including: National System of Justice, Influenced the Catholic Church, The Right to decree Taxation and Leader of the military forces, the monarch has to be a string and stable person. Louis XVI was neither strong nor stable.
- The population was divided into three states, two privileged
- The Third Estate was made up of the bourgeoisie, wage earners and the peasantry. They were the majority of the population. The Third Estate was also known as the estate of the commoners.
- The Second Estate was for the nobility. They numbered 400,000 with most of them being of minor rank.
- The First Estate comprised the clergy. The Upper Clergy were very wealthy and powerful and therefore they related to the First Estate. The Lower Clergy related more to the Lower Estates. The First Estate numbered around 100,000.
- The first two states enjoyed privileges over the Third Estate.
- Although they were the richest, they were exempt from taxes.
- They were also the only members in society who could hold positions of importance such as Officers in the army.
- This caused great discontent within the Third Estate.
2. economic reasons
Growth of Trade and Industry and of town life in general
- This new growth lead to problems within the Ancien regime.
- Business expansion saw prices steadily rising.
- This did not help the privileged classes whose incomes were fixed.
- The Bourgeoisie largely profited from this rise and they became wealthier and more powerful.
- The Bourgeoisie made up the largest proportion of society in France compared to the rest of Europe.
- This saw them gaining more attention and power.
- Town life increases highlighted this fact as more and more bourgeoisie profited from good business expansion.
- This also made the Bourgeoisie despise the current tax system as it meant using money to pay tax that they could be using to expand. They favoured a uniform tax system.
- There was great need for tax reform in France before the Revolution.
- The inefficiency of only taxing the lower estate showed in the Government’s budgets.
- The peasants were burdened with huge amounts of taxation that were nearly impossible for them to pay.
- This led to a rather discontented peasantry within France.
- The Government was experiencing large debts and eventually went Bankrupt.
- This was made worse by the Nobles non-cooperation when it came to Taxation.
- The nobles were determined not to give up their tax concessions.
- This proved to be a great problem for Louis and his advisers.
- The peasants and bourgeoisie were also unhappy due to the large taxes that they had to pay.
- Micromanaging the economy: State intervention necessary?
::contrasts with the United States couldn’t be more striking:
--> the top five percent of taxpayers paid 56.5 percent of all income taxes in 2000, or about $554 billion.
--> Those making over $55,225 (top 25%) paid 84% of 2000 income taxes, according to IRS
-->Those earning only $27,682 or above (top 50%) paid 96.1% of the 2000 income taxes
- 1980: top 1% pays only 19.05% of federal income taxes
- 2000: top 1% pays 37.42% of federal income taxes
SEE HISTORICAL CHART AT: http://www.taxfoundation.org/prtopincometable.html
- The French Monarchy was successful in running deficit budget after deficit budget.
- Instead of implementing tax reform Louis was insistent on not annoying the nobility.
- Therefore he had to borrow the differences in expenditure and revenue.
- These saws a constant loan cycle develop. When Turgot tried to stop this, he was overthrown by Marie Antoinette’s hatred of him and the nobility’s wish to see him
fired. This saw the more complacent Necker.
The aristocrats were exempt from taxes
- When Turgot tried to change this, Necker promptly replaced him.
- This shows the power that the nobility actually held over the King regarding tax concessions.
- A more powerful and strong King may have chose to crush the nobility or to force taxes upon them. Louis did not.
- Instead France went without tax reform.
Necker’s reckless loan policy worsened the situation
- Necker the French financial adviser was sacred of the Nobility.
- This saw him refuse to recommend tax reform.
- This is understandable after the demise of Turgot.
- Necker’s fatal mistake had been in introducing a loans scheme that saw the public debt rise each year.
- This put the financial situation of the monarchy in a very precarious position.
This was all worsened by French Aid to the Americans (1776 – 83)
- Expense of sending troops and supplies to aid Washington’s army
- The expense of sending troops and supplies to America was huge.
- This is even worse considering France’s already poor financial position.
- The main reason for sending support to the Americans was to extract revenge against the British after the humiliating Seven Years War.
- During the last year of support (1783) the government’s financial difficulties reached a state of emergency and still Necker and Louis XVI did not introduce tax reform.
- Due to over ambitious wars and extravagant spending on courts, Louis XIV and Louis XV had been successful in helping to bankrupt France.
- Their extravagant spending on courts could be seen by the beauty and sheer size of Versailles.
- The cost of the wars was great in two ways. The French had suffered big defeats and therefore had lost men and supplies. They also had failed to gain any territory; in fact they often lost it.
- The worst war was the Seven Years War as this economically drained France and saw France lose most of her colonies to Britain.
3. philsophical reasons
Growth of new critical ideas – especially amongst the Bourgeoisie
- Growth of new ideas amongst the Bourgeoisie reflected their high education levels.
- It also was prompted by the new ‘Age of Enlightenment’ that was taking place in France.
- Revolutionary thinkers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, the Encyclopedists combined with economic theorists combined with new theories.
- They presented an idea of a liberal society that flourished with free commerce.
- This appealed especially to the businessman in the ranks of the Bourgeoisie.
- The thinkers also challenged the absolute right to rule and presented ideas of equal rights and the abolition of the class system.
- All of this appealed to Bourgeoisie grievances.
sidebar: Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
- Of all the great thinkers of the cosmopolitan 18th century, Rousseau was perhaps the most quotable.
- In his conception of a Republic of Virtue, Robespierre idolized the genius of Rousseau
- To provide a particularly notorious example, in The Social Contract (1762), Rousseau worked out the notion of the General Will, which, simply stated, referred to the will of the people, reflected through the rational needs of the body politic.
- The General Will is not specifically the mere representation of a majority opinion.
- If people should unwisely oppose themselves to the General Will, it might become necessary to force them to be free. Here are Rousseau's own words:
...whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be constrained to do so by the whole body; which means nothing else than that he shall be forced to be free; for such is the condition which, uniting every Citizen to his Homeland, guarantees him from all personal dependence, a condition that ensures the control and working of the political machine, and alone renders legitimate civil engagements, which, without it, would be absurd and tyrannical, and subject to the most enormous abuse.
American Revolutionary Ideas
- The cost of support to America was not just associated with money.
- Already in France a new school of thought was developing amongst the Bourgeoisie. - This was further aided by the transmission of Revolutionary thoughts from America back into France.
- Many French Troops (mainly the Bourgeoisie) came back encouraged by the revolution to introduce a revolution in France.
- These ideas included that:
* It is right to take up arms against tyranny
* There should be no taxation without representation
* All men should have liberal freedoms
* A Republic is superior to a monarchy.
- Obviously these new ideas provided much conflict with the ideas prevalent in the Ancien Regime.
- Ideas expounded by Voltaire and Rousseau held the Bourgeoisie captive.
- They captured the attention of the Bourgeoisie by promising free commerce and more liberal freedom.
- Thinkers also challenged the dogmas of absolutism.
- Reason they believed was a higher force than the monarch’s claim to divine right.
- The brotherhood of men, equal rights and responsibilities should replace privileges.
- Men should develop through opportunity and education and not because of birth.
- This all encouraged critical thinking among the Lower classes especially the Bourgeoisie.
- They became critical of absolutism, the class system, privileges and the lack of liberal rights.
Add up these three factors and you get discontent, which lead to revolution
Discontent was becoming more General and Vocal.
- Discontent was no longer confined to one section of society.
- This new Disposition of Mind had encouraged various sections of society to become more vocal and critical of the system.
- People were now willing to speak up about their grievances and their was more pamphlets published in this time.
Longstanding Critical Ideas were sharpened by those from America
- Longstanding criticism f the monarchy was only reinforced by the revolutionary ideas imported from America (see above).
- These ideas gave the thinkers an actual system other than Britain that they could refer to in their writings.
The Aristocrats were denouncing the monarchy’s absolutism
- The Nobility were long discouraged by their loss of rights.
- They worked back into surrounding the monarchy with themselves in positions of power.
- The special concern of the nobles was to see that the King did not introduce tax reform.
- They wanted more political power to make sure events like this did not happen.
- While they denounced the monarchy’s absolutism, they wanted to set up their own form of it.
The Bourgeoisie also attacked it; they also attacked privileges of the Nobility
- For centuries the Bourgeoisie had accepted a position of social inferiority to the nobility.
- Due to the increasing monopoly that the nobility were holding on privileges and the Bourgeoisie’s own improving conditions this caused many Bourgeoisie to despise the aristocracy.
- They also despised the absolutism of the monarchy.
- They had been the most influenced by the Disposition of mind.
The peasants were attracted to the ideas of the Bourgeoisie
- The ideas attracted the peasants for two man reasons:
--> Firstly they related to peasant grievances
--> Secondly the Bourgeoisie was really the only class that the peasants associated with.
- The peasants saw the idea of tax reform and equality as the way to the abolition of the seigneurial system, which was their main grievance.
The Character of King Louis XVI
- He preferred personal interests to court interests.
- Often this bored him and he left his work up to his advisers and ministers.
- Or even worse he would make hasty decisions that would cause even worse consequences in France.
- He was influenced and often embarrasses by his pleasure loving wife, Marie Antoinette
- She held great power over Louis.
- Often she stood in the way of his proposed reforms by talking him out of it.
- It was well known that she had talked him into firing Turgot, who may have been able to prevent the revolution through his economic reforms.
- She was also hated by a lot of the population due to her foreign birth.
- This did not help her later when she was executed.
- Her pleasure loving also talked Louis into spending extravagant amounts on the court and her.
He was incapable of strong decisive action
- Louis XVI should have been capable of overcoming his problems with the Aristocracy.
- His powerful position should have allowed him to force tax reform onto the nobility.
- He also should never have allowed himself to call the Estates-General.
- Instead he should have introduced mild reforms to gains the support of the public again.
- Then he could do, as he wanted.
- If he had of been a stronger person, he also would not have been as easily influenced by the nobility, his advisers or his wife.
The Immediate Causes of Revolution
- Due to financial problems and the conflict between classes the Year 1788 proved to be a trying year for all.
- All classes were discontent at the Ancien regime and wanted change.
- Louis XVI did not take advantage of this situation to introduce reforms and gain the support of the people.
Under pressure Louis agrees to summon the Estates General
- A few reforms would have prevented Louis from summoning the Estates General.
- Instead this encouraged further criticism of the Ancien regime and provided stronger force against absolutism in France.
- This was the beginning of the end for Louis.
Bitter conflict over the form it should take (elections and voting)
- Bitter conflict between the classes over the form it should take provided further problems.
- The Third estate wanted a vote by head count.
- They also wanted to double their numbers so that they would have a majority.
- Louis agreed to double their representation but not their voting counts.
Revolutionary boldness; Third Estate called itself the National Assembly
- On the 17th of June the Third Estate decided to break the deadlock in the voting issue.
- They decided to declare themselves the representative body of France (the National Assembly) and to disregard the Kings opinion.
- Louis was alarmed at this and decided to close down their assembly hall.
- This did not deter them; in fact it led them to the infamous ‘Tennis Court Oath’. Here they swore to not stop until they had given France a constitution.
- Popular support for the National Assembly rose and a small group of liberal nobles joined as well. So did members of the clergy, although mainly the Lower clergy.
Therefore Absolutism ended and Constitutional Monarchy began
- Due to overwhelming support for the new National Assembly Louis was forced to recognise it.
- He therefore issued a decree that stated that it was now the parliament of France.
- All of the Estates General members joined.
- This is where the doubling of the Third Estates representation came in important.
- They now held the majority in France’s new constitutional monarchy.
- In this new Constitutional monarchy the Bourgeoisie was the most powerful section.
The National Assembly (1789 – 91)
- A Paris crowd stormed the Bastille (July 14th, 1789).
- This proved to be a significant event in the revolution.
- The Bastille had long been regarded as a symbol of political oppression.
- Here people were sent when they had opposed the Ancien Regime.
- The Bastille was initially approached for the gunpowder it held.
- In confusion, however, shots were fired and the huge crown stormed the Bastille.
- This demonstrated that the capital was in the Revolutionaries hands and the King’s regiments were withdrawn.
- The Paris Commune was established and the National Assembly continued to meet with the realisation that they needed to meet the needs of the masses.
- The Law of the Lamppost was used during this period. Profiteers, aristocrats, government officials and army officers were all hung from lampposts.
Peasants then stormed the 40,000 bastilles (monasteries, chateaux)
- The storming of the bastilles was carried out by the peasants it signified the first use of violence to achieve Revolutionary aims by the peasants.
- It also signified the start of the Le Grande Peur. The Le Grande Peur was a period in which the popular masses rose up and attacked the Aristocracy and privileged few.
- This resulted in many of the Aristocrats becoming emigres. The Peasants gained from this loot and sometimes the land of the fleeing Aristocrats.
The flight of the emigres
- The flight of the emigres followed these events.
- Most of the emigres went to the sympathetic countries such as Austria, Russia and Britain.
- They hoped to gain support from Russian and Austrian troops and German Princes.
- The Austrian Emperor and Prussian King threatened war if Louis XVI was harmed.
The National Guard
- On July 13th 1789 there had been formed the Paris Commune (Municipal council) and the National Guard.
- The National Guard was comprised of 200 men from the six different sections of Paris.
- They were under the command of the Marquis de Lafayette.
- The units of the National Guard were responsible to the municipal councils.
- These new councils were strongly bourgeoisie and were interested in protecting property from crowd violence.
- This gave the bourgeoisie a revolutionary force to use as a militia and police organisation.
- It was designed to settle the rioting of the popular masses.
- Lafayette tried to protect the constitution from both the King and the mob.
- The first time the National Guard saw action was on the 14th of July 1791 when the Guard fired on a crown in the Champs de Mars and 50 were killed.
The Abolition of Feudalism
- On the Night of the 4th of August the National Assembly met and the abolition of feudalism was brought about.
- Tears accompanied this as many of the members of the National Assembly gave up
their privileges and looked towards equality.
- All exemptions from taxation, all feudal dues and tithes, tolls and pensions were abolished.
- As Mason in his book ‘Revolution’ noted: "Here the revolution had achieved a vast change. The overthrow of feudalism legitimised by the nervous deputies of Versailles, dampened down the fires of the peasant revolution in the countryside. Now Paris took and held control of the pace of the Revolution. The peasantry was basically satisfied. Paris still hungered for satisfaction’.
The Declaration of the Rights of Men
- On the 26th of August 1789 the National Assembly issued the Declaration of the Rights of Men.
- The purpose of this document was to produce equality within France and to abolish the class system that was prevalent in France.
- This meant that a man could achieve high status despite his parentage.
- According to the Declaration all citizens had the right to decide what taxes should be levied and how public revenue should be spent.
- Other fundamental human rights included freedom of speech, freedom of the press, religious liberty and freedom from unlawful arrest or imprisonment.
- Therefore the Declaration was essentially a democratic document.
- It proclaimed the sovereignty of the people.
The March to Versailles
- On the 5th of October 1789 a group of 7000 starving men and women marched on the court at Versailles.
- They were going to ask the King for some bread.
- They camped outside the palace.
- That night some women broke into the palace and attempted to murder Marie Antoinette.
- She escaped and ran to the Kings room.
- The invaders stopped here, as the King was still considered sacred.
- Lafayette prevented any bloodshed by assuring that the King returned to Paris with the mob.
- Here Louis became a virtual prisoner in the Palace of Tuileries.
The Development of Local Government and Departments
- The National Assembly reformed the local government system.
- France was divided into 83 departments.
Each of these had the same laws, customs, weights and measures.
- Internal Tariffs were also abolished in France.
This greatly improved the economy of France.
It also presented the country with more equality and abolished the certain privileged areas of France.
- The main problems were that the Government failed to have a clear connection to the Local Governments and also the Local governments hardly had any revenue, thus leading to bankruptcies.
The System of Justice
- The System of Justice was also reformed under the National Assembly.
- This allowed for open public trials and the abolition of the hated Lettres de Cachet.
- This allowed for the trails of all people in the same court.
- Before the assembly they had been conducted in different courts depending on class.
- Imaginary crimes such as heresy and magic were abolished.
- There was a court of final appeal for civil and criminal cases and a high court for cases of treason.
Freedom of the Press
- The press was now free to criticize etc.
- The freedom of the press was absolute and this led to it becoming a form of propaganda.
- It was instrumental in the rise of principal figures such as Robespierre and Danton.
- Early in 1789 revolutionary committees of sailors and soldiers were formed.
- This often caused conflict with the regular army and navy.
- In February 1790 the forces were made responsible to the National Assembly.
- This effectively took from Louis any chance of using the military to regain his position of influence.
Assembly’s policy on the Church
- Notre Dame Cathedral renamed the Temple of Reason
- “God” changed to “Supreme Being”
- Calendar changed: 1793 to be Year 1 of the new age
- Firstly Church property was confiscated (1789) and it was to be sold at auction.
- The clergy were to be paid by the state.
- Assignants were issued in order to buy the land.
- Unfortunately too many assignants were issued and this led to the later problem of inflation.
- The wages of the clergy were to be paid by the Assembly.
- This led to wages being doubled (again another inflationary pressure).
- Then came one of the National Assembly’s biggest mistakes.
- This was the Development of the Civil Constitution of the clergy.
- They forced the Clergy to take an oath to them (the state) instead of just
- They were also to be elected.
- This succeeded in alienating the Clergy (especially the Lower clergy) from the Revolution.
- It also outraged Louis.
Louis flight to Varennes
- On the night of the 2oth of June 1791 the King and his family attempted to escape to the friendly borders of Austria.
- This was encouraged by Marie Antoinette and was aided by her friend Count Axel
- They were however caught and returned to Paris.
- The King before leaving had left behind a declaration that complained of his lack of powers. He also condemned the work of the Revolution.
- Paris received him in silence when he returned.
- The Republican movement gathered great strength after this event.
- On the 16th of July the Government passed a decree reinstating the King despite protests.
The Constitution 1791
The new constitution established 6 main points:
1. Hereditary Constitutional Monarchy
2. A parliament consisting of a single elected chamber (the Legislative Assembly).
3. There was to be a separate executive (with no power to make laws)
4. All judges were to be elected
5. ‘Suspensive’ veto for the King
6. The franchise was to be given to all that paid taxes equivalent to 3 days wages or more.
The Good and the Bad
Good Points of the National Assembly include:
* The issue of the Declaration of Rights
* It abolished the evils of the old Regime
* It established a limited monarchy
* It set up 83 departments
* It curbed the power and the wealth of the Church
Bad Points of the National Assembly include:
* The Constitution did not extend Universal Suffrage
*The lower clergy were alienated
* Finance had been bungled and led to a rise in inflation
* The mobs had not been kept in check
* Slavery was still allowed in the colonies
* It failed to allow the experienced members of the National Assembly into the Legislative Assembly
The Revolution Leads to War – and Napoleon
- The interrelations of the Royal families of Europe made sure they remained pretty close.
- Therefore they supported each other in their respective Royal families.
- When France presented the idea of abolishing absolutism and ultimately the monarchy the European monarchs became fearful that this would spread to their
- Both Emperor Leopold II (Austrian Emperor and brother to Marie Antoinette) and Frederick William II (King of Prussia) issued the Declaration of Pillnitz which vouched to restore the old order within France.
- They promised to launch a counter-revolution greatly influenced by the French emigres.
- The counter-revolutionaries were still numerous inside of France.
- This made sure that the work was cut out for the Legislative Assembly in trying to defend attacks from this group.
- The revolution also increasingly faced more opposition from the Church.
- The National Assembly was to blame for this due to the introduction of the Civil Constitution of the clergy.
- The Girondin Advocates for war increasingly put pressure on the Legislative Assembly to declare war on Austria and Prussia. The Girondins and Jacobins were the radicals in the Assembly.
- They did not hold a majority at the Assembly’s formation.
- This lead to the Legislative Assembly presenting Austria and Prussia with a set of demands.
- When these were refused, the Girondins gained even more support in their calls for war.
- The war was seen as a way to spread the revolutionary cause to all parts of Europe.
- This missionary zeal to spread the doctrine of liberty, equality and fraternity made sure the French had great enthusiasm.
- It was also seen as a chance to untie all of the French people under one banner.
- Many of the members of the Legislative Assembly believed that France would unite under one banner to defend itself.
--> At Paris, in and around 1789, a group of individuals coalesced. This group shared the same principles, "the principles of extreme democracy and absolute equality." Their views, it was thought, were, as far as politics go, extreme and radical in regards to social organization. This republican club met at Paris in the old convent of the Jacobins.
--> Those who subscribed to their principles became known as Jacobins. Thus, a Jacobin is one who does not believe any one has rights to property.
--> Edmund Burke, in 1795, was to ask the question:
"What is Jacobinism? It is the attempt ... to eradicate prejudice out of the minds of men, for the purpose of putting all power and authority into the hands of persons capable of occasionally enlightening the minds of the people. For this purpose the Jacobins have resolved to destroy the whole frame and fabric of the old societies of the world, and to regenerate them after their fashion. To obtain an army for this purpose, they everywhere engage the poor by holding out to them as a bribe the spoils of the rich."
- exploit class warfare
5.The Declaration of War
- On April 20th 1792, the French Legislative Assembly charged Austria with plotting aggression and declared war, starting the first ‘War of the Peoples’ in the modern world.
- This was followed by a French invasion of the Austrian Netherlands and two months later the King of Prussia joined Austria in the struggle against France.
The invasion of France and The Convention
- The French Forces were quickly overcome by the Austrian Forces in Belgium and were driven back into France.
- The Duke of Brunswick that issued a manifesto saying that Paris would be burnt to
the ground if the Royal family were hurt.
- This infuriated the people as it gave the impression that they had collaborated with the invading Armies.
- This turned the balance in Paris towards the radicals.
- This saw the replacement of the bourgeoisie dominated Paris Commune and saw it replaced with a radical dominated Commune.
- This lead to the invasion of the Tuileries by Georges Danton and his supporters.
- On the 10th of August a crowd of 10,000 invaded the Tuileries and killed the Swiss Guard.
- Louis XVI escaped and asked for the protection of the Legislative Assembly.
- They suspended him as monarch and locked him and his family in a prison known as the tower.
- This went against the Constitution and it saw the end of the Legislative Assembly.
- The Assembly had remained a futile body and it had failed to achieve any of its aims to keep order.
- This saw the establishment of a new government called the National Convention.
- This new convention was to be elected by universal suffrage.
- Danton’s organizing men and labourers supplied the army with men and weapons.
- This enabled Dumouriez to defeat Brunswick at Valmy (September 20th 1792).
- It was on the 21st of September that the Republic was proclaimed.
- This was also the start of the Revolutionary calendar. (Note with the proclamation of the Republic the government was switched from the Legislative assembly to the National Convention).
The Convention and it’s Committee of Public Safety
- In the first week of September there was a call to arms by Danton to the Parisian mobs.
- They marched off to defend France.
- All those suspected of being against the revolution and being held in
prison were also massacred.
- The massacres were initiated by the comite’ de surveillance of the Paris Commune under the leadership of Dr. Paul Marat.
- Marat joined Robespierre and Danton in a triumvirate dedicated to the establishment of a proletarian republic.
- The National Convention meet on the very day that the French had defeated the enemy forces at Valmy.
- The main aims of this new National Convention can be narrowed down to four.
Defeating the enemies of France Giving the country a Republican Constitution Stabilizing the finances Restoring law and order
- The National Convention then voted to execute Louis XVI as a show of contempt to the monarchy.
- This outraged the monarchs of Europe as they set about forming a coalition against France.
- Meanwhile the Jacobins had succeeded in eliminating their main opposition, the Girondins in the Convention.
- This came about after the general Dumouriez, a Girondin, defected to Austria.
- The Jacobins labelled all Girondins as traitors and the National Guard arrested them.
- The Jacobins then formed the Committee of Public Safety, a cabinet that dominated the convention. In this committee there was Robespierre, Danton, Marat and Carnot.
The Committee of Public Safety and Total War Effort
- The Committee of Public Safety had nine members.
- They were established with the power to do anything to save the Republic from internal and external perils.
- They were later enlarged to a committee of 12 members and they exercised control over every aspect of French Life.
- The main external pressures came from the new coalition formed by the European Monarchs.
- This included Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, Spain, Russia, Sardinia, Tuscany, the Netherlands Republic and the states of the Holy Roman Empire. Lazare Carnot, an organizational genius, organized the conscripted armies of France.
- They drove back this threat of the enemy. Any General who lost a battle was executed, as it was thought they were a traitor to the Republic.
- Within France the Committee dispatched the army to crush the royalist uprisings and instituted the Reign of Terror.
The Reign of Terror
- With the committee of Public Safety a revolutionary tribunal was also set up.
- The Revolutionary tribunal was to try counter revolutionaries.
- Then the Committee developed a new policy that involved the use of the guillotine, an Italian import, across France.
- said to take off 22 heads in 36 minutes
- 17,000 killed
- June 10, 1794: Robespierre changes jury verdict to either acquittal or death --> more decapitations
- Many were killed, most from the aristocracy classes or those that were of wealth.
The Committee was in favour of imposed equality by direct democracy, punishment and violence.
- The guillotine was the scythe of equality, the people’s axe.
- When Danton believed that the external and internal threats had been dealt with he called for an end to the terror.
- Robespierre had him and his closest followers executed.
--> Danton: “Make sure you show my head to the people, it’s well worth it!”
- This shocked many of the moderates within the convention as they thought if Danton was not safe who would be.
- They labeled Robespierre a terrorist and he was executed on July 28th 1794.
Overthrow of the Jacobins…. The Thermidorian Reaction
- With the passing of military danger, the desire appeared for a relaxation of these emergency measures.
- The Jacobins were outvoted in the Convention and Robespierre accused and executed.
- The Jacobins were then outlawed, and the "Terror" officially ended.
- The Committee of Public Safety had been successful in making some epoch reforms.
- These included establishing the metric system of weights and measures, abolishing Negro slavery and establishing culture centres such as libraries and art galleries that were open to the masses.
- The Convention then abolished the Committee of Public Safety after the fall of Robespierre and also the Revolutionary Tribunals.
The Directory (1795 – 1799)
- The Convention then formed the Constitution of Year III (Year III of the Revolutionary Calendar). This included
A Directory, or executive, of five directors, who were to hold the chief executive office in turn A Parliament consisting of two Houses a) The Council of Five Hundred
1.The Council of Elders A limited franchise (like the one in 1791).
- This signified a return tot he protection and support of the Bourgeoisie.
- It was a move away from the masses and the peasants.
- This also brought an end to the experiment of democratic government in France.
- On the announcement of this constitution there were mass uprisings.
- These were stopped by Napoleon.
- Napoleon was becoming more and more popular with the Convention for his crushing of these attempted coup d’etat.
- Another problem had arisen though as the Second Coalition was formed.
This included Britain, Russia, Turkey, Austria and Naples.
- Napoleon meanwhile was furthering his popularity with the success of his Italian Campaign and his Egyptian Campaign.
Napoleon Seizes Power
- The period of 1795 to 1799 was marked with attempted coups and rebellions.
- However the Directory was able to continue in Government as it had the backing of the military.
- If this backing were to ever be removed the Directory would cease to exist.
- A final coup was organized by Napoleon Bonaparte.
- On returning to France in 1799 he joined with three of the Directors in a conspiracy to take control.
- His three Director collaborators resigned and the remaining two were arrested.
- When the council of elders did not welcome him with opening arms, he secured the government buildings with his army.
- A partial council of his friends were formed and voted Bonaparte and two others as temporary consuls. This was the start of the Consulate Government.
The Consulate (1800 – 1803)
- The first task of Napoleon was to rid the threat if the Second Coalition.
- For this he marched his own armies against them.
- Fighting his second Italian Campaign he inflicted a defeat on Austria at Marengo in 1800.
- General Moreau defeated the Austrians at Hohenlinden.
- Russia hastily withdrew form the coalition and the Austrian emperor agreed to peace.
- Then the Peace of Amiens was achieved with Britain in 1802.
- This got rid of the external threats for the time being.
- Napoleon than worked on reorganizing France and closing the Revolution. These included:
Local governments were made more efficient and became highly centralized. The ‘Code of Napoleon’ was instituted The Concordant was signed with the Vatican France reverted back to the Christian Calendar Education was placed under a central control
- These changes made sure some of the good points of the Revolution were carried on.
- These included the abolition of the feudal system and the old class order.
- It also kept and guaranteed the land settlements of the Revolution and gained for Napoleon the support of the peasantry and the clergy.
- The costs of all these reforms affected all Frenchmen.
- Personal Liberty disappeared; the press was censored; the schools and Church taught loyalty to Napoleon; the secrets police imprisoned or murdered Napoleon’s enemies.
- Napoleon claimed Frenchman only wanted glory, aggressive Nationalism and demagogic leadership. ‘I sealed the gulf of anarchy and unraveled chaos. I purified the
Revolution and strengthened the monarchy’.
The French Empire (1804 – 1815)
- Napoleon started enlarging ports and docks and the British took this as an offence and disregarded the Peace of Amiens.
- In 1805 Britain formed the third coalition containing Britain, Russia, Prussia and Austria.
- Napoleon defeated the Austrians at Ulm on the 15th of October 1805 and he entered Vienna.
- The British naval commander Lord Nelson destroyed his fleets in the ports of Spain and France.
- This ruined any chance of Napoleon invading Britain.
- By winning the battles at Austerlitz (2 December 1805), Jena, Averstadt, and Friedland (June 1807), Napoleon defeated the Austrian, Prussian and Russian Armies.
- Austria accepted the Peace of Pressburg and Russia the Treaty of Tilsit.
- In 1807 Russian and France became Allies.
- Napoleon improved his infrastructure to make campaigns more efficient.
- The continental Blockade was issued after the Berlin Decree that stated no British ships could trade with Europe.
- This was followed by a counter blockade.
- This greatly affected France more and this was abandoned in 1813.
- By 1810 the French Empire had reached its biggest position.
- Napoleon then failed in his campaign s in Portugal and Spain.
- Austria, encouraged by Spanish success, rose in revolt in 1809.
- They were crushed in and in the Treaty Napoleon demanded the hand of the Austrian emperor Marie - Louise.
- In 1811 Napoleon suffered a humiliating defeat in Russia. Prussia also rose in revolt and was crushed.
- However Austria and Russia joined forces and defeated Napoleon at Leipzig.
- On April 14th 1814 Napoleon abdicated and was banished to the Island of Elba.
- Ten months later he returned but was defeated by British Prussian forces on the 18th of June at Waterloo.
The Importance of Napoleon
* His early victories saved France
* He established law and order in France
* He established national unity under a string centralized government
* He made permanent some of the gains of the Revolution. For example legal equality, land settlement and the departments for the local government
* Organized France into a string unified state eg. Concordat, Code of Napoleon, Bank of France
* European Countries were affected by abolishing class privileges and spreading nationalism.
* His wars continually drained France
* They caused a great loss of life and destruction
* His continental system dislocated trade and industry
* Private interests and rights became subordinate to the Emperor
Note: Napoleon thought that the only way he could be respected was to continually bring back glory through his military campaigns.
So what can we say about all of this??????
Significance of the Period 1789 – 1815
The following is a list of those things that occurred due to or during the Revolution which had a considerable impact on French Society or the World.
Immediate Effect on France of Napoleon’s Defeat at Waterloo
- With the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, there was a return of the Bourbons to the throne with Louis XVIII.
- All of Napoleon’s conquests were lost by France and divided among those countries of the coalition that defeated France.
- Economically the wars had crushed France and left industry and commerce in ruins.
- This ruined France’s opportunity to rival Britain’s industrial power.
- Politically the coalition who had defeated France demanded a return to the old rulers and structure within France.
- This saw the middle classes fight bitterly to hold their basic legal and political rights.
- It was not until 1870 that France would again become a Republic.
The place of the Revolution in the Long Anti-Feudal Process
- The French Revolution summed up the whole Anti –Feudal process in Europe by swiftly putting an end to all the feudal privileges, laws and institutions in France.
- With Napoleon’s conquest the Anti-Feudalism Process was spread further through Europe.
- This was made Napoleons conquests easier as the peasants of the countries were happy to see the end of Feudalism.
- After Napoleon’s defeat however most of Europe restored some of the feudal taxes and this undid the work of Napoleon and the Revolution.
Economic Gains of the Bourgeoisie and the Peasants
- The Bourgeoisie economically benefited the most from the Revolution.
- Firstly they secured the abolition of tax injustices within the Ancien Regime.
- Tax Privileges were abolished, so were corrupt taxing methods, local and provincial tolls, taxes on legal and market transactions, indirect taxes on goods and the harsh system of tax supervision which hampered the growth of industry and
- The Revolution also established a uniform standard of weights and measures. This was the metric system.
- The Government also helped establish protective tariffs for French industries.
- The Revolution continued the process of Emancipating the Serfs and creating peasant proprietors.
- France emerged as having the richest peasants in Europe.
- Their land gains gave them wealth and power.
- Therefore the peasants became conservatives in French Politics.
- To the workers and non-land owners the Revolution did not really benefit them.
- They were still not allowed to vote or form trade unions.
- Their working conditions still could not be negotiated.
- This may explain why there was later a Revolution against the Bourgeoisie.
‘Liberty’ – Liberal Advances but not yet Democracy
- In its first victory the Revolution had put an end to absolutism in France.
- Instead of the ‘divine right of the Kings’ there was the ‘will of the people’.
- This was understood to mean limiting the powers of Government through a constitution and secondly electing an assembly and parliaments.
- Free speech, freedom of the press and freedom to form political parties were seen as basic human rights even though they did not really exist after Napoleon established a dictatorship.
- Universal Suffrage was started and then abandoned quickly.
- Political Liberties won by the revolution led to a constitutional parliament but not a democracy.
- The Revolution had provided one democratic election (National Assembly, and not for women) and this would be remembered throughout French History.
‘Equality’ – Civic Equality but not Income Equality
- The Revolution brought an end to privileges and the class system.
- Everybody came under the same law and taxation.
- Promotion became open to talent and citizens were equal before the law.
- Neither the new set of Nobles nor the returned set in 1815 could extract the same privileges present in the Ancien Regime’s nobility.
Effects in Europe
- The Revolution was successful in spreading new political ideas such as Nationalism through a previous unpolitical Europe.
- Napoleon’s armies quickened the change brought on by the revolution.
- They gave Europe a glimpse of greater efficiency of modernised institutions and law.
- Napoleon was however no liberal, he did not destroy absolutism but he created a more efficient form of it.
- At the very least the countries of Europe learnt to equip their countries with more centralized bureaucracies and a Secret Police Force.
- The forces of liberalism were planted in Europe however and they would continue to make demands on absolutism in Europe.
The Revolution as a source of New Ideas and Doctrines
- The actions and ideas of the French Revolution have been keenly studied by political theorists.
- They have arrived at three different conclusions about which type of government should have resulted:
- Democratic parliamentary government is the best solution and it leads to endless reforms
- That another revolution is necessary to gain the social justice that the Bourgeoisie denied to the lower classes.
- This idea was to be embraced by socialist and later communists.
- That good government can be expected only from a leader Genius like Napoleon.
COMMUNISM AND SOCIALISM
- The French Revolution did not directly produce the 19th century ideologies known as socialism or communism.
-But the Revolution did provide and intellectual and social environment in which these ideologies, and their spokesmen, could flourish.
- In other words, the history of the socialist tradition is something more than the words of Marx and Engels
- We must remember that Marx and Engels, major prophets of this tradition that they were, were educated in the peculiar circumstances of late 18th and early 19th century revolutionary activity.
- What, after all, would Marx and Engels have been had it not been for the French Revolution?
- To place the responsibility for the ills of society on the institution of private property, without actually calling for its abolition, was fairly common in the 18th century.
- The idea that law was nothing more than a device to protect the accumulation of the rich and to rationalize the exploitation of the poor had ancient roots.
- The philosophes of the Enlightenment were familiar with all of these arguments, trained as they were in the classics.
- Furthermore, the conviction that simplicity in possessions and life-style was conducive to virtue was held by almost all enlightened thinkers.
What went wrong with the French Revolution?
- Long before the Revolution, the government had become highly centralized.
- The national government appointed officials to run local governments.
- The king issued decrees, and there wasn't an independent legislature.
- Nothing like the separation of powers which developed in the United States.
- This history of socialism begins more than two centuries ago, at the time of the French Revolution, with the radical conspirator Babeuf, who wanted to carry the revolutionary ideas of the times even farther, to a communist society.
Question: The American Revolution ended with a stable republican government, while the French Revolution brought on the Reign of Terror and ended in the dictatorship of Napoleon. Why?
In some ways, the American and French Revolutions resembled one another. Both reflected Enlightenment ideas. Both put forth claims about natural human rights; both spoke of equality before the law; both turned from hereditary rule to republican government. Yet the revolutions turned out very differently. Historians have long debated the question you are being asked to confront. One of the earliest and most influential interpretations was put forward by Edmund Burke. He was a Member of Parliament who had supported the American Revolution but fiercely criticized the French. It would lead, he predicted, to excess and slaughter. In the end, he predicted, the French would follow blindly some "man on a white horse," some military hero. Since these predictions turned out to be correct, Burke's underlying argument demands respect. In sum, it is:
The American colonists had experience with self government. Thus, they could turn their colonial governments into state governments, maintaining law and order, even as they were fighting a long war against the British. The French had no such experience nor did they understand how essential it was. Burke was unimpressed with Enlightenment claims of "natural" rights, whether made by Americans or French. What mattered were historical traditions and experience. The American tradition was one of self-government. The French tradition was monarchical. This meant, for Burke, that the Americans were likely to succeed and the French were sure to fail. He wrote:
I flatter myself that I love a manly, moral, regulated liberty as well as any gentleman of that society, be he who he will; and perhaps I have given as good proofs of my attachment to that cause in the whole course of my public conduct. I think I envy liberty as little as they do to any other nation. But I cannot stand forward and give praise or blame to anything which relates to human actions, and human concerns, on a simple view of the object, as it stands stripped of every relation, in all the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction. Circumstances (which with some gentlemen pass for nothing) give in reality to every political principle its distinguishing color and discriminating effect. The circumstances are what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind. Abstractedly speaking, government, as well as liberty, is good; yet could I, in common sense, ten years ago, have felicitated France on her enjoyment of a government (for she then had a government) without inquiry what the nature of that government was, or how it was administered? Can I now congratulate the same nation upon its freedom? Is it because liberty in the abstract may be classed amongst the blessings of mankind, that I am seriously to felicitate a madman, who has escaped from the protecting restraint and wholesome darkness of his cell, on his restoration to the enjoyment of light and liberty? Am I to congratulate a highwayman and murderer who has broke prison upon the recovery of his natural rights? This would be to act over again the scene of the criminals condemned to the galleys, and their heroic deliverer, the metaphysic Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance.
When I see the spirit of liberty in action, I see a strong principle at work; and this, for a while, is all I can possibly know of it. The wild gas, the fixed air, is plainly broke loose; but we ought to suspend our judgment until the first effervescence is a little subsided, till the liquor is cleared, and until we see something deeper than the agitation of a troubled and frothy surface. I must be tolerably sure, before I venture publicly to congratulate men upon a blessing, that they have really received one. Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver, and adulation is not of more service to the people than to kings. I should, therefore, suspend my congratulations on the new liberty of France until I was informed how it had been combined with government, with public force, with the discipline and obedience of armies, with the collection of an effective and well-distributed revenue, with morality and religion, with the solidity of property, with peace and order, with civil and social manners. All these (in their way) are good things, too, and without them liberty is not a benefit whilst it lasts, and is not likely to continue long. The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do wha they please; we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations which may be soon turned into complaints. Prudence would dictate this in the case of separate, insulated, private men, but liberty, when men act in bodies, is power. Considerate people, before they declare themselves, will observe the use which is made of power and particularly of so trying a thing as new power in new persons of whose principles, tempers, and dispositions they have little or no experience, and in situations where those who appear the most stirring in the scene may possibly not be the real movers.
Further, historians who follow Burke maintain, the Americans started from a position deeply suspicious of power which, they believed, was likely to prove tyrannical no matter who exercised it. They therefore exerted much of their energies in seeking ways of limiting the authority of the state. French revolutionaries instead envisioned a state which somehow embodied the best interests of the people (Rousseau's notion of the "General Will" -- this is the same "general will" invoked in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen) and upon whose powers, therefore, they imposed no limits. You can find Rousseau's view of the Social Contract here. If you read section 6 of Book I and the first three sections of Book II, you will see that Rousseau is more a follower of Thomas Hobbes than of John Locke in the sense that he imagines a state
capable of exercising complete power. In this way Robespierre and his colleagues, who were self-professed disciples of Rousseau, some historians argue, blazed a trail for Napoleon.
A second, equally influential interpretation, is that of Alexis deTocqueville who, in addition to Democracy in America, wrote a history of France under the "Ancien Regime." Tocqueville stressed the importance of the long undermining of tradition and deference associated with the Enlightenment and with the rise of commerce and a middle class. His argument runs:
The French Revolution was a social as well as a political revolution. Different "estates" had enjoyed different rights and privileges. Tocqueville asserted that the abolition of "privilege," such as manorial claims on the labor of peasants or clerical exemption from many taxes, was at the heart of the revolution. The disputes over "privilege" necessarily pitted different classes of French men and women against one another. In other words, as different groups came to the fore during the Revolution, they did so with specific demands which could be satisfied only at the expense of specific classes and/o ranks. The success of the American revolutionaries, on the other hand, did not require a wholesale reorganization of the American social order. No group of revolutionaries had demands which could be met only by harming the interests of some other group in the society. So, although the American Revolution also faced "domestic enemies," the Loyalists, they were drawn from all sectors of the society (as were the "patriots") and were much less of a threat to the ultimate success of the revolutionary effort than were the French aristocratic emigrés.
Modern History Sourcebook:
Justification of the Use of Terror
Maximilien Robespierre (1758? 1794) was the leader of the twelve?man Committee of Public Safety elected by the National Convention, and which effectively governed France at the height of the radical phase of the revolution. He had once been a fairly straightforward liberal thinker - reputedly he slept with a copy of Rousseau's Social Contract at his side. But his own purity of belief led him to impatience with others.
The committee was among the most creative executive bodies ever seen - and rapidly put into effect policies which stabilized the French economy and began the formation of the very successful French army. It also directed it energies against counter-revolutionary uprisings, especially in the south and west of France. In doing so it unleashed the reign of terror. Here Robespierre, in his speech of February 5,1794, from which excerpts are given here, discussed this issue. The figures behind this speech indicate that in the five months from September, 1793, to February 5, 1794, the
revolutionary tribunal in Paris convicted and executed 238 men and 31 women and acquitted 190 persons, and that on February 5 there were 5,434 individuals in the prisons in Paris awaiting trial.
Robespierre was frustrated with the progress of the revolution. After issuing threats to the National Convention, he himself was arrested in July 1794. He tried to shoot himslef but missed, and spent his last few hours with his jaw hanging off. He was guillotined, as a victim of the terror, on July 28, 1794.
But, to found and consolidate democracy, to achieve the peaceable reign of the constitutional laws, we must end the war of liberty against tyranny and pass safely across the storms of the revolution: such is the aim of the revolutionary system that you have enacted. Your conduct, then, ought also to be regulated by the stormy circumstances in which the republic is placed; and the plan of your administration must result from the spirit of the revolutionary government combined with the general principles of democracy.
Now, what is the fundamental principle of the democratic or popular government-that is, the essential spring which makes it move? It is virtue; I am speaking of the public virtue which effected so many prodigies in Greece and Rome and which ought to produce much more surprising ones in republican France; of that virtue which is nothing other than the love of country and of its laws.
But as the essence of the republic or of democracy is equality, it follows that the love of country necessarily includes the love of equality.
It is also true that this sublime sentiment assumes a preference for the public interest over every particular interest; hence the love of country presupposes or produces all the virtues: for what are they other than that spiritual strength which renders one capable of those sacrifices? And how could the slave of avarice or ambition, for example, sacrifice his idol to his country?
Not only is virtue the soul of democracy; it can exist only in that government .... . . .
Republican virtue can be considered in relation to the people and in relation to the government; it is necessary in both. When only the govemment lacks virtue, there remains a resource in the people's virtue; but when the people itself is corrupted, liberty is already lost.
Fortunately virtue is natural to the people, notwithstanding aristocratic prejudices. A nation is truly corrupted when, having by degrees lost its character and its liberty, it passes from democracy to aristocracy or to monarchy; that is the decrepitude and death of the body politic....
But when, by prodigious efforts of courage and reason, a people breaks the chains of despotism to make them into trophies of liberty; when by the force of its moral temperament it comes, as it were, out of the arms of the death, to recapture all the vigor of youth; when by tums it is sensitive and proud, intrepid and docile, and can be stopped neither by impregnable ramparts nor by the innumerable ammies of the tyrants armed against it, but stops of itself upon confronting the law's image; then if it does not climb rapidly to the summit of its destinies, this can only be the fault of those who govern it.
. . .
From all this let us deduce a great truth: the characteristic of popular government is confidence in the people and severity towards itself.
The whole development of our theory would end here if you had only to pilot the vessel of the Republic through calm waters; but the tempest roars, and the revolution imposes on you another task.
This great purity of the French revolution's basis, the very sublimity of its objective, is precisely what causes both our strength and our weakness. Our strength, because it gives to us truth's ascendancy over imposture, and the rights of the public interest over private interests; our weakness, because it rallies all vicious men against us, all those who in their hearts contemplated despoiling the people and all those who intend to let it be despoiled with impunity, both those who have rejected freedom as a personal calamity and those who have embraced the revolution as a career and the Republic as prey. Hence the defection of so many ambitious or greedy men who since the point of departure have abandoned us along the way because they did not begin the journey with the same destination in view. The two opposing spirits that have been represented in a struggle to rule nature might be said to be fighting in this great period of human history to fix irrevocably the world's destinies, and France is the scene of this fearful combat. Without, all the tyrants encircle you; within, all tyranny's friends conspire; they will conspire until hope is wrested from crime. We must smother the internal and external enemies of the Republic or perish with it; now in this situation, the first maxim of your policy ought to be to lead the people by reason and the people's enemies by terror.
If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs.
It has been said that terror is the principle of despotic government. Does your government therefore resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword that gleams in the hands of the heroes of liberty resembles that with which the henchmen of tyranny are armed. Let the despot govern by terror his brutalized subjects; he is right, as a despot. Subdue by terror the enemies of liberty, and you will be right, as founders of the Republic. The government of the revolution is liberty's despotism against tyranny. Is force made only to protect crime? And is the thunderbolt not destined to strike the heads of the proud?
. . .
. . . Indulgence for the royalists, cry certain men, mercy for the villains! No! mercy for the innocent, mercy for the weak, mercy for the unfortunate, mercy for humanity.
Society owes protection only to peaceable citizens; the only citizens in the Republic are the republicans. For it, the royalists, the conspirators are only strangers or, rather, enemies. This terrible war waged by liberty against tyranny- is it not indivisible? Are the enemies within not the allies of the enemies without? The assassins who tear our country apart, the intriguers who buy the consciences that hold the people's mandate; the traitors who sell them; the mercenary pamphleteers hired to dishonor the people's cause, to kill public virtue, to stir up the fire of civil discord, and to prepare political counterrevolution by moral counterrevolution-are all those men less guilty or less dangerous than the tyrants whom they serve?