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Modern Western Civilization
Class 12: The Radical Revolution
Music The Marseillaise
I. The Second Revolution
The Revolution became much more radical in 1792. Losses in the
war radicalised the pop of Paris and the rest of France.
A number of things contributed to this - apart from the unpopularity
A: The War, the Monarchy and the Press
- The Prussian Army pushed into France as far as Verdun -in
July the Duke of Brunswick issued a threat to Paris if the King
- The Girondists themselves blamed the monarchy and Marie Antoinette
for secret intrigues and this put the monarchical constitution
- There was absolute freedom of the press - and this waged a
campaign of denunciation vs. the government Marat and his Ami
du Peuple was prominent as a radical here.
B. Process of Radicalization
This popular agitation was transformed into something powerful
by two factors.
- -The arrival of volunteer National Guardsmen from all over
France in July (8th) [volunteers from Marseilles come singing
- -The political organisation of Paris into a Commune and 48
Sections - all centres of insurrection.
- August 10th 1792 Attack on Tuileries Palace
People of Paris + Vol attack the Tuileries Palace
King had to take refuge with the Legislative Assembly.
He deserted his Swiss Guard - 800+ killed.
- September 1792 September Massacres
1200 prisoners are murdered in Paris gaols as counter-revolutionaries.
D. The Sans-Culottes [The "KMart Crowd"]
- Paris artisans, shopkeepers, wage earners and factory workers.
- Name comes from the fact they wore long trousers not the knee
breeches (culottes) favored by the middle and professional classes.
They wanted immediate relief from hunger, resented all social
inequality, and were suspicious of representative government.
They also opposed the unregulated economy so beloved of all the
m/c revolutionaries, including the Jacobins.
- They compelled the Legislative Assembly to agree to call a
new assembly to write new democratic constitution - this body
was to be called the Convention.
II. The Convention - 1792-95
This was elected by universal male suffrage - but only 7 1/2%
of electorate voted. (not best atmosphere for a free election)
It first met September 21 1792 and declares France a Republic
as its first act
The Girondists were still major voice but gradually lost control
over next few months to another group of Jacobins known as The
Mountain (because they sat high in Convention Hall) - They were
prepared to work with the Sans-Cullottes. Maximilien Robespierre
one of leaders.
Political groups here were
- the Girondists [or Brissotins] (name from region deputies
supposed to have come from)
- the Mountain, (name from their seats high in the Assembly
- the Marais - the plain.(name from their seats low in the Assembly
There were now 9 months of political struggle in the Convention.
B. Fighting the War
The War with Austria and Prussia which had radicalized the revolution
was still going on.
The revolution was saved by the slowness and weakness of Prussian
and Austrian preparation - they could certainly have won at first.
They were too busy in the East digesting Poland.
- Aug 1792 - LaFayette defects to Austrians - sees no point
in fighting monarchist cause in France.
- 20th September 1792 - Battle of Valmy
General Dumouriez - beats the Prussians - effectively gives the
Revolution breathing space. [Make it clear I am going ahead of
domestic developments here. ]
- Valmy was the effective start of the French Revolutionary
Wars - the attempt by France to spread the Rev across Europe.
When successful it provided loot for the government.
- Autumn 1792 - Austrian Netherlands (Belgium) is attacked By
November Brussels is in French hands
- November 1792 - Savoy is annexed
- November 1792 - the Convention offers to help all revolutionary
groups in Europe.
- Dec 15 1792 - The Convention abolishes feudalism in occupied
territory - beginning of restructuring of Europe.
- January 1793 - Danton proclaims the doctrine of Natural Frontiers
- ie the Rhine, a la Louis XIV.
- Feb 1 1793 - growing Anglophobia reflected in declaration
of war vs England and Netherlands.
- By March Spain was also dec. an enemy.
- March 1793 - By now France was at War with all of Europe
- April 1793 - Dumouriez defects to Austria - aware he could
not restore monarchy in France.
C:. Domestic Politics In the Convention
Now return to what was going on in France and the move to the
control by the radical Committee of Public Saftey
- The Convention at first had no strong leadership.
- Condemnation and Execution of the King
This was necessary consequence of August 10th, and the King's
treachery over the war - The Mountain had found Louis XVI's correspondence
The condemnation of King also put Girondists in a bind - if they
supported it they lost moderate support, if they opposed it they
lost patriot support. Robespierre saw this.
The King was tried as Citizen Capet - [should have been Bourbon.]
Vote to Condemn -
28 absent, 321 other Penalties, 13 Death with a respite, 361
Death now a maj. of 1.
No one thought Louis was innocent.
King executed 21 Jan 1793
- Counter Counter-Revolutionary Activity
By March 1793 there were counter-revolts going on esp in conservative
Catholic areas, especially in the Vendee. [see Map Handout]
There was a great concern in the Convention, still under Girondist
control, about counter revolution.
-it strengthened laws against emigres.
-Revolutionary Tribunals were set up
-A decree was passed condemning to death all rebels taken in the
-March 21 1793 - Watch Committees set up in every area
The point here is that the moderates had in fact set up
the structure of the Terror by Spring 1793.
D. The Committee of Public Safety 6th April 1793
Set up to supervise, for Convention, the executive. It was given
its own funds:
-100,000 livres to pay agents
-100,000 livre for secret purposes
At first middle men were elected - Jacque Danton (1759-1794)
E. Committee of General Security
was also set up to fight the War abroad.
F. The Mountain Takes Over
- The population of Paris was still not happy - there was inflation
due to war + paper money. This was made use of by the Mountain
- whose main difference with the Girondists was that they would
work with the mob.
- May/June 2 1793 New insurrection - the mob demanded the expulsion
of the Girondist members.
- The Mountain seizes control in the Convention. They passed
a new Democratic Constitution - June 22 - in cold storage until
the war was over.
- They appointed a new Committee of Public Safety- June 1793
- This body was to rule France for the next year.
III. The Rule of the Commmitte for Public Safety
July 1793-July 1794
A ruthless and effective government - Convention and ministers
official governmnet, but CPS had all power.
|The New Committee of Public Safety
- from the Mountain
- Herault de Sechelles - a noble
- Jeanbon Saint-Andre - protestant pastor
- Saint Just - wanted a spartan state
- Couthon - a follower of Robespierre
- Prieur, of the Marne
- from the Marais
- Barere de Viezac
- Robert Lindet
added in July
- Maximilien Robespierre (1753-1794)
-he was not a dictator - a lawyer from Arras - "he believed everything he said" - for him principles were everything, Men nothing. Influenced by Rousseau and his ideas on virtue.
added in August
- Lazare Carnot (1753-1823) - in charge of military
- Prieur, of the Cote d'Or
added in September
- Collot d'Herbois - the only mob orator
-both were known as men of blood
A. Problems Facing the Committee for Public Safety
The Counter revolt and the war with Europe
- ie same as before June takeover
- It dealt with the war - by miliary effectiveness and the internal
revolt with the terror
- But there was more - this was a dedicated group - it aimed
to restructure society in the most revolutionary manner.
- The War and the Terror must be seen in this light as a national
mission against evil inside and outside France.
B Total War
The CPS dealt with military threat by first use in modern times
of total war - the whole country was put on a war footing (cf.
small ancien regime armies)
Carnot led the effort
- 23 August 1793 the levee en masse - conscripted males into
- There was a planned economy to supply the war + to aid the
poor and keep their support.
- September 17 Maximum price rules established.
- Assignats stopped falling in value in year of CPS control.
- By Spring 1794 an Army of 800,000 - the largest ever assembled,
until then, by European power.
- A citizen army, fighting for ideals, as opposed to its opposing
armies, which were often made up of serfs.
C. The Reign of Terror or the Republic of Virtue
[Refer to handout map]
Revolts around France - esp Vendee, Brittany and Normandy
- July 13 1793 Marat, a radical killed by Charlotte Corday -
made revolutionaries feel threatened.
- Height of Terror from Fall 1793 to July 1794
- Marie-Antoinette + Royal Family, then aristocrats, then Girondists,
then 1794 moves to provinces and includes peasants and sans-cullottes,
then in Spring 1794 even includes republicans like Danton
- The CPS also opposing even more extreme groups from among
sans-cullotes - known as Hebertists
- June 10 - Law of 22 Prairal
conviction without evidence was now allowed
- Large increase in numbers killed in last month of Terror.
Terror fiercest in those areas of rebellion + Paris
circa. 25,000-40,000 killed/300,000 arrested
- It was intentional, not unplanned
ROBESPIERRES SPEECH - Terror is Virtue
- How does what R. says relate to the thoughts of philosophes
like Rousseau ?
[Answers: General Will, emphasis on virtue, the idea of the TRUTH/reason
being above any man, idea of realizing the promise of philosophy
- What are the Aims of the Revolution for R.?
[virtue + Government under true principles, the tranquil enjoyment
of liberty and equality, the reign of eternal justice, low passions
to be enchained.]
- What is totalitarian about his ideas?
[Aall things: liberty, arts, commerce all have to work for the
- Which of his ideas are Nationalistic ?
[France as a model for nations, the whole idea of a community
makes idea of nation important - revolutionary patriotism ]
- Why does R. thing Terror is moral?
[It is the force of virtue - that which is not revolutionary is
not moral, so should be destroyed for virtues sake. The idea that
Terror is justice promptly served. Law of self-preservation as
first law of nature. These ideas have been used by many subsequent
- How effective do you thing R. would have been if you had been
listening to him?
D. The New Culture
- followed Roman and/or sans-cullotish style.
- New Calendar
Convention began dating form Year One when it abolished the
A system of new months adopted on November 10th 1793
Messidor, Thermidor, Fructidor, Vendemiaire, Brumaire, Frimaire,
Nivose, Pluviose, Ventose, Germinal, Floreal, Prairal
-beginning from Sept 22, 1792, Day after monarchy abolished.
-every 10th day as rest day (not good for workers)
-Aim was to blot out the cycle of Sundays and Saint's days
It was part of dechristianisation effort.
- New Religion
Revolution had been anti-clerical from the start
-ref. Enlightenment- Civil Const. of Clergy.
-In November 1793 - The Convention outlawed the worship of God
(where is tolerance ?)
-Notre Dame made a Temple to Reason - ceremonies were conducted
by the Commune of Paris.
-November 10 Cult of Reason begun - alienated Christians Made
direct efforts to close Churches throughout France.
-[Dechristianisation opposed by Robespierre - toleration of Catholics
was ordered by CPS under his orders.]
-Robespierre thought this not sufficient as effective religion.
-May 7 1794 Cult of the Supreme Being proclaimed -Deism + cultic
festivals celebrating republican virtues - humanity, liberty etc.
-June 8 Rob. leads a massive public Festival of Supreme Being.
Emphasises the attempt to restructure the whole civilisation.