3The French RevolutionIt was the best of times, it was the worst of times. - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two CitiesThe French Revolution is a movement of God. It is a pure gift to progress. - Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
4Enduring Reference Point for Social and Political Change ‘It will be like the French Revolution… It will take years.’Hatim Tallima of the Revolutionary Socialists in Cairo, 2013 (Arab Spring)
5Watershed moment of modernity OverturnedDivine-right, absolutist monarchyPrivilege (as opposed to equality before the law)NobilityGuilds, corporationsThe Church’s wealth and moral preeminence
6Inaugurated (sometimes in ‘proto’ form): LiberalismRepublicanismSocialismConservatismFree-market capitalismFeminismNationalismImperialism (an ideologically driven form of it)Liberal authoritarianism (contradiction in terms?)Totalitarianism (Cold War term: from Rousseau, to Robespierre, to Stalin?)Secular universalism
7Burke (anti) vs. Paine (pro) Kings will be tyrants by policy when subjects are rebels by principle.Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)The circumstances of the world are continually changing and the opinions of man also; and as government is for the living, and not for the dead, it is the living only that has any right in it.Paine, Rights of Man (1791)
8Historical debates Origins Course Legacies Circumstances (financial, political)ClassEnlightenment ideasPublic OpinionCourseWas radicalisation inevitable?Why the Terror ( , the Year II)?Why did republicanism give way to authoritarianism?LegaciesDid the French Revolution pave the way to liberalism and human rights, social democracy or pathological forms of democracy?
9Thesis of circumstances Financial breakdownFrance helped finance the American War for Independence from Britain (1770s-1780s)More than half of annual tax revenues used up to pay interest on the debt (1786)No central bank, regime borrowed at high interest ratesRefusal to pay more taxesPolitical juggernautParlements and Notables (represent ‘the nation’) vs.MonarchyBad harvests, high bread prices
10Class Thesis (prevalent in mid-20th century) Three EstatesClergy, nobles, third estateHigh bourgeoisie: had most of the productive power but no political powerabbé Sieyès, What is the Third Estate? (1789)What is the Third Estate? EverythingWhat has it been recognised to be until now? NothingWhat does it aspire to be? Something
11Enlightenment Origins: Ideas? Faute à Rousseau?Collective sovereigntyMoral regeneration and virtueUtopian principles lead to authoritarianism?Faute à Voltaire and aux philosophes?Desacralisation of throne and altarCritical reason trumps ethics, morality
12Enlightenment Origins: Public Opinion A more literate and critical publicContent of print and conversationsCritical of monarchy (debauched, arbitrary, corrupt)Irreverence for sacred power: throne and altarThe rise of a critical public, thinking for oneselfPeople, bombarded with print (some of it produced by politically interested sources like the monarchy) learn to be skeptical
13Course of RevolutionLiberal Phase – (constitutional monarchy)Radical Phase – (republic)Year II, the Terror ( )Thermidor – (republic)Directory – (republic, but increasingly authoritarian)Consulate, Empire – (Napoleon)
14Meeting of the Estates General May 1789 Prior failure to persuade hand-picked assemblies of notables (1787 and 1788) to agree to more taxesParlement (sovereign judicial courts) refuses to agree to more taxesOnly remaining solution is an Estates General: a meeting of the clergy, nobles and third estate. First time since 1614 (absolutism had suppressed most representative bodies).
151789 – La RévolutionJune Third Estate, impatient and suspicious of clergy and nobles, declares itself to be ‘the nation’. Asserts its sovereign authority over taxation and swears to uphold the debtAlso creates a committee to investigate bread crisis and propose solutions.Late June – Louis XVI eventually concedes but plots military repression.
16June 20 – Tennis Court Oath (indoor, see below) New National Assembly takes an oath to refuse to disband until Constitution is completed June 27 – Louis XVI concedes but plots military repression
171789 July 14 – The Storming of the Bastille Parisians, in search of arms to protect themselves from monarchy’s repression, attack this fortress and prison on the edge of Paris for arms; few prisoners being held there at the time. Governor fires on crowds, who storm the prison and put his head on a pike.August 4 – Abolition of Privilege (end of the Old Regime, since privilege was at the very heart of it)End of August: Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the CitizenOctober 5-6 – Women’s Bread March to VersaillesBrings King, Queen and National Assembly to Paris, where they were more vulnerable to popular pressures
18Storming of the Bastille, July 14 Was torn down, stone by stone
19Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen note resemblance to Ten Commandments: a modern, secular religion?
201790 Civil Constitution of the Clergy State seizes church lands (10-12% of all land), which will be auctioned off (to pay for the national debt)Closure of monasteries and convents (seen as un-useful institutions in an age of Enlightenment utility)Requires religious clerics to swear an oath to uphold the new ConstitutionLeft/Right splits in National AssemblyArch-Royalists sit on right; Progressives (Jacobins and their allies) on the leftSpread of Jacobin clubs throughout FranceWho were Jacobins?Initially a group of legislators who met to strategizeEventually, became a nationwide network of clubs in favour of a constitution, rights and legal equalityOften pressured local officials to carry out new laws
211791 June: Flight of the King to Varennes Intended to return with counterrevolutionary troops to put down the Revolution (Marie-Antoinette’s brother, Joseph, was emperor of the Habsburg Empire)Louis XVI was recognized at border by a postman, sent back to ParisJuly: Radicals call for a Republic – authorities fire on them: Massacre on the Champs de Mars
221791 Constitution (September) Legislative Assembly replaces Constituent AssemblyAbolition of guilds, corporations and all government regulation bodies
231792 Tensions increase Religious Counterrevolutionary propaganda proliferatesResistance to clerical oath and anger about new constitutional priests imposed on parishes-- Social and economicDisruptions in the world of labour; popular discontent infiltrates political clubs and sections-- PoliticalKing is essentially a prisoner in Paris, plotting in hopes of a foreign invasion to put down revolutionDivisions among revolutionariesradicals vs. moderates (Jacobins / Girondins)
241792April: War declared against Austria. Soon, France is at war with most of its neighbours, who fear the spread of revolution.August 10: The monarchy falls in violent insurrectionSeptember 2-7: Prison massacres of priests and nobles in Paris by radical ‘sans-culotte’ forcesSeptember 21: First Republic declaredConstitution won’t be promulgated until June of 1793Operating in a state of exception… all executive decisions easily denounced as arbitrary… no constitutional guidelines.. Sharp tensions between a free-market and regulated economyPressure for political justice
251793 January 21: Louis XVI is guillotined March: counterrevolutionary revolts in VendéeTerror gears upCreation of the Committee of Public Safety (executive)Committee of General Security (police committee)Revolutionary Tribunals (which condemn ‘enemies’ of the revolution to the guillotineJune: Jacobins, pushed by sans-culottes in Paris, purge the Girondins from National Convention.Summer: Federalist Revolts against Paris and sans-culotte movement (provinces resent purge)Autumn: Marie-Antoinette and Girondins guillotined
261794 Slavery in French colonies abolished (Feb) Terror escalates (spring)Purge of Dantonistes (who wanted to end the Terror)Purge of Hébertistes (sans-culottes who wanted to push the Terror further)High Terror (June/July): thousands executed in Paris27 July (9 Thermidor): Robespierre and other members of the Committee of Public Safety are arrested and guillotined
27The DirectoryExecutive-heavy Republic, with 5 directorsDifficult to pursue a middle path between radicalism and royalism1797: elections are nullified; repression increasesRevolution exported; the republican generals gain in reputation and power18 Brumaire (Nov 9, 1799): Coup brings Napoleon to power
281800-1815 Consulate and First Empire: Napoleon conquers much of Europe overturns old regimes across EuropeFleeces conquered countries but imposes new ideology and administrative structures… creating new political and administrative structures that will help bring about the rise of ‘nation states’ across the 19th century
29Key terms and conceptsDeclaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789)Jacobinism (centralising state, fiercely secular, touch of social justice)Sans-culottes (for economic regulations and punishment of ‘enemies’ of the nation)Vendée (civil war)Levée en masse – universal draft, largest army in Europe almost overnight ( )TerrorGuillotine (pain and torture is no longer the point of judicial punishment. Equality and prompt, painless elimination of enemies from the nation)
30The Terror in perspective Struck at all ‘suspects’ of the new regime.Deaths from revolutionary strife17,000 executions by revolutionary tribunals15,000-17,000 die in prisonDeaths in civil and foreign wars ( ) – roughly 4 million across Europe250,000 to 400,000 in the civil war of the VendéeMost deaths occur during Napoleon’s wars
31A new culture Time, weights and measure - rationality Metric system created – more rational than inches, feet, etc.Revolutionary Calendar based on nature. 10 day weeksBrumaire (Nov-Dec): ‘brume’ means fogVentôse (March-Apr): ‘vent’ means windRevolutionary FestivalsFestival of the Supreme Being (June 1794)DeismNotre Dame cathedral converted into the Temple of ReasonSome public schools and museums foundedCult of the Nation –Pantheon: where France’s ‘great’ heroes were buriedVoltaire, Rousseau, radical murdered journalist Marat, etc.
36Guillotine Execution of Louis XVI (Jan 21, 1793)
37Impact Revolutionary persists across (19th Century) Notably in 1830, 1848 and 1871Nationalism, rise of nation states (19th/20th centuries)Democratic revolutions across the world (20th century)Literature and PhilosophyFires imaginations for more than two centuries
38Founding Interpretations Edmund Burke (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790)Modern conservatismNeed for tradition and reverenceAlexis de Tocqueville (The Old Regime and the French Revolution, 1857)Abstract literary politics (Enlightenment) combines with state centralisation to form new, modern forms of political oppressionMarx/Jaurès (mid 19th, turn-of-20th)Revolution as class war
39Confused?Click here orhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXsZbkt0yqo