The Storming of the Bastille In response to the rumors, people start to gather weapons to defend the city. On July 14, a mob searching for gunpowder and guns took over the Bastille (a Paris prison). The mob overwhelmed the guards and took control of the building! The mob hacked the prison commander and some of the guards to death and paraded with their heads through the city!
The fall of the Bastille became a great symbolic act of revolution to the French. This is why July 14 th is now a national holiday for the French, similar to our 4 th of July.
A Great Fear Rumor Has It… Rumor spread that the nobles were hiring outlaws to terrorize the peasants…in response, the peasants picked up their pitchforks and broke into the noble’s homes and destroyed old papers that bound them to pay feudal dues. Some, simply skipped the paper shredding and burned their houses down.
In October 1789, some peasant women took control and rioted over the rising price of bread. They marched to Versailles and first demanded the National Assembly give them bread and then turned their anger on the King and Queen. They broke into the palace, attacked guards and demanded the King and Queen return to Paris. A Great Fear
This signals a change in power and radical reforms are about to take over France The King and Queen leave.
A Late Night Meeting The night of August 4, 1789 many noblemen make grand speeches about how much they believed in liberty and equality. They were more motivated by FEAR than by idealism. They joined the National Assembly and erased the feudal privileges of the First and Second Estate. Thus- making the commoners equal to the noble and clergy.
The Rights of Man and of the Citizen 3 weeks later the National Assembly adopted a statement of revolutionary ideas: The Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The document guaranteed that all citizens had equal justice, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. It also said that all men had a right to liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
The revolutionary leaders adopted the expression: “LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY” This did not however apply to everyone, women were still left out of this equation.
A State-Controlled Church The National Assembly focused first on the Church, and took away their lands and declared that Church officials and priests would now be elected and paid as state officials. The Church lost their land and their political independence. In part the National Assembly did this to make money to pay off France’s debt.
This move alarmed many peasants, who were devout Catholics. They believed the pope should rule over a church independent of the state. From this time on, many peasants opposed the assembly’s radical reforms.
Louis XVI Tries to Escape! Louis XVI watched all of this occur and began to fear that he and his family were in danger. In June 1791, the royal family tried to escape to the Austrian Netherlands, but near the border they were captured and returned to Paris. This attempted escape, DID NOT please the radicals.