The French Revolution, which began its first spark in the year 1789, is
one of the most important events not only in the history of France, but in the
history of Europe.
In terms of social and political conditions, France lived in a state of
relative stability under the rule of Louis XIV, who took care of the arts and
literature and won the love and respect of the people, but after his death, and
the transfer of the throne to men less than a matter, the burden gradually
slipped from the king and his ministers to the shoulders of the class
(Bourgeoisie), which had begun to emerge, especially during the reign of Louis
XVI, who was characterized by weakness of personality, which was in the era of
the revolution and was executed in January 21, 1793, and the members of this
middle class, mostly educated And then they began to feel uncomfortable
Satisfaction with the minimum they occupy in relation to the status of the
nobility, and dignitaries in the church. Their resentment and rebellion against
these conditions were factors that ignited the revolution in alliance with the
public or the so-called third class, which was in bad conditions under the
feudal system prevailing at the time.
The French Revolution started with the conflict between the aristocratic
class and the absolutist monarchy ,this
reaction was to be translated into opposing the Third Estate, The revolutionary
situation was provoked by the fiscal incapacitation of the state Because of the French involvement in the ‘7
years’ war( 1756 – 1763) .
The monarchy demanded from the assembly of Notables in 1787 in
Versailles to higher taxes during the session of May, the General assembly
refused the demands of the monarchy and after that in 1788 the Monarchy took a
new approach by appealing to the provincial parliament and the demands were
refused after that Louis XVI tried to make harsh policies against the
parliament and in 1788 the monarchy tried to close the parliament, the king
appealed to the institution of the estates general and in august 1788 he
convoked it but the second assembly of notables again refused the Monarchy’s
A wide public debate started and the main topic of the debate was; if
the elections of the estates general were to be held as usual or in a new way;
the old way were each order had to vote for its representatives separately and
the new way when elections were to be organized by head count without taking
into account the split of the estate general, the solution was in the middle:
the old customs were to be applied with the third estate having many deputies
‘doubling the third estate’, in 1789 the elections were held and the 5th
of May 1789 was marked by establishment
of the estates general assembly.
The Beginning of the
The period after the 5th of May 1789 was the start of the
transformations and the social and political conflict, the first stages of
these transformations started with the attempts of the lower clergy of tending
to a side with the third estate, and in the 13th of June 1789, 3
members of the lower clergy abandoned they positions and joined the third
estate chamber and after that in the 17th
of June 1789 the French revolution
started when the members of the third estate proclaimed themselves as national assembly.
The ideas of Abbe Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès in his book “what is the third estate
“had a great impact on the French revolution. In The 20th June 1989 the third
estate’s deputies took an oath providing that they will stay together up to the
adoption of a new constitution, it was named ‘The Tennis Court Oath ‘, it was
named like this because the Oath was held in the tennis court in Versailles
palace, After the oath, the king tried to put down the revolution process.
In June 23 a common session was held, the king asked the deputies of the
three chambers to continue working in the traditional way and the third
estate’s deputies revolted so in June 26th. The king called the army around the
Versailles palace. In June the 27th the king was obliged to give the order to
the privileged orders to join the National assembly, this shift taken by the
king yielded into a way of popular support in Paris for the third estate
general revolution. The results were a disaster, the 14th of July
was marked by the event called “The storming of the bastille”, and the prison
of The Bastille was taken by the rebelled population of Paris.
In the 17th of July, the king was forced to make a new action
in favour of the revolution, he went to Paris addressing the crowds and
speaking in favour of the revolution. The week after the storming of the
bastille was marked by the spread of the revolution to all of France but Paris
maintained the dynamics of the revolution.
August 1789, it seemed that the revolution process would spread from
Paris to the countryside enlisting wider numbers of the population, after that
it was the involvement of “the great fear”: The French peasantry was driven by
rumours, it was feared that the revolt of peasantry lead to a state of anarchy
and the great rebellion would never take a place in the French revolution,
under the influence of the great fear the revolutionary process was
August the 11th .1789 a royal decree was issued, economic
arrangements of Feudal nature were abolished and that led to the August the 26th
declaration of the rights of men and citizens, civil equality implied, the
declaration of separation of power with the state and the right of property was
a sacred right. After that it was the phenomenon of aristocratic immigration:
aristocrats left to other European countries that lined with world of the old
regime and after the royalist right wing emerged.
After that, the Parisian crowds attacked the Versailles palace and the
king and the assembly were obliged to leave Versailles and the authorities
became more dependent on the pressure coming from the streets. On November the
2nd 1789; the revolution adopted its first act targeting the Catholic Church by
the decree issued and that led to an establishment of a link between the French
state and the Church. December 24th. The act of emancipation of the
Protestant minority allowing Calvinist representation to be in public and on November
the 7th the assembly decided
that deputies of the assembly would not be ministers, the shift of balance
between the executive and legislative bodies started and the preventing of the
shaping of powerful executive institutions. At the end of 1789 three orientations
were centralized; the left wing around H. Mirabeau and the right wing around
general La Fayette.
1790 was marked by the development in 3 fields in the political life and
national administration; there stood a national assembly decree with the
practical implication of the philosophy of property, this his consisted in a
distinguish between the Active and passive citizens, the active citizen right
to vote and to be elected and the passive citizen just having the civil rights,
only citizens having property and good income could take part in the political
life. July the 14th, a great national fest was held in Paris with
the representatives of the provinces and the links between the church and the
state were strengthened. After that, the clerics were obliged to make an oath
to the French state ‘The clerical oath ‘, it was the end of the alliance
between the clergy and the revolution.
1791 was marked by the decline of the popularity of general La Fayette and
on May the 16th, the members of the national assembly could not be
elected as deputies in the future assembly and that the future assembly would
be created with new politicians.
The period between the 20th and the 21st of June
1790, the king tried to join the immigration movement ‘ royal flight ‘ but he
was caught and he was obliged to get back to Paris and the Jacobin church
turned to republic opinions. This period was also marked by the ‘Champ de Mars
Massacre ‘ : a military unit under the
command of general La Fayette putted down a manifestation in a bloody
way and that opened a gap between the
crowds and the General assembly.
A foreign intervention against the revolutionary process in France: king
Leopold the 2nd and Willem the 2nd, they were against the
revolutionary process and they spoke as representatives of Europe’s old regimes
because they saw French revolution as a threat to the entire continent and the
French revolution nationalized the territories that are under the foreign ruler
like Alsace and Avignon.
September the 3ed 1791, the creating of the first revolutionary
constitution after the Polish constitution experiment, the constitution renewed
the difference between the Active and Passive citizens. The legislative
Assembly had a new ideological profile ‘Gironde’ and it was also the
declaration of war against Austria in April the 20th 1792 in the
region of Belgium which was at that time under the rule of Austria. France was
defeated and after that it was the declaration of the state of emergency.
August 1792 was marked by the new
elections of the legislative assembly and the constitution of 1791 ceased to
function, August the 17th was also marked by the establishment of the regime of
terror and also the establishment of the revolution tribunal and in August the
20th General la Fayette joined the immigration.
In September the 20th 1792, the revolutionary army had a big
victory in the battle of Valmy and September 22nd was the first day of the
republic, in October, the leader of the Gironde was expelled from the majority
group ‘Jean Baptist boyer ‘.
January the 22nd 1793 was marked by the execution of Louis
XIV, the regime of terror was worse than the monarchy; a lot of people were
executed and February 1793 was marked by the declaration of war against England
and the Dutch wars.
March 1793. The province of Belgium was annexed by France and royalist
rebellion started in Vendee and in the 6th of April 1793, the
dictatorial regime was formed in France with the establishment of the committee
of public safety and in the end of May, the last members of the Gironde were
July the 24th was marked by the creation of the 2nd
revolutionary constitution ‘The Jacobin
constitution’ and this constitution abolished the division between the active
and passive citizens, the Jacobin constitution looked forward to the ‘ Right of
happiness and right to live’ but the
Jacobin constitution was never to be applied.
September the 22nd 1793, the Christian calendar was replaced
with the revolutionary calendar and the Jacobin assembly promoted the ‘the cult
of supreme being’ and on November the 22nd
the church in Paris was closed after that it was the execution of Marry
Antoinette in October 1793 and also other leaders of the Gironde.
– The regime of terror evolved towards self-contradiction and March the
24th 1794 was marked by the execution of the followers of Hebert and
in April the 5th Danton and
his followers were executed. In July the 28th Robespierre was
executed and the event was named ‘Thermidor’.
February 21st 1795, the declaration of the separation between
the state and the church and on August The third revolutionary constitution was
adopted. The new constitution departed from the previous policies of revolution
and the shift of balance was turned in favour of the executive body.
In October the 26th, double edged process of de
radicalisation that meant a class of new rich people would occupy dominant
positions within the political body and there was a big link between money and
political life, politics was depend of fortunes of newly reshaped upper class and
people turned to the opinion of the military body.
February 1796 was marked by The
extend of the treaty of November 1794 between United States and Britain and the relations
between France and the United States deteriorate and on March, the Directory
names General Bonaparte the commander of the Army of Italy.
May the 10th was marked by the defeats of the Austrians at
the Battle of Lodi, and after it Bonaparte begins the siege of Mantua, the last
Italian city held by Austria, and in July a new Austrian army under Wurmser
arrives in Italy. Bonaparte defeats the Austrians under Wurmser at the Battle
of Bassano and in October, Spain, now allied with France, declares war on
October the 17th 1797 was marked by the signature of peace between
Austria and France in the Treaty of Campo Formio and in December 28,
Anti-French riots in Rome, and murder of a French general, in January the 12th
1798, Bonaparte presents a plan for an invasion of England to the Directory and
Bonaparte recommends to the Directory the abandonment of the invasion of
England, and an invasion of Egypt instead after that the Directory approves
Bonaparte’s plan to invade Egypt. And in 1799 Bonaparte started to march his army
from Cairo toward Syria and in April the 9th was the beginning of legislative
elections in France to replace one-third of members after that Sieyès orders
the closing of the new Jacobin Club in Paris,Napoleon went back from Egypt and
he organized a Coup On November 1799 and in December the 24th 1799 The 4th
constitution was adopted.