23.2 - The French Revolution Brings Reform and Terror

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The middles stages of the French Revolution with Robespierre and the Reign of Terror.

Transcript of 23.2 - The French Revolution Brings Reform and Terror

  • 1. Revolution Brings Reform and Terror


  • After the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, things proceeded quickly.
  • On August 4 th , the National Assembly abolished feudalism.
  • On August 27 th , the National Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
    • This Declaration was a bit like the U.S. Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights and indeed borrowed from them.


  • A few articles from the Declaration of the Rights of Man
    • 1.Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.
    • 2.The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
    • 9.As all persons are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty, if arrest shall be deemed indispensable, all harshness not essential to the securing of the prisoner's person shall be severely repressed by law.
    • 10.No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.
    • 11.The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.
    • 17.Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except where public necessity, legally determined, shall clearly demand it, and then only on condition that the owner shall have been previously and equitably indemnified.


  • Theres also this one:
    • 6.Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction except that of their virtues and talents.

5. 6.

  • The Church gets the treatment too.
  • In 1790, the Assembly confiscated all the lands of the Roman Catholic Church in France.
  • This was one part revenge against the First Estate and its power.After all, it owned 10% of the land in France and was the countrys largest landowner.
  • It was also economically motivated.
    • The countrys finances were in dire straits and taking Church land was a windfall.They could sell it off and also use its value to back the currency.


  • The clergy was also stripped of its special rights and privileges, and were made employees of the state who were chosen by the state.Clerics had to take oaths of loyalty to the state too.
    • Some did and some refused.
  • The Second Estate was also stripped of its special rights and privileges.


  • the deportation of clergy and the condemnation of many of them to death,
  • the closing, desecration and pilaging of churches,
  • removal of the word "saint" from street names and other acts to banish Christian culture from the public sphere
  • removal of statues, plates and other iconography from places of worship
  • destruction of crosses, bells and other external signs of worship
  • the institution of revolutionary and civic cults, including the Cult of Reason and subsequently the Cult of the Supreme Being,
  • the large scale destruction of religious monuments,
  • the outlawing of public and private worship and religious education,
  • forced marriages of the clergy,
  • forced abjurement of priesthood, and
  • the enactment of a law on October 21, 1793 making all nonjuring priests and all persons who harbored them liable to death on sight.

9. How happy is this day, my sisters! Yes, the peaceful names of "mother" and "wife" are much preferable to that of "nun", they give you all the Rights of Nature, thus to us. 10.

  • In 1791, the National Assembly completed their constitution and created the Legislative Assembly
  • The constitution established a constitutional monarchy and Louis XVI accepted it (reluctantly, but he didnt have many options).
  • The Legislative Assembly split along three lines:
    • Sitting in the right wing of the assembly hall were the conservatives who favored a British-style constitutional monarchy.
    • Sitting in the left wing of the assembly hall were the radicals who wanted to get rid of the monarchy altogether and impose sweeping changes.
    • Sitting in the middle were the moderates who were somewhere in between.


  • The radicals were often referred to as the sans-cullotes because they wore trousers instead of knee britches.


    • Another part of the sans-culotte uniform was the Phrygian cap.It derives from the Roman Empire and was worn by slaves who had been emancipated and became Roman citizens.

Bust of French mascot Marianne 6 thcentury Roman mural 13. The cap is even on the seal of U.S. Senate 14.

  • In June of 1791, Louis XVI tries to make a run for it.
  • The royal family traded clothes with some servants and almost made it out of France before they were captured and returned to Paris.
  • It seems that Louis was recognized by his picture on money.
    • It also seems that that they were traveling in the royal carriage with the royal seal on the side.I cant imagine how he was captured.


  • By 1792, France is at war with Prussia and Austria
  • The rest of Europe, most of which was governed by monarchies, was slightly horrified at what was going on in France.
  • That intensified the stresses within the country.


  • The Legislative Assembly set aside the constitution of 1791, declared the king deposed, and called for new elections of a body called the National Convention.
  • By the summer, however, it was mostly chaotic mob rule.


  • People divided into political clubs, the most radical and influential of which were the Jacobins.
    • The door was open to them since the Revolution thus far had benefited the wealthier members of the Third Estate, had been mismanaged, and Austria and Prussia nearly put Louis back on the throne.
    • It was under their influence that the National Convention tried Louis XVI for treason and sentenced him to death.


  • Louis XVI was executed on Jan 21, 1793, by the guillotine.
  • The crowd cheered seeing Citizen Louis (or Louis le dernier to some) being led to the scaffold.
  • For his part, Louis held himself with a great deal of courage and dignity.His last words were, I am innocent and shall die without fear.I would that my death might bring happiness to the French, and ward off the dangers which I foresee.
  • His head was held up for the crowd which was silent at first, then they cheered and rushed in to dip handkerchiefs in his blood.

19. 20. 21.

  • Marie Antoinette was executed on October 16, 1793.
  • She managed her fashion to the end, wearing the same black mourning dress for two months while on trial, which became increasingly tattered and worn and inspired considerable sympathy.
    • In fact, she wasnt allowed to wear it to her execution so it wouldnt inspire sympathy in the crowd.


  • A word on the guillotine.
  • It was supported by Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin who thought it a humane form of execution.
    • In a way it was, considering the alternative methods that were commonly in use.
    • It also displayed the French obsession of equality in that everyone was executed the same way instead of nobles getting the axe and the poor being hung.
    • Not to mention that it streamlined the execution process into a near production-line style.
  • It was last used in France in 1939 to execute a murderer.

23. 24.

  • The Reign of Terror
  • Lasts from September 1793 to July 1794
  • During it, about 40,000 people are executed throughout France.
  • Occurs when the radicals take over the National Convention and start making radical reforms.
    • Anybody who wasnt radical enough risked getting radically executed.
  • Entity in charge was the Committee of Public Safety (IRONY ALERT!)


  • The Terror was led by Robespierre.


  • Robespier