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THE NATIONAL CONVENTION. Elected by all males over age of 21 Met September 20, 1792 Met in atmosphere of crisis Prussian army stopped just 200 miles from Paris at Battle of Valmy September Massacres Mobs invade Parisian prisons looking for traitors and counter-revolutionaris

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  1. THE NATIONAL CONVENTION • Elected by all males over age of 21 • Met September 20, 1792 • Met in atmosphere of crisis • Prussian army stopped just 200 miles from Paris at Battle of Valmy • September Massacres • Mobs invade Parisian prisons looking for traitors and counter-revolutionaris • Slaughtered 1400 prisoners • Mostly innocent September Massacres

  2. REVOLUTIONARY CALENDER • Declared September 22, 1792 to be first day of Year I • Commissioned poet to rename months • Named them after seasonal characteristics • July became Thermidor • November became Brumaire • Year divided into 12 months • Each 30 days long with 5 extra days added to end of year • Each month divided into 3 weeks, each 10 days long • Remained in effect until 1804

  3. MILITARY SITUATION IMPROVES • French armies stop advance of Austrians and Prussians and go on offensive • Commanded by ambitious and talented men who had risen through the ranks • Enlarged by soldiers who had joined for patriotic reasons • Conquered Belgium and several German states • Convention announces that this war of conquest would continued until feudalism was destroyed everywhere and all of Europe had been “liberated”

  4. EXECUTION OF THE KING • King was no longer needed • But was natural magnet for counter-revolutions • And there was evidence that he had committed treason by giving information to Austrians • Put on trial on for treason in December 1792 • Vote for execution was close • 361 to 360 • Louis XVI executed by guillotine on January 21, 1793


  6. FACTIONS IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY THE MOUNTAIN Sat in upper levels of Convention Hall GIRONDINS Leaders from department of the Gironde Included Brissot and his supporters No great issue separated the two factions But given the hectic and heated atmosphere of the day, minor policy disputes escalated into major battles Each side viewed the other as an enemies and traitors Jean-Paul Marat Maximilian Robespierre Georges Danton

  7. REVOLUTION ATTACKED FROM ALL SIDES • French naval officers hand over port city of Toulon to the enemy in January 1793 • Commander-in-chief Dumouriez defects to the Austrians • February 1793 • Right after Convention declared war on England, the Netherlands, and Spain • Major peasant revolt erupts in the Vendée • March 1793 • Against introduction of conscription • Led by refractory priests and agents from England General Dumouriez

  8. FALL OF THE GIRONDINS • Food prices continue to soar in Paris and riots erupt • Convention forced to impose the maximum in May 1793 • Price ceiling on bread and flour • Girondins blamed for problems • Overthrown and expelled from Convention by sans-culotte insurrection • June 1793 • Supported by Robespierre and the Mountain • The Mountain now controls the National Convention

  9. JACQUES ROUX “Liberty is nothing but a figment of the imagination when one class can deprive another of food with impunity. Liberty becomes meaningless when the rich exercise the power of life and death over their fellow creatures by means of monopolies. Have you outlawed speculation? No. Have you decreed the death penalty for hoarding? No. Have you defined the limits to the freedom of trade? No. Deputies of the Mountain, why have you not climbed from the third to the ninth floor of the houses of this revolutionary city? You would have been moved by the tears and sighs of an immense population without food and clothing…because the laws have been cruel to the poor, because they have been made only by the rich and for the rich…But the salvation of the people is the supreme law” Voice of raw hunger and want Said that the real Revolution had not even started—liberty without bread, political equality without economic justice, was a “figment of the imagination’ Introduced the “social question”

  10. COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC SAFETY • Appointed in April 1793 • Original purpose was to oversee other committees • After Robespierre was appoint to CPS in July 1793, it became the center of all governmental power

  11. THE CPS TAKES ACTION • Deals harshly with revolt in Vendée • Thousands of peasants executed for participating in revolt or aiding rebels • Appointed “representatives on mission” • Armed with unlimited authority to deal with anyone who opposed the Revolution • Created “levée en masse” • General conscription of all able-bodied men • Those who couldn’t fight were to provide other services • Mass mobilization of human and material resources • Made war a patriotic crusade for all French citizens Revolt in the Vendée

  12. OH-OH • CPS demanded total and active commitment to the Revolution • Louis Antoine de St. Just • The “Angel of Death” • “Law of Suspects” passed on September 17, 1793 • Authorized blanket arrests • Accused were turned in by zealous sans-culottes who thought that anyone who was not enthusiastic about the Revolution was a traitor “You must punish not merely traitors but the indifferent as well; you must punish whoever is passive in the Republic”

  13. REIGN OF TERROR I Crystallization of a whole atmosphere of doubt, fear, and crisis—the result of nerves worn raw by rumors, conspiracies, and intrigues Became deliberate government policy and even elevated to the status of a revolutionary philosophy Supporters of the Terror believed that those who supported the Revolution were guided by reason and virtue while those who opposed it were hopelessly evil Opponents could therefore not be educated, persuaded, or even forced to the support the Revolution. They had to be exterminated so they would not infect others

  14. REIGN OF TERROR II • Lasted 10 months • From September 1793 to July 1794 • 300,000 people arrested and 40,000 executed • Only 15% could be considered real traitors • 15% were former Girondins • The remaining 70% were ordinary workers and peasants who did not support the Revolution as ardently as the CPS thought they should

  15. REIGN OF TERROR III • Additional purpose was to centralize all authority in the revolutionary government and eliminate all opposition and dissent • Law of 14 Frumaire • All local authorities placed under direct control of CPS • Performance was monitored every 10 days • If they didn’t do their jobs well, they were removed and punished • Committees of surveillance • Teams of spies from Paris who watched officials at every level of government • Simply talking about local rule or autonomy was declared a capital crime Marat addressing sans-culottes

  16. REIGN OF TERROR IV • New factions formed • “Indulgents” • Led by Danton • Felt Terror had gone too far and wanted to reduce it • “Enragés” • Militant sans-culottes who were protosocialists • Led by Herbert • Robespierre and CPS arrested both Indulgents and Enragés in March/April 1794 and executed them • Then press was censored and all political clubs closed • Even National Convention now feared the CPS Execution of Danton

  17. REIGN OF TERROR V • Very success of CPS brought it down • Revolutionary army now unstoppable • 850,000 men strong • Rural rebellion under control • Objectives of the Terror had been achieved but it continued like a mindless machine • New crimes announced • Spreading rumors, defaming patriots, and offending morality • More people executed in Paris in next six weeks than during the preceding year • Even CPS began to fear one another and they all feared Robespierre Robespierre and St. Just

  18. END OF ROBESPIERRE • Fear that they were next of Robespierre’s hit list prompted members of National Convention to denounce him on July 27, 1794 (9 Thermidor) • Convention then arrests him and the next day he and St. Just are executed

  19. ASSESSMENT OF ROBESPIERRE • Had no personal ambition • Never sought or held any title or distinction • Left an estate of only about 100 pounds • Identified himself totally with the “general will” and saw himself as its administrator • Completely believed that the Terror, by purging the wicked, would create conditions for true democracy • A very noble, but also very deluded, dreamer

  20. THERMIDORIAN REACTION • Revolution moves to the right and is transformed into a profitable business for unscrupulous insiders • All supporters of the Mountain expelled from National Convention • Jacobin club closed • CPS abolished • Gangs of middle class delinquents harass and beat up former sans-culottes • White Terror in the provinces • Campaign of revenge against former supporters of the Mountain

  21. REVOLUTIONARY IMPERIALISM • Convention drops idea that France was fighting against kings but continued the war effort as one of naked aggression and imperialism • Conquered territories looted • Netherlands forced to pay 100 million pounds and become French puppet state • Belgium, left bank of Rhine River, Savoy, and Nice taken over • A French empire

  22. ROYALISTS • At first, royalists rally around 12-year old son of Louis XVI—Louis XVII • Died in prison in June 1795 • Next in line was next younger brother of Louis XVI • Count of Provence • Dissolute, lived in exile in Austria • Unacceptable to most • Royalists attempt uprising in Paris on October 5, 1795 • Crushed by young artillery officer named Napoleon Bonaparte Louis XVII Count of Provence

  23. THREE POLITICAL POSITIONS IN FRANCE IN 1795 • Moderate royalists • Hoped for a return of constitutional monarchy of 1791 • Not a plausible option after death of Louis XVII • Surviving sans-culottes and supporters of the Mountain • Wanted democratic constitution of Year I implemented • Discredited by Terror and severely weakened • Middle of the Road • Had voted to execute Louis XVI so they didn’t want return of monarchy • As men of property they wanted a government that would keep radicals out of power • Their compromise solution was embodied in new constitution that was produced in the summer of 1795

  24. THE DIRECTORY • Based on system of electors • Property qualification was so high that only 20,000 men in entire country could meet the test • They elected all departmental officials and a bicameral national legislature • Legislature selected a 5 member executive committee for a term of 5 years • Called The Directory

  25. MANY WEAKNESSES • Was inherently unstable, corrupt, and generally unloved • Political base was too narrow to generate mass support or enthusiasm • Made up of selfish and corrupt individuals who were more interested in making themselves rich than seeing to the welfare of the nation • Had no real justification except as protector of the status quo • Only lasted as long as it did because of general public apathy Paul Barras

  26. MILITARY SUCCESSES • Napoleon launched invasion of Italy in 1796 • Conquered entire peninsula • Created five puppet republics all controlled by France • Napoleon forces Austrian Empire to recognize French conquests in Italy, French annexation of Belgium, and to become French ally • 1797—Treaty ofCampo Florio

  27. DIRECTORY GETS WORSE • Fearing restoration of monarchy, Directory launches preventive coup in September 1797 • Two directors fired • April elections annulled • Anyone who advocated either monarchy or Constitution of Year I would be shot • Sheds last shred of legitimacy

  28. COUP D’ÉTAT • War breaks out again in 1799 and the need for strong government became imperative • Napoleon Bonaparte, now commander of troops in Paris, invades legislature, shuts it down, and seizes power for himself • November 10, 1799

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