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    French Revolution

    مُساهمة  Mr. Mag في السبت نوفمبر 06, 2010 10:42 am

    French Revolution


    The French Revolution (1789–1799) was a period of political and social upheaval and radical change in the history of France, during which the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on Enlightenment principles of citizenship and inalienable rights.

    These changes were accompanied by violent turmoil which included the trial and execution of the king, vast bloodshed and repression during the Reign of Terror, and warfare involving every other major European power. Subsequent events that can be traced to the Revolution include the Napoleonic Wars, two separate restorations of the monarchy, and two additional revolutions as modern France took shape.

    In the following century, France would be governed at one point or another as a republic, constitutional monarchy, and two different empires

    Causes

    Adherents of most historical models identify many of the same features of the Ancien Régime as being among the causes of the Revolution. Economic factors included widespread famine and malnutrition, which increased the likelihood of disease and death, and intentional starvation in the most destitute segments of the population in the months immediately before the Revolution. The famine extended even to other parts of Europe, and was not helped by a poor transportation infrastructure for bulk foods. (Recent research has also attributed the widespread famine to an El Niño effect following the 1783 Laki eruption on Iceland,[1] or colder climate of the Little Ice Age combined with France's failure to adopt the potato as a staple crop.)[2]

    Another cause was the fact that Louis XV fought many wars, bringing France to the verge of bankruptcy, and Louis XVI supported the colonists during the American Revolution, exacerbating the precarious financial condition of the government. The national debt amounted to almost two billion livres. The social burdens caused by war included the huge war debt, made worse by the monarchy's military failures and ineptitude, and the lack of social services for war veterans. The inefficient and antiquated financial system was unable to manage the national debt, something which was both caused and exacerbated by the burden of a grossly inequitable system of taxation. Another cause was the continued conspicuous consumption of the noble class, especially the court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette at Versailles, despite the financial burden on the populace. High unemployment and high bread prices caused more money to be spent on food and less in other areas of the economy. The Roman Catholic Church, the largest landowner in the country, levied a tax on crops known as the dime or tithe. While the dîme lessened the severity of the monarchy's tax increases, it worsened the plight of the poorest who faced a daily struggle with malnutrition. There was too little internal trade and too many customs barriers.[3]

    There were also social and political factors, many of which involved resentments and aspirations given focus by the rise of Enlightenment ideals. These included resentment of royal absolutism; resentment by the ambitious professional and mercantile classes towards noble privileges and dominance in public life, as many of these classes were familiar with the lives of their peers in commercial cities in the Netherlands and Great Britain; resentment by peasants, wage-earners, and the bourgeoisie toward the traditional seigneurial privileges possessed by nobles; resentment of clerical advantage (anti-clericalism) and aspirations for freedom of religion, resentment of aristocratic bishops by the poorer rural clergy, continued hatred for Catholic control, and influence on institutions of all kinds by the large Protestant minorities; aspirations for liberty and (especially as the Revolution progressed) republicanism; and anger toward the King for firing Jacques Necker and A.R.J. Turgot (among other financial advisors), who were popularly seen as representatives of the people.[4]

    Finally, perhaps above all, was the almost total failure of Louis XVI and his advisers to deal effectively with any of these problems.[citation needed]





    Pre-revolution

    Financial crisis

    Louis XVI ascended to the throne amidst a financial crisis; the nation was nearing bankruptcy and outlays outpaced income.[5] This was because of France’s involvement in the Seven Years War and its participation in the American Revolution.[6] In May 1776, finance minister Turgot was dismissed, after he lost favour. The next year, Jacques Necker, a foreigner, was appointed Director-General of Finance. He was not made a minister because he was a Protestant, and could not become a naturalized French citizen.[7] Necker realized that the country's tax system subjected some to an unfair burden;[7] numerous exemptions existed for the nobility and clergy.[8] He argued that the country could not be taxed higher, that the nobles and clergy should not be exempt from taxes, and proposed that borrowing would solve the country's fiscal problems. Necker published a report to support this claim that underestimated the deficit by roughly 36,000 livres; and proposed restricting the spending power of the parlements. This was not received well by King's ministers and Necker, hoping to solidify his position, argued to be accepted as a minister. The King refused, Necker was fired, and Charles Alexandre de Calonne was appointed to the Directorship.[7]

    Calonne initially spent liberally, but he quickly realized the critical financial situation and put forth a new tax code.[9] The proposal included a consistent land tax, which would include taxation of the nobility and clergy, and the meeting of the Estates was planned for May 1789; a signal that the Bourbon monarchy was no longer absolute.[10]

    Estates-General of 1789

    The Estates-General was organized into three estates, respectively: the clergy, the nobility, and the rest of France.[11] On the last occasion that the Estates-General had met, in 1614, each estate held one vote, and any two could override the third. The Parlement of Paris feared the government would attempt to gerrymander an assembly to rig the results. Thus, they required that the Estates be arranged as in 1614.[12] The 1614 rules differed from practices of local assemblies, wherein each member had one vote and third estate membership was doubled. For instance, in the province of Dauphiné the provincial assembly agreed to double the number of members of the third estate, hold membership elections, and allow one vote per member, rather than one vote per estate.[13] The "Committee of Thirty", a body of liberal Parisians, began to agitate against voting by estate. This group, largely composed of the wealthy, argued for the Estates-General to assume the voting mechanisms of Dauphiné. They argued that ancient precedent was not sufficient, because "the people were sovereign".[14] Necker convened a Second Assembly of the Notables, which rejected the notion of double representation by a vote of 111 to 333.[14] The King, however, agreed to the proposition on 27 December; but he left discussion of the weight of each vote to the Estates-General itself.[15]

    Elections were held in the spring of 1789; suffrage requirements were: 25 years of age and over six livres paid in taxes. Strong turnout produced 1,201 delegates, including: "291 nobles, 300 clergy, and 610 members of the Third Estate."[15] To lead delegates, "Books of grievances" (cahiers de doléances) were compiled to list problems.[11] The books articulated ideas which would have seemed radical only months before; however, most supported the monarchical system in general. Many assumed the Estates-General would approve future taxes, and Enlightenment ideals were relatively rare.[12][16] Pamphlets by liberal nobles and clergy became widespread after the lifting of press censorship.[14] The Abbé Sieyès, argued the importance of the Third Estate in the pamphlet Qu'est-ce que le tiers état? (What is the Third Estate?), published in January 1789. He asserted: "What is the Third Estate? Everything. What has it been until now in the political order? Nothing. What does it want to be? Something."[12][17]

    The Estates-General convened in Versailles on 5 May 1789 and opened with a three hour speech by Necker. The basic strategy of the Third Estate was to make sure that no decisions of the Estates-General should be reached in separate chambers, but instead should be made by all deputies from all three estates together (in other words, the strategy was to merge all three estates into one assembly). Thus they demanded that the verification of deputies' credentials should be undertaken in common by all deputies, rather than each estate verifying the credentials of its own members internally; but negotiations with the other estates failed to achieve this.[16] The commoners appealed to the clergy who replied they required more time. Necker asserted that each estate verify credentials and "the king was to act as arbitrator".[18] Negotiations with the other two estates to achieve this, however, were unsuccessful.[19]

    National Assembly (1789)

    Sketch by Jacques-Louis David of the National Assembly taking the Tennis Court Oath

    On 10 June 1789 Abbé Sieyès moved that the Third Estate, now meeting as the Communes (English: "Commons"), proceed with verification of its own powers and invite the other two estates to take part, but not to wait for them. They proceeded to do so two days later, completing the process on 17 June.[20] Then they voted a measure far more radical, declaring themselves the National Assembly, an assembly not of the Estates but of "the People." They invited the other orders to join them, but made it clear they intended to conduct the nation's affairs with or without them.[21]

    In an attempt to keep control of the process and prevent the Assembly from convening, Louis XVI ordered the closure of the Salle des États where the Assembly met, making an excuse that the carpenters needed to prepare the hall for a royal speech in two days. Weather did not allow an outdoor meeting, so the Assembly moved their deliberations to a nearby indoor real tennis court, where they proceeded to swear the Tennis Court Oath (20 June 1789), under which they agreed not to separate until they had given France a constitution. A majority of the representatives of the clergy soon joined them, as did 47 members of the nobility. By 27 June, the royal party had overtly given in, although the military began to arrive in large numbers around Paris and Versailles. Messages of support for the Assembly poured in from Paris and other French cities.[22]

    National Constituent Assembly (1789–1791)

    Storming of the Bastille

    By this time, Necker had earned the enmity of many members of the French court for his support and guidance to the Third Estate. Marie Antoinette, the King's younger brother the Comte d'Artois, and other conservative members of the King's privy council urged him to dismiss Necker from his role as King's financial advisor. On 11 July 1789, after Necker suggested that the royal family live according to a budget to conserve funds, the King fired him, and completely reconstructed the finance ministry at the same time.[23]

    Many Parisians presumed Louis's actions to be the start of a royal coup by the conservatives and began open rebellion when they heard the news the next day. They were also afraid that arriving soldiers—mostly foreigners under French service rather than native French troops—had been summoned to shut down the National Constituent Assembly. The Assembly, meeting at Versailles, went into nonstop session to prevent eviction from their meeting place once again. Paris was soon consumed with riots, chaos, and widespread looting. The mobs soon had the support of the French Guard, including arms and trained soldiers.[24]

    On 14 July, the insurgents set their eyes on the large weapons and ammunition cache inside the Bastille fortress, which was also perceived to be a symbol of monarchist tyranny. After several hours of combat, the prison fell that afternoon. Despite ordering a cease fire, which prevented a mutual massacre, Governor Marquis Bernard de Launay was beaten, stabbed and decapitated; his head was placed on a pike and paraded about the city. Although the fortress had held only seven prisoners (four forgers, two noblemen kept for immoral behavior, and a murder suspect), the Bastille served as a potent symbol of everything hated under the Ancien Régime. Returning to the Hôtel de Ville (city hall), the mob accused the prévôt des marchands (roughly, mayor) Jacques de Flesselles of treachery and he was shot.[25]

    Revolution and the Church

    In this caricature, monks and nuns enjoy their new freedom after the decree of 16 February 1790

    The Revolution brought about a massive shifting of powers from the Roman Catholic Church to the state. Under the Ancien Régime, the Church had been the largest landowner in the country. Legislation enacted in 1790 abolished the Church's authority to levy a tax on crops, known as the dîme, cancelled special privileges for the clergy, and confiscated Church property. To no small extent, the Assembly addressed the financial crisis by having the nation take over the property of the Church (while taking on the Church's expenses), through the law of 2 December 1789. In order to rapidly monetize such an enormous amount of property, the government introduced a new paper currency, assignats, backed by the confiscated church lands. Further legislation on 13 February 1790 abolished monastic vows. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy, passed on 12 July 1790 (although not signed by the King until 26 December 1790), turned the remaining clergy into employees of the State and required that they take an oath of loyalty to the constitution, taking Gallicanism to its logical conclusion by making the Catholic Church in France a department of the state, and clergy state employees.

    In response to this legislation, the archbishop of Aix and François de Bonal, the bishop of Clermont, led a walkout of clergy from the National Constituent Assembly. The Pope Pius VI never accepted the new arrangement, and it led to a schism between those clergy who swore the required oath and accepted the new arrangement ("jurors" or "constitutional clergy") and the "non-jurors" or "refractory priests" who refused to do so. The ensuing years saw violent repression of the clergy, including the imprisonment and massacre of priests throughout France. The Concordat of 1801 between Napoleon and the Church ended the dechristianisation period and established the rules for a relationship between the Catholic Church and the French State that lasted until it was abrogated by the Third Republic via the separation of church and state on 11 December 1905.

    Appearance of factions



    Satirical cartoon lampooning the excesses of the Revolution as seen from England

    Factions within the Assembly began to clarify. The aristocrat Jacques Antoine Marie de Cazalès and the abbé Jean-Sifrein Maury led what would become known as the right wing, the opposition to revolution (this party sat on the right-hand side of the Assembly). The "Royalist democrats" or monarchiens, allied with Necker, inclined toward organising France along lines similar to the British constitutional model; they included Jean Joseph Mounier, the Comte de Lally-Tollendal, the comte de Clermont-Tonnerre, and Pierre Victor Malouet, comte de Virieu.

    The "National Party", representing the centre or centre-left of the assembly, included Honoré Mirabeau, La Fayette, and Bailly; while Adrien Duport, Barnave and Alexandre Lameth represented somewhat more extreme views. Almost alone in his radicalism on the left was the Arras lawyer Maximilien Robespierre. Abbé Sieyès led in proposing legislation in this period and successfully forged consensus for some time between the political centre and the left. In Paris, various committees, the mayor, the assembly of representatives, and the individual districts each claimed authority independent of the others. The increasingly middle-class National Guard under La Fayette also slowly emerged as a power in its own right, as did other self-generated assemblies.

    Intrigues and radicalism

    The Assembly abolished the symbolic paraphernalia of the Ancien Régime—armorial bearings, liveries, etc.—which further alienated the more conservative nobles, and added to the ranks of the émigrés. On 14 July 1790, and for several days following, crowds in the Champ de Mars celebrated the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille with a Fête de la Fédération; Talleyrand performed a mass; participants swore an oath of "fidelity to the nation, the law, and the king"; and the King and the royal family actively participated.[30]

    The electors had originally chosen the members of the Estates-General to serve for a single year. However, by the terms of the Tennis Court Oath, the communes had bound themselves to meet continuously until France had a constitution. Right-wing elements now argued for a new election, but Mirabeau carried the day, asserting that the status of the assembly had fundamentally changed, and that no new election should take place before completing the constitution.[citation needed]

    In late 1790, several small counter-revolutionary uprisings broke out and efforts took place to turn all or part of the army against the Revolution. These uniformly failed. The royal court "encouraged every anti-revolutionary enterprise and avowed none."[31]

    The army faced considerable internal turmoil: General Bouillé successfully put down a small rebellion, which added to his (accurate) reputation for counter-revolutionary sympathies. The new military code, under which promotion depended on seniority and proven competence (rather than on nobility) alienated some of the existing officer corps, who joined the ranks of the émigrés or became counter-revolutionaries from within.[citation needed]

    This period saw the rise of the political "clubs" in French politics, foremost among these the Jacobin Club; 152 clubs had affiliated with the Jacobins by 10 August 1790.[32] As the Jacobins became more of a broad popular organisation, some of its founders abandoned it to form the Club of '89. Royalists established first the short-lived Club des Impartiaux and later the Club Monarchique. The latter attempted unsuccessfully to curry public favour by distributing bread. Nonetheless, they became the frequent target of protests and even riots, and the Paris municipal authorities finally closed down the Club Monarchique in January 1791.[citation needed]

    Amidst these intrigues, the Assembly continued to work on developing a constitution. A new judicial organisation made all magistracies temporary and independent of the throne. The legislators abolished hereditary offices, except for the monarchy itself. Jury trials started for criminal cases. The King would have the unique power to propose war, with the legislature then deciding whether to declare war. The Assembly abolished all internal trade barriers and suppressed guilds, masterships, and workers' organisations: any individual gained the right to practice a trade through the purchase of a license; strikes became illegal.[33]

    In the winter of 1791, the Assembly considered, for the first time, legislation against the émigrés. The debate pitted the safety of the State against the liberty of individuals to leave. Mirabeau carried the day against the measure, which he referred to as "worthy of being placed in the code of Draco".[31] But Mirabeau died on 2 April 1791 and, before the end of the year, the new Legislative Assembly would adopt this "draconian" measure.[34]

    Royal flight to Varennes



    The return of the royal family to Paris on 25 June 1791, colored copperplate after a drawing of Jean-Louis Prieur

    Louis XVI, opposed to the course of the Revolution, but rejecting the potentially treacherous aid of the other monarchs of Europe, cast his lot with General Bouillé, who condemned both the emigration and the assembly, and promised him refuge and support in his camp at Montmédy. On the night of 20 June 1791 the royal family fled the Tuileries wearing the clothes of servants, while their servants dressed as nobles.

    However, the next day the King was recognised and arrested at Varennes (in the Meuse département) late on 21 June. He and his family were paraded back to Paris under guard, still dressed as servants. Pétion, Latour-Maubourg, and Antoine Pierre Joseph Marie Barnave, representing the Assembly, met the royal family at Épernay and returned with them. From this time, Barnave became a counselor and supporter of the royal family. When they reached Paris, the crowd remained silent. The Assembly provisionally suspended the King. He and Queen Marie Antoinette remained held under guard.[35][36][37][38][39]

    Completing the constitution

    As most of the Assembly still favoured a constitutional monarchy rather than a republic, the various groupings reached a compromise which left Louis XVI as little more than a figurehead: he had perforce to swear an oath to the constitution, and a decree declared that retracting the oath, heading an army for the purpose of making war upon the nation, or permitting anyone to do so in his name would amount to de facto abdication.[citation needed]

    Jacques Pierre Brissot drafted a petition, insisting that in the eyes of the nation Louis XVI was deposed since his flight. An immense crowd gathered in the Champ de Mars to sign the petition. Georges Danton and Camille Desmoulins gave fiery speeches. The Assembly called for the municipal authorities to "preserve public order". The National Guard under La Fayette's command confronted the crowd. The soldiers responded to a barrage of stones by firing into the crowd, thus killing between 13 and 50 people.[40]

    In the wake of this massacre the authorities closed many of the patriotic clubs, as well as radical newspapers such as Jean-Paul Marat's L'Ami du Peuple. Danton fled to England; Desmoulins and Marat went into hiding.[citation needed]

    Meanwhile, a new threat arose from abroad: Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, Frederick William II of Prussia, and the King's brother Charles-Philippe, comte d'Artois issued the Declaration of Pillnitz which considered the cause of Louis XVI as their own, demanded his absolute liberty and implied an invasion of France on his behalf if the revolutionary authorities refused its conditions.[41] The French people expressed no respect for the dictates of foreign monarchs, and the threat of force merely caused the militarisation of the frontiers.[citation needed]

    Even before his "Flight to Varennes", the Assembly members had determined to debar themselves from the legislature that would succeed them, the Legislative Assembly. They now gathered the various constitutional laws they had passed into a single constitution, showed remarkable strength in choosing not to use this as an occasion for major revisions, and submitted it to the recently restored Louis XVI, who accepted it, writing "I engage to maintain it at home, to defend it from all attacks from abroad, and to cause its execution by all the means it places at my disposal". The King addressed the Assembly and received enthusiastic applause from members and spectators. The Assembly set the end of its term for 29 September 1791.[citation needed]

    Mignet argued that the "constitution of 1791... was the work of the middle class, then the strongest; for, as is well known, the predominant force ever takes possession of institutions... In this constitution the people was the source of all powers, but it exercised none."[42]

    Legislative Assembly (1791–1792)

    Failure of the constitutional monarchy

    Under the Constitution of 1791, France would function as a constitutional monarchy. The King had to share power with the elected Legislative Assembly, but he still retained his royal veto and the ability to select ministers. The Legislative Assembly first met on 1 October 1791, and degenerated into chaos less than a year later. In the words of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica: "In the attempt to govern, the Assembly failed altogether. It left behind an empty treasury, an undisciplined army and navy, and a people debauched by safe and successful riot."[43] The Legislative Assembly consisted of about 165 Feuillants (constitutional monarchists) on the right, about 330 Girondists (liberal republicans) and Jacobins (radical revolutionaries) on the left, and about 250 deputies unaffiliated with either faction. Early on, the King vetoed legislation that threatened the émigrés with death and that decreed that every non-juring clergyman must take within eight days the civic oath mandated by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Over the course of a year, such disagreements would lead to a constitutional crisis.[citation needed]

    Constitutional crisis





    10 August 1792 Paris Commune - The Storming of the Tuileries Palace

    On the night of 10 August 1792, insurgents, supported by a new revolutionary Paris Commune, assailed the Tuileries. The King and queen ended up prisoners and a rump session of the Legislative Assembly suspended the monarchy; little more than a third of the deputies were present, almost all of them Jacobins.

    What remained of a national government depended on the support of the insurrectionary Commune. The Commune sent gangs into the prisons to try arbitrarily and butcher 1400 victims, and addressed a circular letter to the other cities of France inviting them to follow this example. The Assembly could offer only feeble resistance. This situation persisted until the Convention, charged with writing a new constitution, met on 20 September 1792 and became the new de facto government of France. The next day it abolished the monarchy and declared a republic. This date was later retroactively adopted as the beginning of Year One of the French Republican Calendar

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