French Revolution Notes

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Revolution: 1789 and beyond


To begin, we must try to get the sequence of events straight.

Phase 1- The Euphoric Moment: May - October 1789

Phase 2- Trying to make constitutional monarchy work .(Constitutional monarchy is the King's rule with the will of the people).

Phase 3- Towards the republic 'one and indivisible': 1791- 1793

Phase 4- 'The Terror', from onset to burnout: 1793-95

What was the people's will? What is the aim of a constitutional government? Is it to empower the people, create law and order or a way of raising taxes for the 'national good'?

PHASE 1- The Euphoric Moment: May - October 1789

Nobody actually thought of the political or practical ramifications of a revolution yet.

PHASE 2- Trying to make constitutional monarchy work.

Louis XV1 had no experience with being a constitutional monarchy, it was no surprise he didn't know how to carry out the will of the people.

Louis XVI gave his grudging approval of constitutional monarchy in 1790, but he showed little interest in following through with his promise.

Monarchies are ordained so by God, questioning his ruling status or his right to rule, let alone carry out the will of his people were entirely unfamiliar to the King.

Louis XVI secretly devised a plan to flee from Paris to a safer place over the border in Western Germany. It seemed to him there was no hope for the monarchy. In June 1791, Louis, his wife (Marie- Antoinette) and his children disguised themselves as paupers and vanished from the royal palace. This entourage made it as far as Varennes, a small town north of Paris but were captured by soldiers of the National Guard, and brought back to Paris. A prisoner of his own subjects!

Phase 3- Towards a republic, ' one and...