Essay - Why did France declare War on Austria in 1792?

Essay by natalienabiHigh School, 12th gradeA-, August 2003

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In April 1792, the French Legislative Assembly declared war against the King of Hungary and Bohemia, for plotting aggression. They declared war in the name of the French nation in defence of liberty; it began the first 'War of the People's' in the Modern world. Only 7 deputies voted against the war, which was thought by the majority to be in France's best interests. The conflict lasted nine years and France lost 1.4 million inhabitants, and dramatically altered the trajectory of the revolution. There are many contributing factors to the war, which altered the revolution in some form. Perhaps the strongest supporter of a potential war with Austria was the King, Louis XVI.

From 7th October 1789, the Royal Family was forced to reside in the Tuileries Palace in Paris. Both the Royal Family and the National Assembly were at the political epicentre of France; they were under scrutiny and intimidation.

The King disliked being only a Constitutional Monarch, he would not comply with the demands of the Assembly and did not fully accept the Constitution or the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Therefore he was viewed as holding back the revolution from progressing. Louis planned to escape with his family to Montmedy, near the French Austrian Frontier, here the army was under control by a Royalist sympathiser, and Louis hoped that he could negotiate with the Assembly from a position of military power. However, on route to their escape, they were caught at Varennes and taken back to Paris. This failed escape marked the inevitable downfall of the Monarchy and the divisions of Royalists and supporters of the Revolution, which ignited the war against Austria and were the main fought over factors.

The people saw Louis attempted escape as treacherous. Many radicals supported a petition to remove the...