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Transcript of French Revolution
The Catholic church in France owned about 10% of land. It controlled all educational institutions and censored the press. It monopolized public worship and continued to harass all other religious groups when the spirit religious tolerance was rising throughout most of the Western world. nobility
They owned approximately 20% of the land of France but was exempt from all direct taxation. The richest of them lived at Versailles as absentee landlords. They were reputed to possess the best manners and the worst morals of any class in Europe. The most haughty of the nobility were the newcomers, the noblesse de la robe (nobility of the gown) COMMONERS
It was composed of the bourgeoisie, the proletariat and the peasantry. Bourgeoisie were business and professional people - the bankers, merchants, shopkeepers and lawyers who had grown into a middle class between the nobility and the peasantry. Proletariat were the city wage earners. Many of them were servants of the rich and tended to identify with their masters. TRIUMPH OF THE THIRD ESTATE Peasants were tillers of the soil. Most peasant-owned land was subject to feudal dues. Probably a majority of the peasants owned no land at all but were sharecroppers who gave up 50% of their produce to the lord in addition to the feudal dues. By April 1789, the delegates began to arrive at Versailles. They came armed only with cahiers, the lists of grievances that had been called for by the king. Of the 600 representatives of the third estate, not one was a peasant. All the members of the third estate, as well as many members of the two privileged estates, were acquainted with the philosophy of Enlightenment. Meeting of the estates generals on May 5, 1789 in Versailles. The National Assembly taking the Tennis Court Oath On June 20, when the members of the third estate arrived at their meeting hall, they found it locked. They took the "Tennis Court Oath", vowing never to disband until France had a constitution. In early July alarming the news began to arrive that the king was calling the professional troops of the frontier garrison to Versailles. It appeared that he was at last preparing to use force. Because of this, the Parisians countered the threat of force with force. On July 14, a riotous crowd searching for arms marched on and destroyed the Bastille, a gloomy old fortress prison in the working-class quarter that symbolized the arbitrary tyranny of the old regime. The Storming of the Bastille The storming of the Bastille represented the first act of crowd violence of the French Revolution. The crowd of Parisians was merely looking for arms to defend itself against rumored attack by the forces of the king. The peasants revolted against their lords throughout France, burning tax rolls, attacking manors, reoccupying enclosed lands, and generally rejecting the burdens of feudalism. These revolts were known as the Great Fear-unfounded rumors that the nobles were raising brigand bands against their peasants. On August 26, the National Assembly proclaimed the Declaration of Rights of man and the Citizen. A huge mob of Parisian women on October 5 and 6 marched 11 miles out to Versailles, surrounded the palace and with the help of the bourgeois National Guard, forced the king to accompany them to the city, where he became a virtual prisoner of the populace. MAKING FRANCE A CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY a. Judicial
e. Political The parlements, and the manorial and ecclesiastical courts with their arbitrary procedures and overlapping jurisdictions were swept away. system of lower and higher courts was established. The administration of justice was decentralized and democratized. Judges were elected for 6-year terms; torture was abolished. In criminal cases juries were to be used for the first time in French history. The doctrine of laissez faire, guilds, labor unions and trading associations were abolished. All occupations were declared open to all classes. Feudal obligations, including labor on the public roads had already come to an end. Internal tolls and customs were abolished. The complex and unequal taxes, direct and indirect, were swept away. They were replaced by a tax on land and tax on the profits of trade and industry. The National Assembly issued paper money called assignats to the value of 400 million livres. To back up this paper money, the property of the Roman Catholic church, valued at approximately that amount, was confiscated. Monasticism was abolished. The clergy was to be elected by the people and their salaries paid by the state. The bishops were reduced in number, wealth and power. These measures were incorporated in the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, to which all members of the clergy were required to take an oath of allegiance to perform their functions and draw their salaries. The pope ordered the clergy to refuse to take an oath of allegiance. A majority of the clergy, including nearly all bishops followed the pope's command. The defection of the "nonjuring clergy" and of thousands of their devoted parishioners was the first serious split in the ranks of the revolutionists. The judicial, legislative and executive powers of the central government were separated. Law-making was given to single-chamber Legislative Assembly of 745 members elected for 2-year terms. The conduct of foreign relations was left in the hands of the king, but he could not declare war or make treaties without the consent of the Legislative Assembly. For purposes of local government and administration, the country was divided into 83 departments, each of which was administered by a small elected assembly. THE FRENCH REVOLUTION TURNS RADICAL: TERROR AND REVOLT In April 1792, the newly elected Legislative Assembly declared war on Austria and Prussia, where it believed that French émigrés were building counterrevolutionary alliances; it also hoped to spread its revolutionary ideals across Europe through warfare. The political crisis took a radical turn when a group of insurgents led by the extremist Jacobins attacked the royal residence in Paris and arrested the king on August 10, 1792. The following month, amid a wave of violence in which Parisian insurrectionists massacred hundreds of accused counterrevolutionaries, the Legislative Assembly was replaced by the National Convention, which proclaimed the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of the French republic. On January 21, 1793, it sent King Louis XVI, condemned to death for high treason and crimes against the state, to the guillotine; his wife Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793) suffered the same fate nine months later. In June 1793, the Jacobins seized control of the National Convention from the more moderate Girondins and instituted a series of radical measures, including the establishment of a new calendar and the eradication of Christianity. They also unleashed the bloody Reign of Terror (“la Terreur”), a 10-month period in which suspected enemies of the revolution were guillotined by the thousands. Many of the killings were carried out under orders from Robespierre, who dominated the draconian Committee of Public Safety until his own execution on July 28, 1794. His death marked the beginning of the Thermidorian Reaction, a moderate phase in which the French people revolted against the Reign of Terror’s excesses. THE RISE OF NAPOLEON On August 22, 1795, the National Convention, composed largely of Girondins who had survived the Reign of Terror, approved a new constitution that created France’s first bicameral legislature. Executive power would lie in the hands of a five-member Directory (“Directoire”) appointed by parliament. Royalists and Jacobins protested the new regime but were swiftly silenced by the army. The development of the period of the Directory, 1795-1799, was the rise to power of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Directory’s four years in power were riddled with financial crises, popular discontent, inefficiency and, above all, political corruption. By the late 1790s, the directors relied almost entirely on the military to maintain their authority and had ceded much of their power to the generals in the field. On November 1799, Napoleon overthrew the Directory and made himself a dictator. The event marked the end of the French Revolution and the beginning of the Napoleonic era, in which France would come to dominate much of continental Europe.