Monarchy abolished in France

Monarchy abolished in France

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In Revolutionary France, the Legislative Assembly votes to abolish the monarchy and establish the First Republic. The measure came one year after King Louis XVI reluctantly approved a new constitution that stripped him of much of his power.

Louis ascended to the French throne in 1774 and from the start was unsuited to deal with the severe financial problems that he inherited from his predecessors. In 1789, food shortages and economic crises led to the outbreak of the French Revolution. King Louis and his queen, Mary-Antoinette, were imprisoned in August 1792, and in September the monarchy was abolished. Soon after, evidence of Louis’ counterrevolutionary intrigues with foreign nations was discovered, and he was put on trial for treason. In January 1793, Louis was convicted and condemned to death by a narrow majority. On January 21, he walked steadfastly to the guillotine and was executed. Marie-Antoinette followed him to the guillotine nine months later.

READ MORE: The French Revolution

What happened to France’s monarchy?

The most well-known episode regarding the ending of France’s monarchy is the 1789 Revolution which led to the deaths of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette. But while this event did lead to the end of the absolute monarchy, it was only for a short time and the monarchy did not actually end for good until 1870.

The French Revolution

The first real attempt to end the monarchy in France happened in 1789, and it is probably the most well-known event that led to the end of the monarchy. The current King in 1789 was King Louis XVI who was married to the famous Queen Marie-Antoinette. King Louis XVI ascended the throne in 1774 and was a member of the House of Bourbons who had ruled over France since 1589. King Louis XVI’s reign was complicated from the beginning as he ascended the throne in the middle of a financial crisis that wouldn’t end during his reign and a rising anger in the French people. This led him to call the Estates-General in 1789, a sign that the monarchy was weakened as it was the first time the body was called since 1614. The Estates-General were split into three estates: the clergy, the nobility and the rest of France – the Third Estate. But the middle class created the National Assembly and were soon joined by the Third Estate. They took the Tennis Court Oath under which they agreed not to separate until they had given France a constitution. They were joined by the Clergy as well as 47 members of the nobility.

Photo: Jean-Louis Prieur (dessin) Pierre-Gabriel Berthault (graveur) – Archives Nationales (France) Cote

When Louis XVI fired Necker – the Finance Minister- a few days later after he published an inaccurate account of the government’s debts, a lot of Parisians thought the King did it to undermine the National Assembly which made them even angrier. On July 14th, insurgents stormed the Bastille fortress in order to take the weapons and ammunition. However, despite the storming of the Bastille being probably the most well-known episode of the French Revolution, it only lasted for a few hours, and the Revolution lasted until 1792. The Bastille episode did act as a symbol and example in other parts of France and civil authority rapidly deteriorated which caused a lot of members of the nobility to flee France as they were fearing for their security.

Photo: Jean-Pierre Houël – Bibliothèque nationale de France

Other important episodes of the French Revolution are the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August 1789 (directly influenced by Thomas Jefferson) and the Women’s March on Versailles in October 1789 which led to the King and Queen leaving Versailles to live at the Tuileries Palace in Paris. Indeed, the people tried to kill Queen Marie-Antoinette as they felt she was living a lavish lifestyle that was provocative considering the financial crisis in France. They felt that if the royal couple lived in Paris inside of Versailles, it would be easier to make them accountable if they were living among the people in Paris.

Worried about his family safety and dismayed by the direction the Revolution was taking, King Louis XVI decided to flee with his family from Paris to the Austrian border in June 1791. However, he was recognised during the trip, in Varennes, and brought back to Paris. The Assembly suspended him, and the King and Queen were held under guards. His attempted flight did not go down well with the public and would ultimately lead to his death.

Photo: Jean Duplessis-Bertaux (1750-1818), d’après un dessin de Jean-Louis Prieur. Reproduction par P. G. Berthault dans les Tableaux historiques de la Révolution française

The Revolution’s goal was to abolish the absolute monarchy (called the Ancien Régime), but the Assembly was split on whether France should become a constitutional monarchy or a republic. Ultimately, they settled on a constitutional monarchy with the King only having a representative role. The writing of the First Constitution in 1791, and it stated that there would be one Assembly and that the King would only have a suspensive veto. However, a lot of people were still angry that the King had attempted to flee and raised the point that since he had been suspended from his powers after being arrested in Varennes. He was now deposed and shouldn’t be the King of the new constitutional monarchy. However, despite huge protests, the First Constitution was signed on 3 September 1791, and the National Assembly gave way to the new Legislative Assembly that would share power with the King.

Photo: Pierre-Gabriel Berthault –

While it seemed like this was the end of the troubles for King Louis XVI and the monarchy, things only got worse from there when foreign monarchies got involved at a time when the French people were trying to assert their sovereignty. It had already started in August 1791 when the King’s brother-in-law, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, King Frederick William II of Prussia, and the King’s brother, Charles-Philippe, Comte d’Artois, issued the Declaration of Pillnitz, declaring their intention to bring the French king in the position “to consolidate the basis of a monarchical government” and that they were preparing their own troops for action.

Photo: Pierre-Gabriel Berthault –

In April 1792, the Legislative Assembly declared war on Austria over territories claims. However, the French army was completely disorganised due to the Revolution, and they lost. In July, the Duke of Brunswick and his troops took the fortresses of Longwy and Verdun and on July 25th, he issued a statement written by King Louis XVI’s cousin, the Prince de Condé saying that the Austrians and Prussians intended to restore the King to his full powers. This was the downfall of King Louis XVI, as on August 10th, an armed mob invaded the Tuileries Palace while the King and his family took shelter in the Legislative Assembly. King Louis XVI was arrested on August 13th, and France was declared a Republic on September 21st, 1792.

Photo: „SG“ – Hampel Auctions

King Louis XVI was beheaded on January 21th, 1793 while Queen Marie-Antoinette was beheaded a few months later on October 16th, 1793. This was the true end of the absolute monarchy in France but not the end of the monarchy altogether as France would alternate between Empires, Monarchies, and Republics from 1792 to 1870.

The First French Republic and the First French Empire

By Jacques-Louis David – zQEbF0AA9NhCXQ at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain,

France became a republic in September 1792 and remained one until 1804 – although the form of the government changed several times. In 1799, after a coup, the government became the Consulate with Napoleon Bonaparte – one of the co-conspirators- being the Consul (equivalent to the head of government). However, in 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed himself Emperor of the French thus ending the First French Republic and starting the First French Empire. During his time as Emperor, Napoleon took part in many wars and was very successful which allowed him to solidify his grip over Europe. But he had a lot of enemies, and in 1813, Prussian and Austrian armies joined forces with the Russian army in the Sixth Coalition War against France and invaded the country in 1814 which forced Napoleon to abdicate. He was exiled to the Island of Elba.

The restoration of the Bourbon monarchy

By François Gérard – Unknown, Public Domain,

After Napoleon’s abdication, the monarchy was restored with the Bourbons in power. King Louis XVI’s younger brother, Louis Stanislas was crowned as Louis XVIII in April 1814. However, Napoleon came back less than a year later in March 1815. He returned from exile and took back control of the throne. Under his control, France took part in the Seventh Coalition War, but they had few resources and Napoleon ultimately lost the Battle of Waterloo. He then tried to abdicate in favour of his son, but the Bourbon monarchy was restored instead. Napoleon was exiled again, and he would die in 1821. Since his rule only lasted 111 days, it is now known as The Hundred Days.

The next fifteen years were quiet in terms of regime change as King Louis XVIII ruled France until his death in 1824 and his younger brother succeeded him as King Charles X until 1830.

The 1830 July Revolution and the reign of the Orléans

By Henry Bone –, Public Domain,

In March 1830, King Charles X dissolved parliament after 221 members of the Chambers of Deputies passed a motion of no confidence, and he also delayed the elections for two months. In the meantime, the �” were held as heroes by the liberals as the King had become really unpopular. The government was defeated in the next elections, and on April 30th, King Charles X dissolved the National Guard of Paris – a voluntary group of citizens – on the grounds that it had behaved in an inappropriate manner towards the King. On July 25th, the King signed the July Ordinances that suspended the liberty of the press, dissolved the newly elected Chamber of Deputies, and excluded the commercial middle-class from future elections. This would lead to the end of the Bourbon monarchy in just three days.

Indeed, from July 27th to July 29th, the French people started a revolution against the King and his government, and they won over most of the important institutions of Paris, capturing the Tuileries Palace, the Hotel de Ville, the Louvre and the Archbishop’s Palace among others.

On August 2nd, King Charles X and his son, Louis Antoine abdicated their rights for the throne and left for Great Britain. Charles X had hoped his grandson would takeover as Henry V, but the members of the former government decided otherwise. As a result, they chose to elect Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans as King. A fact that is not often well-known is that Charles X’s son only renounced his rights to the throne after a 20 minute argument with his father, and he is, thus, considered by the monarchists as King Louis XIX Antoine even though he only “ruled” for 20 minutes. Historians usually don’t count him as a King of France.

This decision made significant changes for the French monarchy. King Louis-Philippe I was chosen because he was more liberal and the regime officially changed to the July monarchy – still a constitutional monarchy but a more liberal one – and it officially ended the Bourbons monarchy as Charles X was the last Bourbon to rule over France. It also started a division between the Bourbons and the Orléans with the Bourbons supporters being called Legitimists and the Orléans supporters being called Orléanists. This division still exists today.

By Franz Xaver Winterhalter – Portraits officiels: Louis-Philippe et Napoléon III, uploaded by user:Rlbberlin, Public Domain,

During his reign from 1830 to 1848, King Louis-Philippe I had the title of King of the French (as opposed to King of France) and was very liberal. However, he grew more and more conservative, and when a new revolution started because of a very tense economic and social climate in the country, he fled to Great-Britain. The Second French Republic was declared in February 1848, marking a new change of regime in France, the fifth one in less than 60 years.

The Second French Republic and the Second French Empire

By After Franz Xaver Winterhalter – Unknown, Public Domain,

The Second French Republic lasted from 1848 to 1852 with Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte as President. Louis-Napoléon was the nephew of Napoléon I. He was the first French head of state to hold the title of president, the first elected by a direct popular vote. However, the Constitution stated that a President could not seek re-election after his four year term. Louis-Napoléon spent the first half of 1851 trying to convince the National Assembly to change the constitution, but when the Assembly voted against his suggestion, he organised a coup d’état in December 1851. A Parisian insurrection started, but the insurgents were quickly defeated. The Assembly was dissolved and a new Constitution was drafted.

Following a referendum, the new constitution was adopted in January 1852 with more legislative power to the President, and the President was now elected for ten years with no term limits. However, Louis-Napoléon followed his uncle Napoléon I’s footsteps as he quickly decided to become Emperor, and after another referendum, the Second French Empire was proclaimed in November 1852. Louis-Napoléon chose to be proclaimed Emperor on December 2th as it was a very symbolic date, one year after his coup and 48 years to the day after Napoléon I’s coronation. He became Napoléon III and ruled until 1870.

The real end of the monarchy and the start of France as a long-standing Republic

In September 1870, Napoléon III and his army were made prisoners during the Franco-Prussian war and Napoléon III had to surrender. When the news reached Paris, a group of Republican deputies gathered at the City Hall and proclaimed the return of the Republic and the creation of a Government of National Defence. It was the end of the Second French Empire and the start of a long-standing republic regime, marking the end of the monarchy in any of its forms in France. Napoléon III was, thus, the last French monarch ever.

France has been under the regime of the Fifth Republic since 1958. And while 1789 and the Revolution are the events that started it all, it took 81 years for the monarchy to completely disappear in France. However, there are still monarchists in the country today, most of them split between two pretenders. Indeed, there are several claimants to the throne of France, but the main two are the Bourbons and the Orléans. The current Bourbon pretender is Louis de Bourbon as Head of the House of Bourbon since 1989. The current Orléans pretender is Henri d’Orléans as the head of the House of Orléans although his son and heir, Jean d’Orléans, Dauphin de France and Duc de Vendôme is quite well-known.

Royal revolution as heir to defunct French throne wants to restore monarchy

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King Louis XVI ascended the throne in 1774 and inherited a France in turmoil. In 1789, food shortages and economic crises led to the outbreak of the French Revolution. King Louis and his queen, Mary-Antoinette, were imprisoned in August 1792, and in September the monarchy was abolished. King Louis was later put on trial for treason. He was found guilty and sentenced to death.

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Now, one of King Louis' descendants wants to restore the monarchy over 200 years after his great-great-great-great grandfather.

Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou, is a Spanish aristocrat who claims he should be the next king of France.

Mr Alphonse is the eldest male descendant of King Louis XVI, and is also second cousin to Spain's current king Felipe VI.

He visited France in 2018, and one of his supporters told Vice at the time: "Today is a huge day &mdash the heir to the throne is here on French soil."

However, Mr Alphonse isn't the only person to claim he is the rightful heir to the throne in France.

Royal news: Alphonse believes he is the rightful heir (Image: getty)

Royal news: King Louis XVI was guillotined (Image: getty)

Jean d'Orleans, the Count of Paris, is another claimant who made headlines in February when he sued a foundation that manages his family&rsquos former estate.

He demanded &euro1million (£738,000) in damages from the Saint-Louis Foundation and the return of properties, including the Chateau d&rsquoAmboise in the Loire Valley and the Royal Chapel of Dreux, west of Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron made a surprising analysis in 2015 &ndash claiming that French people are "nostalgic" for a monarchy.

He said: "What we're missing in French politics is the figure of a monarchy.

"I think, fundamentally, the French people never wanted to get rid of him."

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Royal news: Macron said the French miss a monarchy (Image: getty)

Mr Macron said that since the departure of General de Gaulle, the normalisation of presidents or presidential figures has &ldquocreated an empty seat at the heart of our political life&rdquo.

He continued: &ldquoExcept that what people expect from the president is that he takes this position.

&ldquoThis is the source of our misunderstanding.&rdquo

In the UK, support for the British monarchy has remained strong over the years.

Data from Statista released this month showed that the British monarchy is supported by a plurality of people across all age groups in Great Britain, with backing especially high among over 65-year-olds where the level of support is highest at 84 percent.

Royal news: Jean d'Orleans is another claimant (Image: getty)

Royal news: Support for the royals remains high in the UK (Image: getty)

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Younger age groups are progressively more likely to oppose the monarchy, with 34 percent of 18-24 year old's opting instead for an elected head of state.

In Scotland however, people are divided when asked if the monarchy should remain if the country achieves independence, a new poll has found.

A survey commissioned by Sky News found that 39 percent of voters would support the Royal Family retaining their traditional role if the UK was to break-up, while 39 percent said a Scottish republic should be created and 22 percent said they didn't know.

Support for the Queen and her successors is highest among those who would vote no at any future IndyRef2, with 54 percent saying they backed the monarchy, 22 percent in favour of a republic, and 24 percent being undecided.

The Outbreak of the French Revolution

(i) On 5th May, 1789 Louis XVI called together an assembly of the three Estates to pass proposals for new taxes.

(ii) Each Estate had one vote. The Third Estate demanded one vote for each member of the assembly. They demanded that voting should now be conducted by the assembly as a whole.

(iii) When the king rejected the proposals of the Third Estate, they walked out of the assembly in protest and held their meeting in the hall of an indoor tennis court and declared themselves the National Assembly.

(iv) Meanwhile the rest of France was seething with turmoil because a bad harvest led of increase in bread prices and hoarding. Crowds of angry women stormed the shops.

(v) On 14th July, 1789, an agitated crowd stormed and destroyed the Bastille, a prison just outside Paris, freeing all its prisoners.

(vi) Due to rumours spreading about the nobles trying to destroy crops, the peasants attacked them, booting and destroying records of manorial duces.

(vii) Finally, the king agreed to a Constitutional Monarchy rule. On 4th August, 1789, the Assembly abolished taxes and tithes and the lands owned by the Church were confiscated.

French Revolution And End of Monarchy

The year 1789 marks a signal event in Europe and world history: The overthrow of a monarchy through a popular French revolution. Like most historical markers, the use of this one particular year, 1789, is a shorthand that masks a much more complex reality extending over many more years.

Although 1789 marked the storming of the Bastille and the declaration of the rights of man, the king, Louis XVI (1774-1793), was not actually dethroned until 1792 and he was executed in 1793. And, much of the impact of the French revolution was felt elsewhere in Europe only after Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in 1799.

Story Before French Revolution

The revolution was not fully concluded until the defeat of Napoleon and the restoration of the monarchy in 1815 ( nor was it truly defeated even then.) That these events occurred in France had special significance for the rest of Europe.

France was in many ways the most important country on the continent at the time of the revolution. With some twenty-eight million inhabitants, France was the most populous country on the continent.

Louis XVI (1643-1715), the sun King, he established a standard for a rigorous, powerful, and elegant monarchy, and his luxurious palace at Versailles was admired all over Europe. Monarchy was on it’s peak during his era.

It was the leading centre of arts and sciences and the focal point of the intellectual ferment of the the enlightment. French was the most widely used international language, the language both of diplomacy and of the most of the royal courts of Europe.

As with all revolution the causes of French revolution of 1789 included both long term and structural factors, as well as more immediate event. The former included the socio-economic changes of the 18th century, the ideas of the enlightenment, and weakness in the monarchy. The short-term factors were privately economic government debt, financial crisis, and a bad harvest year.

The financial crisis led the king to convoke a meeting of the Estates general in 1789, and form there events cascaded out of control. During most of the 18th century, France experienced both economic stability and growth.

Agriculture productivity and industrial production increased steadily in the middle part of the century, and the literacy rate of the population grew from 21 % at the beginning of the century to 37% at the end.

The 18th century saw a rapid expansion in the publication of books, periodicals, and pamphlets, which allowed wide dissemination of these new ideas and, with that, the early stages of public opinion.

By the end of the century, however, France was suffering serious problems.

An inefficient system of taxation made it difficult for any monarchy to raise the money it needed. furthermore, both the church and the nobility which together owned much of the land in the country, where virtually exempt from taxes.

The financial problems of the regime were made worse by the financial and provided by France to the American colonies during their war of independence against Britain.

For France, this was a strategic decision, rather than a moral of ideological one, as it was intended to become the country’s chief rival England, and to avenge the loss of French colonies in America and India during the seven years war (the French and Indian war in North America).

The combination of mounting debts an ineffective tax collection meant that, bye 1787, payments on the debt absorbed about half of all the taxes that were collected.

Economic Reasons Behind The French Revolution

The economic slump impacted the rest of the French population as well.

The economic growth of the 18th century and the import of silver from the new World had fueled inflation in France, a phenomenon that was both new and alarming for many people.

Between 1726 and 1789, the cost of living increased by 62%, whereas wages rose by only 25%. In the 1780s, increased competition from British textile manufactures led to massive unemployment in the textile towns of Northern France.

Then, 1788 saw of worst grain harvest in France since1709, causing increases in grain and food prices, food shortage, and even femine. All this provoked rising dicontent in both the cities and the countryside.

One more problem was the weakness of the monarchy, Louis XVI had been a strong and vigorous leader, but his successors were neither, and Louis XVI was both week and ineffactual. He was not able to control his ministers, and ministerial infighting made it difficult to deal with the financial crisis of the 1780s.

Furthermore, Louis had become a virtual prisoner of Versailles, really leaving the Paris region, and he was consequently increasingly isolated from which subject and his diverse regions of his Kingdom.

Relevance of French Revolution

– Perhaps no other topic has been described so exhaustively in history as the French Revolution.

– It has left immense influence in history

-All events that occurred in Europe in the 19th century were influenced by the French Revolution.

– The period from 1789 to 1815 has been summed up in 4 words- Revolution, war, tyranny and Empire.

– Revolution full of violence and savagery ended in wars. Then came the tyrannies of a soldier, Napoleon. Napoleon’s ambition culminated in the formation of a vast Empire.

– To understand how and why the French Revolution occurred, we have to understand the socio-political and economic setup of the that time. Since the causes of the revolution existed in the ancient system (Ancien regime).

Political Setup

There was hereditary theory absolute monarchy in France. Which led to genetic kingship.The king held himself to be the representatives of God on earth. And the ordinary people left on the mercy of Monarch.

The absolute monarchy reached the Zenith of its power and prestige during the reign of Louis XVI (1643 to 1715). Where tyranny crossed it’s threshold and citizens required an alternative system for administration.

As Louis XV (1715 to 1774) was incompetent to manage administrative system due to various reasons. Some of the main reasons are:

  • Louis XVI lacked in leadership. He was least interested in the problem of his country. He remained under the influence of his wife Mary Antoinette. But she was also unwise and extravagant.
  • There was no representation of council of parliament to keep a check on the king. The only institution was the ‘parliament’- its prime work was to register the orders of the King as laws. It could refuse the registration of irrational laws. This it did during the early years of revolution.
  • The French administration before the revolution was incompetent, disorganized and corrupt. The king was the head of the state. Entire country was divided into two kinds of provinces – Government and generalities.
  • The number of government was forty in total apart from the King. There were mostly old provinces. Their governors held from aristocratic families and received huge salaries. Although they receive huge salary but still corruption was common among them.
  • The number of generalities was thirty four. These word governed by ‘entendent’. He was deputed by the king. The entendent also hailed from aristocratic or bourgeois (higher) class. In practice he enjoyed unrestricted powers and made hectic efforts to increase his on income.
  • Local self government did not exist in France at that time. Local administration was also handled from the palace of Versailles (king’s residence). So, there was centralization of power.
  • Every organ of administration was corrupt -including law and justice. Judicial posts were sold. Punishment was biased. Aristocrats were often not punished.
  • Also, the language of court was Latin which the French speaking population could not understand.

Social Setup

The French society was complex and stratified. So, there was lack of brotherhood among all sections of people.It was divided into three classes-

The clergy (First Estate)

The nobility ( Second Estate)

The commoners (also called proletariat/bourgeois or Third Estate)

The first and the second estate formed the elite, enjoyed special status and privilege and comprised only one percent of the population. Then on 1/5th of the French property yet were exempted from all taxes which mainly belonged to above two classes.

But the commoners were burdened with many taxes. These special rights and privileges bred deep opposition among the commoners. Had the kings solved the question of special rights, the revolution would not have taken place.

Now let’s try to understand each type of class in detail:

A. Priests (clergy)

Majority of people in France were Roman Catholics. Hence Roman catholic Church was dominant and had a massive organisation all over France. It possessed use property but were exempted from taxes.

As a result, the wealth of the church had increased tremendously. Because of their status and privilege – the church in France was called- “a state within a state”. So, they hold some special autonomy on major portion of the wealth.

This was a major reason why the popularity of the church declined in the 18th century. The people were disgusted with the luxurious life of the priests.

Another reason was rise of skepticism. people were becoming skeptical about the existence of God. The utility of the church become controversial. The main reason behind this was the life of priests, who were looting ordinary uneducated people in the name of God.

B. Nobility or the Aristocracy

Even this class enjoyed many feudal rights and privileges. They occupied all the high offices of the state, the church and the armed forces.

They also possessed huge property but were exempted from taxes. They also exploited the farmers and this ignited serve indignation among the lower classes. All this happen due to increasing inequality.

C. The Common Class

Bulk of the French population belong to the common class. They had no special rights. They comprised of – middle class (bourgeois), artisans and laborers and the farmers.

The middle class ( the bourgeoisie) – they comprised on moneylender, Teachers, advocate, doctors, writers, artists etc. and did not engage in physical labour. They seethed with intense dissatisfaction because of the following reason-

1. The middle class was ambitious of acquire high position in society but this was frustrated by the feudal setup of French society. They had understood that only solution was the destruction of the feudal setup.

2. The middle class was wise and educated, yet it did not exert any political influence. Therefore it supported a political change.

3. The middle class intellectuals were infused with the spirit of idolism. Social inequality fomented dissatisfaction among them.

4. There was immense scope for trade and business to flourish, but many restrictions were imposed. This frustrated the traders and businessman

The artisans and labourers

They lived in misery. They were paid meager wages and made to work long hours. They dependent upon the mercy of middle class capitalists. Most of them lived in cities and had close interaction with the educated section of society. So they were politically aware.

The farmers- they were in majority and 80% of the population. Their condition was sad and shocking. There were two classes of farmers independent and semi-serfs. And independent farmer was the owner of land but a semi-serfs worked on someone else’s land and could not move out at his own will.

All farmers exploited by the nobility. They had to pay 80% of income as taxes. They were seething with bitter discontent. 3rd Estate was burdened by the first and second Estate.

Economic Setup

The economic system of France was miserable. There were many reasons-

– There was extravagance of the ruling classes. Personal income of the king was not differentiated from the income of the state.

-The French taxation system was defective. The clergy and the Nobles were expected from taxes while the farmers were burdened with heavy taxes.

– The commercial policy was also defective. Many restrictions were imposed on Trade and commerce.

– The situation was worsened by the French participation in various wars- Austria’s war of succession, Seven year’s war etc.

– As a result, the financial condition of France had reached bankruptcy.

– Financial issues triggered off the revolution.

Intellectual Enlightment

In 18th century, many intellectual arose- like montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Quesnay and Tourge. These thinkers and philosophers talked about a liberal, progressive and ideal society.

By means of satire and humour, criticism and comparison, scientific explanation, ideology and candid contempt, they revealed the hollowness of the French institutions.

This tired the feeling of the messes against the evils rampant in society. Many historians believe that the French Revolution originated from the combination of intellectual movement and material misery.

Immediate Causes of The Revolutions

The immediate cause was the economic policy of king Louis XVI. France was sinking into bankruptcy. Louis initiated many steps but left the incomplete. He also changed many finance ministers in succession.

In August 1786, the treasury turned empty. Calonne the then FM persuaded the king of summon a council of influential persons to come up with a solution. The council consisted of the clergy, nobles and other and had no representation of the common people. In the meeting, Calonne proposed that all sections of society should be texed. But he was dismissed.

Next, Queen’s favorite Brienne was appointed as FM. He proposed a uniform land tax and a new ‘stamp tax’. His proposal were also rejected by the council.

However, the king dissolved the council and sent Brienne’s proposal to the parlement of registration. The parliament refused to register and said that only Estates General was empowered to impose new taxes.

Estates General was an old representative council of France. It session had not been held for the last 175 years. Anyway, Louis called the session under duress. The session was due for May 7, 1789. The election for this body was held in 1788.

Beginning of the Revolution

on May 5, 1789, session of the estate general was held in palace of Versailles. The Estate general consisted of 3 chamber- comprising of the nobility, the clergy and the commoners.

A proposal could be passed only if approved by any 2 chamber. Even as the strength of the they’d Chander ( commoners) was doubled, the current had only one vote.

So the commoners did not benefit despite their majority. The commoners opposed this arrangement and this resulted in a deadlock in the very first session.

On 17 June 1789, the 3rd chamber took a bold step and declared themselves as the National council. The National council was declared as the only representative council of the French public.

Louis ordered to shut the doors of the council hall to ensure that the National council does not assemble. So they help the session in the nearby tennis court and pledge- ‘we will never separate and work together until a constitution is drafted’.

This is known as the famous- ‘tennis court oath‘.

This unprecedented declaration shook the foundation of the French absolute monarchy. Perplexed, the king called joint session of all 3 chamber but insisted that the special right of the nobility will continue under monarchy.

Here Mirabeau took the lead and opposed. At this point several priests and nobles also joined tha National council. The king had to yield to adverse circumstances. He allowed a joint sitting of the 3 chamber with the commoners having majority vote.

On 9th July 1789, the National council declared itself constituent assembly. This was a remarkable victory of the proletariat. As the power of decision making again came in the purview of the council.

Once again the king tried to suppress the constituent Assembly. There were rumors that soldiers were being sent to Paris.

Kamil Demule, an influential journalist and other furious revolutionaries greatly excited the public and urged them to take up arms. The furious mob began to loot weapon from shops in the city.

It was rumored that the fort of Bastille contained a huge store of weapon. On the 14th of July 1789, the great crowd marched towards Bastille.

It marched into the fort, set all prisoners free and ravaged it with the fall of Bastille, a wave of celebration swept Paris. This event sounded the trumped of revolution.

14th July was declared National day. The public abolished the old administration and formed a new municipal govt called the ‘Paris commune’. Baille was declared as the Mayor of Paris.

National guard was formed for the security of the city. Lafayette was made the chief of the National guard. These events influenced entire French Communes and national guard were formed at several places.

Villagers assaulted their oppressor, tax records wetter out on fire. In this way, the French public practically eliminated the feudal system. The anarchic condition was discussed in the national assembly. The assembly expressed shock.

The situation took a dramatic turn when a noble Noiya said that root cause of present anarchy is feudal setup, taxes and enormous rights and privileges enjoyed by the feudal lords. He said that they must be abolished. He also relinquished his special rights.

Several nobles and clergy followed suit. All this took place amidst gushing tears, warm hugs, clapping and delight in patriotic sacrifices.

This show went on throughout night and 30 ordinances were issued. By morning an extraordinary Revolution had swept over French that no other country had witnessed.

These ordinance needed kings approval. Meanwhile, on Oct 5, thousands of women gathered in Paris and reached Versailles shouting the slogan- ” Give is bread”.

The king and his family had to rush to Paris. There they stayed in the palace of Touillery. As a result, the National assembly too was brought to Paris.


Equality, Liberty and Fraternity are three key words mentioned in many constitutions of the World. The emphasis of these words are so strong that Indian Constitution added these words in the preamble of the constitution. These words are the result of French revolution. Process of government change from Monarchy to Democracy is the result of this revolution.

We can learn a lot from the incidents that took place due to brutal suppression of monarchy. Like equality is important in all forms. It is not just financial autonomy that strengthens the people of any country. Administrative autonomy is also very important to run a country. So, we can see the whole series of french revolution as a success. As many countries in this decolonize world is democratic with equal rights to all.

Now, there are very less number of countries with Monarchy. United Kingdom is an exception as we know this country as a great democratic state. But monarchy is still in existence but only as a symbol.

List of Monarchs of France (Battle of Manzikert)

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Charles II (West Francia)
Hugh Capet (France)

This article lists all the monarchs of France since the point of departure in 1071 until the forceful abolition of the monarchy in June of 2020 during the June Uprising.

The monarchs of the Kingdom of France and its predecessors (and successor monarchies) ruled from the establishment of the Kingdom of the Franks in 486 until today with one interruption.

Sometimes included as 'Kings of France' are the kings of the Franks of the Merovingian dynasty, which ruled from 486 until 751, and of the Carolingians, who ruled until 987 (with some interruptions).

In August 843 the Treaty of Verdun divided the Frankish realm into three kingdoms, one of which was short-lived the other two evolved into France and, eventually, Germany. By this time the eastern and western parts of the land already had different languages and cultures. As the POD of this timeline is 1071, this list of monarchs begins in 1060, with Phillip I.

The Capetian dynasty, the male-line descendants of Hugh Capet, included the first rulers to adopt the title of 'King of France' for the first time with Philip II (r. 1180–1223). The Capetians ruled continuously from 987 to 1376 and again from 1514 to 1532. The Romée Dynasty ruled from 1436 to 1514 and the House of Orléans from 1532 to 1614. The House of Orléans was succeeded by the House of Amboise who was in turn succeeded by the House of Ventadour in 1717. The House of Ventadour was the last ruling family of the First French Kingdom, with the monarchy being abolished in 1821 as a result of the French Revolution. A republic was proclaimed afterward.

In 1913, following the outbreak of the Scandinavian War, the French monarchy was re-established during the Borbón Restoration, where the House of Borbón gained power. In 1975, they were succeeded by the House of Albert, who ruled from that year until the forceful abolition of the French monarchy on June 13, 2020.

The monarchy of France

The kingdom of France was descended directly from the western Frankish realm ceded to Charles the Bald in 843. Not until 987 was the Carolingian dynastic line set aside, but there had been portentous interruptions. The reunited empire of Charles the Fat (reigned 884–888) proved unworkable: the Viking onslaught was then at its worst, and the king proved incapable of managing defenses, which fell naturally to the regional magnates. Among these was Eudes, son of that Robert the Strong to whom counties in the lower Loire valley had been delegated in 866. Eudes’s resourceful defense of Paris against the Vikings in 885 contrasted starkly with Charles the Fat’s failures, and in 887 the western Frankish magnates deposed Charles and later elected Eudes king. In so doing, they bypassed an underage grandson of Charles the Bald, also named Charles, who was crowned at Reims in 893 with the support of the archbishop there. Although gaining undisputed title to the crown upon Eudes’s death in 898 and imposing a crushing defeat on Rollo and forcing his conversion to Christianity before granting Normandy to the Viking leader, Charles the Simple was unable to recover the undivided loyalty of the nobility. He then sought to reward the service of lesser men but lost the crown in 922 to Eudes’s brother Robert I, who was killed in battle against Charles in 923. Thereupon Robert’s son-in-law Rudolf ( Raoul of Burgundy) was elected king, and Charles the Simple was imprisoned, to die in captivity in 929. Yet, when Rudolf died in 936, the Robertian candidate for the crown, Robert’s son Hugh the Great, stood aside for another Carolingian restoration in the person of Louis IV, son of Charles the Simple and called Louis d’Outremer (“Louis from Overseas”) because he had been nurtured in England since his father’s deposition. Louis IV acted energetically to revive the prestige of his dynasty, leaving the crown undisputed at his death in 954 to his son Lothar (954–986). But Lothar’s dynastic resources were too seriously impaired to command the full allegiance of the magnates. When his son Louis V (986–987) died young, the magnates reasserted themselves to elect Hugh Capet king. This time, despite the survival of a Carolingian claimant, Charles of Lorraine, the dynastic breach was permanent.

The election of 987 coincided with a more general crisis of power. The pillaging of Vikings gave way to that of castellans and knights the inability of kings (of whatever family) to secure professions of fidelity and service from the mass of people in lands extending beyond a few counties shows how notions of personal loyalty and lordship were replacing that of public order. Just as castellans were freeing themselves from subordination to counts, so the monks claimed exemption from the supervision of bishops: in a famous case the bishop of Orléans was opposed by the learned Abbo of Fleury (died 1004). There was a new insistence on the virtue of fidelity—and on the sin of betrayal.

Hugh Capet (reigned 987–996) and his son Robert II (the Pious 996–1031) struggled vainly to maintain the Carolingian solidarity of associated counts, bishops, and abbots after about 1025 Robert and his successors were hardly more than crowned lords, and their protectorate was valued by few but the lesser barons and churches of the Île-de-France. Neither Henry I (1031–60) nor Philip I (1060–1108) could match the success (such as it was) of their rivals in Normandy and Flanders in subordinating castles and vassals to their purposes.

Yet even these relatively weak kings clung to their pretensions. They claimed rights in bishops’ churches and monasteries far outside their immediate domain, which was concentrated around Paris, Orléans, Compiègne, Soissons, and Beauvais. Henry I married a Russian princess, whose son was given the exotic name of Philip and the choice of Louis, a Carolingian name, for Philip’s son was even more obviously programmatic. Louis VI (1108–37) spent his reign reducing the robber barons of the Île-de-France to submission, thereby restoring respect for the king’s justice he worked cautiously to promote the royal suzerainty over princely domains. It was a sign of newly achieved prestige that he secured the heiress Eleanor of Aquitaine as a bride for his son Louis VII (1137–80). But Louis VI was less successful in border wars with Henry I of Normandy these conflicts became more dangerous when, upon the failure of her first marriage, Eleanor married Henry II of Anjou, who came thereby to control lands in western France of much greater extent than the Capetian domains. Louis VII proved nonetheless a steady defender of his realm. He never relinquished his claim to lordship over the Angevin lands, and he allowed lesser men of his entourage the freedom to develop a more efficient control of his patrimonial estate. Not least, he fathered—belatedly, by Queen Adele of Champagne, his third wife, amid transports of relieved joy—the son who was to carry on the dynasty’s work.

The early Capetian kings thus achieved the power of a great principality, such as Normandy or Barcelona, while harbouring the potential to reestablish a fully royal authority over the greater realm once ruled by Charles the Bald. The princes were their allies or their rivals they sometimes did homage and swore fealty to the king, but they were reluctant to admit that their hard-won patrimonies were fiefs held of the crown. Royal lordship over peasants, townspeople, and church lands was for many generations a more important component of the king’s power in France. It was exercised personally, not bureaucratically. The king’s entourage, like those of the princes, replicated the old Frankish structure of domestic service. The seneschal saw to general management and provisioning, a function (like that of the mayors of the palace) with the potential to expand. The butler, constable, and chamberlain were also laymen, the chancellor normally a cleric. The lay officers were not agents in the modern sense their functions (and incomes) were endowed rewards or fiefs, for which they seldom accounted and which they tended to claim as by hereditary right. In a notorious case, Stephen of Garland tried to claim the seneschalsy as his property and for a time even held three offices at once but this abuse was soon remedied and taught caution to Louis VI and his successors. The chancellor drafted the king’s decrees and privileges with increasing care and regularity. He or the chamberlain kept lists of fiscal tenants and their obligations on the lord-king’s estates and in towns for use in verifying the service of provosts who collected the rents and profits of justice. But this service was hardly less exploitative than that of the household officers the royal domain lagged behind the princely ones of Flanders and Normandy in the imposition of accountability on its servants. The abbot Suger of Saint-Denis (died 1151), once a provost on his monastery’s domains, was instrumental in furthering administrative conceptions of power in the court of Louis VII.

What if the French Monarchy is Restored in the Early 1870s?

--chokes to death on a croissant or something like that sometime in the 1860s, thus allowing the French monarchy to be restored in the early 1870s (shortly after Napoleon III's overthrow and when monarchists had a majority of the seats in the French legislature) with this guy (who was next in line to the French throne after the Count of Chambord):

--as the new French King and with France becoming a British-style constitutional monarchy?

How exactly, if at all, would having a completely constitutional monarch in France since the early 1870s affect the history of France since that point in time?



1. As you say, in 1870 the French monarchists had a majority of the seats in the French legislature and with the abdication of Napoleon III they had every intention of replacing him with another king. Prince Philippe withdrew his claim in favour of the legitimist candidate.

2. Philippe had the track record of a die hard democrat but then again Louis Philippe I was a one time member of the Jacobins Club and the road to hell is paved with good intent.

3. Let us suppose that the newly crowned king lived up to his democratic principles and delivered a constitutional monarchy.

4. How does that change anything. The King merely rubber stamps the wishes of the republic and with the republican leanings of the Parisian people he would be well advised to do just that. Freed from the burden of real power the role of the constitutional monarch is as a figurehead, undertaking ceremonial duties. Under these conditions Philippe has to avoid scandal and keep the republican press onside

5. and he should be OK until 1940 and uncle Adolf comes a calling.

1. Correct, and in this scenario, the Legitimist candidate (Henri, Count of Chambord) has already passed away due to choking to death on a piece of food sometime in the 1860s. Thus, other than for the most hardcore Legitimists (whom were probably very few in number back then), Philippe is both the Legitimist and the Orleanist candidate for the French throne in the early 1870s in this scenario.

2. Interestingly enough, didn't Philippe also serve on the Union side in the U.S. civil war? If so, then this might boost his credentials among (relatively) progressive French people due to the fact that the Union side was the anti-slavery side.

3. I don't think that he would have really had a choice in his matter unless he wanted to get overthrown soon.

4. Couldn't he (and his successors, after his death) serve as a type of unifying figure for France in this TL, though, perhaps even providing more stability to France (with its fragile political system back then)?

5. He'll be long dead by 1940, though, and in this TL, Adolf Hitler probably won't even exist due to the butterfly effect (though, depending on how exactly things go, someone similar to him might eventually come to power in Germany).

Notes of French Revolution Class 9th History Chapter 1

French revolution started in 1789. The series of events started by the middle class shaken the upper classes. The people revolted against the cruel regime of monarchy. This revolution put forward the ideas of liberty, fraternity, and equality.

• The revolution began on 14th July, 1789 with the storming of the fortress-prison, the Bastille.

→The Bastille, the fortress prison was hated by all, because it stood for the despotic power of the king.

→ The fortress was demolished.

Causes of the French Revolution:

Social Cause

French Society During the Late Eighteenth Century

The term ‘Old Regime’ is usually used to describe the society and institutions of France before 1789.

The society was divided into three estates.

1. 1st Estate: Clergy (Group of persons involved in church matters)

2. 2nd Estate: Nobility (Persons who have high rank in state administration)

3. 3rd Estate: (Comprises of Big businessmen, merchants, court officials, lawyers, Peasants and artisans, landless labour, servants)

• First two classes were exempted from paying taxes. They enjoyed privileges by birth. Nobility classes also enjoyed feudal privileges.

• Only the members of the third estate had to pay taxes to the state.

→ Direct tax called taille and also a number of indirect taxes which were charged on articles of everyday consumption like salt or tobacco.

• A tax called Tithe was also collected by the church from the peasants.

• Clergy and Nobility were 10% of the population but possessed 60% of lands. Third Estate was 90% of the population but possessed 40% of the lands.

Economic Cause

Subsistence Crisis

• The population of France rose from about 23 million in 1715 to 28 million in 1789.

• This increased the demand for the foodgrains. However, production could not keep pace with the demand which ultimately increased the prices of the foodgrains.

• Most workers work as labourers in the workshops and they didn’t see increase in their wages.

• Situation became worse whenever drought or hail reduced the harvest.

• This led to the scarcity of foodgrains or Subsistence Crisis which started occurring frequently during old regime.

Political Cause

• Louis XVI came into the power in 1774 and found empty treasury.

• Long years of war had drained the financial resources of France.

• Under Louis XVI, France helped the thirteen American colonies to gain their independence from the common enemy, Britain which added more than a billion livres to a debt that had already risen to more than 2 billion livres.

• An extravagant court at the immense palace of Versailles also cost a lot.

• To meet its regular expenses, such as the cost of maintaining an army, the court, running government offices or universities, the state was forced to increase taxes.

Growing Middle Class

• The eighteenth century witnessed the emergence of social groups, termed the middle class, who earned their wealth through overseas trade, from manufacturing of goods and professions.

• This class was educated believed that no group in society should be privileged by birth.

• They were inspired by the ideas put forward by the various philosophers and became a matter of talk intensively for these classes in salons and coffee-houses and spread among people through books and newspapers.

• The American constitution and its guarantee of individual rights was an important example for political thinkers in France.

Philosophers and their contribution in revolution

• John Locke: (written a book named ‘Two Treatises of Government’) in which he criticized the doctrine of the divine and absolute right of the monarch.

• Jean Jacques Rousseau (written a book named ‘Social Contract’) in which he proposed a form of government based on a social contract between people and their representatives.

• Montesquieu (written a book named ‘The Spirit of the Laws’) in which he proposed a division of power within the government between the legislative, the executive and the judiciary.

The Outbreak of the Revolution

• Louis XVI called an assembly of the Estates General to pass his proposals to increase taxes on 5th May 1789.

• The first and second estates sent 300 representatives each, who were seated in rows facing each other on two sides, while the 600 members of the third estate had to stand at the back.

• The third estate was represented by its more prosperous and educated members only while peasants, artisans and women were denied entry to the assembly.

• Voting in the Estates General in the past had been conducted according to the principle that each estate had one vote and same practice to be continued this time. But members of the third estate demanded individual voting right, where each member would have one vote.

• After rejection of this proposal by the king, members of the third estate walked out of the assembly in protest.

• On 20th June, the representatives of the third estate assembled in the hall of an indoor tennis court in the grounds of Versailles where they declared themselves a National Assembly and vowed to draft a constitution for France that would limit the powers of the monarch.

• Mirabeau, a noble and Abbé Sieyès, a priest led the third estate.

• While the National Assembly was busy at Versailles drafting a constitution, the rest of France was in trouble.

• Severe winter destroyed the food crops which resulted in increase in the prices. The bakers also hoarded supplies of breads for making greater profit.

• After spending hours in long queues at the bakery, crowds of angry women stormed into the shops.

• At the same time, the king ordered troops to move into Paris. On 14 July, the agitated crowd stormed and destroyed the Bastille.

• In the countryside rumours spread from village to village that the lords of the manor were on their way to destroy the ripe crops through their hired gangs.

• Due to fear, peasants in several districts attacked the castle of nobles, looted hoarded grain and burnt down documents containing records of manorial dues.

• Large numbers of noble fled from their homes and many migrated to neighbouring countries.

• Louis XVI finally recognised the National Assembly and accepted the constitution.

• On 4th August, 1789, France passed the law for abolishing the feudal system of obligations and taxes.

• The member of clergy were also forced to give up their privileges.

• Tithes were abolished and lands owned by the Church were confiscated.

France Becomes a Constitutional Monarchy

• The National Assembly completed the draft of the constitution in 1791 which main object was to limit the powers of the monarch.

• The powers were now separated and assigned to different institutions – the legislature, executive and judiciary which made France a constitutional monarchy.

• The Constitution of 1791 gave the power of making laws in the hands of National Assembly, which was indirectly elected.

• The National Assembly was elected by a group of electors, which were chosen by active citizens.

• Active Citizens comprises of only men above 25 years of age who paid taxes equal to at least 3 days of a labourer’s wage.

• The remaining men and all women were classed as passive citizens who had no voting rights.

France Constitution at that time

• The Constitution began with a Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.

• Rights such as the right to life, freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, equality before law, were given to each human being by birth and could not be taken away.

• It was the duty of the state to protect each citizen’s natural rights.

• Various Political Symbols:

→ The broken chain: stands for the act of becoming free.

→ The bundle of rods or fasces: Show strength lies in unity.

→ The eye within a triangle radiating light: The all-seeing eye stands for knowledge.

→ Sceptre: Symbol of royal power.

→ Snake biting its tail to form a ring: Symbol of Eternity.

→ Red Phrygian cap: Cap worn by a slave upon becoming free.

→ Blue-white-red: The national colours of France.

→ The winged woman: Personification of the law.

→ The Law Tablet: The law is the same for all, and all are equal before it.

France Abolishes Monarchy and Becomes a Republic

• Louis XVI had signed the Constitution, but he entered into secret negotiations with the King of Prussia.

• Rulers of other neighbouring countries too were worried by the developments in France and made plans to send troops to stop the revolutionary events taking place.

• Before this could happen, the National Assembly voted in April 1792 to declare war against Prussia and Austria.

• Thousands of volunteers joined the army from the provinces to join the army.

• People saw this war as a war of the people against kings and aristocracies all over Europe.

• The patriotic song Marseillaise, composed by the poet Roget de L’Isle was sung for the first time by volunteers from Marseilles as they marched into Paris which is now the national anthem of France.

• The revolutionary wars brought losses and economic difficulties to the people.

• The Constitution of 1791 gave political rights only to the richer sections of society.

• Political clubs were established by the people who wished to discuss government policies and plan their own forms of action.

• The most successful of these clubs was that of the Jacobins.

• The members of the Jacobin club belonged mainly to the less prosperous sections of society such as small shopkeepers, artisans as well as servants and daily-wage workers. Their leader was Maximilian Robespierre.

• Jacobins start wearing long striped trousers and came to be known as the sans-culottes, literally meaning those without knee breeches.

• In the summer of 1792 the Jacobins planned a revolt of a large number of the people of Paris who were angered by the short supplies and high prices of food.

• On August 10, they stormed the Palace of the Tuileries, massacred the king’s guards and held the king himself as hostage for several hours.

• Later the Assembly voted to imprison the royal family. Elections were held.

• From now on all men of 21 years and above, regardless of wealth, got the right to vote.

• The newly elected assembly was called the Convention.

• On 21st September 1792, it abolished the monarchy and declared France a republic.

• Louis XVI was sentenced to death by a court on the charge of treason.

• The queen Marie Antoinette met with the same fate shortly after.

The Reign of Terror

• The period from 1793 to 1794 is referred to as the Reign of Terror as Robespierre followed a policy of severe control and punishment.

• All his enemies, Ex-nobles, clergy, members of other political parties, even members of his own party who did not agree with his methods were arrested, imprisoned and guillotined.

• Robespierre’s government issued laws placing a maximum ceiling on wages and prices.

→ Meat and bread were rationed.

→ Peasants were forced to transport their grain to the cities and sell it at prices fixed by the government.

→ The use of more expensive white flour was forbidden and all citizens were required to eat the equality bread, a loaf made of whole wheat.

• Instead of the traditional Monsieur (Sir) and Madame (Madam) all French men and women were addressed as Citoyen and Citoyenne (Citizen).

• Churches were shut down and their buildings converted into barracks or offices.

• Robespierre pursued his policies so harshly that even his supporters began to demand moderation.

• Finally, he was convicted by a court in July 1794, arrested and on the next day sent to the guillotine.

(The guillotine is a device consisting of two poles and a blade with which a person is beheaded. It was named after Dr. Guillotin who invented it.)

A Directory Rules France

• A new constitution was introduced which denied the vote to non-propertied sections of society.

• It provided for two elected legislative councils which then appointed a Directory, an executive made up of five members.

• The Directors often clashed with the legislative councils, who then sought to dismiss them.

• The political instability of the Directory paved the way for the rise of a military dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Women Revolution

• From the very beginning women were active participants in revolution.

• They hoped that their involvement would pressurise the revolutionary government to introduce measures to improve their lives.

• Most women of the third estate had to work for a living as laundresses, sellers, domestic servants in the houses of prosperous people.

• Most women did not have access to education or job training.

• To discuss and voice their interests women started their own political clubs and newspapers.

→ The Society of Revolutionary and Republican Women was the most famous of them.

• Women were disappointed that the Constitution of 1791 reduced them to passive citizens.

• They demanded the right to vote, to be elected to the Assembly and to hold political office.

• The revolutionary government did introduce laws that helped improve the lives of women.

→ By creation of state schools, schooling was made compulsory for all girls.

→ Their fathers could no longer force them into marriage against their will.

→ Marriage was made into a contract entered into freely and registered under civil law.

→ Divorce was made legal, and could be applied for by both women and men.

→ Women could now train for jobs, could become artists or run small businesses.

• During the Reign of Terror, the new government issued laws ordering closure of women’s clubs and banning their political activities.

→ Many prominent women were arrested and a number of them executed.

• It was finally in 1946 that women in France won the right to vote.

The Abolition of Slavery

• The unwillingness of Europeans to go and work in the colonies in the Caribbean which were important suppliers of commodities such as tobacco, indigo, sugar and coffee created a shortage of labour on the plantations. Thus, the slave trade began in the seventeenth century.

→ French merchants sailed from their ports to the African coast, where they bought slaves from local chieftains.

→ Branded and shackled, the slaves were packed tightly into ships for the three-month long voyage across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.

• There they were sold to plantation owners. The exploitation of slave labour made it possible to meet the growing demand in European markets for sugar, coffee, and indigo.

• Port cities like Bordeaux and Nantes owed their economic prosperity to the flourishing slave trade.

• The National Assembly held long debates for about whether the rights of man should be extended to all French subjects including those in the colonies.

• But it did not pass any laws, fearing opposition from businessmen whose incomes depended on the slave trade.

• Jacobin regime in 1794, abolished slavery in the French colonies.

• However, ten years later, Napoleon reintroduced slavery.

• Slavery was finally abolished in French colonies in 1848.

The Revolution and Everyday Life

• After the storming of the Bastille in the summer of 1789 was the abolition of censorship.

• The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen proclaimed freedom of speech and expression to be a natural right.

• Newspapers, pamphlets, books and printed pictures flooded the towns of France from where they travelled rapidly into the countryside and described and discussed the events and changes taking place in France.

• Plays, songs and festive processions attracted large numbers of people which was one way they could grasp and identify with ideas such as liberty or justice.

Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte

• After the end of reign of terror, directory created political instability.

• In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of France.

• He conquered many neighbouring countries and placed members of his family on the crown

• Napoleon saw his role as a moderniser of Europe.

• He introduced many laws such as the protection of private property and a uniform system of weights and measures provided by the decimal system.

• Initially, many welcomed Napoleon as a liberator who would bring freedom for the people. But soon the Napoleonic armies came to be viewed everywhere as an invading force.

• He was finally defeated at Waterloo in 1815.

Legacy of the French Revolution

• The ideas of liberty and democratic rights were the most important legacy of the French Revolution.

• These spread from France to the rest of Europe during the nineteenth century, where feudal systems were abolished.

• Later, these ideas were adopted by Indian revolutionary strugglers, Tipu Sultan and Rammohan Roy also.

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette’s Attempts to Escape

The Flight to Varennes, or the royal family’s unsuccessful escape from Paris during the night of June 20-21, 1791, undermined the credibility of the king as a constitutional monarch and eventually led to the escalation of the crisis and the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Learning Objectives

Analyze the consequences of the royal family’s attempted escapes

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Following the Women’s March on Versailles, the royal family was forced to return to Paris. They remained virtual prisoners in the Tuileries, the official residence of the king. Louis XVI became emotionally paralyzed, leaving most important decisions to the queen. At her insistence, Louis committed himself and his family to a disastrous attempt of escape from the capital to the eastern frontier on June 21, 1791.
  • Due to the cumulative effect of a host of errors that in and of themselves woul not have condemned the mission to failure, the royal family was thwarted in its escape after Jean-Baptiste Drouet, the postmaster of Sainte-Menehould, recognized the king from his portrait. The king and his family were eventually arrested in the town of Varennes, 31 miles from their ultimate destination, the heavily fortified royalist citadel of Montmédy.
  • The intended goal of the unsuccessful flight was to provide the king with greater freedom of action and personal security than was possible in Paris. At Montmédy, General François Claude de Bouillé concentrated a force of 10,000 regulars of the old royal army who were still considered loyal to the monarchy. The long-term political objectives of the royal couple and their closest advisers remain unclear.
  • The credibility of the king as a constitutional monarch had been seriously undermined. However, on July 15, 1791 the National Constituent Assembly agreed that he could be restored to power if he agreed to the constitution, although some factions opposed the proposal. The decision led to the Champ de Mars Massacre two days later.
  • From the autumn of 1791 on, the king tied his hopes of political salvation to the dubious prospects of foreign intervention. Prompted by Marie Antoinette, Louis rejected the advice of the moderate constitutionalists, led by Antoine Barnave, to fully implement the Constitutio of 1791 he had sworn to maintain.
  • The outbreak of the war with Austria in April 1792 and the publication of the Brunswick Manifesto led to the storming of the Tuileries by Parisian radicals on August 10, 1792. This attack led in turn to the suspension of the king’s powers by the Legislative Assembly and the proclamation of the First French Republic on September 21. Some republicans called for the king’s deposition, others for his trial for alleged treason and intended defection to the enemies of the French nation. Convicted, Louis was sent to the guillotine on January 21, 1793. Nine months later, Marie Antoinette was also convicted of treason and beheaded on October 16.

Key Terms

  • March on Versailles: A march on October 5, 1789, during the French Revolution among women in the marketplaces of Paris who were near rioting over the high price and scarcity of bread. Their demonstrations quickly became intertwined with the activities of revolutionaries, who were seeking liberal political reforms and a constitutional monarchy for France. The market women and their various allies grew into a crowd of thousands. Encouraged by revolutionary agitators, they ransacked the city armory for weapons and marched to the Palace of Versailles.
  • Champ de Mars Massacre: A massacre that took place on July 17, 1791, in Paris in the midst of the French Revolution. Two days earlier, the National Constituent Assembly issued a decree that Louis XVI would remain king under a constitutional monarchy. This decision came after King Louis XVI and his family unsuccessfully tried to flee France in the Flight to Varennes the month before. Later that day, leaders of the republicans in France rallied against this decision, eventually leading royalist Lafayette to order the massacre.
  • Brunswick Manifesto: A proclamation issued on July 25, 1792, by Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, commander of the Allied Army (principall Austrian and Prussian) to the population of Paris during the War of the First Coalition. It threatened that if the French royal family were harmed, then French civilians would be harmed. It was a measure intended to intimidate Paris, but instead, it helped further spur the increasingly radical French Revolution.
  • Flight to Varennes: An unsuccessful attempt to escape Paris by King Louis XVI of France, his wife Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family during the night of June 20-21, 1791 to initiate a counter-revolution at the head of loyal troops under royalist officers concentrated at Montmédy near the frontier. They escaped only as far as the small town of Varennes, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould.

Flight to Varennes

Following the Women’s March on Versailles, the royal family was forced to return to Paris. Louis XVI attempted to work within the framework of his limited powers but won little support. He and the royal family remained virtual prisoners in the Tuileries, a royal and imperial palace in Paris that served as the residence of most French monarchs. For the next two years, the palace remained the official residence of the king.

Louis XVI became emotionally paralyzed, leaving most important decisions to the queen. Prodded by the queen, Louis committed the family to a disastrous escape attempt from the capital to the eastern frontier on June 21, 1791. With the dauphin ‘s governess the Marquise de Tourzel taking on the role of a Russian baroness, the queen pretending to be a governess, the king’s sister, Madame Élisabeth a nurse, the king a valet, and the royal children the alleged baroness’ daughters, the royal family made their escape leaving the Tuileries around midnight. The escape was largely planned by the queen’s favorite, the Swedish Count Axel von Fersenand the Baron de Breteuil, who had garnered support from Swedish King Gustavus III. Fersen had urged the use of two light carriages, which would have made the 200-mile journey to Montmédy relatively quickly. However this would have involved splitting up the royal family and Louis and Marie-Antoinette decided on the use of a heavy, conspicuous coach drawn by six horses.

Due to the cumulative effect of a host of errors, which in and of themselves would not have condemned the mission to failure, the royal family was thwarted in its escape after Jean-Baptiste Drouet, the postmaster of Sainte-Menehould, recognized the king from his portrait. The king and his family were eventually arrested in the town of Varennes, 31 miles from their ultimate destination, the heavily fortified royalist citadel of Montmédy.

The arrest of Louis XVI and his family at the house of the registrar of passports, at Varennes in June 1791 by Thomas Falcon Marshall.

The king’s flight was traumatic for France. The realization that the king had effectually repudiated the revolutionary reforms made to that point came as a shock to people who until then had seen him as a fundamentally decent king who governed as a manifestation of God’s will. They felt betrayed. Republicanism burst out of the coffeehouses and became the dominant ideal of revolutionary leaders.

The Question of Goals

The intended goal of the unsuccessful flight was to provide the king with greater freedom of action and personal security than was possible in Paris. At Montmédy, General François Claude de Bouillé concentrated a force of 10,000 regulars of the old royal army who were still considered loyal to the monarchy. The long-term political objectives of the royal couple and their closest advisers remain unclear. A detailed document entitled Declaration to the French People prepared by Louis for presentation to the National Assembly and left behind in the Tuileries indicates that his personal goal was a return to the concessions and compromises contained in the declaration of the Third Estate in June 1789, immediately prior to the outbreak of violence in Paris and the storming of the Bastille. Private correspondence from Marie Antoinette takes a more reactionary line of restoration of the old monarchy without concessions, although referring to pardons for all but the revolutionary leadership and the city of Paris.

The Champ de Mars Massacre

When the royal family finally returned under guard to Paris, the revolutionary crowd met the royal carriage with uncharacteristic silence and the royal family was again confined to the Tuileries Palace. From this point forward, the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic became an ever-increasing possibility. The credibility of the king as a constitutional monarch had been seriously undermined. However, on July 15, 1791, the National Constituent Assembly agreed that the king could be restored to power if he agreed to the constitution, although some factions opposed the proposal.

Later that day, Jacques Pierre Brissot, editor and main writer of Le Patriote français and president of the Comité des Recherches of Paris, drew up a petition demanding the removal of the king. A crowd of 50,000 people gathered at the Champ de Mars on July 17 to sign the petition, and about 6,000 had already signed. But earlier that day, two suspicious people hidigg at the Champ de Mars were hanged by those who found them. Jean Sylvain Bailly, the mayor of Paris, used this incident to declare martial law. The Marquis de Lafayette and the National Guard, which was under his command, were temporarily able to disperse the crowd but even more people returned later that afternoon. Lafayette again tried to disperse the crowd, who in response threw stones at the National Guard. After firing unsuccessful warning shots, the National Guard opened fire directly on the crowd, an event known as the Champ de Mars Massacre. The exact numbers of dead and wounded are unknown estimates range from 12 to 50 dead.

Execution of Louis and Marie Antoinette

From the autumn of 1791 on, the king tied his hopes of political salvation to the dubious prospects of foreign intervention. Prompted by Marie Antoinette, Louis rejected the advice of the moderate constitutionalists, led by Antoine Barnave, to fully implement the Constitution of 1791 he had sworn to maintain. He instead secretly committed himself to covert counter-revolution. At the same time, the king’s failed escape attempt alarmed many other European monarchs, who feared that the revolutionary fervor would spread to their countries and result in instability outside France. Relations between France and its neighbors, already strained because of the revolution, deteriorated even further, with some foreign ministries calling for war against the revolutionary government.

The outbreak of the war with Austria in April 1792 and the publication of the Brunswick Manifesto led to the storming of the Tuileries by Parisian radicals on August 10, 1792. This attack led in turn to the suspension of the king’s powers by the Legislative Assembly and the proclamation of the First French Republic on September 21. In November, proof of Louis XVI’s dealings with the deceased revolutionary politician Mirabeau and of his counterrevolutionary intrigues with foreigners was found in a secret iron chest in the Tuileries. It was now no longer possible to pretend that the reforms of the French Revolution had been made with the free consent of the king. Some republicans called for his deposition, others for his trial for alleged treason and intended defection to the enemies of the French nation. On December 3, it was decided that Louis XVI, who together with his family had been imprisoned since August, should be brought to trial for treason. He appeared twice before the National Convention. Convicted, Louis was sent to the guillotine on January 21, 1793. Nine months later, Marie Antoinette was also convicted of treason and beheaded on October 16.

Watch the video: Το κόστος των απεργιών στη Γαλλία