Revolution and failure of constitutional monarchy, 1789-93 (II)


The Declaration of Pillnitz

- Marie Antoinette's brother, the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, refused to take action and perhaps welcomed a degree of constitutional reform as a fairly liberal leader

- Following flight to Varennes, Leopold felt need to show some loyalty and support towards King Louis, so co-signed the Declaration of Pillnitz with Prussia in August 1791

- In the declaration, Austria and Prussia stated they were willing to restore monarchial order in France by force

- This was upon proviso that other European states intervene, although as they were unlikely to intervene unless threatened themselves, this made any threat remote and not immediate

- Marie Antoinette: "The Emperor has betrayed us"

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The war debate

- Caused partly by Declaration of Pillnitz but more by growing concern of counter-revolution due to émigrés and suspicions of the Austrian Committee, a debate began in Paris concerning benefits and dangers of a French invasion of Austrian territory

- Brissot led pro-war side of debate, war would flush out those not truly loyal to revolutionary cause, Girondins believed peoples of neighbouring states waiting to be liberated from monarchial despotism, French invasion would incite peoples to rise up in support, if France didn't strike first, then Great Powers of Europe would unite to crush revolution

- Maximin Isnard (leading Girondin): "make all tyrants tremble on their thrones of clay"

- Louis believed France would be defeated and Austrians would restore his power, Lafayette believed could regain status and position after reputation damaged in Champs de Mars 

- Robespierre on of votal critics, suspicious of royal family's and Lafayette's motives (own gains), France can't launch attack due to serious economic problems and sheer number of French desertees

- War declared on Austria, 20 April 1792, beginning French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802)

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War starts badly

- Oath of loyalty to France and CA following Flight to Varennes, omitted king's name and many officers objected, leading to lack of military officers contributing to disastrous start in war (by end of 1791, 3,000 officers had left their regiments and fled France)

- Many remaining officers not trusted by their men who suspected them of being royalist counter-revolutionaries and mutinies common

- French army numbered less than 140,000, many of whom volunteers, while full of revolutionary enthusiasm, equipped with little in terms of weaponry or training

- When French soldiers invaded Austrian Netherlands 20 April 1792, panic and confusion, desertion en masse, mutinies, soldiers even murdered their commanding officer, Irishman named Theobald Dilon

- Commanders of French army arguing that peace must be immediately made

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Royal vetoes

- Threat of invasion by Austria and Prussia heightened fear of counter-revolutionary activity in France

- May 1792, LA introduced a number of laws to defend France against such traitors

- 27 April 1792: law decreeing that all refractory priests should be deported

- Another sought to disband King's royal guard, as soldiers deemed too loyal to Louis rather than to Assembly

- 8 June 1792: law calling for establishment of a camp of 20,000 National Guards, fédérés, recruited from provinces in order to defend Paris

- Louis refused to sanction these laws 19 June 1792 with suspensive veto, inflammatory act of King undermining LA's efforts to defend country against counter-revolution

- Louis had also caused outrage by dismissing a number of Girondin ministers on 12 June 1792, including Jean-Marie Roland who had implied that King was an 'accomplice' of conspirators in revolution, heightened suspicions that Louis against revolutionaries

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The journée of 20 June 1792

- Unwise actions caused a journée of 8,000 sans-culottes incited by Cordeliers Club, stormed the Tuileries and demanded that Louis reverse vetoes and dismissals

- Crowd forced Louis to don liberty cap, a red hat that became sign of true revolutionary ('le beret rouge')

- Louis didn't give in, refused to withdraw vetoes or recall ministers

- Louis' refusal became an irrelevance, LA bowed to popular unrest and proceeded with creation of fédérés camp 

- 11 July 1792 Assembly declared state of national emergency, calling on all men to support war, due to threat France facing, sanction of king to enact laws no longer required, Louis loses right of veto

- Arrival of fédérés further radicalised Paris, militant people who had volunteered to fight for defence of revolution, 'La Marseillaise', song sung by fédérés who arrived from Marseilles (written by army officer Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle), became anthem of Parisian sans-cul

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The Brunswick Manifesto

- 25 July 1792, Duke of Brunswick (commander of advancing Prussian army), issued proclamation promising freedom to those who did not oppose Prussian armies but strongly threatened those who opposed him or King Louis XVI

- With Prussian army already on border of France, and tensions running high in Paris, Brunswick Manifesto led to further unrest in the city

- "If the chateau of the Tuileries is entered by force or attacked...if the least violence be offered to their Majesties...will inflict an ever memorable vengeance by delivering over the city of Paris to military execution and complete destruction

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Attack on the Tuileries

- Journée of 10 August 1792

- Following Brunswick Manifesto, increased calls for abolition of monarchy, Jérôme Pétion (mayor of Paris) called on LA to depose Louis and declare a republic, LA refused, showing schism in opinion between LA deputies and sans-culottes and political clubs of Paris

- Result of LA's refusal, 9 August 1792, sans-culottes led by leading Cordeliers such as Danton and Jacques Hébert took over the Hôtel de Ville and established own revolutionary Commune, forcibly expelling bourgeois one established in 1789

- Tocsin sounds 10 August 1792, total of 30,000 citizens marched on Tuileries consisting of National Guard, fédérés and sans-culottes

- Palace guarded by almost 1,000 Swiss Guard soldiers loyal to King, guards tried to flee, gruesome bloodbath resulting in the deaths of over 600 of them

- Upon seeing crowd approach, Louis fled via a secret passage to the chamber of the Legislative Assembly where he was arrested upon arrival

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Creation of the National Convention (I)

- Rioters invaded LA and demanded king's imprisonment, recognition of the new revolutionary Commune and the election of a new assembly, a body elected through universal male suffrage

- All deputies who supported constitutional monarchy fled or went into hiding, leading to members making more radical changes

- Royal Family imprisoned in The Temple Prison (medieval castle with just two floors)

- LA appointed Danton as minister of justice and introduced several radical laws, including arrest and deportation of any remaining refractory priests and sale of émigrés land

- LA dissolved in September 1792, elections had been held to elect new representative body (all males over age of 21), although voltaile political atmsophere meant fewer than 6% of those enfranchised voted, royalists and constitutional monarchists steered clear, so NC which first met on 21 Sep 1792 much more left-wing body than LA, 24 Paris deputies included Danton, Robespierre, Marat, Desmoulins and extreme radical Collot d'Herbois

- 47% had worked in law, far younger average age than before, far wider range of social classes represented, peasant and then Philippe Égalité (former prince), radical journalists new dynamic

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Creation of the National Convention (II)

- Two principle factions emerged: Jacobins led by Robespierre, sat on highest benches of hall known as 'La Montagne', around 300/749, and Girondins, 150 members, led by Brissot

- Remaining members known as 'La Plaine', no allegiance to either faction but not a faceless mass, included adept and experienced politicians such as Abbé Siéyès

- Both factions republican (to publicly be anything else at this point could have been extremely dangerous), and claimed to uphold true revolutionary values

- Girondins saw themselves as protectors of legal justice, opposing brutality and illegitimate actions of the 'mob' whereas Jacobins saw the actions of sans-culottes as a legitimate part of the revolutionary process, to them people were revolution

- 21 Septmber 1792, monarchy abolished, republic declared, King Louis XVI simply became citizen Louis Capet

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September Massacres

- September 1792, Verdun fell to Prussians (important strategic French town)

- Paranoid about counter-revolution and encouraged by radicals, sans-culottes hunted out anyone who may have betrayed revolution and butchered them

- Street violence but centred on prisons as these held refractory priests, counter-revolutionary politicians and fallen aristocrats, bloodlust, torture, mass killings, mutiliation, at least 1,400 killed in cold blood

- Some priests and nobles killed, but mostly common criminals, thieves, prostitutes, etc.

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Political consequences of the September Massacres

- Some politicians turned a blind eye, eg. Danton who, as minister of justice, surely to blame as he failed to take any action to stop the violence

- Massacres caused La Plaine to swing towards Gironduns who had warned against such dangers of mob rule and condemned violence outright

- Some Jacobins, such as Marat, had actively encouraged the bloodshed whereas others like Robespierre refused to condemn violence, seeing it as part of revolutionary process

- Many deputies felt Jacobins had gone too far in legitimising violence and terror, causing them to lose support in the Convention

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Further Girondin gains

- As Brissot and Girondins had promoted the case for war, reputation of their faction closely linked to war

- In early months of war things going badly

- 20 September 1792, French victory over Prussians at Battle of Valmy halted Prussian advance and meant Brunswick's threats on Paris didn't come to fruition

- Battle of Jemappes, 6 October 1792, Girondin general Charles François Dumouriez won victory against Austrians and conquered Austrian Netherlands

- Savoy (November 1792), in the south, as well as Nice (January 1793) both annexed by France

- These victories gained Girondins support

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Trial and execution of Louis

- Trial began 10 December, defended by former French minister and renowned lawyer Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, painted picture of a citizen-king and argued that king had attempted to bring liberal reforms to France even prior to the revolution

- Defence complete when letters written by the king to Austrian royal family presented (armoire de fer documents)

- Marat insisted that all deputies declare their verdict publicly

- Hardly surprising 693/721 deputies found him guilty, 361-319 split in favour of his execution, Jacobins believed as long as there was a monarch on the throne, there was a risk of restoration by living royalists

- Louis executed by guillotine in the Place de la Révolution on 21 January 1793

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