War, revolt and overthrow of the monarchy/ Chapter 4


1. Outbreak of war

  • Foreign reaction. During 1790 the foreign monarchies were concerned with their own concerns (secure a partition of Poland) rather than events in France. 1791 - Declaration of Pilnitz in which Austrians threatened to interfere in French internal affairs. declared wish to restore Louis power.  It was ignored by Frenchmen and did not create much of a stir. An actual attack with British or Russian forces was unlikely
  • Support for war. Austrian Committee - led by Marie Antoinette who wanted war to reinstate Bourbon power and destroy revolutionary ideas. Lafayette and Dumouriez also wanted war because they believed the authority of the King should be strengthened and this could be achieved through a short war. also, this would increase their prestige. Also, Brisottins who were a group of deputies led by Brissot believed war would strengthen support for the revolution. they argued that: a) a successful conflict would rouse enthusiasm for the Revolution b)a war would allow France to extend its ideas abroad c) french armies would have the active support of their enemy's own repressed subjects
  • Opposition to war. Robespierre who led the Revolution believed Lafayette would try and hijack the revolution for his own means. Robespierre also thought that they should wage war on the internal opponents, not external enemies.
  • Declaration of war. Girondins pressed for war but were not sure they would be supported by the rest of the Assembly. On 7 February 1792 Austria and Prussia became allies. Austrian success in Belgium (1790) and Prussian success in the United Provinces gave them a lot of confidence whereas France was weak and economically unable to fight. Also, Austrian threats and rumours about war and Girondin attacks on "Austrian Committee" forced the King to dismiss his Feuillant ministers and replace them with more radical Girondins, Dumouriez became the new Foreign Minister. In Austria, Leopold has died and Francis II came in and war was declared on 20 April 1792. Prussia declared war on France in June so now France fought two armies. 

2. Overthrow of the Monarchy

  • The military crisis. the French army was not prepared to fight, half of the officers emigrated and lack of men and guns. Also, desertion and revolutionary propaganda destroyed the discipline of the regular army. French army lost in the Austrian Netherlands and was forced to retreat and left the French border open to invasion. 
  • Royal vetoes. this was another problem as King vetoed some laws about the deportation of refractory priests and to disband the King's Guard. When Girondin Minister protested, Louis, dismissed him and Dumoruiez also resigned. 
  • The rise of the sans-culottes. the King's veto led to protests by Cordeliers Club on 20th June 8,000 sans-culottes stormed Tuilleries. They demanded to withdraw vetoes and restore Girondin ministers. Louis did not give in, however, was forced to wear a cap of dignity and drink to the health of nation his behaviour saved his life this time.  It showed the weaknesses of the King and also of the Assembly…


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