Peasants, nobles, and clergy were all frightened by the Great Fear. The angry peasants fought against the upper classes, destroying manor houses. Some nobles in the National Assembly decided to respond.

  • The Assembly Reforms France

    The noblemen made speeches, demanding liberty and equality. They said this out of fear, but still managed to destroy the Old Regime.

    • The Rights of Man
      • 3 weeks after the death of the old regime, the National Assembly created the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. This document was similar to the Declaration of Independence, declaring that “men are born and remain free and equal in rights”, including “liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression”. Freedom of speech, religion, and justice were also promised to the citizens.
      • The French slogan became “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. However, these revolutionary ideas did not apply to everyone – when a declaration of the rights of women was created by Olympe de Gouges, she was rejected and executed as an enemy.
    • State-Controlled Church
      • Many reforms included the church. The National Assembly claimed church lands and created elected church officials. The assembly did this so they could sell church lands and get some of the debt off.
      • However, putting the State in control of the Church frightened devout catholic peasants. They believed that the pope should rule over a church -they began to oppose the assembly’s reforms.
    • Louis Tries to Escape
      • Louis XVI tried to escape to the Netherlands in 1791, however, they were caught and taken back to Paris.
  • Divisions Develop

    Soon after their independence, they began to argue over a new constitution.

    • A Limited Monarchy
      • The constitution was a limited constitutional monarchy, creating a Legislative Assembly. This group created laws / declared war. The king only had the power to enforce the laws.
    • Factions Split France
      • The revolution succeeded, however, many old problems such as food shortages and government debt continued. The Legislative Assembly split into 3 groups. Radicals on the left, Confederates in the middle, and conservatives on the right.
      • Many nobles who had fled wanted to restore the Old Regime. On the other hand, small shopkeepers and Parisian workers often wanted more changes. They used the streets to influence the assembly.
  • War and Execution

    The upper classes in other European nations saw the changes in France and were frightened a revolution could take place near them. Some countries took actions to stop the revolution. Both Austria and Prussia both urged for Louis to be returned as an absolute monarch. The Legislative Assembly declared war on Prussia in April 1792.

    • France at War
      • Prussia forces began to advance on Paris, threatening to destroy Paris if the royal family was harmed.
      • This infuriated the Parisians who invaded the palace of the royal family. They massacred the royal guards and imprisoned the family.
      • Soon, the French troops joined the army to fight. Angry citizens broke into prisons and murdered over 1000 royal sympathizers.
      • Finally, the Legislative Assembly created the Constitution of 1791, getting rid of the king, dissolving the assembly, and electing a new legislature. This new body, the National Convention ,abolished the monarchy and made France a republic. However, women were still not allowed to vote.
    • Jacobins Take Control
      • Many people involved in the new government were Jacobins, a club that called for the death of anyone who supports the king.
      • The National Convention already reduced Louis XVI’s position from king to a prisoner. Now, they tried Louis for treason, finding him guilty and sentencing him to death. He was guillotined on January 21, 1793.
    • The War Continues
      • The National Convention continued the war on Austria and Prussia. When they took office, France won an amazing victory at the Battle of Valmy. However, Britain, Holland, and Spain all joined in the fight against France. The French army began to suffer a series of defeats. Finally, the Jacobins decided to draft 300,000 French citizens between 18 and 40, expanding the army to 800,000, including women.
  • The Terror Grips France

    The Jacobins had also made enemies of many citizens in France. These peasants were horrified by the king’s execution, the priests did not like the state controlled church, and rival leaders who wanted power. This became an issue.

    • Robespierre Assumes Control
      • In 1793, one of the Jacobin leaders came out on top. His supporters and he agreed to build a “republic of virtue” where the old France would be wiped away. They believed in reason, changed the calendar, and destroyed religious churches.
      • Robespierre ruled France almost as a dictator, using Revolution ideals to justify his “Reign of Terror”.
      • As much as 40000 people were executed, and almost 85% of the people were peasants.
  • End of the Terror
    • In July, 1794, the National Convention turned on Robespierre, demanding his arrest and execution. The radical phase of the Revolution was over. They created a new plan of government, creating a 2-house legislature and an executive body of five men. They were moderates, not idealists. Some were corrupt and made themselves rich. However, France still had a period of piece and gained a new general to command the armies – Napoleon Bonaparte.