The French Revolution : Second Edition (Revised) [2 ed.] 9780522870664

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On 14 July 1789 thousands of Parisians seized the Bastille fortress in Paris. This was the most famous episode of the Revolution of 1789, when huge numbers of French people across the kingdom successfully rebelled against absolute monarchy and the privileges of the nobility. But the subsequent struggle over what social and political system should replace the ‘Old Regime’ was to divide French people and finally the whole of Europe. The French Revolution is one of the great turning-points in history. It continues to fascinate us, to inspire us, at times to horrify us. Never before had the people of a large and populous country sought to remake their society on the basis of the principles of liberty and equality. The drama, success and tragedy of their project have attracted students to it for more than two centuries. Its importance and fascination for us are undiminished as we try to understand revolutions in our own times. There are three key questions this book investigates. First, why was there a revolution in 1789? Second, why did the Revolution continue after 1789, culminating in civil war, foreign invasion and terror? Third, what was the significance of the Revolution? Was the French Revolution a major turning-point in French, even world history, or instead just a protracted period of violent upheaval and warfare which wrecked millions of lives? Peter McPhee was appointed to a Personal Chair in History at the University of Melbourne in 1993. He has published widely on the history of modern France, most recently Living the French Revolution 1789–1799 (London, 2006); Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life (London, 2012); and Liberty or Death. The French Revolution (London, 2016). He was the University of Melbourne’s first Provost in 2007–09. He became a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012.

The French Revolution Peter McPhee

MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY PRESS An imprint of Melbourne University Publishing Limited 11–15 Argyle Place South, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia [email protected] First published 2014 Revised edition 2015 Second edition 2016 Revised Second edition 2017 Text © Peter McPhee, 2016 Design and typography © Melbourne University Publishing Limited, 2016 This book is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 and subsequent amendments, no part may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means or process whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publishers. Every attempt has been made to locate the copyright holders for material quoted in this book. Any person or organisation that may have been overlooked or misattributed may contact the publisher. National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry McPhee, Peter, 1948– author. The French revolution/Peter McPhee. 9780522870664 (ebook) Includes index. France—History—Revolution, 1789–1799. France—Politics and government—1789–1799. 944.04

Contents List of maps, tables, images and videos 1 France in the 1780s 2 The Revolution of 1789 3 Reform, Conflict, and a Second Revolution, 1789–1792 4 The Crisis of 1792–1793: War and Terror 5 Ending the Terror, Ending the Revolution, 1794–1799 6 The Significance of the French Revolution Chronology Further Reading Index

List of maps, tables, images and videos Maps 1. France—physical 2. European Empires in the Atlantic c1760 3. Pays d’élection and pays d’État in France, 1789 4. Tax and customs areas of France, 1789 5. Regions of law and language boundaries, France 1789 6. France, 1789: ecclesiastical 7. North America before 1754 8. North America in 1763 9. Revolutionary Paris 10. Currents of the Great Fear 11. Départements of France, 1800 12. The Clerical Oath, 1791 13. Zones of conflict 1793–1794 14. Priestly abdications, 1793–1794 15. Emigration in 1793 16. Executions, 1793–1794 17. Sister Republics under the Director 18. Political Societies, 1793–1794 19. Colonial Possessions c1780 20. Dates of independence

Maps drawn by Gavin Leys, University of Melbourne, information sourced from Peter McPhee, The French Revolution 1789–1799, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002 (maps 1, 9, 16); Georges Lefebvre, The Great Fear of 1789, New York: Vintage Books, 1973 (map 10); Joel Cornette (ed.), Atlas de l’histoire de France 481-2005, Paris: Belin, 2012 (maps 3– 6, 11–15, 17); Paul S. Boyer (ed.), The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1990 (maps 7, 8); ‘Political Evolution of Central America and the Caribbean 1700 and on’ by Esemono (own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons ( (no. 2, 18, 19).

Tables 1. The Price of Wheat in France, 1709–1790 Table drawn by Gavin Leys, University of Melbourne, information sourced from Ernest

Labrousse, Esquisse du movement des prix et des revenus en France au XVIIIe siècle, Paris: Librairie Dalloz, 1932 2. Depreciation of assignats during the revolutionary period Table drawn by Gavin Leys, University of Melbourne, information sourced from Pierre Caron (ed.), Tableaux de dépréciation du papier-monnaie, Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1909

Images 1. Bas-relief, Port-Vendres, c1783 2. Maximilien Robespierre’s house, Arras, 1787–1789 3. The storming of the Bastille, 14 July 1789 4. Marie-Anne Charpentier’s diary, Orléans, 1789 5. Stone image of the Bastille, 1790, Camps-sur-l’Agly 6. Plane tree, 1790, Tamniès 7. and 8. Bastille stone, 1790, St-Julien-du-Sault in Burgundy 9. The siege of the Tuileries palace and overthrow of the monarchy, 10 August 1792 10. Revolutionary plate, 1792 11. Statue honouring General Kellermann, battle of Valmy, 20 September 1792 12. Liberty tree, Villardebelle, 1792 13. Home of Charlotte Corday, Les Champeaux, near Écorches in Normandy 14. Physical destruction of religious statuary, Moulins 15. Note calling to clandestine celebration of the ‘holy sacraments’, western France, 1793– 1794 16. Inscription from the 1794 Cult of the Supreme Being, Houdan 17. Chapel of St-Cornélis, Spain 18. ‘Temple de la Nature’, near Sallanches, 1796 19. ‘Altar of the homeland’, Thionville, 1796 20. History and memory: Varennes 21. History and memory: Savenay 22. History and memory: Le Louroux 23. History and memory: Auray 24. History and memory: Vannes 25. Measuring distance, 1799

Videos 1. Peter McPhee interviews Professor Ian Germani, University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, on the role of military discipline in the French Revolutionary Wars. 2. Peter McPhee interviews Dr Marisa Linton, Kingston University in London, about her

book, Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship and Authenticity in the French Revolution, a major study of the politics of Jacobinism. 3. Peter McPhee interviews Professor Timothy Tackett, University of California, Irvine, on the origins of terror in the French Revolution.

Chapter 1 France in the 1780s [1.1] Introduction On 14 July 1789 thousands of Parisians seized the Bastille fortress in Paris, a towering symbol of royal power in the heart of the popular neighbourhoods of eastern Paris. This was the most famous episode of the French Revolution, when huge numbers of French people across the kingdom successfully rebelled against absolute monarchy and the privileges of the nobility. But the subsequent struggle over which social and political system should replace the Ancien Régime (Old Regime) was to divide French people and eventually the whole of Europe. The French Revolution is one of the great turning-points in history. It continues to fascinate us, to inspire us, at times to horrify us. Never before had the people of a large and populous country sought to fundamentally remake their society on the basis of the principles of liberty and equality. The drama, success and tragedy of their project has attracted students to it for more than two centuries. Its importance and fascination are undiminished as we try to understand revolutions in our own times. There are three key questions that have exercised the minds of people ever since 1789. First, why was there a Revolution at all? Ever since Parisians seized the Bastille people have debated the origins and meaning of what had happened. Was the Revolution the result of the monarchy’s bankruptcy and political ineptitude, or the eruption of long-term social change and frustration, revolutionary ideas, or something else? Second, why did the Revolution continue after 1789? The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, proclaimed in August of that year, was a revolutionary statement about a radically different society that was now to be created. It was greeted enthusiastically. However, in the years after 1789, people could not agree on the practical application of the Declaration’s principles, driving the Revolution in new directions. Opponents of change inside and outside France forced governments to take measures to preserve the Revolution itself, culminating in the most controversial period of all, the ‘Terror’ of 1793–94. Third, what was the significance of the Revolution? What were its outcomes? By the time Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in 1799, how revolutionary had the changes been in France? Did the protracted political instability of these years disguise a more fundamental social and economic stability? Was the French Revolution a major turning-point in French, even world, history, as its proponents claim, or instead just a protracted period of violent upheaval and warfare that caused the premature deaths of many thousands of people and wrecked millions of lives?

[1.2] Some Essentials of Eighteenth-century France

France is the largest country in Europe outside Russia, a land of great geographic contrasts: from mountains—Mont Blanc in the Alps, at 4800 metres of altitude; the Pyrenees at 3000 metres—to the plains of the Paris Basin, and the rugged landscape of the Massif Central. Tourists today relish the diversity of the French landscape, but the contrasting topography of this sprawling country was to pose great challenges for the leaders of the Revolution in communicating with distant towns and villages.1

Map 1 France—physical

In every other way, France in the eighteenth century was a very different land from the nation we are familiar with today, in terms of its people, how they lived and worked, and how they were governed. First, it was the most populous country in western Europe, with approximately 28 million people (England had but 7.3 million at that time). Paris was easily the largest city, with perhaps 650 000 inhabitants, followed by Lyon with 145 000. There were seventy-five provincial towns and cities with 10 000–100 000 people: six with 50 000– 100 000 (Marseille, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille, Rouen, Toulouse); eighteen with 20 000–40 000; and about fifty with 10 000–15 000 inhabitants. Paris housed only one in every forty French person compared with one in seven today. The significance of this provincial population was that most people looked to their local urban centre as their ‘capital’: the actual capital of the realm, Versailles, 20 kilometres west of Paris, seemed a distant, almost mystical entity. Second, the hold of the royal state over its territory was made more tenuous by linguistic diversity and ancient regional cultural identities. Most subjects of Louis XVI spoke their own language or dialect. The southern border of France had incorporated minorities of Basques and Catalans since 1659. Several million people in Languedoc spoke variants of Occitan. In the northwest, one million Celts lived in Brittany; the northeastern border passed through Flemish-speaking lands and the eastern border passed through German-speaking regions of Alsace. On the other hand, the royal state did not include the area around Avignon, which had been papal territory since the fourteenth century. While the monarchy had sought since the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts in 1539 to impose linguistic uniformity by requiring priests and lawyers to speak French, and for church registers and public acts to be kept in French, such controls only affected the surface of life in France. Cultural unity across the vast area of the royal state lay essentially in the formal adherence to Catholicism, the religion of 97 per cent of the people. A third contrast with today is that France was essentially a rural society: some 85 per cent of its people lived in villages and hamlets with an average size of 600–700 people. The dominant economic orientation of most small communities was subsistence polyculture, a system of agriculture in which peasant households sought to produce as much as possible of their daily needs. Since few peasants and farmers owned sufficient land to produce much of a surplus for sale, and because peasants consequently had little disposable income, country towns were small. Only 8 per cent of the population lived in towns with more than 10 000 people. The rural economy was characterised by traditional practices, exemplified by the use of oxen capable of ploughing about one acre per day (compared with later steam-powered ploughs capable of tilling ten daily); by the dominance of cereal crops, which produced ten times as much protein as meat per acre but drained the soil of nutrients, requiring one-third to be left fallow; by painstaking harvesting, where ten acres took three weeks to harvest, with peasants often using the sickle rather than the scythe; and by low yields for cereal crops of an average of six seeds for every one sown (today this is commonly at least thirty to one). The system of land tenure reinforced this subsistence agriculture. Control of land ownership by elites (nobles, wealthy clergy or their religious orders, and wealthy

townspeople) meant that, varying across regions, 60–90 per cent of farm holdings were too small to support a family. Heavy exactions of taxes and feudal dues made the contemplation of risk-taking impossible for most peasant landholders. Nevertheless, economic change was occurring in specific areas. There was a dual or parallel economy, contrasting the longstanding routines and traditional markets of much of rural France with a dynamic commercial sector linking major seaports and inland cities. Urban growth in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux and elsewhere was encouraging owners and renters of large property to produce specialised cash crops for the urban market, particularly cereal crops, vegetables, cattle and wine. Colonial trade, particularly with the Caribbean, was booming, creating opportunities for growth in trade (coffee, sugar, tobacco, indigo) and manufacturing in the great Atlantic ports (Nantes, La Rochelle and Bordeaux). Slavery in the plantation economies was vital to French trade: 30–40 per cent of overseas trade was with slave colonies, especially in the Caribbean (Guadeloupe, St-Domingue and Martinique). In St-Domingue, by far the most important colony, a population of 31 000 whites, 27 500 freed slaves, and 465 000 slaves produced two-fifths of the sugar and half the coffee in the world. Slavery was confined to the colonies, but there were 750 Africans—former slaves—in Paris, and perhaps as many in Nantes, most working as domestic servants and artisans.

Map 2 European Empires in the Atlantic c1760

[1.3] A Society of ‘Estates’: Commoners, Nobility and Clergy So France was a land that varied enormously in topography, language and agriculture. Everywhere, however, the formal social structure was marked by the contrasting privileges

and status of the three ‘orders’ or ‘estates’ that had characterised French society since medieval times: the clergy, whose primary duty in theory was to pray; the nobility, whose duty was to bear arms; and the commons, those who worked. By the eighteenth century, however, the social realities no longer matched closely this medieval conception of the world.

[1.3.1] The First Estate: the Church The Catholic Church was in a reciprocal relationship with the population of its 40 000 parishes. Most importantly, it provided charity, education, information about the outside world and spiritual comfort in return for the tithe peasants paid on their produce. The Church itself was divided by wealth, status and power. In all there were about 140 000 members of the First Estate, about 0.5 per cent of the total population. The ‘regular’ clergy of 26 000 monks and 55 000 nuns lived in more than a thousand monasteries and convents, characterised by great diversity of energy and activity. The female orders fulfilled vital functions of nursing and teaching. The male contemplative orders in particular attracted both criticism and cynicism, which was far more rarely the case for the ‘secular’ or parish clergy of some 40 000 priests and their 19 000 curates. The parish clergy were commoners, in most parts of the kingdom receiving a minimal salary of perhaps 750 livres for a priest and 300 livres for his curate, enough to enable a material lifestyle that scarcely distinguished them from their parishioners. But they were the most educated and influential person in thousands of villages across the kingdom. In stark contrast, the ‘high’ or upper clergy of about 3000 were commonly noble by birth. These were the bishops (virtually all 139 of whom were noble), the cathedral canons and the abbots of monasteries: two-thirds of monasteries were held in commendam, where wealthy absentee nobles enjoyed fees without obligation of residence. At an extreme was the Archbishop of Strasbourg, the Cardinal de Rohan, a relative of the royal family, who received an income of 450 000 livres plus seigneurial dues from across the Rhine River in the Rhineland. Away to the south, the bishopric of Apt in the Alps provided a salary of just 20 000 livres, despite its great heritage dating back to the fourth century. There were three main sources of the church’s wealth and power. First, the Church owned 6–8 per cent of the urban and rural property of the kingdom. This was often property of high value left in wills by noble families, and it brought in massive rents. Second, the faithful were expected—and in rural parishes, required—to contribute a tithe, usually one-eighth to one-twelfth of their crops at harvest time. Third, in many areas religious orders and cathedral chapters were themselves seigneurs with harvest and other ‘rights’ over villages and their inhabitants. For example, near Carcassonne in Languedoc, the abbey of Lagrasse, founded by Charlemagne in c700AD, was seigneur of twenty-three parishes, twelve of them shared with other seigneurs. The First Estate was a privileged corporation in a society of orders, exempt from taxes and royal laws. It was self-governing, and subject to its internal laws (the word ‘privilege’

comes from ‘private laws’ or privus legum). It paid only a voluntary levy or don gratuit to the monarchy. On annual revenues estimated at about 300 million livres, the don was usually no more than about 3.5 million. During a sharp fiscal crisis in 1788, the Finance Minister Loménie de Brienne, himself a senior ecclesiastic, asked his peers for 8 million and received the calculated insult of just 1.8 million from them. About 97 per cent of the population was at least nominally Catholic. Every aspect of life in France was imbued with the Church’s presence and practices. Whereas today there are at least 1500 people for every priest in France, in the eighteenth century there were fewer than 500. Its self-government was by an assembly or synod of high clergy convened every five years, generating resentments from sections of the lower clergy—in particular the followers of ‘Richerism’, a term coming from the name of a seventeenth-century church law specialist who had argued that Christ had commissioned not only the twelve apostles but also the seventy disciples mentioned in Luke’s Gospel. From this Richerist groundswell came demands for greater clerical influence, especially at synods, and for clerical control over the tithe, which was commonly paid directly to cathedral chapters before a portion (the portion congrue) was dispersed to parish clergy. Richerism was banned in 1780.2 The ‘Tridentine’ Church was based on a theology formed by the Council of Trent in 1545 as a Counter-Reformation against the Protestant challenge. The clergy taught a Catholicism of hell-fire, damnation and fear, taught by a seminary-trained, austere and often ‘outsider’ clergy (40 per cent of priests were recruited in towns) who themselves had been taught to mistrust the secular and profane. In the 1780s, Yves-Michel Marchais, the priest of a devout western parish, insisted to his congregation:

The joys, the pleasures, the happiness of life are always dangerous and almost always fatal; the games, laughter, and amusements of the world are like the mark of damnation and are gifts given to us by God in his anger. Whereas tears and suffering are the signs of God’s pity and a certain promise of salvation.3 This was a similar message as that threatened by Father Bridaine, a veteran of 256 ‘missions’ to strengthen the backbone of priests and laity:

Cruel famine, bloody war, flood, fire … raging toothache, the stabbing pain of gout, the convulsions of epilepsy, burning fever, broken bones … all the tortures undergone by the martyrs: sharp swords, iron combs, the teeth of lions and tigers, the rack, the wheel, the cross, red-hot grills, burning oil, melted lead …4 Even though perhaps 90 per cent of rural people fulfilled the minimal requirement for Catholics of attending Easter mass, it is very difficult to make judgments about popular attitudes. Religiosity—the practice of religious observance—may be measurable, but spirituality—the meaning of such observance—is not. There are, however, a number of clues suggesting a decline in the strength of religious commitment. First, from 1750, recruitment of

nuns and priests declined by 25 per cent: religious orders in particular were finding it difficult to replace their ageing members. Second, across the eighteenth century, the percentage of women who were pregnant at marriage rose from 9 to 15 per cent, suggesting that the moral strictures of the Church were losing potency. Of critical importance to the later experience of the Revolution, however, is that there were regional contrasts. In much of the west and northwest of France, there was a greater density or presence of priests; there were plenty of willing recruits from well-established local families. Their social standing was strengthened by direct payment of the tithe to them rather than to the cathedrals, and by their pivotal role in their ‘community of souls’, as people from scattered hamlets and farms united for worship every Sunday. In Brittany, 99 per cent of births were within marriage. Between the ages of twenty-six and forty-three, women gave birth every 20 months (half their eight to ten children died in infancy). In contrast, in the southeast of the kingdom, priests were less well-paid; they tended to be from poorer, urban backgrounds and had to accommodate themselves to playing a less important community role and having less moral authority in this region of large villages and small towns. In the village of Lourmarin, for example, women married at age twenty-one, and 19 per cent of them were already pregnant; yet they had fewer than four children. This suggests that the use of contraception was becoming widespread, and that there was therefore a decline in religious authority. This decline was exacerbated in Lourmarin by the presence of many Protestants, chafing under restrictions on their religious freedom and status.5 The First Estate was characterised by the depth of its tradition and custom, and by its corporate wealth. But there were sharp internal polarities between the wealthiest bishops, abbots and superiors and the mass of the parish clergy. Smouldering away within the First Estate—and among the faithful—were the underlying ambiguities of the Church’s teachings: should the meek wait to inherit the kingdom of Heaven and render to Caesar what is Caesar’s? Was it harder for a rich man to enter Heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle?

[1.3.2] The Second Estate: the Nobility The Second Estate was the dominant elite in French society. From it came the king’s ministers and his senior administrators in the provinces (intendants). It furnished the personnel of almost all of the officer corps in the armed forces; the higher magistracy in the judiciary; and the senior posts within the Church. For example, only sixteen of the 211 lieutenant-generals in the army were of commoner origin; and more than 90 per cent of the total officer corps was noble—a figure increasing after the 1781 Ségur Ordinance, which tightened the requisite ‘quarterings’ of nobility.6 Older estimates of the size of the Second Estate were as high as 350 000, but more recent research has calculated that there were only about 125 000 nobles in 25 000 families (0.5 per cent of the population). There were several major sources of noble wealth. First, the nobility owned directly about 30 per cent of France’s landed resources, whether farmed as a seigneurial domain or

rented to peasants. Second, most noble families had retained extensive feudal or seigneurial ‘rights’ over rural communities—reflecting the medieval origins of the social system when all land belonged to the lord or seigneur (nulle terre sans seigneur). All land owned by the non-privileged, especially peasants, was liable to a maze of seigneurial exactions. These dues varied across regions, from direct levies of 3 to 15 per cent of produce at harvest time, to ‘rights’ to hunt, to monopolies (banalités) over the communal oven, the wine and olive press. Third, the nobility was exempt from most direct taxes. There were also ‘honorific’ privileges integral to noble status, for example, the right to wear a sword, to have reserved pews in the parish church, to be tried by one’s peers and to be spared physically degrading punishments. The nobility as a ‘corporate’ social order was, however, riddled with tensions. It was divided between two broad groups: the noblesse d’épée (the ‘sword’ nobility), reflecting the medieval assumption that the nobility was obliged to fight, and for which it received privileges in return; and the noblesse de robe, those bourgeois whose distinguished service in the administration and judiciary had led them to be ennobled or who had bought noble titles. The nobility was also divided by wealth, between its elite (les grands) of perhaps 4000 families who spent most of the year at court at Versailles, and the country squires or hobereaux, poorer provincial nobles clinging to pedigrees, exemptions and privileges on their country estates. Even the elite was finely divided by wealth and status: from those who had been presented to the queen; to those allowed to sit on a footstool in her presence; to those allowed to ride in her carriage. In the words of a brilliant young noble, Talleyrand, who had been appointed a bishop at thirty-five, the nobility was characterised by a ‘cascade of contempt’. These were not empty symbols of status: the family of the Queen’s favourite the Duchesse de Polignac received 438,000 livres in pensions and salaries. The dominant aristocratic values invested prestige in control over people and landed resources, and to a lesser extent mining and trade. Indeed, some self-consciously ‘enlightened’ nobles were at the forefront of innovations in agriculture in particular. The elite, however, were commonly prejudiced against manufacturing, banking and commerce, prejudices often aggravated by the association of these activities with Protestants and Jews, religious denominations subject to restrictions on their freedom to worship and, in the case of Jews, their occupations and even their residence in designated streets and quartiers. In theory, the nobility not only had obligations towards the monarch but also towards ‘their’ communities—what was referred to as noblesse oblige. Historians debate whether the peasants’ economic vulnerability meant that the nobility exercised a social control that was reinforced by peasant deference to their masters. It seems, however, that rural communities manoeuvred for advantage within the bounds of legality whenever possible. Sometimes they took matters further. The French historian Guy Lemarchand has counted no fewer than 4400 recorded acts of open protest or rebellion by rural communities in the decades 1725–85, especially in the latter years, as peasants contested the legality of their obligations.7 Certainly, noble status was reinforced if the nobles had the capacity to afford ostentatious display in housing, dress and food, as conspicuous consumption was a way of marking out

status. Most obviously, the château was the most powerful symbol of power and wealth in the countryside, just as were cathedrals in towns. The Second Estate had originated at a time when wealth and power came from control of land and military resources. Across the centuries, however, the monarchy had slowly exerted its power over the nobility at the expense of according exemptions and privileges. There were no armed forces other than the royal army: seigneurs no longer offered military protection to their peasants. This erosion of the traditional raison d’être of the nobility was matched by a softening of the traditional aristocratic contempt for commerce and the professions. As bourgeois wealth increased, so they sought investments, and many nobles obliged by selling estates and titles. In the region around the northern city of Beauvais, for example, sixteen of the fifty-eight noble families had been ennobled since 1740. Similarly, around Le Mans, 22 per cent of seigneurs were of bourgeois background. Their estates may have been a sound investment, but a property market in seigneurialism might seem to contradict the raison d’être of seigneurialism itself.

[1.3.3] The Third Estate: the Non-privileged The Third Estate—some 99 per cent of the population—included all the non-privileged, from beggars to bankers. The largest social group in this overwhelmingly rural society may be described as ‘peasants’, that is, people directly working the land. But the peasantry and their communities were socially mixed: there were others who lived in the rural community (artisans, the clergy, the lord or seigneur, and their employees), and the peasantry was internally stratified by wealth. The peasantry as a social group ranged from owners and renters of significant areas of farmland (laboureurs and fermiers) to sharecroppers and farmlabourers; and perhaps 10 per cent of rural people were destitute, surviving on charity and occasional work. Eighteenth-century France was a land of tenuous survival for most people. One example of this is the annual budget of a farm-labouring couple from Mamers in western France, in the late-eighteenth century. Income for 365 days

No income for 70 Sundays and other religious ‘holy-days’

No income for 35 days of snow, frost or heavy rain

260 days work at 17 sous (man 12, woman 5)

220 livres

extra work at harvest-time

24 livres


244 livres


10 sous per day for food

182 livres 10 sous


20 livres

Clothes and tools

40 livres


242 livres 10 sous8

There was thus the slimmest of margins in normal times: a poor season, or the arrival of children, could upset this delicate balancing act. Most French people were vulnerable to poverty because of low harvest yields and the subsistence orientation of agriculture. On average, in one year in four most people consumed less than what we today regard as the calorific minimum of 2500 calories. They were also vulnerable to mass poverty because of ‘surplus extraction’ by the three pillars of the system: 30–40 per cent of peasant produce was taken by the nobility, clergy and monarchy. The urban population was as varied as that of the countryside. The wealthier members of the urban Third Estate were commonly known as bourgeois, literally meaning the inhabitant of a bourg or town but by the eighteenth century denoting a way of life associated with the professions, administration or commerce. The largest groups within the bourgeoisie were the liberal professions (especially lawyers); civil servants and officials; and the owners of rented property, rural and urban. Less numerous but very visible because of their wealth were capitalist entrepreneurs (financiers, merchants, manufacturers) and rentiers who lived from their investments. One of the social characteristics of this group was that bourgeois women did not commonly undertake domestic manual work or economic activity outside the home, although there are many individual examples of women active in business. The largest grouping within the urban Third Estate was the ‘common people’ (menu peuple), employed across a range of pre-industrial artisan occupations: small employers (shopkeepers, master-craftsmen); skilled workers (journeymen, market women); and manual workers (labourers, porters). On the ‘margins’ of urban society were the destitute, such as beggars, and those who lived on their wits, such as prostitutes. Even in ordinary times, the poor were perhaps 10 per cent of the urban population. Despite its size, Paris was typical of France’s major cities in many ways. Like other cities, it was ringed by a wall, extended in the 1780s, largely for the collection of customs duties on goods brought into the city from the countryside. Within the walls were a number of faubourgs or suburbs, each with its distinctive mix of migrants from particular provinces and their trades. Paris was dominated by small workshops and retail shops: there were thousands of small enterprises employing, on average, three or four people. In skilled trades, a hierarchy of masters in guilds controlled the entry of journeymen, who had qualified by presenting their masterpiece (chef d’oeuvre) on completion of their tour de France through provincial centres specialising in their craft. This was a world in which small employers and wage-earners were bonded by deep knowledge of their skilled trade, and where skilled workers were identified by their craft as much as by whether they were masters or workers. The menu peuple did not make up an industrial working-class. Nevertheless, frustrations between workers and their masters were evident in trades where entry to a mastership was difficult; in some industries, such as printing, the introduction of new machines was threatening the skills of journeymen and apprentices. In 1776 skilled wage-earners had rejoiced at the news of the planned abolition of guilds and the chance of establishing their own workshops, but the reform was suspended; then in 1781 a system of livrets, or workers’

pass-books, was introduced, strengthening the hand of masters at the expense of fractious employees. There were some large enterprises in the eastern faubourg St-Antoine, where Réveillon’s wallpaper factory employed 350 people and the brewer Santerre had 800 workers. In the western neighbourhoods, the building industry was booming as the well-to-do constructed imposing residences away from the teeming medieval quarters of the central city and the faubourgs of the east. However, most Parisians continued to live in congested streets in the central neighbourhoods near the river Seine, where the population was vertically segregated in tenement buildings: often, wealthy bourgeois or even nobles would occupy the first and second floors above shops and workplaces, with their domestic servants, artisans and the poor inhabiting the upper floors and garrets. As in rural communities, the Catholic Church was a constant presence in Paris: there were 140 convents and monasteries (housing 1000 monks and 2500 nuns) and 1200 parish clergy. The Church owned at least one-quarter of the city’s property.9 The Church was the backbone of charity and education, as in the countryside, but its spiritual authority was weaker: fewer than half of Parisians regularly took communion in the 1780s.

[1.4] The Government of France At the pinnacle of both the state and the Church was Louis XVI, ‘king of France by the grace of God’. The most awesome statement of power was in the scale and opulence of his palace at Versailles, completed earlier in the century by Louis XIV. In return for sanctioning the absolute power of the monarchy, the Catholic Church exercised a monopoly of public religious practice, and enjoyed privilege in both taxes and laws. Similarly, in return for accepting the power of the monarchy, the nobility received a monopoly of high office and a range of fiscal and legal privileges. While Louis was in theory responsible only to God for the wellbeing of his subjects, in reality there was a latent tension between this absolute power and the corporate privileges of the clergy and nobility. These were the major obstacles to the monarch’s absolute authority. These obstacles were reflected in the institutional structures of eighteenth-century France, which were characterised by extraordinary degrees of complexity and special arrangements, the legacy of eight centuries of state building through compromise with ruling elites in provinces as they were incorporated into the kingdom. The institutional structures of France in the 1780s speak to us of the uneven hold that the royal state apparatus could claim over an area of Europe marked by geographic, historical and, above all, cultural diversity. The kingdom was a patchwork of privilege, stitched together by centuries of compromises and arrangements with provincial élites. The thirty-three administrative généralités imperfectly coincided with the ethnic realities of the kingdom, and administrative units varied strikingly in size (from sprawling Languedoc to the compact Dombes) and, most importantly, in function and powers. The pays d’Etat, such as Brittany, Languedoc and Burgundy, claimed rights to internal self-government denied to pays d’élection, such as in the

setting of taxes to meet the state’s needs.

Map 3 Pays d’élection and pays d’État in France, 1789

Map 4 Tax and customs areas of France, 1789

Map 5 Regions of law and language boundaries, France 1789

Map 6 France, 1789: ecclesiastical Cutting across administrative subdivisions was a complex set of internal customs barriers. Much of northern France had formed a customs union in 1664, but was separated from the

south, Brittany, the east and Artois by customs barriers. The eastern provinces traded freely across France’s eastern border, but not with the rest of the country. These customs arrangements were further complicated by internal toll-houses belonging to nobles and towns, levying transit charges on goods using roads, bridges and canals. Internal trade was further hampered by variations in the name and values of weights, measures and even currency. Not only were members of the privileged orders largely exempt from state taxation, but the rate at which the major tax on wealth, the taille, was levied varied significantly between généralités: pays d’Etat in particular were more lightly taxed. The state’s major source of indirect taxation, the gabelle on salt, varied even more sharply across provinces.10 Nowhere did administrative and fiscal divisions correspond with the jurisdiction of the thirteen parlements and four conseils souverains, the highest courts of the land. While the Parlement of Paris had powers over almost half the country, the domain of the courts in Perpignan and Arras was tiny. A major division into areas of customary and written law between north and south cut across judicial boundaries, and was immeasurably complicated by the existence of special courts and codes for nobles and clergy and those obligated to them, and of up to sixty regional codes for certain offences. The extraordinary complexity of the administration was matched by the organisation of the church. The archdioceses and dioceses varied enormously in size. The priests of the Cerdagne in the eastern Pyrenees remained subject to the bishop of Seo-de-Urgel in Spain. Most striking was the contrast in the density of bishoprics, heavily concentrated in the south as a legacy of the fourteenth-century residence of the papacy at Avignon. Such were the disparities of wealth, work and opportunity within French society that, in hindsight, it might appear strange that revolution had not occurred earlier rather than just sporadic political crises and rioting. Certainly, there had been catastrophic harvests earlier, as in 1709 and 1774, and military disasters, as in 1763. In 1774, moreover, Louis XVI had just come to the throne, aged only twenty years. There was widespread food rioting and political instability in 1774–75, but no revolutionary challenge.

Table 1 The Price of Wheat in France, 1709–1790 Table drawn by Gavin Leys, University of Melbourne; information sourced from Ernest Labrousse, Esquisse du movement des prix et des revenus en France au XVIIIe siècle, Paris: Librairie Dalloz, 1932 What was different about 1789? A common answer has been to identify the ‘Enlightenment’ as filling the need for a revolutionary ideology to imagine a better world.

[1.5] The Enlightenment from ‘Above’: A Revolutionary Ideology?

Contemporaries often referred to their age as the âge des lumières or Enlightenment, but this was not an intellectual movement concentrated in time and place: it was most fertile after 1750 in western Europe but there were links elsewhere in Europe and beyond. It was also characterised by diversity: from the perspectives of the Baron de Montesquieu (1689–1755), who justified the Second Estate by looking to the role of the House of Lords in England in balancing power and protecting liberties, to those of Jean Meslier, a parish priest or curé in the province of Champagne for forty years, who at his death in 1733 left behind three handwritten copies of a 633-page manuscript, in which he attacked the privileged orders (including his own) and private property. Louis XIV, referred to sarcastically by Meslier as ‘the great monarch’, was ‘great only in love’, known not ‘for great and praiseworthy actions … but for great injustices, robberies, usurpations, desolations, ravages and massacres of men on all sides’. The great clergy ask God ‘to help them to slaughter their enemies with success, thanking Him for their prosperity, and ending the whole ceremony with a pious Te Deum’.11 Despite this diversity, two broad things can be said about the underpinnings of the intellectual ferment that seethed in urban France, as elsewhere.12 First, it attacked orthodox ideas in religion on the basis of ‘reason’, the evaluation of observable phenomena by the senses; and, second, it necessarily linked this to an attack on absolutism and privilege. In the words of Denis Diderot in 1771:

Every century has its own characteristic spirit. The spirit of ours seems to be liberty. The first attack against superstition was violent, unchecked. Once people dared in whatever manner to attack the barrier of religion, this barrier that is the most formidable as well as the most respected, it was impossible to stop. From the time when they turned threatening looks against the heavenly majesty, they did not fail the next moment to direct them against the earthly power. The rope that holds and represses humanity is composed of two strands: one of them cannot give way without the other breaking.13 While very few intellectuals—commonly called philosophes—criticised the work of the parish clergy, and even fewer were atheists, many targeted the monastic orders, the hierarchical structures of the Church, its privileges and wealth, and its intolerance. The notion of original sin, of the necessary misery of the human condition, was repudiated by the philosophes’ insistence on the right to earthly fulfillment. The spectre of a God of fear was challenged by a preference for a more kindly ‘supreme being’ present in nature and in the purest feelings. Philosophes agreed that non-believers and those of other faiths deserved tolerance, and were enthused by Voltaire’s successful campaign to win posthumous rehabilitation of the Protestant Toulouse merchant, Jean Calas, who in 1762 had been tortured, broken on the wheel, and hanged. His property was confiscated on the spurious claim that he had killed his son to prevent him from converting to Catholicism. Similarly, most philosophes condemned absolutism and preached individual rights and liberties. They looked to a more scientific approach to government to secure material progress through the application of reason and science, as in manufacture or agriculture. But,

with few exceptions, they were not democrats. Their belief that people were born as tabula rasa (‘blank slates’) inscribed by society implied that the masses were irredeemably prejudiced and ignorant as a result of their poverty. Instead philosophes looked to enlightened rule through a monarch such as Frederick II of Prussia or Catherine II of Russia. Voltaire and Diderot both sustained a long, intense correspondence with Catherine, and the latter spent five months with her in Russia in 1773–74. Above all, however, they were certain of the capacity of human society for improvement. This emphasis on progress, reason and happiness meant also an emphasis on economic improvement. But how could it best be achieved? The philosophes’ greatest work, the multivolume Encyclopédie, was full of technical information for the improvement of agriculture and manufacture, to be further encouraged by the doctrines of economic liberty: expressed as laissez-faire, laissez-passer (‘free enterprise, free trade’). Such values necessarily conflicted with Church teachings that poverty was a dignified state in which the meek should await a divine inheritance. It also suggests that there is a connection between the concerns for economic progress, civil liberties and the increasing commercial activity of eighteenthcentury France. Rather different to his philosophe peers was Jean-Jacques Rousseau, fundamentally democratic in motivation, and convinced that virtuous citizens could be created by more child-centred education, representative government and civic-minded legislators. Above all, Rousseau insisted that the European world had been led to perdition by the extremes of wealth and poverty. As he described injustice most powerfully in A Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (1755):

The great inequality in manner of living, the extreme idleness of some, and the excessive labour of others … The too exquisite foods of the wealthy that overheat and fill them with indigestion, and, on the other hand, the unwholesome food of the poor, often, bad as it is, insufficient for their needs … the innumerable pains and anxieties inseparable from every condition of life … these are fatal proofs that the greater part of our ills are of our own making. Rousseau’s solution, elaborated in two great works published in 1762, Emile, or on Education and On the Social Contract, was a radically egalitarian society in which the civic virtues would be inculcated to create a citizenry motivated by the ‘general will’:

Therefore the social contract is the basis of every civil society, and … can be summed up in this formula: Each of us puts his goods, his person, his life, and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and we as a body accept each member as a part indivisible from the whole.14 However, these books were little read compared with his sentimental, moral novel La Nouvelle Héloïse, probably the best-selling book of the century. And herein lies an important problem of historical method.

[1.6] The Importance of the Enlightenment: Cause or Symptom? Since the Revolution, there have been two general approaches to the significance of the Enlightenment, and ongoing debate among historians remains lively. First, there are historians who maximise its importance. As early as 1789 there were those who were soon identified as counter-revolutionaries and who sought to lay blame elsewhere for the unnecessary collapse of the world they knew. Rousseau and Voltaire were ideal targets. In the words of the Jesuit priest, the Abbé Barruel, in 1799:

Everything, down to the most heinous and horrendous crimes in this revolution, has been foreseen, contemplated, revolted upon, enacted, everything has been the result of the deepest wickedness, since everything has been prepared and induced by men who alone have the thread of those conspiracies hatched in secret societies and who have been able to expedite commotions suitable for plots.15 More recently, Jonathan Israel has agreed, although from an opposing political perspective, arguing that at the core of the Enlightenment were ideas that were incompatible with the Old Regime and that fatally undermined it. For him, the ‘radical Enlightenment’ was a revolutionary program for popular sovereignty, religious tolerance and even a republic.16 However, the philosophes did not call for revolution and most were comfortable within the system; by 1778, in any case, Rousseau and Voltaire were dead, and the Encyclopédie had been fully published. A second broad approach, in contrast to Israel’s, is that of Marxist historians such as Georges Lefebvre, Albert Soboul and George Rudé, who argued that it is better understood as an ideology subversive of aristocratic values and power, and linked to the social and economic challenges represented by a more numerous and important bourgeoisie as a class. (This did not prevent nobles being among the most eminent philosophes themselves.) There is no doubt that there were some immediate effects in the 1780s of ‘enlightened’ campaigns: there had been acceptance of rights for Protestants to be recognised as such at marriage and death; the personal tax on Jews had been abolished; as had serfdom on royal estates and the common use of torture to obtain ‘confessions’. But these were reforms, not of themselves revolutionary. Rather than a futile discussion about whether Enlightenment ideas ‘caused’ the French Revolution, it is more productive to understand their expression as symptomatic of a society undergoing change and tension. Rather than seeing new ideas as the autonomous expression of great minds, perhaps they might be better understood as a powerful expression of ideas that were circulating more widely? Like famous social critiques across the ages, from Karl Marx’s Capital to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Germaine Greer’s Female Eunuch, the great works of the Enlightenment became famous because they articulated with such resonance what many others were feeling and discussing. There is little doubt about the importance of the Enlightenment, but rather than being

understood as one of the causes of the Revolution, it should be understood as the symptom of a society in stress. It was no coincidence that the issues that prominent writers probed reflected concerns widespread in society, such as religious intolerance and impediments to commerce. Authors and agitated public authorities spoke more frequently of a ‘public opinion’ at odds with the values of the established élites within the privileged orders, opinion founded on the values of ‘utility’. The number of bourgeois had increased from about 700 000 in 1700 to perhaps 2.3 million in 1780, and a distinctive ‘consumer culture’ was emerging, apparent in the taste for writing tables, mirrors, clocks, umbrellas and other luxury goods. The thriving commercial sector, linked to the colonial trade, was generating values of consumption that expressed a new, urban, commoner confidence. The decades after 1750 were a time of a ‘clothing revolution’, in Daniel Roche’s words, in which values of respectability, decency and solid wealth were expressed in clothing across all social groups, but among the ‘middling’ classes in particular. Bourgeois also marked themselves off from nobles and artisans by their cuisine bourgeoise, featuring smaller, more regular meals, and by the private virtues of simplicity and propriety in housing, hygiene and manners.17 This was a cultural revolution subversive of traditional behaviours and assumptions, one dimension of which was the intellectual challenge of ‘enlightened’ literature.

[1.7] The Enlightenment from ‘Below’, and the Crisis of the Ancien Régime The evidence is compelling that the philosophes, the greatest writers of the time, were expressing widely felt views, even if it was not the Enlightenment ‘classics’ that were being read. In Paris, for example, there were 500 schools, one for every 1200 people, and high levels of literacy, but each volume of the Encyclopédie cost 200 livres, the annual wage of an unskilled labourer. Studies of the book trade, which was tightly controlled by guilds of printers and booksellers and cooperated with state and Church censors, do show a trend towards more secular rather than religious reading tastes after 1750. Travelogues were particularly popular. But it is in the cheap, often illegal trade that we find the most revealing clues to reading tastes. What did people want to buy and read? Robert Darnton studied the printing of the Encyclopédie in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and found that printers were supplying cheap sets of the Encyclopédie to the French market, and were also heavily involved in book smuggling across the Alps to places like Lyon.18 Within this illegal trade, there were two categories: first were pirate editions of books that were legal in France, and Darnton found 25 000 cheap sets of the Encyclopédie. These were not dangerous or offensive to the monarchy or the Church, but a second category certainly was. Of the two catalogues sent from Neuchâtel to booksellers, one advertised cheap editions of the Bible, English novels in translation, and the Encyclopédie; the other was of ‘philosophical’ books banned in France: Venus in the cloister, or the nun in the nightshirt,

with illustrations; Système de la Nature by d’Holbach; Système social; The falsity of miracles; La fille de joie, with illustrations; Social Contract by Rousseau; Authentic memoirs of mme la Comtesse du Barry; The Rights of Man and their Usurpations; and Margot the stocking-mender, with illustrations.19 Just how offensive were these books? Compared with pornography today, this obscene literature was much tamer, but it was characterised by an explosive mixture of obscenity and politics. L’Amour de Charlot et Toinette, for example, began with a description of the queen masturbating and of her affairs with her brother-in-law, and ridiculed the king for his supposed impotence. In a society that required, through the Salic Law, that the royal couple produce a male heir, and where Louis XVI was notoriously slow to do so, the ribald mockery that painted him as a cuckold far more interested in hunting (he killed 6000 ‘pieces’ (animals) each year) rather than in governing and in Marie-Antoinette—who was denigrated as la louve autrichienne (the Austrian bitch) and as emasculating and unfaithful—was explosive.20 In 1783, the Minister of War, the Comte de Vergennes, seems to have been more concerned with a cheap book business importing into France from England than with the Treaty of Paris at the end of the American War of Independence. But still the illegal literature found a way in, as in this 1784 catalogue supplied to a bookseller in the apparently tranquil clerical stronghold of Troyes, which mixed obscenity, mockery of the Church, and serious politics: Numbers of copies ordered

Book title


The Little Suppers at the Hôtel de Bouillon


The devil in the baptismal font


The Burgled Spy (by the high-born noble Mirabeau)


Maupeou’s Correspondance


Collected remonstrances of the reign of Louis XV


[Louis XV’s lover] Mme de Pompadour’s Memoirs


Louis XV’s private life


Louis XV’s orgies


History of Philosophy in 10 vols.


Erotika Biblion (again by Mirabeau)


Antiquity, Christianity and Despotism


complete Helvétius


Picture of Licentiousness in Paris


Rousseau’s latest book


Scandalous Chronicles


Marie-Antoinette’s hobbies


The Little Suppers of the Count de Vergennes.21

The final title—‘little suppers’ was a euphemism for sexual orgies—may help to explain Vergennes’ concern.

This evidence suggests that there was a gradual erosion of the mystique of the monarchy and respect for the Church. In turn the regime was digging its own grave, by placing Venus in the Cloister in the same category of ‘bad’ or ‘philosophical’ books along with the greatest works of the Enlightenment. This led to a subversive mixing of politics and sex, and Diderot and others were prepared to produce pamphlets for the underground market when their personal circumstances demanded. Certainly, there is abundant evidence that a fertile current of salacious mockery was undermining respect for Church and state at the same time as the greatest works of the age were proposing radical reform of structures of power and privilege. But this was an urban phenomenon: what of the countryside, where four-fifths of the French people lived? Could the peasantry read—and what, if anything, did they read? We know that about 47 per cent of men and 27 per cent of women were able to sign their marriage certificates or other official documents, but perhaps only 5–10 per cent could read with proficiency. In any case, none but a tiny elite in the countryside could have afforded to buy the twenty-five volumes of the Encyclopédie. The family Bible was certainly the most common volume in rural households. We know, however, that the printed word was increasingly present and valued in the countryside. So what printed material was circulating? French scholars have investigated different sources.22 One popular reading source was the Bibliothèque Bleue: roughly printed, cheap paperbacks to read aloud round the fire at peasant gatherings in the evenings (known as veillées). This was a type of escapism: books of magic and fear, set in medieval forests, with humans a prey to supernatural forces. Another reading source was popular almanacs: calendars of festivals, saints-days, advice, and information on markets and fairs. Such almanacs were becoming more secular, but there was no sign in them of the Enlightenment, or of obscene mockery. In other words, any explanation of the French Revolution that singles out the Enlightenment as the primary cause of the Revolution, as counter-revolutionaries later commonly did, is far too restricted, particularly when applied to the urban workers and peasants who revolted in 1789. But did the menu peuple and peasants need to read the Encyclopédie to regard themselves as oppressed? Or might they have worked that out for themselves long before?

Chapter 1: France in the 1780s 1

The best introduction to eighteenth-century France is Daniel Roche, France in the Enlightenment, translated by Arthur Goldhammer, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1998. For a brief introduction, see Peter McPhee, Liberty or Death: The French Revolution, New Haven, Conn & London: Yale University Press, 2016, ch. 1 and Living the French Revolution 1789–99, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006, ch. 1. 2 Daniel Roche, France in the Enlightenment, ch. 11; Dale Van Kley, The Religious Origins of the French Revolution: From Calvin to the Civil Constitution, 1560–1791, New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 1996. 3 Translated from François Lebrun (ed.), Parole de Dieu et Révolution: Les sermons d’un curé angevin avant et pendant la guerre de Vendée, Paris: Éditions Imago, 1988, p. 69. 4 Ralph Gibson, A Social History of French Catholicism 1789–1914, London & New York: Routledge, 1989, pp. 24, 27. For the Church in the eighteenth century see, too, Roche, France in the Enlightenment, ch. 11; and the survey by John

McManners, Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France, 2 vols, Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Ch. 46 of the latter analyses the position of Protestants and Jews. 5 Thomas Sheppard, Lourmarin in the Eighteenth Century: A Study of a French Village, Baltimore, Md: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971. 6 Alan Forrest, Soldiers of the French Revolution, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1990, p. 36. 7 Guy Lemarchand, ‘Troubles populaires au XVIIIe siècle et conscience de classe: une préface à la Révolution française’, Annales historiques de la Révolution française, 279 (1990), 32–48. 8 From Jeffry Kaplow (ed.), New Perspectives on the French Revolution: Readings in Historical Sociology, New York: Wiley, 1965. 9 Daniel Roche, The People of Paris: An Essay on Popular Culture in the Eighteenth Century, translated by Marie Evans, Berkeley, Ca: Stanford University Press, 1987. Among the many other studies of Paris, see David Garrioch, Neighbourhood and Community in Paris, 1740–1790, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986; Arlette Farge, Fragile Lives: Violence, Power, and Solidarity in Eighteenth-Century Paris, translated by Carol Shelton, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1993. 10 Olwen Hufton, ‘Women in Revolution 1789–1796’, Past & Present 53 (1971), pp. 92, 96; Roche, France in the Enlightenment, ch. 7, pp. 287–99. 11 Testament: Memoir of the Thoughts and Sentiments of Jean Meslier, translated by Michael Shreve. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2009. Voltaire published extracts from Meslier in 1762, but it would be published in full only in 1864. 12 In general on the Enlightenment, see Margaret C Jacob, Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991; Roche, France in the Enlightenment; Dena Goodman, The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment, Ithaca, NY & London: Cornell University Press, 1994; Jonathan Israel, Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights 1750–1790, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. 13 Translated from Denis Diderot, Oeuvres complètes, 20 vols, Paris: Garnier, 1875–77, vol. 20, p. 28. 14 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (1755), in The Social Contract and Discourses, translated by GDH Cole, London: JM Dent & Sons, 1913, pp. 166–67; Émile, or On Education, translation and introduction by Allan Bloom, New York: Basic Books, 1979, p. 460. 15 From Mémoires pour Servir à l’Histoire du Jacobinisme, 5 vols, Hambourg: P. Fauche, 1798–1799. 16 Israel, Democratic Enlightenment. 17 Colin Jones, ‘The Great Chain of Buying: Medical Advertisement, the Bourgeois Public Sphere, and the Origins of the French Revolution’, American Historical Review 101 (1996), pp. 13–40. This theme of the development of a commercial, consumer culture is addressed in engaging fashion by Roche, France in the Enlightenment; chs 5, 17, 19; and The Culture of Clothing: Dress and Fashion in the ‘Ancien Régime’, translated by Jean Birrell, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. 18 Robert Darnton, The Literary Underground of the Old Regime, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1982. 19 Darnton, Literary Underground, p. 200. 20 A discussion of the sexual incompatibility of the king and queen is by Simone Bertière, Les reines de France au temps des Bourbons, 4: Marie-Antoinette, l’insoumise, Paris: Éditions de Fallois, 2002. 21 Robert Darnton, The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, New York & London: WW Norton, 1995, ch. 2. 22 This research is summarised in Emmet Kennedy, A Cultural History of the French Revolution, New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 1989, pp. 38–47.

Chapter 2 The Revolution of 1789 France in the 1780s was—like other parts of Europe—characterised by vigorous debate about the nature of rights, the legitimacy of absolutism and corporate privilege, and the claims of the Church to earthly wisdom. This debate was part of a wider shift in behaviour and belief among sections of educated society. Some of the views articulated were inherently revolutionary—in particular the notions of constitutional, parliamentary government and of social utility as the best yardstick for merit—but none of them were voiced in a revolutionary way. The philosophes were not themselves revolutionaries, nor can the Enlightenment be understood as in itself a sufficient cause of the French Revolution. So how might we explain the unanticipated and unprecedented events of 1789? People have debated this ever since the first revolutionary acts of the summer of that year. In broad terms, there are two debates. One is about why an apparently stable regime collapsed: was this because of deep-seated, long-term changes in French society that finally erupted in 1789 or because of short-term political ineptitude among the ruling elites? The other debate is about whether the causes of Revolution were endogenous—to be located in a specifically French crisis—or exogenous, that is, to do with the place of France within an international context.1 In placing emphasis on different dimensions of the crisis of the 1780s and the Revolution of 1789, historians are actually responding to different questions. Asking why the regime of Louis XVI was mired in fiscal crisis to the point of collapse is not the same as asking whether there were revolutionary pressures or impulses. History is replete with examples of regimes that have collapsed because of their own failure or inability to respond to crisis. It is much rarer that such collapses result in a revolutionary shift in who holds power and for what purposes. France in 1789 was one of those rare occasions.

[2.1] An Atlantic Revolution? Contemporaries and historians have agreed that one of the immediate causes of the French Revolution of 1789 was France’s involvement in the American War of Independence of 1776–83. The financial crisis resulting from French involvement erected the stage on which the French Revolution of 1789 was enacted.

Map 7 North America before 1754

Map 8 North America in 1763 The Treaty of Paris at the end of the Seven Years War (1756–63) sharply reduced France’s colonial power: in India, only five commercial depots (comptoirs) were maintained; in the

Caribbean it kept Ste-Lucie, Guadeloupe, Martinique and, most importantly, the west of StDomingue. Most spectacularly, only ‘confetti’ was left in North America of a vast empire that had included Canada and the lands along the Ohio valley. From 1763 successive French governments were obsessed with the desire for revenge for the loss of half of North America. The War of Independence gave them the chance: the Minister for War, the Comte de Vergennes, insisted to Louis XVI that ‘Providence’ had marked out this moment for the humiliation of England. In 1778, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay negotiated France’s entry and signed a treaty of alliance: the most powerful monarchy in Europe was to give massive financial and military aid to a Republic fighting a war of colonial liberation. The War of Independence began in the north as a mixture of pitched battles and guerilla warfare, then slowly moved south in 1779–81. It was French intervention that finally tipped the balance, with 8000 troops under Rochambeau and Lafayette. Initially the French had concentrated their fleet in the Caribbean, hoping to profit from the spoils of war but, on Washington’s urging, they severed British naval supply lines by blockading Yorktown in August 1781. Cut off from the sea, the British commander, Cornwallis, surrendered in October. After peace preliminaries in 1782, the final peace treaty was signed in Paris and Versailles between Britain, the new United States and France on 3 September 1783.

1 This is one of the bas-reliefs on the 30-metre obelisk erected after 1783 in the Mediterranean harbour of Port-Vendres to commemorate major port works commissioned by Louis XVI. This one shows Louis assisting American independence and depicts La Sensible arriving in Massachusetts in April 1778. The other bas-reliefs lauded Louis for abolition of serfdom, free trade and a stronger navy. (Photo: Suzy Schmitz)

From a wider perspective, Anglo–French rivalry in North America was a spectacular instance of a global competition for commercial empire and the mounting costs of the warfare to expand and protect it.2 France’s involvement in the war of independence waged by Britain’s North American colonies revenged the humiliations Britain had inflicted in India, Canada and the Caribbean. However, the war cost France over one billion livres, much more than twice the usual state annual revenue. In 1775, the French state could rely on about 377 million livres in taxes and other revenues, while expenditures were about 411 million (including 35 million on the court alone). About 154 million of the expenditure was needed to cover debt repayments. Now involvement in the war saw the gap between revenue and expenditure balloon to about 160 million. As the royal state sank into financial crisis after 1783, the costs of servicing this massive debt impelled the monarchy to seek ways of ending Church and noble taxation privileges and the capacity of the noble-dominated high courts (parlements) to resist royal decrees to that end. The Third Estate could hardly be expected to pay more. Despite the sweet taste of victory, in the end, the American War of Independence was a disaster for the French monarchy, since the massive financial costs aggravated an internal crisis within the ruling elite in France. The American Revolution must be seen as an indirect cause of the French Revolution, which followed the convening of the Estates-General. However, there was just as significant a direct link in the world of ideas. On 4 July 1776 the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in Philadelphia: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ The language of ‘rights’ and the consent of the governed suggests that the discourses of the Enlightenment were a vital common element. Indeed, contemporaries aware of the importance of intellectual exchange across the Atlantic referred to a ‘republic of letters’. There were also personal links in this ‘republic’. When, for example, Louis XVI became concerned at the popularity of the claims of Franz Mesmer to be able to magnetise a vat of water and to ‘mesmerise’ his believers among the court nobility, he set up an investigative committee, including the great chemist Antoine Lavoisier, Benjamin Franklin, and Dr Joseph Guillotin. Franklin in particular was lionised in Paris, where he served as the Commissioner for the new United States for almost a decade after December 1776.

[2.2] The Debate on the Origins of the French Revolution Like contemporaries, historians have long reflected on the intellectual and political similarities and differences between the revolutions in France and North America and the upheavals in the Low Countries. Most famously, the concept of an ‘Atlantic’ or ‘democratic’ revolution was first articulated in the 1950s by Jacques Godechot and Robert R Palmer. In the half-century after 1760, they argued, the northern hemisphere ‘from the Appalachians to the Urals’ was marked by economic and demographic growth and, most importantly, ideas about civic rights and popular sovereignty. The thesis was quickly the object of powerful

Marxist ripostes by Eric Hobsbawm and Soboul in the 1960s. They argued that the American Revolution could not be compared to a massive social upheaval like the French Revolution. In any case, they argued the transition was fundamentally a socio-economic one in the direction of capitalism and a new ruling elite rather than of liberal democracy and individual rights.3 Marxist historians such as Soboul, Georges Lefebvre, and George Rudé placed emphasis on the expanding Atlantic trade through the great ports of Bordeaux and Nantes, and with it the rise of a larger, more confident bourgeoisie. They emphasised the increasing frustration of the bourgeoisie at exclusion from social status and high position, and argued that there was an emerging class consciousness, most evident in the importance accorded by many philosophes to free trade and free enterprise as being inseparable from civic and political freedoms. One reason for the controversy surrounding the debate on the origins and meaning of the French Revolution is that Marxist historians saw it as a bourgeois revolution in its classbased origins and subsequent changes, laying the foundations for capitalism and eventually its own destruction through socialist revolution—for example, in Russia in 1917. Their argument that the origins of the Revolution were long-term, socio-economic and class-based were vigorously contested, especially by Anglophone historians such as Alfred Cobban, George Taylor and William Doyle, who emphasised instead that the crisis was short-term, political and involved the self-interest of elites.4 More recently, historians including Sarah Maza and David Garrioch have argued that there was no ‘class consciousness’ in a modern sense before 1789, that grievances and social cleavages were instead focused on privilege and that loyalties were to one’s community or profession rather than to a particular ideology and social class.5

2 The modest house in Arras in which Maximilien and Charlotte Robespierre lived in 1787–89. The façade has since been altered. The street has recently been named the Rue Robespierre, and the building houses a small museum. (Photo: Peter McPhee) Nevertheless, the frustrations of an able young professional like Maximilien Robespierre were very common. Robespierre, a boy from modest origins who had won a scholarship to Paris before returning home to practice law in the northern city of Arras, smouldered with indignation at the exclusiveness of his aristocratic rivals and saw himself as part of a reform movement drawing inspiration from the classical world and contemporary North America. When Robespierre won one of his early court cases in 1783, he sent a copy of his concluding speech to Franklin:

I dare to hope, Sir, that you will kindly receive a copy of this work … [I will be] happier still if I can join to this good fortune the honour of earning the approbation of a man, the least of whose virtues is of being the most famous man of science in the universe.6 Robespierre’s letter is redolent of the young man’s sense of purpose, but also his selfdefinition as an ‘enlightened’ man. His enthusiasm for a virtuous future was part of a wider discourse that was sapping the status of the nobility. The great dramatic hit of the century was Beaumarchais’ comedy The Marriage of Figaro, which attracted 97 000 people to its

seventy-three performances in 1784. The climax of the play was Figaro’s denunciation of his employer, the Comte d’Almaviva:

Because you are a great lord, you think yourself a great genius! Nobility, wealth, rank, positions, all this makes you so proud! What have you done for so much? You gave yourself the trouble of being born, that’s all. Otherwise you are pretty ordinary.7 It might be argued then that the Revolution of 1789 was the result of long-term causes, but it was not therefore inevitable. There was no revolutionary party before 1789; nor did people anticipate that a revolution might erupt from the crisis. While there were hundreds of thousands of bourgeois in the professions and business who had occupations, lifestyles, values and resentments that marked them off from the nobility, what they did not have was a political program or what we might call an awareness of common interests or ‘class consciousness’. This was created rapidly within the political crisis of 1787–89. The actual outbreak of revolution would be the result of circumstances in Paris and Versailles, when the refusal of the nobility to accept change focused long-term frustrations. The royal state was in deep financial crisis by the mid-1780s because of the increasing costs of war and of servicing a massive debt, exacerbated by the costs of involvement in the American War of Independence. Louis and his ministers sought to resolve the crisis by repeated attempts to remove the fiscal privileges of the Second Estate. In February 1787, the Controller-General of Finances, the Vicomte de Calonne, sought to convince an assembly of 144 ‘Notables’, only ten of whom were non-noble, by offering concessions such as the establishment of noble-dominated assemblies in all provinces in return for the introduction of a universal land tax, and the reduction of the major royal taxes, the taille and gabelle. His proposals were rebuffed. After his dismissal in April, his successor, Loménie de Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, failed to convince the Notables with similar proposals. They were dismissed at the end of May, but in July the Parlement of Paris refused to register the uniform land tax. Tension between crown and aristocracy came to a head in August 1787, with the exile of the Parlement to Troyes: such was the popular and elite support for the Parlement that the king was forced to recall it. In September it re-entered Paris amid popular celebrations. The principle of universal taxation was set aside. The resistance of the parlements was increasingly expressed through calls for an EstatesGeneral, an advisory body composed of representatives of the three estates that had last been consulted in 1614. However, in November 1787 the Minister of Justice Chrétien-François Lamoignon made a speech to a royal sitting of the Parlement of Paris. Lamoignon, himself a former president of the Parlement, reminded his peers of Louis XVI’s pre-eminence by dismissing their call for a meeting of the Estates-General:

These principles, universally accepted by the nation, testify that sovereign power in his kingdom belongs to the king alone; That he is accountable only to God for the exercise of supreme power;

That the link that unites the king and the nation is by nature indissoluble; That the reciprocal interests and duties of the king and his subjects ensure the perpetuity of this union; That the nation has a vested interest that the rights of its ruler remain unchanged; That the king is the sovereign ruler of the nation, and is one with it; Finally that legislative power resides in the person of the sovereign, depending upon and sharing with no-one. These, sirs, are the invariable principles of the French monarchy. ‘When our kings established the parlements’, he reminded them, ‘they wished to appoint officers whose duty it was to administer justice and to maintain the edicts of the kingdom, and not to build up in their bodies a power to rival royal authority’.8 Lamoignon’s resounding statement did not intimidate the king’s most eminent subjects into submission. The following May Lamoignon issued six edicts aimed at undermining the judicial and political power of the parlements, provoking rioting in Paris and provincial centres. Significantly, even entrenched noble interests were couched in the language of the philosophes, claiming that the parlements were defending the rights of all. While the battles between monarchy and parlements may be seen as the desperate, selfdestructive attempts of the nobility to cling to privilege and fiscal immunity in the face of the state’s financial crisis, there was also a powerful current for reform within the elite of the nobility. Here, there was apparent acceptance of the removal of most, if not all, fiscal exemptions; the problem, it was argued by the Assembly of Notables, was that the proposed land tax was too high. Reformist or not, the common argument among noble proponents was that the real cause of the crisis was court profligacy and ‘ministerial despotism’. The identification of these easy targets was widely accepted by working people in the fevered months of dispute in 1787–88. In May 1788, after the closing of the Parlement of Paris, the audience attending an historical play interrupted it to insist that an actor repeat some lines that resonated with its imagined reference to current events:

The tyrant’s plan is everywhere well proven, See this palace that the guards surround Accomplices of schemes that have been woven Where exile, terror, punishment abound.9 This language of opposition to the royal state, appeals to autonomy in provincial centres such as Bordeaux, Grenoble, Rennes and Toulouse, and the vertical bonds of economic dependency generated an alliance between urban workers and local parlements in 1788. When the Parlement of Grenoble was exiled in June 1788 for its defiance towards the ministry’s strike at noble judicial power, royal troops were driven from the city by popular

rebellion on the ‘Day of the Tiles’. The self-interest embedded in noble appeals to ‘natural law’, ‘inalienable rights’ and the ‘nation’ ensured that such an alliance could not last. The vested interests within the aristocratic elites who dominated power structures in the 1780s thwarted attempts by the king and his ministers to resolve a deep financial crisis, but their appeals to ‘public opinion’ facilitated and legitimised the expressions of far more wideranging demands for change. There was no revolutionary ‘movement’ or party before 1789, but a series of linked cultural, social and economic changes that had created an alternative set of assumptions about legitimacy and utility. A new common discourse of ‘citizen’, ‘public opinion’, ‘despotism’ and ‘nation’ paralleled the rise of a commercial, consumer culture emphasising choice, rights and usefulness. In arguing that an Estates-General alone could resolve the issues, and that the crux of the problem was abuse of power and fiscal inefficiency, the Notables were confident that the popular support apparent in the battles over the parlements’ rights would strengthen their standing and power at the expense of a weak monarch. But the issue of the functioning of the Estates-General was fatal to their cause. In the process of attacking ‘despotism’, they had animated political discussion across French society. From a meeting of local Notables in July 1788 at Claude Périer’s château at Vizille in the southeastern province of Dauphiné came another call for the Estates-General, but this time for the Third Estate to have double the representation of the other orders in recognition of its importance in the life of the nation.

[2.3] 1788–1789: Political Debate and Uncertainty The unsuccessful attempts of the monarchy to meet the crisis by coercing the nobility into surrendering its fiscal privileges culminated in Louis XVI’s decision to convoke an EstatesGeneral for May 1789. There was widespread gratitude and elation. However, this decision not only brought friction to a head between Louis and the privileged: it also facilitated the expression of tensions at every level of French society. This occurred especially through the lifting of censorship during the election of delegates and the hotly debated question of voting procedures to be followed at the meeting of the Estates-General. In September 1788, the English agronomist Arthur Young wrote in his diary from the Atlantic port of Nantes:

Nantes is as enflammée in the cause of liberty, as any town in France can be; the conversations I witnessed here prove how great a change is effected in the minds of the French, nor do I believe it will be possible for the present government to last half a century longer, unless the clearest and most decided talents be at the helm.10 In December 1788, the king and his advisers decided to use the Third Estate to pressure the privileged orders into accepting change by doubling Third Estate representation. The lack of clarity about whether representatives would meet in a common chamber or in three separate chambers, thus nullifying the effects of the doubling, would dramatically broaden the focus of the debate from criticism of ‘ministerial despotism’ and taxes to include privilege and power. On 12 December the ‘princes of the blood’ published an open appeal to Louis,

expressing their anxiety about the turmoil of the debate:

Who can say where the recklessness of opinions will stop? The rights of the throne have been called into question; the rights of the two orders of the State divide opinions; soon property rights will be attacked; the inequality of fortunes will be presented as an object for reform; the suppression of feudal rights has already been proposed, as the abolition of a system of oppression, the remains of barbarism.11 The following month, the Swiss journalist Mallet du Pan reported acutely that ‘the public debate has totally changed in its emphasis; now the king, despotism, and the Constitution are only very secondary questions; and it has become a war between the third estate and the other two orders’.12 The division of public opinion in the months before May 1789 focused on the crucial political questions of whether the three orders would meet in a common chamber and discuss broader issues of taxation, privilege and representation. Opinion was expressed through two main forums. First, the temporary lifting of censorship encouraged a vigorous pamphlet war. Most famously, in January 1789, a talented cleric from a legal background, the Abbé Emmanuel Sieyès, published What is the Third Estate?:

Who, then, would dare to say that the Third Estate does not contain everything needed to form a complete nation? It is like a strong, robust man one of whose arms is still enchained. If the privileged order were removed, the nation would not be something less, but something more … So, what is the Third Estate? Everything, but an everything shackled and oppressed. What would it be without the privileged order? Everything, but an everything free and flourishing … For the Third Estate, moreover, it is no longer a question of being better off or remaining as it was. Circumstances no longer permit this choice; it is now a question of advancing or losing ground.13 Sieyès castigated the nobility for its obsession with ‘odious privileges’ and articulated an ideology of ‘usefulness’ and civic capacity. In referring to only one privileged order, Sieyès was alluding to the division between the noble elite of the church and parish priests siding with their commoner relatives in the Third Estate. That is, he implied that France was now divided not between three orders but simply between nobles and commoners. But this was not a fully democratic critique: Sieyès explicitly excluded women and the poor from his desired extension of political rights. The royal letter formally convening the Estates-General was issued on 24 January, setting out its objectives in ‘surmounting all our financial difficulties and … the welfare of our subjects and the prosperity of our kingdom’. To that end Louis XVI needed to hear ‘the wishes and the grievances of our people’.14 But he and his advisers were shocked by what happened. The election of deputies to represent the three estates was preceded by the decisive

moment in mass involvement in the political process in the spring of 1789. This was the second major forum for the expression of views. All over France, from the smallest of parishes to regional meetings of clerics and nobles, people were requested to submit their statements of grievances (cahiers de doléances): in so doing they linked social discontent with the possibilities of reform. The sharpest contrasts in the cahiers were between those of the provincial nobility and the middle-class elite of the Third Estate. The nobles’ calls for a reinforcement of a social hierarchy of orders and corporate rights clashed with a bourgeois discourse of liberty, civic equality and ‘careers open to talent’. While many Second Estate cahiers apparently accepted an end to fiscal exemptions for nobles, such promises were couched in vague terms and often hedged about with caveats about the need to respect the ‘special’ roles and rights of the nobility. In contrast, the cahiers expressing the views of professional and business men, even in small country towns, were remarkable for their consistent articulation of a vision of representative government, legal and administrative reform, and equality of rights and responsibilities. The countryside was also crackling with a potent mixture of hope and hunger. A traveller through the province of Auvergne in 1788 had recalled the role of the veillée or evening gatherings of villagers, particularly during the winter:

They chat, laugh and complain about taxes; they tell stories about the girls of the neighbourhood. They say bad things about the priest, the landlord and everyone else who isn’t there … In certain villages, whose priests have trained the inhabitants to a greater devotion, the custom has been established that the households who get together in the same stable perform their religious duties in common … All this devotion doesn’t stop the swearing and the off-colour stories from beginning again a moment later—but at least religion interrupts them for a few moments.15 Now the king had asked such gatherings to discuss their wider grievances and to inform him of how best they might be addressed. The harvest of 1788 had been devastated by a hot, dry summer followed by wild storms; then the winter of 1788–89 had been unusually cold. The compilation of the cahiers occurred in a context of endemic hunger and angry protest in some areas. Across the country, peasant grievances reflected the particular issues of their communities, but it is remarkable how frequently they raised the key questions of voting at the Estates-General, privileges, and seigneurialism. Deep resentments and bold solutions had been a long time in the making. For example, forty men from the forty-three households of the tiny village of Marcilly, to the east of Bourges, agreed on their cahier in March. They included tenant-farmers, peasant landholders, labourers, a blacksmith and a longsawyer; only eight of them could sign their names. They were clear about their demands:

Article 1. His Majesty will be entreated by the deputies of the Third Estate of the province of Berry to order that the Third Estate vote by head in the general assembly of the Estates-General …

Article 3. That there be only one custom, one law, and one system of weights and

measures …

Article 6. That all financial privileges be abolished; consequently, that the three orders no longer be exempt from any of the public responsibilities and taxes that the most unfortunate class of the Third Estate alone endures and pays …16 In thousands of rural communities like this, the economically dependent were aware of the potential costs of being outspoken about the nobility; nevertheless, their cahiers most often targeted seigneurial dues and other ‘rights’ and exemptions as objects for reform. The opportunity was seized to put direct pressure on the monarchy to implement sweeping changes. Desmé de Daubuisson, Lieutenant-Général of the district (bailliage) of Saumur on the Loire River, reported of local electoral assemblies that:

What is really tiresome is that these assemblies that have been summoned have generally believed themselves to be invested with some sovereign authority and that when they came to an end the peasants went home with the idea that henceforward they were free from tithes, hunting prohibitions and the payment of seigneurial dues.17 The open, frenzied debate enabled other people to enter public debate in vigorous terms. From the Pays de Caux in northern France came a women’s cahier:

In the lower classes, women are regarded as good only for spinning, sewing, and keeping house. In the upper classes they are supposed to be good only for singing, dancing, making music, playing and smiling. However, it is in working like men, in the toil of the fields, in commerce, etc., that some have been seen to hold the reins of government as well as men. The people is recovering its rights; there is talk of freeing the negroes; why not free women as well? We believe it only just to allow wives, widows or daughters, possessing land or other property, to carry their grievances to the King, that it is equally just to count their votes since they are obliged, like men, to pay royal taxes and fulfill business contracts … Since representatives must absolutely have the same interests as those they represent, women can only be represented by women.18

[2.4] The Revolution of June–July 1789 Louis XVI had decided to favour the parish clergy in the election of First Estate delegates: priests were to vote individually in the assemblies to elect deputies, while monasteries would have only one representative and cathedral chapters one for every ten canons. This was done as a way of further pressuring the nobility to accept reform. When the clergy gathered to elect its deputies early in 1789, 208 of the 303 chosen were lower clergy; only forty-six of the 176 bishops were delegates. Most of the 282 noble deputies were provincial men well-known in their districts, and most with army experience, but a world away from les Grands like Lafayette, Condorcet, Mirabeau and Talleyrand who were wealthy and worldly enough to

accept the importance of surrendering at least fiscal privileges. The deputies of the three orders seemed to be polarising into just two social strata, nobility and commoners, as Sieyès had foreseen. In small rural parishes Third Estate meetings of male taxpayers over twenty-five years of age elected delegates who in turn gathered in provincial centres to elect deputies for each of the 234 constituencies. Participation varied sharply, for example ranging in Normandy from 10 to 88 per cent between parishes, and around Béziers in the south from 5 to 83 per cent. The protracted and indirect system of elections—requiring voters to choose electors, who in turn chose the deputies—ensured that virtually all of the 646 deputies of the Third Estate were lawyers, officials and men of property, men of substance and repute in their region. Among them was the lawyer Maximilien Robespierre, narrowly elected from Artois after a protracted and hotly contested election. Only eighty-five of these bourgeois deputies were from trade and industry. The pressing issue remained that of voting procedures. Louis’ opening speech on 4 May urged the deputies of all three orders to contemplate bold reforms, but he also requested them to proceed to their separate chambers to verify their deputies’ elections and to commence deliberations. The Third Estate deputies insisted that the three orders deliberate in common. They held their nerve for six weeks. On 17 June, they made a dramatic, revolutionary claim that ‘the interpretation and presentation of the general will belong to it … The name National Assembly is the only one which is suitable …’. Three days later, when temporarily locked out of their usual meeting hall, the deputies moved to an indoor royal tennis court and, under the presidency of the astronomer Jean-Sylvain Bailly, insisted by oath on their ‘unshakeable resolution’ to continue their proceedings wherever necessary:

The National Assembly, whereas it is called on to lay down the constitution of the kingdom, implement the regeneration of public order, and maintain the true principles of the monarchy, nothing can stop it from continuing its deliberations in whatever place it may be obliged to establish itself, and that finally, anywhere its members are gathered together, that is the National Assembly. It is decided that all the members of this Assembly will now swear a solemn oath never to separate, and to gather together anywhere that circumstances demand, until the constitution of the kingdom is established and consolidated on solid foundations, and that the said oath being sworn, each and every one of the members will confirm this unshakeable resolution with their signature.19 This was the first revolutionary action of the Third Estate. The deputies’ resolve was sustained by the steady trickle to their ranks of liberal nobles such as Lafayette and of many of the parish priests who numerically dominated the First Estate representation. The vote to join the Third Estate taken by 149 clerical deputies, against 137, on 19 June was a decisive turning-point in the political stand-off. A key reason for the priests’ decision was anger at the gulf between them and the intransigent bishops in their

midst. Louis XVI compounded the problem caused by his continued indecision about a common assembly. After insisting on 23 June that the three orders should deliberate separately, he then issued a ‘Declaration of Intentions’ later that day, which conceded that the Estates-General would be a permanent feature of political life with the power to impose or rescind taxes. He announced his desire for onerous taxes such as the gabelle to be abolished and for the privileged to accept a common system of taxation, while guaranteeing the continuation of tithes and all ‘feudal and seigneurial rights and duties’.20 Had he presented his reform agenda at the opening of the Estates-General he might have succeeded; now it was too late. He and the most senior nobles in the kingdom had fatally mismanaged the crisis. The Third Estate was unmoved by his plea, and their resolve was strengthened by the arrival on the morrow of forty-seven liberal nobles at the Assembly, led by Louis’ own cousin, the Duc d’Orléans. By 27 June Louis had seemed to capitulate and ordered the remaining deputies to join their fellows in a common Assembly. However, despite their apparent victory, the bourgeois deputies and their allies were soon confronted by a counterattack from the court. Paris, 20 kilometres from Versailles and a crucible of political enthusiasm, was invested with 20 000 mercenaries and, in symbolic defiance, Louis dismissed Jacques Necker, his one non-noble minister, on 11 July. Ultimately, only a second revolutionary act, this time a collective action by sections of the menu peuple of Paris, saved the National Assembly. Though largely barred by gender or poverty from participation in the formulation of cahiers or the election of deputies, from April the menu peuple had demonstrated their conviction that the bourgeois deputies’ resolve was in the people’s name. Indeed, an offhand remark about wages by the wealthy Parisian manufacturer Réveillon at a Third Estate meeting on 23 April had triggered a riot in the faubourg St-Antoine during which, in imitation of Sieyès, shouts of ‘Long live the Third Estate! Liberty! We will not give way!’ were heard. The riot was put down by troops at the cost of several hundred lives, the bloodiest clash in 1789. Pamphlets expressed the anger of the menu peuple at their exclusion from the political process. Sustaining this anger was an escalation in the price of a four-pound loaf of bread from 8 to 14 sous, more than half the daily wage of a labourer, an increase widely assumed to be the result of deliberate withholding of supplies by noble landowners. The Paris bookseller Sébastien Hardy, whose diaries are an unparalleled source for the early months of the Revolution, noted that people were saying ‘that the princes were hoarding grains deliberately in order to more effectively trip up M. Necker, whom they are so keen to overthrow’.21

Map 9 Revolutionary Paris The signal for popular action was Necker’s dismissal as a minister. Among the orators to whom Parisians flocked for news and inspiration was Camille Desmoulins, an acquaintance of Maximilien Robespierre, whom he had met while they were scholarship boys at the Collège Louis-le-Grand in the 1770s. During the four days after 12 July, forty of the fiftyfour customs-houses ringing Paris were destroyed, the target of anger at the indirect taxes levied on consumer goods brought into the city. Arms and ammunition were also seized from gunsmiths and the Invalides military hospital, and royal troops were confronted. Insurrection proper began on 13 July, at the Place de Grève. This huge square outside the Hôtel de Ville was where labourers assembled each morning in the hope of a day’s work, where others went on strike and demonstrated, and where criminals were executed in spectacularly public fashion. It was also the place where the great fireworks show—‘the fires of St-Jean’—attracted revellers in June, in a frenzy of dancing, drinking and often violence. The ultimate target in July 1789 was the Bastille fortress in the faubourg St-Antoine, both for its supplies of arms and gunpowder and because this powerful fortress dominated the popular neighbourhoods of eastern Paris. It was an awesome symbol of the arbitrary authority of the monarchy. On 14 July, up to 8000 armed Parisians laid siege to the fortress. The governor, the Marquis de Launay, refused to surrender and, as crowds forced their way into the courtyard, ordered his soldiers to fire upon them, killing perhaps ninety-eight and wounding many others. Only when two detachments of Gardes Françaises sided with the crowd and trained their cannon on the main gate, did he surrender. He paid for his actions with his life, knifed to death by the assailants of his fortress. Flushed with excitement and apprehension, the men of the Assembly now had to confront

the problem of punitive violence. On 22 July, the royal governor of Paris since 1776, Louis Bertier de Sauvigny, was caught as he tried to flee Paris. He and his father-in-law Joseph Foulon, who had replaced Necker in the ministry, were battered to death and decapitated, in retribution for allegedly conspiring to worsen the long period of hunger through which Parisians had lived in 1788–89. Foulon had reportedly stated that if the poor were hungry they should eat straw. He was stabbed after hanging failed, and his mouth was stuffed with straw and excrement. His head was presented to his son-in-law Bertier before he too was killed. Their heads were then paraded through Paris. Like the murder of de Launay, the cruelty of the killings shocked observers. In one of the new newspapers that rushed to report on the unprecedented events, the Révolutions de Paris, a young journalist from Bordeaux, Elysée Loustallot, reported of the ‘frightening and terrible’ day:

A handful of hay was in [Foulon’s] mouth, a striking allusion to the inhuman sentiments of this barbarous man … the revenge of a justifiably furious people! … A man …O God! The barbarian! pulls [Bertier’s] heart from its palpitating entrails. … What a horrible sight! … I sense, my fellow citizens, how these revolting scenes afflict your soul; like you, I am struck by it; but think how ignominious it is to live as a slave. … Never forget, however, that these punishments outrage humanity, and make Nature shudder.22 Was this cruelty simply a passing hangover from the violent punishments of the past or did it suggest that the people would need to be educated and controlled? The issue of violent popular retribution would not go away.

3 The storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 is here captured by the revolutionary artist Jean-Louis Prieur, who contributed 67 of the 144 quasi-official ‘Tableaux historiques’ series. Prieur, a juror on the Revolutionary Tribunal, was guillotined with Fouquier-Tinville in May 1795, the day after the death of his father. (Author’s collection) The dramatic events in Paris and Versailles had immediate practical consequences. Outraged and fearful at the assaults on royal authority, the king’s younger brother, the Comte d’Artois, and some others fled the country. The Assembly responded to the collapse of royal authority by appointing Bailly to head the Paris municipal council and Lafayette to command a ‘bourgeois militia’ of men of substance, which would become the National Guard. The fall of the Bastille had two more important, indeed revolutionary, consequences. First, in political terms, it saved the National Assembly, symbolically recognised by Louis as he entered Paris on 17 July wearing a cockade wedding the white of the Bourbon flag to the red and blue colours of the city of Paris: the revolutionary tricolour was born. Second, as news of the successful rising in Paris reached the countryside, it unleashed a third and even greater wave of revolution, the most spectacular consequence of the Parisian insurrection.

[2.5] The ‘Great Fear’: July–August 1789 Following a disastrous harvest failure in 1788, there had been extensive food rioting in the north of the kingdom over the winter; then, acting on hopes that the looming Estates-General

would act on the people’s behalf, peasants in some areas started refusing to pay feudal dues or taxes from December. Hopes were high for the Estates-General. As Arthur Young travelled through the eastern province of Lorraine on 12 July 1789, he noted in his diary that:

Walking up a long hill, to ease my mare, I was joined by a poor woman, who complained of the times, and that it was a sad country. On my demanding her reasons, she said her husband had but a morsel of land, one cow and a poor little horse, yet he had a franchar (42 lb.) of wheat and three chickens to pay as a quit-rent to one Seigneur; and four franchar of oats, one chicken and 1 s. to pay to another, beside very heavy tailles and other taxes. She had seven children, and the cow’s milk helped to make the soup … It was said, at present, that something was to be done by some great folks for such poor ones, but she did not know who or how, but God send us better, car les tailles et les droits nous écrasent (‘because the state taxes and feudal dues are crushing us’). This woman, at no great distance, might have been taken for sixty or seventy, her figure was so bent, and her face so furrowed and hardened by labour; but she said she was only twenty-eight.23 The harvest crisis and the expectations raised by the drawing up of cahiers had created a hungry, hopeful rural population suspicious of bands of destitute travellers passing through fields of ripening grain. After the fall of the Bastille this became an extraordinary upheaval called the ‘Great Fear’. Rumours of such ‘brigands’ destroying crops at the behest of vengeful seigneurs ignited into bushfires of panic that engulfed most of the kingdom. Village militias that had quickly armed to meet these threats, which never eventuated, instead turned their weapons on the symbols of seigneurialism, most typically by demanding food but also at times by seizing feudal registers that were publicly destroyed.24

Map 10 Currents of the Great Fear The estate steward of the Duke of Montmorency, at Montmartin north of Paris, wrote to the Duke at the Estates-General on 2 August:

Monsieur, so as not to disturb your peace of mind, I have said nothing to you of the justified fears which have been worrying me for too long, but, at this moment, I felt it would be imprudent to leave you ignorant of them. Brigandage and pillage is going on everywhere. The populace, attributing the high price of grain to the seigneurs of the kingdom, is hostile to all that belongs to them. No argument avails: this demented populace listens to nothing but its own fury, and in all our province the vassal population is in such a state of rebellion that it is ready to commit the greatest excesses. … At the moment I was going to end my letter, I learned that about three hundred brigands from all the areas connected with the vassals of Madame the Marquise de Longaunay had carried off the titles of the dues and rents of the seigneurie, and destroyed the dovecot: they then gave an acknowledgement of what they had carried off signed in the name of ‘the Nation’.25 The boldness of the signatories—described as ‘brigands’ by the steward, but as ‘the Nation’ by the rebels themselves—testifies to the impact of the revolutionary upheaval. Popular revolt took many forms. In the little town of Mortagne-au-Perche, north of Le Mans, with a population of about 6000, François Lamberdière led a crowd of men, women and children to the tax office, where registers were seized and burnt, then imposed ‘taxation

populaire’ on grains, tobacco and the gabelle. For several days the local authorities were powerless to resist the uprising, but they would not forget their fears once order was reestablished, and Lamberdière was later executed.26

4 In 1789, an artisan from the city of Orléans, Marie-Anne Charpentier, decided to keep a diary of ‘only what I see with my own eyes’. This is the opening page, concluding with her appeal to God. (Archives départementales du Loiret; photo: Peter McPhee) The Assembly was startled by reports of such actions flooding in from most parts of the kingdom. It now acted to legitimise its own power and to placate the peasantry. On 4 August, in an atmosphere of panic and exhilaration, members of the privileged orders in the Assembly began surrendering privileges and exemptions, then in the following days made a major qualification. In the final decree of 4 to 11 August, it abolished symbols of servitude such as seigneurial courts and hunting rights, but stopped short of abolishing dues without compensation.

Article 1. The National Assembly destroys the feudal regime completely. It decrees that both feudal and censuel [that is, levied on crops] rights and dues which stem from real or personal servitude or mortmain [a lord’s inalienable hold over some land], and those who represent them, are abolished without compensation; all the others are declared redeemable, and the price and the manner of the redemption will be set by the National Assembly. Those of the said rights that are not abolished by this decree will continue nonetheless to be collected until redemption has been made.27 The August Decree was based on the assumption that henceforth all individuals in France were to enjoy the same rights and be subject to the same laws: the age of privilege and provincial exceptions was over:

Article X … all special privileges of the provinces, principalities, counties, cantons, towns and communities of inhabitants, be they financial or of any other nature, are abolished without compensation, and will be absorbed into the common rights of all French people. Then on 26 August it proclaimed the principles of the new age in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, largely conceptualised by Mirabeau.

1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights …

2. … these rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.

3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body, or individual may exercise authority that does not expressly emanate from it. …

4. Liberty consists in being able to do anything that is not harmful to others … Only the law may determine these limits.28

The Declaration was framed in ringing tones of universal rights and optimism about the capacities for a citizenry emancipated from constraints on its civic and religious liberties. It marked the end of absolutism and noble privilege. Henceforth, social distinctions were to be based on individual ability and political power was to be the expression of the will of a citizenry equal in status and before the law, whatever its social position. The Declaration asserted confidently that a harmonious society could be created through the exercise of individual rights tempered only by the respect due to the rights of others and the obligation to obey the law. And yet it was also profoundly ambiguous about precisely who was to participate in the expression of the popular will, whether ‘liberty’ applied to slaves, and whether society had any responsibilities towards the less fortunate. Central to the Declaration was the reiterated assertion that the limits to the freedoms it enshrined would be defined by law, and that such law would be the expression of the ‘general will’ of the Nation, expressed through the people or their representatives in a unicameral Assembly. In the exhilarated atmosphere of August 1789 it seemed self-evident that the wisdom in the minds of all men of good will would express that general will, and that those who warned of the folly of granting ‘rights’ were either unenlightened or malevolent. At the heart of the revolutionaries’ optimism was the certainty of ‘regeneration’. Now a life of liberty lived with respect for the freedoms of others would unchain the goodness nature had inscribed in every heart. A new age of social harmony had dawned. The prejudice, corruption and misery all around them would dissipate in the blaze of virtue.

[2.6] The Revolution Triumphant? With the first two revolts—those by the Third Estate deputies in June and working people in Paris in July—the great peasant revolt marked the end of pre-revolutionary structures of society and authority. The August Decrees and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen both expressed that finality and pointed to a future based on radically different assumptions about power, rights and responsibilities. But, as a profoundly revolutionary set of founding principles of a new order, both the August Decrees and the Declaration met with refusal from Louis. The Estates-General had been summoned to offer him advice on the state of his kingdom: did his acceptance of the existence of a ‘National Assembly’ require him to accept its decisions? Moreover, as the food crisis worsened and evidence multiplied of the open contempt for the Revolution on the part of noble army officers, the victory of the summer of 1789 seemed again in question. For the second time, the menu peuple of Paris intervened to safeguard a revolution they assumed to be theirs. This time, however, it was the women of the markets: in the words of the observant bookseller Hardy, ‘these women said loudly that the men didn’t know what it was all about and that they wanted to have a hand in things’.29 On 5 October, up to 7000 women marched to Versailles; among their spontaneous leaders were Stanislas Maillard, a hero of 14 July, and a woman from Luxembourg, Anne-Josephe Terwagne, who became known as Théroigne de Méricourt. They were belatedly followed by the National Guard, who compelled their

reluctant commander Lafayette to ‘lead’ them in support of the women. Louis had been told of the march on Versailles, but he had left to go shooting (rather than hunting, his concession to political tensions, since he would be easier to contact if not engaged in a full hunt). His diary for 5 October records that he ‘shot at the Porte de Châtillon (near Meudon). Killed 81 head. Interrupted by events’. He was back at Versailles by three in the afternoon. At Versailles the women invaded the Assembly. A deputation was then presented to the king, who promptly agreed to sanction the decrees. It soon became apparent, however, that the women would be satisfied only if the royal family returned to Paris; the next day it did so, and the Assembly followed in its wake.30 This was a decisive moment in the Revolution of 1789. The National Assembly owed its existence and success once again to the armed intervention of the people of Paris. Convinced now that the Revolution was complete and secure, and determined that never again would the common people of Paris exercise such power, the Assembly ordered an enquiry into the ‘crimes’ of 5–6 October. The mayor, Bailly, recalled that, when the women returned to Paris on 6 October, they were singing ‘vulgar ditties which apparently showed little respect for the queen’. Others claimed to have brought with them the royal family as ‘the baker and his wife, and the baker’s apprentice’.31 The women were here making explicit the ancient assumption of royal responsibility to God for the provision of food to his people. The key decrees sanctioned, and the court party in disarray, the Revolution’s triumph seemed assured. To signify the magnitude of what they had achieved, people now began to refer to the Ancien (‘former’) Régime. Elsewhere in Europe, people were similarly struck by the dramatic events of the summer. Few failed to be enthused by them: among the crowned heads of Europe, only the kings of Sweden and Spain, and Catherine of Russia, were resolutely hostile from the outset. Others may have felt a certain pleasure at seeing one of Europe’s great powers incommoded by its own people. Among the general European populace, however, support for the Revolution was far more common, and there were few obvious ‘counter-revolutionary’ critics such as Edmund Burke in England. While many in England started to become disturbed at reports of punitive bloodshed or when the National Assembly quickly ruled out the possibility of emulating Britain’s bicameral system, with its House of Lords, most were openly enthusiastic. Poets such as Wordsworth, Burns, Coleridge, Southey and Blake joined with their creative peers in German states (Beethoven, Fichte, Hegel, Kant and Herder) in celebrating what was seen as an exemplary moment of liberation in the history of the European spirit. Lafayette sent a set of the keys of the Bastille to George Washington as ‘a tribute which I owe as a son to my adoptive father, as an aide-de-camp to my general, and as a missionary of liberty to its patriarch’. In turn, Washington, elected six months earlier as the first president of the United States, wrote to his envoy in France, Gouverneur Morris, on 13 October: ‘The revolution which has been effected in France is of so wonderful a nature, that the mind can hardly recognise the fact. If it ends as … [I] predict, that nation will be the most powerful and happy in Europe.’32 Mixed with the potent sense of euphoria and unity in the autumn of 1789 was the realisation of how the Revolution had been achieved and the magnitude of what remained to

be done. The Revolution of the bourgeois deputies had only been secured by the active intervention in July and October of the working people of Paris; the deputies’ misgivings about continuing popular insurrection were expressed in the temporary proclamation of martial law on 21 October. On the other hand, Louis’ reluctant consent to change was only thinly disguised by the fiction that his obstinacy was solely due to the malign influence of his court. Most important of all, the revolutionaries’ declaration of the principles of the new regime presupposed that every aspect of public life would be reshaped. To that staggering task they now turned.

Chapter 2: The Revolution of 1789 1

For recent scholarship on the origins of the French Revolution, see Peter R Campbell, (ed.), The Origins of the French Revolution, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006; Thomas E Kaiser and Dale K Van Kley (eds), From Deficit to Deluge: the Origins of the French Revolution, Stanford, Ca: Stanford University Press, 2011; William Doyle, Origins of the French Revolution, 3rd edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999; and the chapters by Campbell, Jessenne and Maza in Peter McPhee (ed.), A Companion to the French Revolution, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. 2 CA Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780–1914: Global Connections and Comparisons, Oxford: Blackwell, 2004, ch. 3; William Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 66– 9; Suzanne Desan, Lynn Hunt and William Max Nelson (eds), The French Revolution in Global Perspective, Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2013, ch. 2. 3 The initial statements of the Godechot and Palmer thesis were by Jacques Godechot, Histoire de l’Atlantique, Paris: Bordas, 1947; and RR Palmer, ‘The World Revolution of the West: 1763–1801’, Political Science Quarterly 69, (1954), pp. 1–14. The blunt Marxist rejoinders were Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution, 1789–1848, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1962, especially pp. xv–xvi, 17–73, and Albert Soboul, The French Revolution, 1787–1799: from the storming of the Bastille to Napoleon, translation of Précis d’histoire de la Révolution française (1962) by Alan Forrest and Colin Jones, London & Boston, Mass: Unwin Hyman, 1989, especially pp. 3–24. 4 See Alfred Cobban, The Social Interpretation of the French Revolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964 (a second edition, with an introduction by Gwynne Lewis, was published in 1999); Doyle, Origins of the French Revolution, and Oxford History of the French Revolution, ch. 1; Simon Schama, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, New York: Knopf, 1989. 5 Sarah Maza, The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie: an Essay on the Social Imaginary, 1750–1850, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2003; David Garrioch, The Formation of the Parisian Bourgeoisie 1690–1830, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1996. 6 Cited in Peter McPhee, Robespierre: a Revolutionary Life, London & New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 2012, p. 35. 7 Julian Swann and Joël Félix (eds), The Crisis of the Absolute Monarchy: France from Old Regime to Revolution, published for The British Academy by Oxford University Press, 2013, p. 319. 8 Archives parlementaires, 19 November 1787, Series 1, vol. 1, pp. 265–69. 9 Vivian R Gruder, The Notables and the Nation: the Political Schooling of the French 1787–1788, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2007, p. 212. 10 Arthur Young, Travels in France during the years 1787–1788–1789, New York: Anchor Books, 1969, pp. 97–8. 11 Archives parlementaires, 12 December 1788, Series 1, vol. 1, pp. 487–89. This and other extracts from the Moniteur and Gazette are from Philip Dwyer and Peter McPhee (eds), The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook, London & New York: Routledge, 2002. 12 Albert Soboul, A Short History of the French Revolution 1787–1799, translated by Geoffrey Symcox, Berkeley, Ca: University of California Press, 1977, p. 120. 13 Emmanuel Sieyès, What is the Third Estate?, translated by Michael Blondel, London: Pall Mall Press, 1963. 14 John Hall Stewart (ed.), A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution, New York: Macmillan, 1951, pp. 29–30. 15 From Jeffry Kaplow (ed.), France on the Eve of Revolution, New York: Wiley, 1971, pp. 145–8.


Alfred Gandilhon, Cahiers de doléances du bailliage de Bourges et des bailliages secondaires de Vierzon et d’Henrichement pour les Etats-Généraux de 1789, Bourges, 1910, pp. 187–91. 17 From Georges Lefevbre, The Great Fear of 1789: Rural Panic in Revolutionary France, translated by Joan White, London: New Left Books, 1973, p. 39. 18 Translated from Cahiers des doléances des femmes et autres textes, Paris: Des Femmes, 1981, pp. 47–59. 19 Gazette Nationale ou le Moniteur Universel, no. 10, 20–24 June 1789, vol. 1, p. 89. 20 Stewart (ed.), Documentary Survey, pp. 90–7. 21 George Rudé, The Crowd in the French Revolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959, p. 46. 22 Révolutions de Paris, no. 1, 12–18 July 1789, pp. 17–19; no. 2, 18–25 July 1789, pp. 18–25; Schama, Citizens, p. 446. Micah Alpaugh, Non-Violence and the French Revolution: Political Demonstrations in Paris, 1787–1795, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014, has stressed that most crowd protest was peaceful. D.M.G. Sutherland, in contrast, prefers to emphasise the violence of urban crowds: ‘Urban Violence in 1789’, in David Andress (ed.), The Oxford Handbook to the French Revolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, ch. 16. 23 Young, Travels in France, pp. 169, 173. Young underlined this sentence and recorded the woman’s French phrase. 24 The rural revolt is the subject of the classic 1932 study by Georges Lefebvre, The Great Fear; a regional study is Clay Ramsay, The Ideology of the Great Fear: The Soissonnais in 1789, Baltimore, Md: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. 25 Translated from Annales historiques de la Révolution française (1955), pp. 161–2. 26 A Racinet, Histoire de Mortagne, (1899), Paris: Res universis, 1988, pp. 73–6. Lamberdière would be tried for sedition, sentenced on 2 October 1789, and hanged in Alençon, as local authorities tried desperately to restore order. 27 Translated from the Gazette Nationale, no. 40, 11–14 August 1789, vol. 1, pp. 332–3. 28 Translated from the Gazette Nationale, no. 44, 20 August 1789, vol. 2, pp. 362–3. 29 Rudé, The Crowd in the French Revolution, p. 69 and ch. 5. 30 John Hardman, Louis XVI, New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 1993, p. 171. 31 Réimpression de l’Ancien Moniteur, seule histoire authentique et inaltérée de la Révolution française, depuis la réunion des Etats-Généraux jusqu’au Consulat, 32 vols, Paris, 1847, vol. 2, 1789, p. 544. 32 See David Andress, 1789: the Threshold of the Modern Age, London: Little, Brown, 2008.

Chapter 3 Reform, Conflict, and a Second Revolution, 1789– 1792 [3.1] The Revolution at October 1789 By October 1789, the National Assembly had—thanks to popular support—succeeded in securing its permanent place within government and in articulating the principles of a radically different type of political system and civic culture. The transition was awesome in the breadth of its vision. The two key statements of principle—the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and the August Decree on Feudalism—represented both the repudiation of the old order, and a statement of intent for the future. This was to be a polity in which absolute monarchy would be succeeded by constitutional monarchy. Legitimate public authority would no longer be based on the divine right of kings answerable only to God for the people’s wellbeing but on the principle of popular sovereignty. There could be no more fundamental political change than this: from a hierarchical principle of sovereignty to one where legitimate power came ‘from below’. A society in which privilege, exemption and favour were embedded in every aspect of public life would instead be founded on the principles of equality before the law, of tax obligations, and of rights to worship and speak freely. The social order would no longer be based on a hierarchy of birth and status but on capacity, one in which citizens would choose their leaders on the basis of merit.

5 In the southern village of Camps-sur-l’Agly, on the frontier of Languedoc and Roussillon, one Occitan-speaking family decided to mark the significance of the great year by placing a carved stone image of the Bastille as the lintel over their door. It remains there today. (Photo: Fronza Woods) A kingdom of subjects would become a nation of citizens with sovereign rights. A land of embedded corporate privilege and provincial exemptions would instead treat its citizens as equal in the eyes of the law, with equal rights and responsibilities. These rights would extend to freedom of religion. The ‘dream of freedom’ was that of inclusion, an invitation to all— whatever their social, religious or linguistic background—to become citizens of the nation, enjoying freedoms limited only by the obligations to obey the law and to respect the rights of others. French people in general, and many others outside the new nation, were inspired by these principles, but they were no more than a blueprint for the future and, in any case, the new regime faced pressing, immediate problems. The Estates-General had been summoned to resolve the kingdom’s financial crisis: this crisis had not disappeared with the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. Could Louis accept that his future role would be as ‘king of the French’ rather than ‘king of France by the grace of God’? And how could the revolutionary principles of 1789 be implemented in a large nation of linguistic diversity and poor communications, where every aspect of public life bore the imprint of the Old Regime, from the armed forces to public worship?

The deputies of the National Assembly now set about dealing both with immediate problems and with re-shaping France. To these tasks they brought extraordinary energy. The deputies commonly spent the morning and evening in the Assembly, and every afternoon on one or more of the thirty working committees elected for two years. Their number included many noble and clerical deputies (although many nobles had withdrawn from public life in resentful opposition to the changes). The revolutionary remaking of France drew on deep reserves of commitment and expertise; but the deputies were also prone to exhaustion, apprehension, and suspicion of the motives of compatriots who did not share their zeal.1

[3.2] Resolving Questions of Bankruptcy and Political Power The deputies had to address two immediate problems. The first was the nation’s parlous financial situation, which immediately worsened as people in some areas now took advantage of the political instability to stop paying taxes altogether. In addition, the commitment to end tithes in the August Decree presupposed that the 140 000 priests and religious would in future be paid from public revenues. So why should tithes be paid in the meantime? The deputies came up with three solutions. First, in November 1789 it agreed by 568 votes over 346 to nationalise church lands on the recommendation of the bishop of Autun, Talleyrand, using the argument that these lands had effectively been only ‘held in trust’ for the nation. The church property—6 to 8 per cent of the urban and rural wealth of France— was often of high quality. It was to be rapidly inventoried and sold by auction to the highest bidder from November 1790. This ‘national property’ was to be used as backing for the second solution, the issuing of assignats, new paper bank notes. As the new currency flooded on to the market, it was bound to be inflationary and by May 1791 the assignat was worth only about 75 per cent of its face value. Finally, from early 1791, the Old Regime taxation system of tailles and other property taxes, a maze of indirect taxes, and exemptions for privileged bodies, was replaced by a new, uniform system of taxes on land and property to be paid by all citizens. The second immediate problem was that of political power. Louis was already referred to as ‘king of the French’ and enjoyed widespread popularity because of his perceived role as ‘restorer of liberty’, but two awkward questions remained. First, what would be the king’s actual powers? This was of crucial importance, because the new system depended on his willingness to compromise and to play the role of a constitutional monarch accepting of the people’s will expressed through the National Assembly. After protracted and at times angry debate—for some argued that he should be no more than a figurehead—it was resolved to grant Louis a suspensive veto, enabling him to hold up legislation for two terms of the Assembly but not on matters pertaining to taxes or the constitution now being drafted. He was also to be the head of executive power, who appointed ministers and chaired their meetings, and appointed diplomats. The Assembly’s role would be to formulate and approve legislation, subject to the king’s veto, to make decisions on peace and war, and to supervise ministers.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen had stated that popular sovereignty would be expressed by ‘all citizens … in person or through their representatives’, but which citizens would be deemed capable of exercising the right to vote rather than having others represent their interests? Most of the deputies of the National Assembly shared the assumption that personal economic independence was crucial to the capacity to make a free political choice, and that property ownership was the best gauge of this capacity. They also assumed that male heads of families were able to vote on behalf of women and children in their households. So the Assembly made a crucial distinction between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ citizens: the former were men who paid the equivalent of three days’ work in taxes, some four million of the seven million adult men. In elections for future national assemblies, these property qualifications would be restricted further, so that ‘active’ citizens would choose electors with higher property qualifications, who would in turn choose deputies from the very wealthy. In historical context, the suffrage was remarkably broad: some 60 per cent of adult men had the vote (in England the figure was 17 per cent). But the promise of equality in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen had been compromised. The Assembly was walking a tightrope, on the one hand limiting democracy but on the other repudiating the conservative British and American models of having an upper house of parliament to check the democratic impulse. And over all hung the question of Louis’ will and capacity to accept a role as head of a constitutional monarchy.

[3.3] Remaking Public Life The most pressing immediate problems had been confronted, but at the same time the Assembly had to turn its attention to a root-and-branch reform of every dimension of public life according to the principles set out in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen: popular sovereignty, equality, liberty and uniformity. It was a task that was staggering in its scale.

Map 11 Départements of France, 1800 The parish itself was no longer to be the smallest administration unit: instead they were to become ‘communes’, the base of a hierarchy of cantons and districts under the eighty-three new departments that were to replace the ancient provincial administrations of the kingdom. Sweeping reform to local government and administration was to be based on the core principles of rationality rather than uniformity, and popular sovereignty exercised by ‘active’ citizens. Custom was to give way to reason. The new departments were to be small, usually no more than about 100 kilometres across, to facilitate access to their capitals, and to be uniform in their processes and policies. They were given enormous responsibilities over assessing taxes, providing education and poor relief, and in policing. The surge in demands for provincial Estates-General before 1789, expressing deep-seated assumptions about provincial identity and rights, was now thwarted by the deliberate choice of geographic features for departmental names: there was to be no administrative unit called Languedoc, for example, but rather departments named after modest rivers such as the Aude, Hérault and Gard. The deputies were concerned for national unity at a time of endemic instability, but they understood the need to translate revolutionary decrees into local languages: the Abbé Grégoire’s inquiry of 1790 would identify only fifteen departments, with three million people, as purely French speaking. The same principles of rationality, uniformity and popular sovereignty were applied in sweeping reforms to the ancient legal systems, characterised by exemptions, privilege, and seigneurial courts. But the reforms were also to be based on the principle of humaneness: now the accused were to appear in court within twenty-four hours, trials were to be public and by jury, and state lawyers would be provided (a sought-after role for the thousands of

lawyers whose livelihoods disappeared with the abolition of the maze of ecclesiastical, seigneurial and royal courts). Physical mistreatment or punishments were outlawed. Following English and Dutch models of justices of the peace, the deputies moved to set up a new system of juges de paix which, in line with the repeated rural grievances expressed in the cahiers, would be accessible to all, cheap and designed to conciliate. These respected, elected local officials, who replaced the onerous, expensive and usually disadvantageous seigneurial courts, were to prove enormously popular.2 Law reform occasioned impassioned and brilliant debate. Robespierre and others sought to have capital punishment abolished altogether: they failed, and it was maintained for crimes such as voluntary homicide and treason, but abolished for many others, including homosexual practice. The principles of equality and humaneness were similarly brought to bear in decisions about how those guilty of capital offences were to be executed. Joseph Guillotin, a Parisian physician and deputy, proposed changes to criminal trials that would overturn centuries of spectacular, protracted and exemplary punishment: ‘The same crimes will be punished by the same penalty, regardless of the rank and estate of the guilty party … The criminal will have his head severed.’ Executions would be as quick and humane as possible, but would be performed in the main public square of each town as a terrifying and salutary example.3 The principle of popular sovereignty had been imposed for the choice of ministers of religion, but deputies hesitated to apply it when reforming the armed forces. How would the rank and file know which officers were best equipped to win battles? While the principle of making all ranks open to talent was applied to the army, officers were not to be elected. The decision caused tensions. There were serious rebellions in the fleets at Toulon in December 1789 and Brest in September 1790 and in many army garrisons, notably in Perpignan and Nancy. A rebellion in the garrison at Nancy in August 1790 was bloodily repressed by its commander Bouillé, cousin of the commander-in-chief of the army, Lafayette. About ninety mutineers were killed in the fighting and many others were punished: one broken on the wheel, twenty hanged and forty-one sent to the galleys. Bouillé was to be notorious for this ‘affaire de Nancy’. Worried by reports of unrest in the army, the Assembly endorsed Bouillé’s actions. For Elysée Loustallot of the major newspaper, the Révolutions de Paris, already despondent over the violence that had continued since July 1789, the news of the massacre was intolerable:

How can I narrate with a leaden heart? How can I reflect when my feelings are torn with despair? I see them there, these corpses strewn about the streets of Nancy … Await rascals, the press that uncovers all crimes and dispels all errors will deprive you of your joy and your strength: how sweet it would be to be your last victim! Loustallot died shortly thereafter, at just twenty-nine years of age; his funeral oration was delivered by another prominent journalist and revolutionary, Camille Desmoulins.4 The majority of the National Assembly also hesitated to apply the literal meaning of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen when it came to colonial legislation and

slavery. An angry debate opposed the colonial lobby (the Club Massiac) to the Société des Amis des Noirs, which included Brissot and Grégoire. The Assembly changed nothing in its first decree on 8 March 1790. Its next response, in May 1791, granted ‘active’ citizen status to free blacks (‘men of colour’) with free parents and the necessary property, but avoided the issue of slavery itself. The colonial lobby had won, but the great breach had been made in the ideology justifying slavery: if freed ‘men of colour’ could be citizens, then all slaves had the potential to be. The rights of women were advocated by individual activists such as Olympe de Gouges, Etta Palm and Théroigne de Méricourt, and the political club the Cercle Social urged the vote for women, the availability of divorce, and the abolition of inheritance laws that favoured the first-born son. The latter was legislated in March 1790, although more with the intention of breaking up large noble estates than to favour women. In 1791 Gouges published a draft social contract for marriage arrangements concerning children and property and a Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Citizeness:


Mothers, daughters, sisters, female representatives of the Nation, ask to be formed into a National Assembly. Considering that ignorance, forgetfulness or disdain for the rights of women are the only causes of public unhappiness and government corruption, [they] have resolved to set out in a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable and sacred rights of women, so that this declaration, constantly before all members of the social body, will remind them ceaselessly of their rights and duties, so that the power of women, and the power of men being at any moment comparable with the goal of any political institution, be better respected …5 At a time when the fundamental social division was between ‘patriots’ and those for whom the Revolution had already gone too far, Gouges’ challenge found almost no support in the Assembly and little resonance outside. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen had been silent on reform to economic regulation, but it soon became apparent that deputies assumed that the principles of free enterprise and free trade (laissez-faire, laissez-passer) were the economic equivalent of freedom of religion and expression. ‘Liberty’ was indivisible. So the Assembly ended state restrictions on the grain trade and abolished internal customs barriers, assuming that internal free trade within the borders would encourage commerce and make for a more rational movement of the nation’s produce. A corollary of decisions to abolish privileged ‘corporations’ such as the First and Second Estates was liberty of the marketplace for labour and commodities. Economic freedom was seen to be incompatible with the continued existence of guilds (abolished by the Allarde law of March 1791) and combinations of workers or employers (made illegal by the Le Chapelier law of June 1791). Prostitutes, too, were ‘freed’ from the supervision of religious authorities and police, but thereby made more vulnerable as well.

The Assembly thus operated on the basis of a distinctively ‘bourgeois’ conception of property, produce and labour as belonging to individuals, the price and ownership of which was to be negotiated publicly, in markets, and without the hindrances of excessive regulation, tolls and customs duties, or claims to special treatment. It was fundamentally different to the divergent views of peasants and nobles regarding the personal and collective rights and obligations that existed over private farmland, or of urban consumers concerning ‘just prices’ for essentials.

6 This barely surviving plane tree was probably planted in the tiny village of Tamniès, north of Sarlat, to mark the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, in July 1790. It grows in front of the parish church, from where it was photographed. It is now probably the only living ‘liberty tree’ from that point of the Revolution. (Photo: Charlotte Allen) Whatever the misgivings some had about the nature of specific reforms, the work of the National Assembly was vast in scope and energy. It laid the foundation of a new social order based on civil liberties, equality before the law, and national unity. All French citizens, whatever their social background and residence, were henceforth to be administered in the same way, judged according to a single uniform legal code, and taxed by the same obligatory proportional taxes on wealth, especially landed property. This was a key meaning of ‘fraternity’. Optimism about the nature of the changes ran deep through much of 1790, bolstered by another good harvest after that of 1789. The Assembly decided to hold a vast ‘Festival of Federation’ on the Champ de Mars in Paris on 14 July 1790 to celebrate the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. The rough ground was levelled by voluntary labour and the ceremony involving Louis XVI, Talleyrand and Lafayette drew massive crowds: some estimated that there were 300 000 people in attendance. On a much smaller scale were the celebrations that occurred in every rural and regional community, often at new ‘altars of the homeland’. Two days earlier the Assembly had passed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, a sweeping reform of the structures of the Church that was to explode the unity apparent on the Champ de Mars on the 14th. No institution was more important than the Catholic Church, the religion of almost all citizens, whether or not they were devout. There had been consensus on the need for radical change to the Church in the cahiers of the Third Estate, and often in those of the First Estate itself. The Church was seen to be intolerant, inefficient and unacceptably hierarchical in the social status and wealth of its high clergy. The parish priests were held in high esteem, not least because so many of their deputies had sided with the Third Estate in 1789. Most of the deputies were devout Catholics who assumed that they had the right to reform the administrative structures of the Gallican arm of the Church, just as Louis XV had in closing hundreds of religious houses in 1768. There was no question of separating Church and state: so the change from supporting clergy through the tithe to payment by the new nation was accepted as obvious.

Many clerical deputies, and their former First Estate fellows in general, were nervous. Few had agreed with the decision to nationalise Church property (even priests’ kitchen gardens were put up for sale). Many were bothered by the Assembly’s decision to accord full equality to Protestants in December 1789 and the Sephardic Jews of the southwest in January 1790 (the Ashkenazi in the east were not recognised until September 1791). Large-scale sectarian violence erupted early in 1790 in southern towns with wealthy Protestant minorities, such as Montauban and Nîmes, where wealth opened to them municipal power on top of the freedom to worship openly. Many members of the First Estate found the Assembly’s decision in February 1790 to prohibit new monastic vows to be intrusive and heavy-handed. But nothing had prepared them for the extent and method of reform in the Civil Constitution of the Clergy of 12 July 1790. Certainly, parish priests in most regions were to be better paid (1200 livres), and few of them regretted the lower, uniform salaries accorded to bishops and other high clergy. But the decision to allocate parishes on the basis of population meant that many ‘excess’ parish churches and chapels would be closed, removing many clergy from office and angering parishioners in remote locations who now had to trek to a distant parish church. In particular, the decision of the Assembly to place the choice of clergy in the hands of ‘active’ citizens—including non-Catholics but excluding other parishioners— created friction, and totally repudiated the assumption within the Church that clerical appointment was divinely inspired and hierarchical. In applying popular sovereignty to the choice of priests and bishops, the Assembly was assuming a model of ‘citizen priests’ that outraged many clergy. .

[3.4] The Struggle over the Survival and Direction of the Revolution Like every revolution, that of 1789 was characterised by the challenge of holding together the alliance that had brought down the Ancien Régime, in the face of a mounting opposition to the Revolution itself. What were the goals of the Revolution? And how could the Revolution be preserved against its opponents? The nobility had lost power, wealth, and privilege, and in June 1790 even noble status was abolished. While many nobles supported the essential changes brought by the Revolution, many more had retreated into noisy opposition on their provincial estates, and a few joined with other émigrés gathering across the Rhine at Coblentz and Trèves. There they awaited the opportune moment to bring a chastised France to its senses. But it was the division over Church reform and the angry response of many of the clerical deputies to the passing of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy that confronted the Assembly with its greatest dilemma. It was as if the Assembly wanted the clergy to become ‘citizen priests’ like mayors or public servants. Although most priests accepted the reforms in the southeast and the Paris basin, where public life had long been relatively ‘secularised’, they overwhelmingly rejected

them in the west and in areas with Protestant minorities, where Catholic priests had been antagonised by the Assembly’s religious pluralism. On 27 November 1790 the Assembly decreed that, following their election in the new year, bishops and priests would have to swear an oath ‘to be faithful to the nation, to the law and to the king, to maintain the Constitution decreed by the National Assembly …’ All over France the oath faced parish priests with an agonising choice of conscience. The Civil Constitution had been sanctioned by the king, but did that quieten their anxiety that the oath contradicted loyalty to the Pope and long-established practice? Many priests sought to resolve the dilemma by taking a qualified oath, as had a priest in the northeastern department of Pas-de-Calais.

To the municipality of the parish of Quesques. Declaration of the parish priest regarding the oath required by the assembly. I declare that my religion does not allow me to take an oath such as the National Assembly requires; I am happy and I even promise to watch over as well as one possibly can the faithful of this parish who are entrusted to me, to be true to the nation and the king and to observe the constitution decreed by the National Assembly and sanctioned by the king in all that is within the competence of his power, in all that belongs to him in the order of purely civil and political matters, but where the government and the laws of the Church are concerned, I recognise no superior and other legislators other than the Pope and the bishops; … my confidence in refusing the oath such as the National Assembly requires will teach you, Christians, that neither the fear of being pursued, nor this interest that we are often reproached for having at the wrong moment can make me betray my conscience and it will be, and even for you, an example to lose your possessions, your fortune, even your life if necessary, rather than to abandon your faith, your religion and offend your God … JA Baude, Parish priest of Quesques and Lottinghen.6 Only a handful of bishops and perhaps half the parish clergy were prepared both to stand for election on New Year’s Day 1791 and to take the requisite civic oath. Thousands of others retracted when in April 1791, Pope Pius condemned the Civil Constitution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen as inimical to Christian teachings:

Take special care lest you proffer ears to the insidious voices of this secular sect, whose voices furnish death, and avoid in this way all usurpers whether they are called archbishops, bishops or parish priests, so that there is nothing in common between you and them, especially in divine matters … with one word cling to Us: for no one can be in the Church of Christ unless he is unified with the visible head of the Church itself and is strengthened in the cathedral of Peter.7

Map 12 The Clerical Oath, 1791 Provincial capitals bore the brunt of institutional change, including the impact of reforms to the Church. In Toulouse, the Parlement aristocracy had made up only 5 per cent of the population of 60 000 but it had controlled 44 per cent of the city’s wealth. Members of the clergy were one in fifteen of the population: apart from the cathedral and basilica, there were ten parish churches and more than fifty convents and monasteries, and church property covered one-third of the town. Now this property was to be sold, the religious orders would slowly close and Toulouse would be reduced to just a departmental capital from its proud history as capital of Languedoc. In almost every case, the department capital was also the centre of the diocese, but occasionally authorities sought to defuse urban rivalries by splitting the two. At the northern end of the nation, Laon had seen off the campaign of its rival Soissons to be the capital of the new department of Aisne, thereby keeping its administrative and judicial functions, but at the price of losing the bishopric to its rival. The Festival of Federation on 14 July 1790 was a joyful occasion in the town, capped by the wedding at the altar of the homeland of a ‘poor and virtuous girl’ to a soldier in the National Guard. The altar thus received ‘the double vow of conjugal union of these happy spouses, and the fraternal union of all citizens’. Then the Civil Constitution of the Clergy would close all but two of the twelve tiny parishes on the ‘plateau’ (high town) of Laon, and the collapse of the Church’s wealth—it had owned 28 per cent of the region’s land, and many seigneurial titles —would ravage the town as surely as it benefited substantial rural landowners.8 Support for the Revolution quickly splintered in Brittany and much of the west. Hundreds of ‘patriots’ from Brittany and Anjou gathered at Pontivy in January and February 1790 to express their unity with ‘all the French’, while others muttered angrily about the abolition of

Brittany’s distinctive ‘constitution’ and privileges supposedly guaranteed under the union of Brittany and France in 1532. The reforms to the Church aggravated tensions immeasurably in a region where priests from local families had often enjoyed high salaries and prominence in tiny theocracies: forty-two of the 232 elected mayors in the department of Morbihan were priests. Furious villagers from Sarzeau marched on Vannes on 13 February 1791 on hearing the rumour that the non-juror bishop Amelot was in prison. They were encouraged by the priest of Sarzeau, who had had a salary of 2600 livres before the Revolution, but that was now slashed by the new national salary scale that so advantaged priests elsewhere.9 Just as pressing and dangerous was the question of whose Revolution this was. After all, the Revolution of 1789 had been made only with the physical support of masses of urban workers and peasants. Yet the Revolution had introduced free enterprise and free trade, had abolished associations and guilds, but had not introduced universal suffrage or abolished feudal dues outright. The attempt by the National Assembly to treat seigneurial exactions as a legal form of rent that peasants could only terminate by compensating the seigneur encountered stubborn and, at times violent, resistance. Many communities decided to take legal action to force seigneurs to submit their feudal titles for verification. This legal challenge was often connected with an illegal, second type of action, the refusal to pay feudal dues in the meantime. For example, in the four months after December 1789, peasants from 330 parishes in the southwest invaded over one hundred châteaux to protest against the payment of harvest dues.10 In restricting formal political life to ‘active’ citizens, the Revolution risked alienating poorer wage-earners and campaigners for women’s rights—a disaffection made manifest in the democratic agitation in Paris of the Cordeliers Club, under Marat and Danton, and the Fraternal Society of Both Sexes, led by the schoolteacher Claude Dansard, which attracted up to 800 men and women to its sessions. Such clubs challenged the dominance of the ‘active’ citizens of the Jacobin Club, the Parisian headquarters of a national network of Societies of Friends of the Constitution, the key political grouping in the nation.

7 & 8 After the building entrepreneur Pierre-François Palloy was contracted to demolish the Bastille, he sent carvings of it made from its foundation stones to the 83 new departments. This stone was acquired in 1790 by the village of St Julien-duSault in Burgundy and embedded in the town gate on ‘Liberty Square’. It remains there today. Palloy’s certification of authenticity is just discernible along the bottom. (Photos: Peter McPhee) Such clubs were part of a new political culture. In early 1789, there had been perhaps eighty newspapers in the whole country; over the next few years about 2000 others were launched. In Paris alone, there were 515 new newspapers in these years. Even taking account of how ephemeral many were—357 (69 per cent) had fewer than three issues—the contrast is striking with London. There, a larger city, of over one million inhabitants, had just twentytwo periodicals.11 In these newspapers, and in songs, plays and broadsheets, the period 1789–92 was a great age of savage satire, especially in the form of obscene attacks on political opponents. Through these mouthpieces of political expression the new citizenry expressed its views and disagreements about the changes the Revolution had wrought and the future direction it should take.

[3.5] The King’s Flight, 20–22 June 1791 The battle over the survival and direction of the Revolution came to a head in the fifteen months after 21 June 1791, when Parisians awoke to the news that Louis XVI, MarieAntoinette and their children had fled. The flight was a succession of accidents and blunders, and they were arrested in the eastern village of Varennes during the night of 22 June (see image 20). Louis had been heading for the safety of the Marquis de Bouillé’s troops and the Luxembourg border, but he intended to return. He left behind a declaration repudiating the way in which the people’s ‘false friends’ in the Assembly had presumed to initiate reforms, particularly to the Catholic Church.

Frenchmen, and especially you Parisians, you inhabitants of a city which the ancestors of His Majesty were pleased to call the good city of Paris, distrust the suggestions and lies of your false friends. Return to your King; he will always be your father, your best friend. What pleasure will he not take in forgetting all his personal injuries, and beholding himself again in your midst, when a constitution, freely accepted by him, shall cause our holy religion to be respected …12 He had not recovered from the shame he felt at having agreed to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, nor his humiliation at being physically prevented from leaving Paris to take Easter mass from a non-juring priest at his château at St Cloud in April 1791. He recalled that the cahiers had accepted the king’s role; now the Society of Friends of the Constitution or Jacobins of ‘active’ citizens springing up across the country had assumed the power to dictate legislation. Louis did return to Paris, but in disgrace. Along his long, miserable trip back to the capital, there were occasional threats of violence, but more commonly masses of people lined the roads to stare in disbelief, often refusing to take off their hats as a sign of contempt. News of the flight and arrest spread with extraordinary speed: the arrest on 22 June in Varennes was known in distant Quimper, in Brittany, at 7 am on 24 June.13 Initial reactions of panic at what the events might mean for the threat of foreign invasion soon turned to anger. On the other hand, outside France, opponents of the Revolution, urged on by increased numbers of émigré nobles, were incensed by Louis’ ‘imprisonment’ in Paris. His flight had unleashed a new revolutionary struggle.

[3.6] The ‘Massacre on the Champ de Mars’, 17 July 1791 On the first anniversary of the taking of the Bastille, on 14 July 1790, Louis had taken an oath on the Champ de Mars ‘to use the power given to me by the constitutional law of the State, to maintain the Constitution as decided by the National Assembly and accepted by myself, and to enforce the laws’. Obviously, Louis had now repudiated the Revolution, both in his declaration and in his willingness to call on foreign help by fleeing to the borders. Was he a traitor? How could his word ever again be trusted? And yet ultimately the Assembly

preferred to reinstall him on his throne, even to accept the rationalisation that he had, in some sense, left the capital against his will. Motivating most of the deputies to retain Louis on the throne was fear: fear of war with his relatives among the crowned heads of Europe if he was deposed and, just as important, fear of instability. Wage-earners’ hostility to the Le Chapelier law, which outlawed workers’ associations, had been aggravated by a further slump in the purchasing power of the assignats in which they were paid. The anger of the ‘passive’ citizens and their supporters was expressed in particular through the Cordeliers Club, which organised a petition calling for Louis’ abdication to be signed on the Champ de Mars, the same location where a year earlier Parisians had gathered to celebrate the anniversary of the Revolution of 1789. Calls for Louis’ abdication were mixed with demands for democratic reform, even—although far less commonly—with demands for a republic. On 15 July, the prominent deputy Antoine Barnave made a speech to the National Assembly:

What I fear most is our vigour, our unrest; I fear the indefinite prolongation of our revolutionary fever. Any change today is fatal, every prolongation of the Revolution disastrous. I am posing the question here, for it is a question of the national interest. Are we going to end the Revolution, or are we going to start it all over again? (Repeated applause) … If the Revolution takes one more step, it can only be a dangerous one: if it is in line with liberty its first act could be the destruction of royalty, if it is in line with equality its first act could be an attack on property. (Applause) … It is time to bring the Revolution to an end … It must stop at the point where the Nation is free and all men are equal … Everyone must be made aware that it is in the common interest that the Revolution be brought to a halt …14 Barnave was a key figure in the colonial lobby concerned with how slave unrest was threatening commerce. Retaining Louis on the throne was for him crucial to staunching unrest both in France and in the colonies. While members of the Jacobin Club had initially supported the petition, most now abandoned the Cordeliers, who proceeded alone. On 17 July, up to 50 000 people gathered on the Champ de Mars where, as they signed, Lafayette and the National Guard proclaimed martial law before opening fire. At least fifty of the petitioners were killed. The ‘massacre’, as it became known, horrified and terrified Parisians. A great deal of blood had been spilt among those who had together made the Revolution of 1789. Most Jacobins had now split away from the more militant democrats among them, such as Robespierre, who in turn drew closer to the democrats of the Cordelier Club and the more prominent of the skilled workers. A new term was now used for militant revolutionaries, particularly, but not exclusively, if they were ‘of the people’: sans-culottes. The revolutionary alliance of 1789 had splintered. On the one hand, a new alliance had been born, linking radical middle-class Jacobins and sans-culottes through a shared commitment to democracy and greater social equality. On the other, many former Jacobins,

dubbed ‘Feuillants’, now sought above all to stabilise the Revolution and willingly accepted Louis’ reassurances as he proclaimed the Constitution, and the end of the Assembly, in September 1791. Others hoped that it meant the end of uncertainty: one noble, Lallemand de Ste Croix, celebrated the proclamation of the Constitution by flying from Paris to Provins in a hot-air balloon, scattering copies of the document as he dined on chicken legs, bread and wine.15 Fewer than two hundred of the 1200 or more deputies who had gathered at Versailles in May 1789 voted against the Constitution of 1791. Its provisions were an historic achievement, laying the institutional groundwork for a radically different yet coherent polity. Whatever the limitations one might highlight—the lack of explicit political and social rights for women, slaves and the poor—it created the most inclusive and participatory system in the world. Despite the level of consensus in the Assembly, the Constitution was promulgated amid thunderous rumblings of discontent. European powers threatened France over what they saw as Louis’ imprisonment, at the same time as the king’s flight had shattered his people’s faith in his attachment to them. Half the clergy—and many of their parishioners—had been alienated by the upheaval of the Church reforms. Millions of peasants were locked in an unresolved, bitter stand-off over seigneurial dues. Artisans and labourers in provincial centres had lost employment and custom with the abolition of Old Regime institutions and the sale of church property. In the colonies, despite the promise of 1789 that people were ‘born free and equal’, civil equality had been granted only to children of freed slaves. When planters refused to contemplate even this, a slave rebellion erupted in St-Domingue in August 1791. Slaves, predominantly from the Congo, started burning plantation properties, setting sugar-cane alight and breaking the machines that pulped the cane. They attempted to seize the port of Le Cap, where the colonial Assembly was being held, before retreating into the hills; from there they deployed guerrilla tactics against squadrons of colonial troops. The key leader was Toussaint Louverture, born a slave, with an Arada father from West Africa. He had been freed over a decade before the Revolution and had indeed briefly owned a slave and managed a plantation. By October 1791 2000 whites and 10 000 slaves would be dead.16 Political divisions were all-pervasive, including in the theatre. In 1791 an actor in Richard, Coeur de Lion replaced a reference to Richard with Louis: ‘Oh, Louis, oh my king! With our love we faithfully embrace you.’ There was applause from the boxes, but shouts of ‘Down with the traitors!’ from the pit. The orchestra attempted to diffuse the tensions by playing the popular revolutionary song ‘Ça ira’, but only police intervention stilled the commotion. A few months later an actress provoked an on-stage scuffle with spectators by looking directly at Marie-Antoinette when she sang ‘Oh, how I love my mistress!’ There was similar friction between patrons in private boxes and those on the floor at the Comédie Italienne, following the line: ‘The people should be educated but not misled!’ Police were pelted with potatoes as they rushed onto the stage to restore order.17 The implementation of the Constitution was now in the hands of 745 new deputies in the

Legislative Assembly—new because the National Assembly had accepted Robespierre’s motion that, as the architects of the Constitution, its members should disqualify themselves from now ruling France under its provisions. The new Assembly was evenly divided at the outset between Jacobin followers of Jean-Pierre Brissot and those keenest to stabilise the Revolution—the ‘Feuillants’—many of whom had deserted the Jacobins as they became more concerned about popular pressures to push the Revolution further.

[3.7] The Origins of the War of 20 April 1792 Despite the powerful desire of the ‘Feuillants’ to stabilise the Revolution under Louis XVI, within six months they almost unanimously supported the Brissotins’ proposal to declare war on Austria. This was a decision that engulfed Europe in armed conflict almost continuously for twenty-three years. Like the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, it was a great turning-point in the course of the Revolution, and the Revolution now pulsed in time with the fortunes of war. Fundamental conflict was inevitable—if war itself was not—between Old Regime Europe and a revolutionary France that had largely abolished feudalism, sold church lands, ended privilege, and introduced civil equality and popular sovereignty. The Declaration of War against Austria, on 20 April 1792, insisted that this was a defensive war:

In accordance with the sacred principles of the Constitution, which do not permit France to take part in a war of conquest or to use her forces against the liberty of another people, the French nation is taking up arms solely in defense of its own independence.18 Certainly, there were specific foreign issues that rankled with the Legislative Assembly deputies. When Louis was suspended from his functions following his abortive attempt to flee in June, crowned heads had issued menacing declarations from Padua (5 July) and Pillnitz (27 August), threatening armed retribution should his safety and freedom be denied. The Elector of Trèves had refused to disperse gatherings of émigrés in the city. Nobles from across the Rhine with seigneurial holdings in France continued to insist that the anti-feudal legislation did not apply to them. And the unrest in St-Domingue after August 1791 was blamed on Spanish and English manoeuvring for advantage against the French colonial empire. On 9 November, the Assembly passed a sweeping law, effectively declaring the émigrés outlaws should they not return by the start of the new year:

Article I. Those Frenchmen gathered beyond the kingdom’s borders are, from this moment, declared to be suspected of conspiracy against the fatherland.

Article II. If, on 1 January 1792, they are still gathered in the same way, they will be declared guilty of conspiracy; as such they will be prosecuted, and punished with death.19

Three days later, the king used his suspensive veto to block the legislation. Suspicion mounted that the king’s sincerity in proclaiming the Constitution of 1791 was questionable. In such a situation, and with such uncertainty inside France, a range of groups came to see in war as a way to resolve uncertainty. For Jacobins such as Brissot, Vergniaud and Roland, the war would push the Revolution further on towards democracy and expose traitors. Supporters of the king, including Lafayette, hoped that a short, victorious war would restore the king’s standing and enable a curtailment of revolutionary change, if not a return to the Old Regime. It was widely assumed that a war would be brief and successful, and the fifty-four armed companies of political refugees agreed, longing for revolutionary change in their own lands. For their part, intransigents such as Marie-Antoinette and émigrés welcomed the war as signalling an inevitable defeat of a loathed Revolution. There were only a few strong voices outside the Assembly who openly opposed a war, such as Robespierre, Danton, and Desmoulins. Whereas Brissot called for an armed crusade that would expose traitors, Robespierre insisted that ‘no-one likes armed missionaries’ and that France should put its own house in order before seeking to export revolution across Europe. Brissot and his followers had argued that this would be a triumphant campaign that would purge the Revolution of traitors and indecision. Instead, it was protracted and bloody, and caused consequences in stark contrast to the rosy picture painted by the Brissotins. For the thousands of émigrés in Turin, Coblenz and elsewhere, the war raised the stakes and their hopes of retribution and return, bolstered by the desertion to their side of about two-thirds of the 9000 strong army officer corps by the end of 1792. Inside France, an immediate effect was to increase the pressure on non-juring clergy: were not those who persisted in refusing an oath of loyalty to the nation and its laws logically in league with the enemy slaughtering French volunteers on the frontiers? They were ordered to leave France immediately. The expectation that the French armies would be bolstered by volunteers further radicalised the Revolution: how could the right to vote be refused to ‘passive’ citizens willing to die to protect the Revolution? Most directly, the declaration of war and the subsequent defeats exposed the disloyalty of the king a year after he had sought to flee to the enemy, now interpreted as proof of his complicity with his wife’s nephew, the emperor of Austria. Ever since 1789, Louis, now thirty-eight years old, had struggled with the intractable question of how the scale and intricacies of absolutist splendour could be reconciled with the more mundane and circumscribed expectations of constitutional monarchy. Contact between deputies and members of his court only accentuated discord. One indignant deputy reported back to the Assembly in February 1792 that ‘we were received in an antechamber where one of those men with epaulettes and gold braid mocked us with the most condescending and insulting of smiles’. Louis had been placed in a desperate personal and regal conflict between his upbringing as the ‘Most Christian King and eldest son of the Church’ and the Revolution’s determination to make the Church the servant of its people. After Louis’ ignominious return from Varennes, his court continued to use periods of ostentatious mourning for deceased European rulers and their families to express disapproval of the Revolution. Since 1789, the court had been in mourning for 374 days, three times the yearly

average beforehand. Even though monarchs were expected to lament each other’s losses, the decision to mourn the deaths of Leopold II of Austria (1 March) and then, after the declaration of war on Austria, his wife Marie Louisa (15 May), was profoundly shocking.20 The first five months of the war were an almost unbroken series of defeats and retreats for French armies wracked by instability of personnel and the desertion or indecision of noble officers. On 11 July the Assembly was forced to declare publicly to the nation that ‘the homeland is in danger’ and appealed for total support in a spirit of self-sacrifice:

Your constitution rests on the principles of eternal justice; a league of kings has been formed in order to destroy it, their battalions are advancing, they are numerous, subjected to rigorous discipline, and trained long ago in the art of war. Do you not feel a noble ardour arousing your courage! Would you allow foreign hordes to spread like a destroying torrent over your countryside! That they ravage our harvest! … Make haste, citizens, save liberty and avenge your glory. The National Assembly declares that the homeland is in danger … soon, consolidating, through a glorious peace, the basis of your government, you will finally gather all the fruits of the revolution, and you will have prepared, through your happiness, that of posterity.21 Women activists, disappointed at the attenuated nature of change the Revolution had brought to their civic status but committed to its defense, responded with demands that they become soldier-citizens. In the rousing words of one of them, Théroigne de Méricourt:

Frenchwomen … let us raise ourselves to the height of our destinies; let us break our chains; at last the time is ripe for Women to emerge from their shameful nullity, where the ignorance, pride and injustice of men had kept them enslaved for so long a time; let us return to those times when our Mothers, the Gauls and the proud Germans, debated in the public Assemblies, fought side by side with their husbands and repulsed the enemies of Liberty!22 But while a few women disguised themselves as men and joined the armies, there was never any support for arming women, just as there was little for enfranchising them.

[3.8] The Second Revolution, 10 August 1792 In late July 1792, Parisians learnt of a terrifying manifesto issued by the Duke of Brunswick, commander of the Prussian armies advancing through eastern France:

Their said Majesties further declare, on their faith and word as Emperor [of Austria] and King [of Prussia], that if the Palace of the Tuileries is entered by force or attacked, if the least violence, the least outrage be done Their Majesties, the King, Queen, and the Royal Family, if their security, preservation and liberty be not provided for immediately, they will exact an exemplary and ever-memorable vengeance thereon by delivering the city of Paris to military punishment and total

destruction, and the rebels who are guilty of outrages to the punishments they deserve.23 The response of Parisians was a mixture of rage and fear. One response was that forty-seven of the forty-eight ‘sections’ (neighbourhoods) of Paris formed a ‘revolutionary commune’ and companies of 20 000 armed and paid sans-culottes. They were joined by volunteers from the provinces (fédérés) on their way to the front. Many of the fédérés were from Marseille, and arrived in the capital singing the ‘Battle song of the Rhine army’ (‘La Marseillaise’), composed by an army officer, Rouget de l’Isle: Arise, children of the Fatherland, The day of glory has arrived! Against us tyranny’s bloodied banner is raised (repeat) Do you hear across the countryside The roar of those ferocious soldiers? They are coming here into your midst To slaughter your sons and wives! To arms, citizens, form your battalions, Let’s march, let’s march! May a tainted blood Drench our furrows!

9 The siege of the Tuileries palace and overthrow of the monarchy on 10 August 1792, as depicted by Jean-Louis Prieur in his ‘Tableaux historiques’ series. (Author‘s collection) On 10 August, these armed forces took the Tuileries palace at the cost of the lives of about 300 sans-culottes and ninety fédérés (see map 9). The 600 Swiss mercenaries defending the royal family would also lose their lives, many in reprisal killings once the Tuileries had been taken. The explosive mixture of armed patriotism and loathing of the royal family was captured in perhaps the most popular of songs in these months, ‘La Carmagnole’, referring to the failure of Louis’ powers of veto: Madame veto had promised To strangle Paris But her attempt failed Thanks to our gunners. Let’s dance the Carmagnole Long live its sound

Let’s dance the Carmagnole Long live the sound of cannon. Antoinette had decided To make us fall on our arses But her blows failed She has broken her nose We’ll always remember The sans-culottes of the suburbs Let’s drink to their health Long live these brave lads. On 10 August Louis was forced to seek protection by fleeing to the Assembly. This time it would not be forgiving. But the question remained of what should now be done with him? He had no successor: his brothers Artois and Provence were already émigrés and the dauphin still a small boy. And how should the Revolution respond to the bloody promise of the Duke of Brunswick now that it was due for his ‘exemplary and ever-memorable vengeance?’

Chapter 3: Reform, Conflict, and a Second Revolution, 1789– 1792 1

Timothy Tackett, Becoming a Revolutionary: The Deputies of the National Assembly and the Emergence of a Revolutionary Culture (1789–1790), Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996. 2 Anthony Crubaugh, Balancing the Scales of Justice: Local Courts and Rural Society in Southwest France, 1750–1800, University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001. 3 Paul Friedland, Seeing Justice Done: the Age of Spectacular Capital Punishment in France, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, ch. 9; Daniel Arasse, The Guillotine and the Terror, translated by Christopher Miller, London: Penguin, 1989, pp. 11–14. 4 JM Gilchrist and WJ Murray (eds), The Press in the French Revolution, Melbourne: Cheshire & London: Ginn, 1971, p. 15. On the impact of the Revolution on the armed forces, see Jean-Paul Bertaud, The Army of the French Revolution: From Citizen-Soldiers to Instrument of Power, translated by RR Palmer, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988, ch. 1; Alan Forrest, Soldiers of the French Revolution, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1990, ch. 2; William S Cormack, Revolution and Political Conflict in the French Navy, 1789–1794, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 5 Olympe de Gouges, Écrits politiques, Paris: Côté-Femmes, 1993, pp. 206–11. 6 Annales historiques de la Révolution française, 46 (1974), p. 289. 7 Augustin Theiner, Documents inédits rélatifs aux affaires religieuses de la France, Paris: Firmin Didot Frères, 1857, p. 88. 8 Martyn Lyons, Revolution in Toulouse: An Essay on Provincial Terrorism, Bern, Frankfurt am Main & Las Vegas: Peter Lang, 1978; Michael P Fitzsimmons, The Remaking of France: the National Assembly, the Constitution of 1791 and the Reorganization of the French Polity, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 209–10; Ted W Margadant, Urban Rivalries in the French Revolution, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992, pp. 263–4; Peter McPhee, Living the French Revolution, 1789–1799, London & New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006, p. 81. 9 Joël Cornette, Histoire de la Bretagne et des Bretons, vol. 2, Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2005, p. 158; Marcelle Richard (ed.), Le Morbihan pendant la Révolution, 1789–1795, 2nd ed., Vannes: Archives départementales, 1988, pp. 10–14, 29; JosephMarie Le Mené, Histoire archéologique, féodale et religieuse des paroisses du diocèse de Vannes, 2 vols, Vannes: Imprimerie Galles, pp. 1891–94.


McPhee, Living the French Revolution, pp. 62–4. Jack R Censer, Prelude to Power: the Parisian Radical Press, 1789–1791, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md, & London, 1976, pp. 8–11. 12 Archives parlementaires, 21 June 1791, pp. 378–83. 13 Timothy Tackett, When the King took Flight, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2003. 14 Archives parlementaires, 15 July 1791, pp. 326–34. 15 Rila Mukherjee, ‘Creating a New Century? Truth, Liberty, Nightmare and Corrective Discipline in the Bernstein Collection’, The Michael Bernstein Collection and Studies on the French Revolution, Tokyo: Senshu University, 2008, pp. 1–10. 16 Laurent Dubois, ‘Slavery in the Age of Revolution’, in Gad Heuman and Trevor Burnard (eds), The Routledge History of Slavery, London: Routledge, 2011, pp. 267–80; Jeremy D Popkin, You Are All Free: the Haitian Revolution and the Abolition of Slavery, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. 17 James H Johnson, Listening in Paris: a Cultural History, Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press, 1995, pp. 110–11; Peter McPhee, Liberty or Death: The French Revolution, New Haven, Conn & London: Yale University Press, 2016, p. 138. 18 Procès-Verbal (Assemblée législative), vol. 7, p. 355. 19 Gazette Nationale ou le Moniteur Universel, no. 313, 9 November 1791, vol. 10, p. 325. 20 Ambrogio A Caiani, Louis XVI and the French Revolution, 1789–1792, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, 113, 217–18, ch. 7. 21 Gazette Nationale ou le Moniteur Universel, no. 194, 12 July 1792, vol. 13, p. 108. 22 From Elisabeth Roudinesco, Madness and Revolution: The Lives and Legends of Théroigne de Méricourt, translated by Martin Thom, London & New York: Verso, 1991, p. 97. 23 Gazette Nationale ou le Moniteur Universel, no. 216, 3 August 1792, vol. 13, pp. 305–6. 11

Chapter 4 The Crisis of 1792–1793: War and Terror [4.1] Blood and Anger, September 1792 Revolutionaries were convinced that theirs was an international struggle for universal values. At the peak of the revolutionary crisis, on 26 August 1792, just a fortnight after the overthrow of the monarchy and as foreign troops continued their advance on Paris, the Legislative Assembly decreed French citizenship for eighteen foreigners ‘who in various countries have brought reason to its present maturity’. Among them were heroes of the American Revolution (Tom Paine, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington), British and European radicals (‘Anarchasis’ Cloots, Joseph Priestley, William Wilberforce, Jeremy Bentham, Tadeusz Kosciuszko) and the German and Swiss educators Joachim Campe and Johann Pestalozzi.

10 The Revolution changed the decoration on the material objects of daily life, as on this plate marking the nation’s unity and resolve in 1792. Household crockery was a particularly common choice for symbolising support for the Revolution. (Author’s collection) In sharp contrast, the military crisis made life far more dangerous for those openly opposed to the Revolution, in particular for all those religious who had refused the oath of loyalty to the nation and its constitution. On the same day as the eighteen foreigners were made citizens of France, the Assembly voted for the expulsion or imprisonment of non-juring clergy still resident in France:

Once the 14-day deadline stipulated above has expired, those clergy not under oath who have not obeyed the above provisions will be deported to French Guyana. The district Directories will have them arrested and taken from brigade to brigade to the nearest seaport … Any clergyman who remains within the kingdom after having made his declaration to leave and obtained a passport, or who returns after having left, will be condemned to a punishment of ten years’ detention.1

A few days earlier, the fortress of Longwy, 60 kilometres inside the eastern frontier, had been taken by the invading Prussians. Then, on 2 September, news arrived in Paris that the last major obstacle to the invaders, the great fortress at Verdun, had fallen. Parisians recalled only too well the language of extermination in the Brunswick manifesto, received one month earlier, that the price of ‘harm’ to the royal family would be full-scale armed retribution. The overthrow of the monarchy on 10 August had thrown the threat back in the face of the invading armies, who were now only 220 kilometres from the capital, and advancing. One response among Parisians—and citizens in many other towns and villages—was to answer the call to volunteer in huge numbers. But there was another response, more visceral and bloody. Panic-stricken Parisians were convinced that there were ‘prison plots’ designed to free prisoners once the volunteers had departed, to slaughter those they left behind and to welcome the invaders. In the early days of September, following the news from Verdun, 2700 prisoners were subjected to emergency public trials by self-appointed judges, and at least 1200 were summarily executed, sometimes with great cruelty. Among them were 240 priests, but three-quarters were common criminals. Those conducting the ‘trials’ were convinced of the necessity, justice, even propriety of their actions. One of their number caught stealing a fine handkerchief from a corpse was immediately put to death. A patriotic young soldier in the city on his way to the front wrote home that ‘Necessity has made this execution inevitable … It is sad to have to go to such lengths, but it is better, as they say, to kill the devil than to let the devil kill you’. Edmond Géraud, an eighteen-year-old student from Bordeaux, witnessed the slaughter in Paris: ‘The number of criminals who are victims of the popular fury is immense. At every step you can see the hideous and bloody remains of mutilated bodies in open graves … the image of death and massacre is present everywhere in the most terrifying ways.’ At the same time he had no doubt of the veracity of the rumours of prison plots among the ‘thieves, assassins, Swiss imprisoned after 10 August, well-known conspirators, refractory priests’.2 The nation was engulfed by fear, anger and panic. Massacres occurred in many parts of the country, in thirty-two of the eighty-three departments, at times before those in Paris. For example, in and around Alençon, capital of the department of Orne, west of Paris, two nobles and nine priests were killed between 15 August and 10 September.3 Only three of the fiftythree prisoners being escorted west from Paris to Saumur for their own safety escaped from popular justice at Versailles, the severed heads of the others impaled on the gates of the former royal palace.4 In Meaux, 40 kilometres east of the capital, a large crowd went to the prison and demanded the prison registers: seven priests and seven criminals were killed, the former by being stabbed, kicked and beaten. Another fourteen prisoners, including seven beggars, were released. None of the seven criminals killed was from Meaux, and this may indicate a greater sympathy for the local poor, who were spared.5 The killings shocked the sturdy patriot Pierre Louis-Nicolas Delahaye, schoolteacher of the village of Silly-en-Multien to the north of Meaux, who recorded in his diary that:

I have even heard here some young of Silly living in Meaux boast of having participated in these massacres … As for me, I believe that the day will come when

they themselves are horrified to have said such things … Today everyone has gone mad: there is talk only of massacring, of guillotining, of hanging from lamp-posts, and so on.6 Another who was shocked to his core was Nicolas-Joseph Grain, secretary to the municipal council of Vadencourt in the northeastern department of Aisne. In early September 1792, he was in the administrative centre of Soissons, near the front, which was in a state of panic about the rapidly approaching Prussian soldiers. About 25 000 French soldiers and volunteers were camped outside the town, their numbers regularly swollen by new arrivals from all over the country. The rumour spread that one of these new arrivals was in fact enrolling volunteers to cross to the enemy. Other soldiers dragged him through the streets, stabbing him with their bayonets to cries of ‘Long live the homeland! Death to the traitor!’ He was taken to the town hall where the council tried in vain to convince the volunteers to release him. Almost dead, the individual was forced to kneel, ask forgiveness from ‘the nation’, and then he was decapitated. His head was presented to the town council on the end of a bayonet, where Grain recalled how:

I recoiled in horror from this sight because there is nothing more horrible to see. I shuddered to the tips of my fingers. The sight followed me everywhere and I just couldn’t forget it. The cadavre was then hacked into pieces and the parts paraded through the streets.7 Many historians—particularly those sympathetic to the Revolution, such as Albert Soboul and George Rudé—have understood the ‘September massacres’, like other acts of violent retribution, as thoroughly regrettable but understandable responses to fear and anger at a time of looming death. To other historians, such as Simon Schama, JF Bosher and François Furet, such horrific acts of violence were the result of an intolerance and desire to punish already discernible in 1789. For them, the counter-revolution was essentially a creation of revolutionary paranoia and popular bloodlust. Schama argued that violence was at the heart of the Revolution from the very first, and that the middle-class leadership was complicit in its barbarity. Indeed, the September massacres have been described by him as ‘the central truth of the Revolution’.8 This argument ignores the principles and achievements of the Revolution over which the armies of Europe were now fighting and the alternative argument, put by Donald Sutherland, about the actual strength of popular counter-revolution.9 It also fails to acknowledge the disgust felt by people such as Delahaye and Grain. In any case, the violence of these years was by no means primarily the result of popular revolution. Large-scale killings had often been the result of the actions of the authorities, such as those defending the Bastille in July 1789 or those firing on petitioners at the Champ de Mars in July 1791. The counter-revolutionary press before 10 August had openly talked of the river Seine choked with the bodies of Jacobins (some even provided helpful lists of names) and the streets running with the blood of sans-culottes once the Prussians arrived.10

[4.2] The National Convention The September massacres were to haunt the deputies of the new National Convention, and the epithet septembriseur was coined by the Brissotins to insult those accused of complicity, such as Marat, Danton and Robespierre. In fact, those with official authority who had failed to act, such as the Minister of the Interior Jean-Marie Roland, were followers of Brissot. But they believed that the killings were the work of pro-Jacobins and that they themselves had narrowly escaped the slaughter. The 750 members of the Convention were elected by universal manhood suffrage in early September, this time with direct rather than indirect voting. It was composed of professional men, officials, landowners and businessmen with a few artisans and farmers. There were still forty-six clergy but now just twenty-three former nobles. The men of the Convention were younger than their predecessors: 46 per cent were younger than forty years (compared with 32 per cent of the National Assembly in 1789). Most of the younger men were Jacobins. But they were experienced: although only 37 per cent had been deputies previously, no fewer than 86 per cent had held some sort of office since 1789. They were revolutionaries and ‘patriots’, determined to win the war and secure the Revolution. The deputies agreed on a range of matters: in particular, the abolition of monarchy and the proclamation of the Republic (decreed on 22 September). They were democrats, at least in the sense of the sovereignty of adult male citizens. They were also convinced that this was a struggle of international significance. Indeed, two of the foreigners who were made citizens in August—Cloots and Paine—were among those elected to the Convention. Paine had come from a poor village background in England before leaving for London and joining the underground of radical politics. There he met Benjamin Franklin and migrated to Philadelphia in 1774, where he espoused ‘patriot’ and anti-monarchical politics, first in the Philadelphia Magazine, then most famously in the sensational pamphlet Common Sense (1776). In 1787, he had returned to England where he was indicted for treason, having fought in the American army. He subsequently engaged with Edmund Burke in a famous and feisty debate about the French Revolution. He was elected in two departments in 1792, despite his lack of French. As the new assembly proclaimed the Republic, news arrived of the first great military victory, at Valmy, 180 kilometres east of the capital, where largely volunteer troops fought under generals Kellermann and Dumouriez, against Brunswick’s 50 000 strong Austro– Prussian army, fresh from victories at Longwy and Verdun. While the enemy retreated rather than being defeated, this reversal was a major turning-point. In the words of the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, himself in the Prussian army, ‘this place and this day mark a new epoch in world history’. The coincidence had profound emotional and symbolic impact, but it was only a temporary respite in a relentless battle to check the Austro–Prussian advance. Deputies grappling with the enormity of the military crisis also had to seek a new form of constitution: France was now a Republic and the Constitution of 1791 was no longer operable (indeed, the metal plates used for its printing were destroyed publicly by the

‘national pile-driver’ in January 1793).

11 On 20 September 1792 revolutionary armies won their first great victory, at Valmy in eastern France. Among the defeated Prussian troops was the German writer Goethe, earlier an admirer of the Revolution. His reflection, that ‘from this place and from this day forth commences a new era in the world’s history’, is inscribed on the statue honouring General Kellermann. (Photo: Peter McPhee) Despite their common resolve and republican commitment, the deputies were also deeply

divided on a number of key issues. Over the next six months, three substantial groupings emerged. One was the followers of Brissot, now commonly referred to as ‘Girondins’, since a number of their key members were from Bordeaux and its department of Gironde. Among its key spokesmen were Brissot, Condorcet, Isnard, Vergniaud and Roland. Now that Roland was Minister for the Interior, he and his talented wife Marie-Jeanne (‘Manon’) could afford twice-weekly dinners for a dozen or more friends and allies. Gone now from their circle was a man who had become a dangerous foe, Robespierre. Instead, they hosted gatherings of leading Girondins, men terrified by the violent birth of the Republic in August–September and determined to thwart the Jacobins and their sans-culotte allies. The prominence of Girondin guests at an opulent table marked it off from other groups of diners in the capital. At what point did regular dining become a faction meeting? At what point did political planning become a conspiracy? To Hébert of the Père Duchesne, ‘the tender other half of the virtuous Roland now has France on leading strings, like the Pompadours and du Barrys of the past’.11 The second grouping was the Jacobins, of whom the most prominent were Robespierre, Marat, Danton, Desmoulins and the 25-year-old Louis-Antoine St-Just. They were often accused of being a Parisian-based minority and had indeed won twenty-three of the capital’s twenty-four seats, but there were up to 200 other Jacobins elected from the provinces. They tended to sit together on the higher benches to the left of the rostrum, and were happy to be known as ‘Montagnards’; others began referring to the ‘left’ and ‘right’ in the chamber. Between the two combative groupings were a similar number of non-committed deputies, referred to positively as the ‘Plain’ and negatively as the ‘Marais’ (swamp), including men of great revolutionary prestige such as Grégoire and Sieyès.

12 Nine hundred kilometres south of the capital, the constitutional priest Marcou celebrated the proclamation of the Republic on 22 September 1792 by planting a liberty tree opposite his church in the tiny village of Villardebelle, in the foothills of the Pyrenees east of Limoux. It is probably the only one still standing from 1792. The tree also has a plaque and text from Victor Hugo added at the time of the bicentenary of 1989. (Photo: Suzy Schmitz)

[4.3] Republicans at the Crossroads Three major issues divided the republicans. The first was the fate of the king. The deputies were virtually unanimous on his guilt on the grounds of treason, but deeply divided about his punishment: should this be death, imprisonment or exile? Some Jacobins, such as Robespierre and St-Just, argued that Louis was simply a renegade already judged by the people, and who should therefore be executed without delay. Most, however, argued that he was now ‘citizen Capet’, to be tried like any other individual accused of treason, a capital offence. The Girondins, in contrast, pointed to the now defunct Constitution of 1791 in which the punishment of a king for treason was forced abdication. They were concerned as well that a death sentence would draw other European powers into the war. Paine for one argued that a

safe and humane punishment would be to exile him to the United States, where his reeducation might begin. The votes were close, but there was an iron logic to the Jacobin argument that to spare Louis from punishment for the capital offense of treason would be to admit his special nature. The Girondins argued that there should be a referendum on Louis’ fate (appel au peuple), a move defeated 434 votes to 283 on the grounds that it would be an abdication of the Convention’s responsibility, particularly when French frontier areas were under occupation. The votes in favour of death were 387 to 334 and other attempts to adjust this decision to ‘death with reprieve’ were narrowly defeated. Louis went to the scaffold on 21 January with great courage, and with his final words insisted on his innocence and pardoned those who had sentenced him. Although he was so obese that his neck would not fit properly into the guillotine’s groove, he died immediately. His final words were more decisive than his floundering in the years of crisis. The Jacobin deputy from Angers, Pierre-René Choudieu captured perfectly the feelings of many: ‘What’s it to us? We always wanted him; he never wanted us.’12 Second, the deputies were also divided on the measures necessary for the conduct of the war. For several months after the victory at Valmy, republican armies had recorded successes, and in November the kingdom of Savoy had requested annexation to the Republic from the kingdom of Sardinia. But the execution of Louis expanded the war—Britain and Spain were soon at war with the Republic—and the Girondins’ leadership was called into question in March–April 1793 by a series of defeats, the invasion of the south by Spanish forces, and the defection to the enemy of a key political ally, General Dumouriez. It was the Jacobins who seemed more resolute in advocating emergency measures and who were winning the support of the ‘Plain’ for doing so. The third issue was the response to popular demands, in particular those of the Parisian sans-culottes. Central to Jacobin ideology was their certainty about the innate goodness of the common people, corrupted by centuries of misery and ignorance, and the deception, even conspiracy, of those who would prevent the people from reaping the revolutionary harvest. Their inspiration was Rousseau, now more popular than ever, who in his On the Social Contract had stressed the role of the virtuous legislator in interpreting what was best for the people at a time of duplicity by those with vested interests. For Jacobins, as for Rousseau, there was no higher duty than to answer the call of one’s country at a time of war. To Girondins, in contrast, the menace to the Revolution’s stability came from those who wished to push the meaning of ‘equality’ beyond civil and political rights. They swore to decapitate ‘the hydra of anarchy’ and to oppose the Jacobins who had allowed it to appear. To Brissot, the Jacobins were ‘disorganizers who wish to level everything: property, leisure, the price of provisions, the various services to be rendered to society’. Isnard went as far as to threaten Paris in terms reminiscent of those of the Duke of Brunswick the previous year:

I tell you, in the name of France, that if these perpetually recurring insurrections ever lead to harm to the parliament chosen by the nation, Paris will be annihilated, and men will search the banks of the Seine in vain for traces of the city.

Jacobins saw things differently. ‘In a single instant you can give the French people a real homeland’, promised St-Just, ‘by halting the ravages of inflation, assuring the supply of food, and intimately linking their welfare and their freedom’. For Robespierre:

The most fundamental of all rights is the right of existence. The most fundamental law of society is, therefore, that which guarantees the means of existence to every person; every other law is subordinate to this.13 The issue was acute, because the purchasing power of the assignat had slumped to 36 per cent of its face value by May. There was renewed food rioting as bread became more expensive, and colonial produce in particular was scarce as England had placed a naval blockade around the Republic.

[4.4] The Triumph of the Jacobins, June 1793 The worsening internal and external military crisis pushed the majority of the Convention into supporting Jacobin proposals for emergency wartime measures. In the spring of 1793 the Convention delegated executive powers to a Committee of Public Safety, policing powers to a Committee of General Security, and passed decrees declaring émigrés ‘civilly dead’. After thousands of sans-culottes had invaded the Convention in May, it responded to their demands by the institution of public relief and controls on grain and bread prices. The unflinching resolve of the armies, and their officer corps in particular, was to be ensured by sending ‘deputies-on-mission’ to the armies and departments, with sweeping powers of supervision and discipline. During the year of crisis, eighty-four generals were executed and hundreds of officers were dismissed.14 But there was continuing popular anger at the Girondins. It was they, after all, who had promised in 1792 that a war would be brief and triumphant and who now blamed the Republic’s misfortunes on those who had volunteered to fight. Their public hostility to the sans-culottes was exemplified by their failed attempt to impeach Jean-Paul Marat in April 1793 for his alleged complicity in the September massacres. Neighbourhood section meetings began circulating lists of prominent Girondins perceived to be hindering the war effort and frustrating the drive for social equality. The Paris Commune organised a force of 20 000 paid and armed sans-culottes to surround the Convention on 29 May. On 2 June they intimidated it into expelling twenty-two prominent Girondin deputies. By June 1793, the Jacobins were firmly in power, but their leaders had been ambivalent about or opposed to the actions of the Paris Commune in expelling elected representatives of the people, and the Convention’s consequent vulnerability to sans-culotte demands. The tension between the Jacobins and the sans-culottes over the forms of democracy—was it representative and parliamentary or direct and insurrectionary?—would endure. A new, republican constitution was necessary. The Constitution of 1793, largely the work of Robespierre, was remarkable for its guarantees of social rights and popular control over an assembly elected by direct, universal manhood suffrage:

Article 21. Public aid is a sacred debt. Society owes subsistence to unfortunate citizens, either by obtaining work for them, or by providing means of existence to those who are unable to work.

Article 22. Instruction is the need of all men. Society must further the progress of public reason with all its power, and make instruction available to all citizens …

Article 35.When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties for the people and for each portion of the people.15 The Constitution was put to a referendum in late July 1793. In the end, about two million people voted, virtually unanimously in favour. This was about one-third of adult men, the highest turnout since the municipal elections of 1790, a remarkable figure at a time of invasion and civil war. Unlike 1789, urban votes were now higher. There were huge contrasts between, on the one hand, the high turn-out in the east, particularly Alsace, and the southwest (Limousin and the Charentes), and, on the other and hardly surprisingly, the very low turnout in the west and Brittany. In many small communities, officials simply noted that all those assembled had voted in favour and many of those who abstained did so because it was obvious that their commune endorsed the Constitution. Even allowing for the hostility of those for whom the Revolution had become a negative, even life-threatening experience, probably a majority of those in the west and Brittany, the Constitution of 1793 represented the most accurate statement of what French people aspired to at that time.

[4.5] The Summer of 1793 By the summer of 1793 the Revolution faced its greatest crisis. Violent internal rejection of the Revolution became more widespread and menacing than the short-lived counterrevolutonary gatherings at the ‘Camp de Jalès’ in the south in 1790–92. The Convention had responded to the expanded military crisis by ordering a levy of 300 000 conscripts in March. In some regions the levy was implemented without difficulty, but in the west it provoked massive armed rebellion and civil war, known, like the region itself, as ‘the Vendée’. This was a region where the seigneurial regime had weighed relatively lightly and where a numerous, locally recruited and respected clergy had played a pivotal social role in communities of dispersed habitat. The Revolution had caused most people here little but trouble, forcibly removing the mass of non-juring clergy, increasing taxes and now conscripting young men. Erupting at a critical time for the young Republic, the rebellion evoked a visceral, punitive response. The rebels had begun by seizing the small town of Machecoul, where they had singled out, tortured and killed at least 160 ‘patriots’. The vicious cycle of killing and reprisals convinced both sides of the treachery of the other, and this was exacerbated by the nature of the fighting in the bocage of high hedgerows and narrow paths suited to guerilla-type ambushes and retreat. The ‘Catholic and Royal Army’

established headquarters at Châtillon-sur-Sèvre (today Mauléon), and on 5 July 1793 inflicted a heavy defeat on republican troops under the command of François Westermann. Only 300 of his 7000 troops survived. Westermann would not forget the need for revenge. Ultimately, the civil war was to claim perhaps as many lives as the external wars in 1793–94, with deaths of possibly 170 000 Vendéans and 30 000 soldiers (see image 22).

Map 13 Zones of conflict 1793–1794 ‘The Vendée’ was not the only armed internal conflict. The expulsion and arrest of Girondin leaders in June had sparked an angry response from about sixty departmental administrations. The largest provincial cities (Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille) were seized by a ‘federalist’ coalition of conservative republicans and royalists outraged at the affront to parliamentary government and frightened by the economic menace represented by Paris and its sansculottes. By May 1793, provincial elites in cities such as Lyon and Bordeaux had become convinced that the nation’s woes were the result of minority Jacobin intimidation of the Convention. But the revolts that ensued against Paris were always a reflection of local political and social divisions. In October 1792 militant Jacobins led by Joseph Chalier had won control of Lyon through elections but, as the economic crisis deepened, former allies among the silk-workers deserted them. In May 1793 he and his Jacobins were overthrown in a coup by former supporters of constitutional monarchy who had accepted the Girondin Republic, but who were above all opposed to Jacobin leadership in Paris and its rhetoric of social equality. A Commission was appointed with emergency powers, repudiating some of the Convention’s laws (including the maximum on grain prices) and putting the Jacobin leader Chalier on trial. His execution was popular among Lyon’s well-to-do but disgusted

onlookers: the executioner had to sever his head with a knife after four blows from the guillotine failed.16 As the disparate leaders of what became known as the ‘Federalist’ revolt became aware that there was a gulf between their popular rhetoric of resistance and their capacity to mount an armed challenge to the central government, there were desperate attempts to step back. Lyon accepted the Constitution of 1793, but there would be no forgiveness for armed secession and rebellion at the time of the Republic’s greatest crisis. These coalitions were seen by the Jacobin-dominated Convention as no different from counter-revolutionaries in general, and the reprisals against them would be just as sweeping and uncompromising as in the Vendée. Enemy troops were on French soil in the northeast, southeast and southwest and, internally, the great revolt in the Vendée occupied a major part of the Republic’s army. In late August the key Mediterranean naval arsenal of Toulon was handed over by its officers to the English navy blockading the coast. By then thousands of volunteers and conscripts were deserting the armies. The threat had reached the heart of the Convention on 13 July when a Girondin supporter, Charlotte Corday, assassinated ‘the people’s friend’, Jean-Paul Marat, while he was in the process of writing an invective against Marie-Antoinette. Marat and Chalier became part of a triumvirate of martyrs to the Republic, along with Louis-Michel Lepeletier, a former high-ranking noble from the Paris Parlement who had become a Jacobin and was assassinated after voting for the king’s death on 20 January.

13 Charlotte Corday was born in 1768 into a minor noble family at this modest farm of Les Champeaux, near Écorches in Normandy. A committed Girondin republican, she murdered Jean-Paul Marat on 13 July 1793. She was executed four days later. (Photo: Peter McPhee) The Convention also had to confront an economic crisis. Expenditure on the war had exacerbated inflation, and the purchasing power of the assignat had continued to tumble to 22 per cent by August. The situation of wage-earners became even more parlous. For all of these reasons—military invasion, counter-revolution and Federalism, inflation and shortages —the nation seemed, quite literally, to be falling apart.

[4.6] The Jacobin Committee of Public Safety and ‘Terror’ Faced with apparently overwhelming problems, a renewed Committee of Public Safety elected by the Convention on 27 July had as its mission to pass laws and controls necessary to strike ‘terror’ into the hearts of counter-revolutionaries, to place France on a war footing and to cement a new popular alliance. The democratic Constitution of June was suspended until victory and peace. The Convention also resolved to enact exemplary punishment on those ‘Federalist’ cities that had rebelled against its authority. The coincidence of foreign invasion, counterrevolution and outrage at the Jacobin and sans-culotte dominance of Paris created a deadly confusion. Were all those hostile to Paris counter-revolutionaries in league with the foreign coalition? Nowhere was this more tragic than in Lyon. The conservative republicans who had

seized power and executed Chalier were not counter-revolutionaries, but their actions were seen as such by Jacobins in the Convention, and a ruthless repression was unleashed. Couthon went as far as to suggest that the entire city, now to be called Commune Affranchie (Emancipated Commune), be emptied of its inhabitants. So sickened were soldiers of having to sabre to death guilty Lyonnais wounded in the artillery broadsides of December that firing squads and the guillotine had to be used. Almost 1900 Lyonnais were executed.17 The year after July 1793 is commonly described as ‘the Terror’, but this was not a term used at the time. In September, sans-culottes who invaded the Convention demanding more action of price controls and against counter-revolutionaries had also succeeded in eliciting a promise that ‘terror will remain the order of the day until peace is achieved’—but the deputies understood that to mean tough, draconian laws and actions to ‘strike terror’ into the hearts of counter-revolutionaries and to intimidate them into inaction. It would mean putting the economy and the nation on a war footing, and prioritising the public good over individual civil liberties. For them these fundamentals offered the only chance of winning the war and saving the Republic. The Jacobin Committee of Public Safety was not a dictatorship: its powers were sweeping, but it was responsible to the Convention and its dozen members had to be renewed each month. Still less was it personal rule by its most famous and eloquent member, Robespierre, elected to it in July. Three of its most talented and powerful members, Carnot, Lindet and Prieur de la Côte d’Or, were primarily concerned with military supplies and strategy. It was clear that the objective was victory and peace: only then would the new Constitution of 1793 be taken from its wooden chest—symbolically located in the heart of the Convention—and implemented.

[4.7] Emergency Measures Mass conscription was introduced by the decree instituting the levée en masse of all men aged eighteen to twenty-five years (23 August). Its preamble made plain that this was in fact a national mobilisation:

The young men shall go to battle; the married men shall forge arms and transport provisions; the women shall make tents and clothes, and shall serve in the hospitals; the children shall turn old linen into lint; the old men shall repair to the public places, to stimulate the courage of the warriors and preach the unity of the Republic and hatred for kings.18 The national mobilisation of people and resources in a nation characterised by slow communication, linguistic diversity and violent internal conflict was an awesome challenge. But, by March 1794, the Convention had managed to enrol an unprecedented 700 000 men in the armies. One way in which this massive armed force was provisioned was through the formation of armées révolutionnaires of sans-culottes too old for conscription, who moved through the countryside requisitioning supplies and intimidating the waverers—often with an

aggressive zeal that antagonised rural populations. The mass mobilisation of the nation’s resources for the war effort required the Committee of Public Safety, with the Convention’s backing, to take emergency measures to place the economy on a war footing. War industries were created, and deputies-on-mission had sweeping powers to ensure that industries were producing army supplies and munitions. But the Committee was aware, too, that only effective recognition of lingering popular resentments could build the necessary social momentum for victory. On 17 July, it was resolved to abolish all seigneurial dues without compensation. The feudal regime was finally dead. Unlike the Church’s property, the land of émigrés was to be sold off in small lots, with the possibility of delayed repayments. To meet the economic grievances of urban wageearners, on 29 September a ‘general maximum’ was placed on thirty-nine essentials, pegging their prices at 1790 levels plus one-third, with wages at 1790 levels plus one-half. The indigent were to be supported with regular payments of 40 sous, but they were required to demonstrate a civic spirit by collecting their sustenance at section meetings. The bells of churches and monasteries closed in 1791 were to be seized and smelted for copper coinage. With the outbreak of war in 1792, communities were paid in coin for their bells to enable rapid smelting for weapons. Then, on 23 July 1793, a law stipulated that churches still in use could each have only one bell. Nationwide, up to 100 000 bells from 60 000 bell towers were melted down. At a time of war to the death, the sound of church bells seemed in any case inherently counter-revolutionary.19 Resistance was widespread. At Marolles-les-Braults (department of Sarthe), 250 soldiers and artillery were needed to protect those taking down the two bells in October 1793. Inhabitants in Plappeville (Meurthe) managed to bury their great bell in the cemetery. The quantities were vast: by July 1794, the department of Moselle had 854 bells, weighing about 270 000 kilograms, ready for melting down, with almost as much in storage. Many of the bells in storage were made from a mixture of copper, zinc and tin rather than brass or bronze, and were suitable only for nonmilitary uses, such as minting coins. The silencing of the landscape was accentuated by the ‘deChristianisation’ campaigns. Already in 1791, Albitte, in the southeast, had embarked on a policy of levelling bell towers ‘to the level of the habitat of citizens’. In October 1793 the General Council of the department of Oise ordered the destruction of bell towers of churches not in use. Elsewhere, crosses on the tops of towers were replaced with liberty flags. Deputies sent to the provinces as ‘deputies-on-mission’ to implement the Terror, such as Fouché in Nièvre and Javogues in the departments around Lyon, took the initiative in closing churches and emptying them of metal for the war effort. There were parts of the country where local people were predisposed to join in this ‘deChristianisation’, or even to initiate it; elsewhere, however, it was bitterly resented, as in the northeastern departments. Here the deputy-on-mission André Dumont, supported by the local administration of the town of St-Quentin, decreed:

that the time has come when fanaticism and religious superstition must disappear forever from the soil of liberty;

That it is urgent that the throne of error and falsehood be overthrown at the same time as that of the tyrant, to be replaced by the eternal reign of reason and philosophy; …

That all churches and chapels, for too long the theatre of imposture, become today temples of reason and schools of republican virtue. All crosses were to be removed and replaced with a tricolor flag and liberty cap.20

14 The physical destruction of religious statuary during the ‘dechristianization’ of late 1793 is still visible on many provincial churches today, as here at Moulins, capital of the department of Allier in central France. (Photo: Peter McPhee) Emergency judicial measures were central to the intimidation of counter-revolutionaries. A ‘Law of suspects’ was passed on 17 September, whereby surveillance committees in every commune would report on uncivic or dubious activities. In Paris alone there were 4500 individuals in prison by 21 December, and probably as many as 80 000 across the country. In October, the Revolutionary Tribunal sentenced to death the Girondins purged in June; and Jeanne-Marie Roland, Bailly, Barnave and Marie-Antoinette were also executed on what were essentially political charges. Roland’s husband, who had been in hiding in Rouen since June, committed suicide on hearing of his wife’s death.

[4.8] The ‘Cultural Revolution’ of the Year II (1793–1794) The experience of military crisis and mobilisation turned Paris into a tumultuous

revolutionary capital, a city of men on the move and crackling with a potent mixture of rumour, optimism and suspicion. There were about forty popular societies with a total of about 6000 members, 85 per cent of whom were working people. Perhaps 10 per cent of the sans-culottes regularly participated in these and in section meetings. The most important of the Jacobin newspapers, the Révolutions de Paris, defined sans-culottes in November 1793 in both social terms (as artisans, ‘the man of the people’, once called the ‘bonnets de laine’ after their woollen work caps) but also in moral, political terms:

He is a patriot strong in mind and body, … he is the opposite to selfish and dislikes those who are such … a republican … who has only one passion, the love of order and of equality, of independence and fraternity …21

Across the country there were as many as 6000 Jacobin clubs, a national network of militant republicans. In Paris and in other towns there emerged a distinctive Jacobin and sans-culotte political practice. For example, club and neighbourhood meetings might begin with the singing of the ‘Marseillaise’ or the ‘Ça ira’ and the reading of letters from the front, followed by discussions of forthcoming anniversaries and processions, the collection of patriotic donations, the denunciation of ‘suspects’, and orations about ‘republican virtues’. Members deliberately used the familiar ‘tu’ rather than the more formal ‘vous’ as a personal address, a potent symbol of equality of status in a world where linguistic deference to one’s betters had been expected. While this new political culture was evidently based on older religious forms, public hatred of the Pope and the refractory clergy now generated a response that called Christianity itself into question. The year of crisis was always more than simply the recourse to emergency wartime laws. The deputies’ awareness of the scale of their challenge led them to support the introduction of a new calendar, inaugurated on 24 October 1793 to mark the first anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic on 22 September 1792 (retrospectively dated the first day of the year I of the new era). This combined the rationality of decimal measurement (twelve months of thirty days, each with three décadi of ten days, plus five sans-culotte days) with a total repudiation of the Gregorian calendar; saints-days and movable festivals were replaced by names drawn from plants, the seasons, work implements and the republican virtues. For example, the names for autumn months were soft and melancholy: vendémiaire, brumaire, frimaire (evoking wind, mist and chill). Those for spring—germinal, floréal, prairial—called forth times of sowing, flowering, and meadows. The revolutionary calendar—rapidly adopted by revolutionary administrators—clashed with and never fully replaced the older calendar of religious, seasonal rhythms. A harmonious family was assumed by revolutionary legislators to be the microcosm of the regenerated body politic itself. A divorce law voted in at the last session of the Legislative Assembly, on 20 September 1792, gave women remarkably broad grounds for leaving an unhappy or meaningless marriage. It was working women who above all used this law: in Rouen, 71 per cent of divorce actions were initiated by women, 72 per cent of them textile workers. Nationally, up to 30 000 divorces were decreed under this legislation, and a

similar number of cases were settled by mediation. Divorces were concentrated in towns: in Paris, there were nearly 6000 in 1793–95. The divorce law was one of a number of pieces of legislation designed to regenerate family life, deemed to have been cruel and immoral, like the Old Regime itself. Family courts were instituted to deal with family conflict as well as divorce, penalties for wife-beating were introduced that were twice as heavy as for assaulting a man, the age of majority was reduced from twenty-five or thirty to twenty-one, and the 1790 inheritance law enforcing equal inheritance by daughters and sons was strengthened to include children born outside wedlock.22 The ‘cultural revolution’ of the Year II was not expressed in print: there were only 370 new books published in 1794 compared with about 1000 annually before 1789. One exception was Rousseau’s On the Social Contract, which now rapidly went through thirteen editions, including a pocket-sized version for soldiers. The number of new newspapers in Paris declined from about five hundred in 1789–91 to only seventy-eight in 1793. The radical transformation of popular culture was instead expressed in festivals, plays, songs, broadsheets, decoration, clothing and leisure. Jacques-Louis David was instrumental in opening up the previously closed world of the Salon: whereas sixty-three invited painters and sculptors had exhibited 289 works at the Salon of 1787, 318 of them displayed 883 works at that of 1793. Similarly, it has been estimated that the number of new political songs climbed from 116 in 1789 and 325 in 1792 to 701 in 1794. Ribald political plays were another vehicle of popular education and expression: the most popular one in Paris in 1792–94 was ‘Les Visitandines’, about two drunken rogues who had mistaken a convent for an inn. Theatres qualified for subsidies if they performed free each week.23 There was, however, an inherent tension between popular symbolic enactment of total change—the physical destruction of religious statuary inside and outside churches, paintings, and other signs of the Old Regime—and the Convention’s concern for what Grégoire called ‘vandalism’, leading to the creation of departmental and national public libraries, archives and museums late in 1793.

[4.9] Achievements of the Popular Alliance By late 1793, the policies of the Convention and its Committees had achieved startling successes. A new popular alliance had been created: it was far narrower than that of 1789, but it had some remarkable successes. Republican forces led by a young artillery officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, recaptured Toulon and foreign armies suffered major reverses in the northeast at Wattignies, and in the southwest at Peyrestortes, near Perpignan. Inflation had been checked: the purchasing power of the assignat had climbed back to 48 percent of its face value by December. The Vendéan rebellion and other anti-Jacobin seizures of power, as in Lyon and Bordeaux, had been crushed, at a terrible cost in lives. On 1 August the Convention decreed that the property of Vendéan rebels would be seized or destroyed. By 1 October the rebels had become ‘brigands’ who needed to be ‘exterminated’. Westermann obliged, and claimed in a chilling report that ‘the Vendée is no more’:

I have just buried it in the swamps and woods of Savenay. Following your orders, I’ve crushed children under horses’ hooves, and killed the women who, those at least, will bear no more brigands. I have no prisoners to feel sorry for. I’ve exterminated them all. The roads are strewn with corpses. In places there are so many that they form pyramids. The shooting is constant at Savenay because more brigands arrive constantly on the pretence of surrendering. But pity is not revolutionary.24 In addition to about 4000 troops killed in the fighting, perhaps 1100 Vendéans were shot at Savenay or elsewhere; another 1679 were taken to Nantes, where they were drowned, shot or guillotined (see image 21). The republican side also lost 4000 in the battles.

15 In 1793 Revolutionary administrators in Nantes seized this note calling to clandestine celebration of the ‘holy sacraments’ and referring to the role of Marie Giron. The commitment of women to the ‘traditional’ church was at the heart of rejection of revolutionary change in the west. (AD Loire-Atlantique, Nantes; photo: Peter McPhee) All of these military victories were the results of massive mobilisation and sacrifice as well as of intimidation and repression. Within the alliance of the Jacobins and the sans-culottes, however, there were two fundamental tensions. One was political: that between the

Convention’s parliamentary practice as a national sovereign body and the insistence of sansculotte militants that the deputies were only the people’s mandatories and that Paris could act on behalf of the nation as it had in 1789, 1792 and 1793. Linked to this tension was a second one: Jacobins were committed to equality above all, but how could the economic demands of the militants—among them ‘the Enragés’, uncompromising egalitarians—be reconciled with those of middle-class patriots? Could intervention to advance social justice and alleviate hunger staunch the demands of those advocating radical redistribution of property? The fundamental question since 1789—whose revolution was this?—remained a divisive one. The Jacobins had never been comfortable with the purge of the leading Girondins in June 1793 and, after the renewed, intimidating invasion of the Convention in September, they resolved to smother the capacity of militants to impose their will on deputies. Leading Enragés were imprisoned in September, followed by the closure of the activist women’s club, the Société des Citoyennes Républicaines Révolutionnaires on 20 October. All women’s political clubs, about thirty across the country, were subsequently closed. Finally, on 14 Frimaire Year II (4 December 1793), a new law on local government made clear that political initiative lay with the Convention and its Committees alone, and not with the sans-culottes. In this context of tension between the allies who had achieved massive successes in the later months of 1793, a debate erupted over the prolongation of the emergency measures themselves. When would the crisis be over? When would constitutional government be restored? When would suspects be released or charged? Those who posed these questions most bluntly were Robespierre’s friends and allies, Georges Danton and Camille Desmoulins. They had headed the 1792 polls in Paris with Robespierre, and were iconic figures in the revolutionary pantheon. Now Desmoulins used the name of the democratic club he and Danton had founded to launch a newspaper, the Vieux Cordelier, calling for an end to emergency controls and repression. Its fourth issue, that of 30 Frimaire Year II (20 December 1793) did not accuse Robespierre in person, but might as well have:

You want to remove all your enemies by means of the guillotine! Has there ever been such great folly? Could you make a single man perish on the scaffold, without making ten enemies for yourself from his family or his friends? … I think quite differently from those who tell you that terror must remain the order of the day.25 Was the Revolution safe? Could the policies of intimidation and compulsion be abandoned in a return to peacetime constitutional government? The answers would have deadly consequences.

Chapter 4: The Crisis of 1792–1793: War and Terror 1

Gazette Nationale ou le Moniteur universel, no. 241, 23 August 1792, vol. 13, p. 540. MJ Sydenham, The French Revolution, New York: Capricorn Books, 1966, p. 122; Edmond Géraud, Journal d’un étudiant pendant la Révolution 1789–1793, Paris: Plon, 1910, pp. 292–4. 3 Pierre Caron, Les Massacres de septembre, Paris: Maison du livre français, 1935; Michel Péronnet and Gérard Bourdin, La Révolution dans l’Orne, 1789–1799, Le Coteau: Horvath, 1988; DMG Sutherland, ‘Justice and Murder: Massacres in the 2

Provinces, Versailles, Meaux and Reims in 1792’, Past and Present, 222 (2014), 129–62. 4 Caron, Massacres de septembre; Anatolï Ado, Paysans en Révolution: Terre, pouvoir et jacquerie 1789–1794, Paris: Société des études robespierristes, 1996, pp. 312–19. 5 Jacques Hérissay, Les Massacres de Meaux, Paris: Librairie académique Perrin, 1936. 6 Jacques Bernet (ed.), Le Journal d’un maître d’école d’Île-de-France (1771–1792): Silly-en-Multien de l’Ancien Régime à la Révolution, Villeneuve-d’Asq: Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2000, pp. 15, 255. 7 Peter McPhee, Living the French Revolution, 1789–99, London & New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006, pp. 110–13. 8 Simon Schama, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, New York: Knopf, 1989, for example, p. 637; JF Bosher, The French Revolution, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989; François Furet, Revolutionary France, 1770–1880; translated by Antonia Nevill, Oxford: Blackwell, 1992. 9 DMG Sutherland, The French Revolution and Empire: the Quest for a Civic Order, Oxford: Blackwell, 2003, pp. 143–5. 10 William J Murray, The Right-Wing Press in the French Revolution: 1789–1792, London: Royal Historical Society, 1986, pp. 181–6. 11 Siân Reynolds, Marriage and Revolution: Monsieur and Madame Roland, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 223–9;. 12 John Hardman, Louis XVI, New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 1993, pp. 232–3; Alison Patrick, The Men of the First French Republic: Political Alignments in the National Convention of 1792, Baltimore, Md: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972. 13 Albert Soboul, The French Revolution, 1787–1799: From the Storming of the Bastille to Napoleon, translated by Alan Forrest and Colin Jones, New York: Vintage Books, 1975. On Jacobin ideology, see also Patrice LR Higonnet, Goodness beyond Virtue: Jacobins during the French Revolution, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1998; Jean-Pierre Gross, Fair Shares for All: Jacobin Egalitarianism in Practice, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 14 Ian Germani, ‘Terror in the Army: representatives on Mission and Military Discipline in the Armies of the French Revolution’, The Journal of Military History 75 (2011), 733–68. 15 Archives parlementaires, 24 June 1793, vol. 67, 143–50. 16 WD Edmonds, Jacobinism and the Revolt of Lyon, 1789–1793, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1990, chs 6–7. 17 See Edmonds, Jacobinism and the Revolt of Lyon; Paul R Hanson, The Jacobin Republic under Fire: The Federalist Revolt in the French Revolution, University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003; Higonnet, Goodness beyond Virtue, pp. 263–9. 18 JH Stewart (ed.), A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution, New York: Macmillan, 1951, p. 473. 19 Alain Corbin, Village Bells: Sound and Meaning in the 19th-Century French Countryside, translated by Martin Thom, New York: Columbia University Press, 1998, pp. 12–23. 20 Philip Dwyer and Peter McPhee (eds), The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook, London & New York: Routledge, 2002, p. 88. 21 From J Gilchrist and WJ Murray (eds), The Press in the French Revolution, Melbourne: Cheshire, 1971, pp. 199–202. 22 Suzanne Desan, The Family on Trial in Revolutionary France, Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press, 2004; Roderick Phillips, Family Breakdown in Late-Eighteenth Century France: Divorces in Rouen 1792–1803, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980. 23 On the ‘cultural revolution’, see Peter McPhee, Liberty or Death: The French Revolution, New Haven, Conn & London: Yale University Press, 2016, pp. 236–46; Emmet Kennedy, A Cultural History of the French Revolution, New Haven, Conn & London: Yale University Press, 1989. 24 McPhee, Liberty or Death, p. 232. The claim of genocide in Reynald Secher, A French Genocide: the Vendée, translated by George Holoch, Notre Dame, In: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003, is contested by Hugh Gough, ‘Genocide and the Bicentenary: The French Revolution and the Revenge of the Vendée’, Historical Journal, 30 (1987), pp. 977–88. 25 Camille Desmoulins, Le Vieux Cordelier, Paris: Belin, 1977, p. 81.

Peter McPhee interviews Professor Ian Germani, University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, on the role of military discipline in the French Revolutionary Wars.

Peter McPhee interviews Dr Marisa Linton, Kingston University in London, about her book, Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship and Authenticity in the French Revolution, a major study of the politics of Jacobinism. Peter McPhee interviews Professor Timothy Tackett, University of California, Irvine, on the origins of terror in the French Revolution.

Chapter 5 Ending the Terror, Ending the Revolution, 1794– 1799 [5.1] The Debate Over the Terror’s Purpose In response to the overwhelming crisis of the summer of 1793, the Convention had created an executive with draconian powers, the Committee of Public Safety and the Committee of General Security, and approved the apparatus of ‘terror until the peace’ to mobilise the Republic’s resources and intimidate its opponents. Universal conscription of young men had created mass armies. A new alliance of Jacobins, sans-culottes and sections of the peasantry had been forged in response to the crisis. By December 1793, the republican armies had crushed the revolt in the Vendée and Federalism, with merciless reprisals. Enemy advances had been checked in the southwest, southeast, and northeast, and Toulon had been retaken from the English navy (see map 13). The interventionist measures of the Committee had succeeded in stabilising prices and wages to some extent and the purchasing power of the assignat was increasing.

Table 2 Depreciation of assignats during the revolutionary period Table drawn by Gavin Leys, University of Melbourne, information sourced from Pierre Caron (ed.), Tableaux de dépréciation du papier-monnaie, Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1909 In this context the decision by figures of such towering repute as Danton and Desmoulins to call for an end to the incarceration of dissidents and execution of counter-revolutionaries was explosive. But the problem for their argument was that the Revolution was by no means safe from enemy armies: their advances had only been checked and they remained on French soil. Just as importantly, their intervention exposed the broader unanswered question: what was the purpose of emergency government? Just to achieve military safety? Or was it to ensure the final triumph of the Revolution? And what would that triumph mean? Members of the Jacobin Club in Paris were furious that the momentum under the Committees’ leadership was being questioned, and Robespierre needed to intervene personally several times in January to assure members that Desmoulins was a great, if unpredictable, journalist and Danton a legendary leader of the Revolution. But he also came

to the conclusion that they were fundamentally wrong. While Danton, Desmoulins and their supporters now sought a return to peacetime liberties, to Robespierre and his followers the Terror had a far higher purpose than simply winning the war. Robespierre’s vision of the regenerated, virtuous and self-abnegating society, which was the very raison d’être of the Revolution, was made explicit to the Convention on 17 Pluviôse Year II (5 February 1794):

It is time to mark clearly the aim of the Revolution … We seek an order of things in which all the base and cruel passions are enchained, all the beneficent and generous passions are awakened by the laws; where ambition becomes the desire to merit glory and to serve our country; where distinctions are born only of equality itself … and where commerce is the source of public wealth rather than solely the monstrous opulence of a few households. We wish to substitute in our country … the empire of reason for the tyranny of custom … a people magnanimous, powerful and happy for a people lovable, frivolous and wretched—that is to say, all the virtues and miracles of the Republic for all the vices and puerilities of the monarchy.1 The way forward to complete the Revolution, argued Robespierre, was a combination of virtue and terror:

the first maxim of your policy ought to be to lead the people by reason and the people’s enemies by terror. If the mainspring of popular government in peacetime is virtue, amid revolution it is at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is nothing but prompt, severe, inflexible justice … Robespierre won the debate, but the questions remained. When would the Revolution, France itself, be safe? The Jacobins would remain caught between their supporters inside and outside the Convention. They had been able to call on the support of members of the ‘Plain’ while they implemented their uncompromising, emergency measures to win the war and save the Republic and the Revolution. The ‘Plain’ was also prepared to accept temporary controls in a war economy. Increasingly, however, their worry was that the Terror was being used for a purpose for which it had not been created: their respect for Robespierre’s integrity was boundless, but his vision of a Republic of virtue seemed a mirage across a bleak landscape of repression. The militant sans-culottes were also increasingly alienated, for contrasting reasons. The Law on local government of 14 Frimaire Year II (4 December 1793) had repudiated the practice of ‘permanent revolution’ by which demonstrators had been able to intervene directly in debates in the Convention. Then, in February 1794, the Committee approved new, higher margins on prices in an attempt to reduce the temptations of producers selling scarce commodities on the black market. Jacques Hébert, the Paris procureur général (town clerk)

remained unwilling to implement fully the wage controls in the Law of the ‘General Maximum’ of September 1793, while prices continued to rise. In the succeeding months the Convention passed a series of measures that reveal that the Jacobins sought to create a new society. There would be assistance to the sick, old, unemployed, single mothers and to children born outside marriage. They sought to guarantee three years of free, secular education. The day before Robespierre’s great speech in February, the Convention abolished slavery in French colonies, in part a recognition that only the participation of freed slaves could win the Caribbean war against Spain and England, but also as an expression of a deep anti-slavery commitment among many Jacobins. St-Just went so far as to propose his ‘Ventôse decrees’ whereby the property of ‘suspects’—people who had been detained but not charged with an offence—would be distributed to the indigent. That was a step too far for other Jacobins, and was never implemented. Ultimately, the divisions within the republican alliance were to prove irreconcilable and explain the deadly politics of 1794. Both more moderate members of the Convention on the one hand, and sans-culotte militants on the other, continued to support the Jacobin majority and in particular the relentless work of those on the Committee of Public Safety, but there was a terrifying logic to the position of Robespierre and his supporters. If they were correct —that the crisis was not over—was it not logical that those who were criticising the government were guilty of treason? This was the logic behind the decision of the two Committees to arrest key members of both the ultras or ‘excessive’ revolutionaries, the Hébertists, and the citras or ‘indulgents’ behind Danton and Desmoulins. Their trials in March and April were effectively political showpieces, despite the attempts to tarnish the ‘indulgents’ by trying and executing them alongside men charged with serious corruption.

[5.2] Religion and Regeneration Revolutionaries expressed their ‘total regeneration’ in the names given to their communities and to their infants. Some 3000 communes acted to erase Christian connotations: St-Izague became Vin-Bon; St-Bonnet-Elvert became Liberté-Bonnet-Rouge; Montmartre was renamed Mont-Marat, while Villedieu took the name La Carmagnole. In pro-revolutionary areas children’s names were deliberately chosen to express political loyalties. In Poitiers in the Year II, only sixty-two of the 593 babies were given Christian names. Here and elsewhere others were drawn from nature (Rose, Narcisse, Hyacinthe, Jasmin, Trèfle, Olive, Abricot), the new calendar (Floréal, Fructidor), the republican virtues (Liberté, Victoire, La Montagne), antiquity (Brutus, Gracchus) and heroes (Le Peletier, Marat). One little boy born to the north of Paris was named Travail (Work). One of the key accusations levelled at the ‘ultra-revolutionaries’ was that they had allowed their hostility to the established Church to spill over into more general ‘deChristianisation’, which needlessly threatened patriotic Catholics and members of other denominations. Most of the Jacobins in the Convention shared a pragmatic acceptance of popular Catholicism and its diligent pastors, while themselves seeing a far more ‘rational’

and accessible ‘supreme being’ incarnate in the beauties of the natural world and the capacities of the human spirit for elevated sentiment and civic virtues. So they had replaced the deserted parish schools with Bouquier’s model of free, compulsory education emphasising patriotism, the virtues, and the benefits of physical education and field-study. Hundreds of thousands of copies of the ‘Collection of Heroic and Civic Acts of French Republicans’ were sent out to schools to replace catechisms. The Gregorian calendar had been replaced by a ‘rational’, decimal calendar based on nature and the virtues. The great festivals of the Christian year would no longer compete with the revolutionary commemorations of 14 July, 10 August, and 22 September. The popular repudiation of the Church was more vitriolic and violent: the role of the Church in the wars and the rising in the Vendée even called Christianity into question. The Catholic Church was devastated in these months. Across France perhaps only 150 parishes out of 40 000 were openly celebrating mass at Easter time in 1794. At least 920 clergy were publicly executed as counter-revolutionaries in 1793–94 and probably 30 000–40 000 (up to 25 per cent) of all clergy had emigrated. Others had slipped into anonymity in their communities, while some yielded—willingly or not—to popular pressure to demonstrate their patriotic virtues: there were about 30 000 abdications from the priesthood, and 6000 marriages of former priests. There would be thousands of villages without priests for up to ten years after 1791.

Map 14 Priestly abdications, 1793–1794

Map 15 Emigration in 1793 Elaborate, mocking ‘deChristianisation’ ceremonies were held in some regions, often led by deputies-on-mission or the armées revolutionnaires to purge churches of religious statuary and vestments before converting them into Temples of Reason. These ceremonies had been expressly forbidden by the Convention in late 1793, but the issue of the relationship between the Revolution and popular beliefs continued to be central. Robespierre was especially scathing about the way in which patriotic peasants had been antagonised by needless attacks on their faith. This was one of the reasons why he invested such personal passion in developing the structures, even theology, of the Cult of the Supreme Being, celebrated at a massive festival on the Champ de Mars on 20 Prairial Year II (8 June 1794). Robespierre’s speech on the Cult insisted that ‘this delightful (délicieuse) land that we inhabit … is made to be the land of liberty and happiness’:

Nature tells us that Man is born for freedom, and the experience of the centuries shows us Man enslaved. His rights are inscribed in his heart, and his humiliation in history … Sparta shines like a flash of lightning amid vast shadows … Everything in the physical order has changed; everything must change in the moral and political order. Half of the revolution has already occurred; the other half must also be accomplished … How different is the God of Nature from the God of priests! … The priests have created God in their image: they have made Him jealous, capricious, greedy, cruel, implacable … They have relegated Him to Heaven as if to a palace, and have called

Him to Earth only to ask for tithes, riches, honours and the pleasures of power for themselves.2 The decree both established the revolutionary Cult—‘the French People acknowledge the existence of the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul’—and guaranteed freedom of worship to all. The Cult was both a political strategy and an expression of Robespierre’s sincere belief that the inculcation of the highest values of morality and civic spirit would be accelerated through worship and festivals.

16 The parish church of Houdan, 65 kilometres west of Paris, still carries above its doorway the inscription from the 1794 Cult of the Supreme Being, ‘The French People recognise the existence of the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul’. (Photo: Peter McPhee) Robespierre was then serving a fortnight term as elected President of the Convention, and had every right to head the procession on 8 June. But his personal involvement in designing the Cult, and his decision to carry blue cornflowers and wear a blue cloak, exposed him to suspicion, even ridicule from some in the crowd. Despite David’s orchestration of the festival

and the massive crowds in attendance, St-Just’s observation was that ‘the Revolution has frozen over’, that popular zeal was fading. The Cult of the Supreme Being had profound resonances outside Paris, too. In the district of Montargis, south of Paris, Auguste Couet, the parish priest of Orville, was a passionate supporter of the Revolution, delivering sermons on the virtues and writing letters to the Feuille Villageoise, a pro-revolutionary newspaper aimed at rural people. The Festival enabled him to give full voice to his passion, describing in intricate detail how the celebrations would proceed in Montargis, including ‘groups of women carrying bouquets of roses, groups of girls dressed in white with tricolour ribbons, carrying baskets of flowers, groups of fathers leading their sons, all of them holding branches of oak so as to form a circle around the authorities’. Banners would be carried, one promising that ‘The words poor and indigent will be effaced forever from the annals of the Republic’. Among the many verses sung would be: Montargis! We see that glory is still in the countryside, This field of honour on which the English were vanquished. From the Jacobins and the Mountain We have the Temple of Virtue … Adore the eternal being, imitate his clemency Be sensitive, human, supporting the indigent, Magnanimous French, that is the sole trait Of children of Liberty.3 In his speech to the Convention of 17 Pluviôse Year II (5 February), Robespierre had stated his model for the way forward, the fostering of virtue among ‘the people’ and the intransigent application of terror towards counter-revolutionaries. In his Cult of the Supreme Being celebrated on 20 Prairial (8 June) he had set out how the people could be inculcated with virtue. Now, two days later, in the Law of 22 Prairial (10 June), he and his closest allies set out the second part of the equation, the use of uncompromising terror against the people’s enemies:

The following are deemed enemies of the people: those who … have sought to disparage or dissolve the National Convention … have sought to inspire discouragement … have sought to mislead opinion … to impair the energy and the purity of revolutionary and republican principles … The penalty provided for all offences under the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Tribunal is death.4

[5.3] The Fall: June–July 1794 The escalation of the Terror in the summer of 1794, at a time when the armies were winning

a series of battles, alienated pro-Jacobin bourgeois and artisans, as did the execution of popular revolutionaries accused of undermining the patrie. Following the law of 22 Prairial, there were 1515 executions in Paris in just six weeks, far more than the 1124 executions in the fifteen months from 10 March 1793 to 10 June 1794. Finally the battle of Fleurus, just across the northeast border, on 26 June ended the presence of foreign troops on French soil and exposed the desperate disproportion between escalating numbers of political executions and the receding military threat. Why were executions increasing in such a sickening way when there was such reassuring news from the armies? Robespierre spoke to the Convention on 26 July for the first time since 18 June, following a protracted absence, probably due to the collapse of his physical and mental strength. He began by referring to his exhaustion and absence: ‘for the last six weeks, at least, my so-called dictatorship has ceased to exist, and I have exercised no sort of influence on the government … Has the country been any happier?’ He decided to erase a confession of despair from this speech: ‘but for my conscience, I should be the unhappiest man alive.’ He affirmed his belief in virtue and defined it, insisting that he felt it in his soul:

Virtue is a natural passion, no doubt … this profound horror of tyranny, this sympathetic zeal for the oppressed, this sacred love of the patrie, this most sublime and most holy love of humanity … you can feel it at this very moment burning in your souls; I feel it in mine …5 But the crisis was not over: drawing on a speech by Cicero he had studied at school, Robespierre insisted that ‘our enemies retreat, but only to leave us to our internal divisions’. He claimed repeatedly that ‘there is a criminal conspiracy’, yet named only three deputies apart from vague assertions that conspiracy reached into the Convention and even the governing Committees. Again and again he denied that he was responsible for throwing innocents into prison or sending them to the guillotine, while noting that his enemies’ rallying cry was ‘it’s all Robespierre’s doing!’ The rambling, emotional speech of almost two hours was vague to the point of incoherence because by then almost everyone was suspected of conspiring: Robespierre even confessed to ‘doubting this virtuous republic whose image I had traced for myself’; he seemed to be courting martyrdom. One of the few he referred to by name was Pierre-Joseph Cambon, and Robespierre had hereby made the tactical error of impugning a man of high standing. The son of a wealthy cotton merchant from Montpellier, Cambon was admired for his initiative in 1792 in combining all state debts, including those from before 1789, in a ‘Great ledger of the public debt’ and in seeking to impose financial regularity during the chaos of war. He had already earned Robespierre’s suspicion for proposing the separation of Church and state; now his public targeting signalled to many in the Convention that Robespierre’s addled mind threatened everybody. Robespierre’s appearance at the Jacobin Club that evening deluded him, for his fellows’ delight at seeing him in person after a long absence lulled him into thinking his position was secure. But the next day he had hardly begun to speak in the Convention before a torrent of abuse silenced him. The arrest was ordered of him and his

associates. While they found asylum at the Town Hall and called for armed support, little was forthcoming. Certainly his enemies within the governing committees—such as Vadier and Amar—had succeeded in blaming the Republic’s woes on this austere figure. Most importantly, working Parisians could not understand why patriotic militants were among those going to the guillotine at a rate of thirty per day. The wider margins on prices had caused the value of the assignat to slip back to 36 per cent, angering wage-earners. The Robespierrist Commune had sought on 23 July to impose the September 1793 wage maximum, threatening cuts to wages of 50 per cent. When Robespierre’s head fell into the basket below the guillotine, people were heard to mutter ‘there goes the Maximum into the basket’. More than ninety of Robespierre’s closest allies were executed over the next two days. The Jacobin emergency regime of July 1793–July 1794, which had saved the Revolution—at a very high cost of life—was now immediately dubbed ‘the Terror’. Today it has become ‘Robespierre’s Terror’: it is always convenient to blame uncomfortable periods in history on the supposed wickedness of one powerful person.

[5.4] Explaining Violence Across France, 80 per cent of executions in 1793–94 were for military reasons, as people collaborated with the invading enemy or took up arms, but in Paris about 37 per cent were executed for opinions hostile to the government. This was especially the case in June–July 1794, even after the victory at Fleurus. Some of those executed had simply used traditional forms of expressing opposition to the authorities, but had done so at an unforgiving moment. Their cases were harrowing. For example, Noirette Blancheton was a second-hand clothes dealer from Coulommiers (department of Seine-et-Marne) who became involved in a violent anti-Jacobin riot in May 1793; she wrote her last letter to her husband nine months later:

I beg you to concern yourself with the fruit of our love, your friendship is sufficient to make you do so. Please convey my last farewell to my brother, my parents and my friends. My strength of character is such that I believe that I shall be missed. Receive my last embraces, share them with our brothers and be certain of my friendship to my last hour.6 The official violence of 1793–94 was not proportionate to some of the crimes and certainly not closely correlated with the peaks of the military crisis. There were individuals such as Westermann and Carrier in the Vendée, and Fouché and Collot d’Herbois in Lyon, who seem to have had few if any qualms about indiscriminate execution of those deemed ‘counterrevolutionary’. But most of the Jacobins of the Convention were democrats, civil libertarians and legal professionals, and took no pleasure in violence. So how might the level of violence be explained?

Map 16 Executions, 1793–1794 Historians’ reactions and explanations of the acceleration of official repression across 1793– 94 have depended on the circumstances in which they themselves were writing. For Pierre Chaunu, a political right-winger writing in 1983 at a time of increasing opposition to the Soviet regime in Eastern Europe:

The Jacobin period can only appear today as the first act, the foundation stone of a long and bloody series stretching from 1792 to our own times, from Franco-French genocide in the Catholic west to the Soviet gulag, to the destruction caused by the Chinese cultural revolution to the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. In contrast, the American liberal Robert R Palmer expressed more sympathetic views in 1941, at a time when western democracies, like France in 1793, were facing military threats to their very survival:

Robespierre in demanding virtue was not simply yearning for a vague abstraction found in books, but demanding something that the Revolution sadly needed. Had he been able to compromise a little more with reality, had he been more free of the flaws which he saw in others, he might have accomplished more in the end … As we read through the catalogue of changes which Robespierre announced that the Revolutionary Government wished to see in France, we sense a certain similarity to what we might have read in the morning paper … Maximilien, with all his faults, which were many, was one of the half-dozen major prophets of democracy.7

Internal counter-revolution and armed foreign invasion were the fundamental reasons behind the increasing repression in France after 1792. However, the thesis of the pressure of circumstances cannot fully explain the violence, since it was neither proportionate to nor correlated with the precise circumstances. Another element in an explanation must be the exhaustion of fearful, resolute deputies who had done little but work for so long. Their vision of the heroic age was marked by a mixture of optimism and inflexibility: their certainty about the possibilities of the total regeneration of society created a hatred of what they saw as sectional interests—for example, those of the sans-culottes and those who would compromise with the past or fall back on clichés about ‘human nature’. One of the Girondin leaders expelled from the Convention on 2 June 1793, Nicolas de Condorcet, had been in hiding since 3 October. He spent his time writing his Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, the consummate expression of this optimism:

The aim of the work that I have undertaken … will be to show by appeal to reason and fact that nature has set no term to the perfection of human faculties … and that the progress of this perfectibility, from now onwards independent of any power that might wish to halt it, has no other limits than the duration of the globe upon which nature has cast us. This progress will doubtless vary in speed, but it will never be reversed as long as the … general laws of the system produce neither a general cataclysm nor such changes as will deprive the human race of its present faculties and its present resources.8 Condorcet fled his Parisian hiding-place on 5 March 1794, was arrested and committed suicide on 28 March. While an intractable opponent of Robespierre, he would have shared the certainty of the ‘Incorruptible’ expressed in his famous speech to the Convention on 17 Pluviôse Year II (5 February 1794): ‘We wish in a word to fulfill the course of nature, to accomplish the destiny of mankind.’ They shared as well the mixture of civic virtue and heroic martyrdom that pervades their language, the result of their immersion in the classics at secondary school, recalling David’s great paintings of ‘Brutus’ and the ‘Horatii’.

[5.5] Ending the Revolution: the ‘Settlement’ of 1795 From the outset, the Revolution had been propelled forward by twin pressures: on the one hand, the defense against counter-revolution, the power of which had magnified with the divisions created by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, then war from April 1792; and, on the other, the battle over the direction of the Revolution, as sections of the urban working people and the peasantry sought to pressure successive regimes into meeting their interests. Repeatedly—for example, in October 1789, July 1791, and September 1792—majorities in the governing assemblies had proclaimed that the Revolution was ‘over’. This was again the case after the overthrow of Robespierre and his associates in Thermidor Year II (July 1794), for this was the end of the most radical phase of the Revolution. Even then, however,

there were many revolutionaries who had come to see the increasing centralisation and repression of the period now dubbed ‘the Terror’ as inimical to the Revolution and who hoped that Thermidor would represent a new beginning for democratic initiative. They would be deceived. The period immediately after the overthrow of the Robespierrists on 9 Thermidor (9 July) is usually referred to as the ‘Thermidorian Reaction’, a period of reaction against the radicalism and controls of the Year II, which resulted in a new constitutional ‘settlement’ in August 1795.9 With remarkable rapidity, Robespierre in particular, and ‘Robespierristes’ in general, became stigmatised as ‘tyrants’ responsible for all the excesses of 1793–94. Even those personally responsible for some of the atrocities successfully made them scapegoats in this way. The territory of the Republic was now safe, and the Terror could be wound down. The Committee of Public Safety was dissolved and many suspects were released. Some of them were very lucky: for example, the former Marquis de Sade, who had become a Jacobin deputy in the Convention but was in prison awaiting execution for having acted illegally in seeking the safety of members of his former wife’s aristocratic family. On 28 December 1794 the Convention passed a decree reorganising the Revolutionary Tribunal. It was now to be concerned only with armed threats to the security of the nation. Acquittals began to outnumber convictions for the first time since 1792. It was finally abolished on 31 May 1795. The last man executed, fittingly, was Fouquier-Tinville, the public prosecutor during the Year II. Henceforth treason would be tried in ordinary courts. The Thermidorian Reaction was a return to ‘liberty’. But a bitter social reaction was unleashed at the same time. This ‘white Terror’ was a punitive response of political and social elites to the controls and fears they had experienced. From the outset, the Revolution had been dominated by groups from within the bourgeoisie. They had been forced to build a new popular alliance in 1792–94 to save the Revolution, but then, once the crisis was over in 1794, popular demands were again rebuffed. Active Jacobins and sans-culottes were arrested or assassinated in Paris and provincial towns. The Jacobin club network, the backbone of the Revolution since 1789, was closed down in November 1794. The wealthy allowed themselves ostentatious displays of wealth while their children, parading as jeunesse dorée (gilded youth) and bands of muscadins (dandies), spoiled for street scuffles with former supporters of the Terror. ‘Monsieur’ and ‘Madame’ became the accepted forms of greeting in polite society rather than ‘citoyen’ and ‘citoyenne’: the ‘cultural revolution’ of the Year II was over. A popular song in 1795, ‘Le réveil du peuple’ (‘The re-awakening of the people’), expressed the mixture of vengefulness and elation behind this social reaction: French people, brotherly people, Can you see without quivering with horror Crime holding its banners Of carnage and terror?

You suffer while a hideous horde Of assassins and brigands Fouls with its ferocious force The land of the living. What is this primitive slowness? Hurry up, sovereign people, To deal with the monsters of Thénar [the deep] All the drinkers of human blood! War on all the agents of crime! Pursue them to the death! Share the horror which drives me! They won’t escape us!

[5.6] The Last Sans-culottes Challenge: April–May 1795 (Germinal–Prairial Year III) The end of the General Maximum on 24 December 1794 created rampant inflation at a time of shortage following a poor harvest. This coincided with a severe winter: the Seine froze over and wolves were seen in the streets of Paris. People were dying of hunger in the streets. By April 1795, the general level of prices was about 750 per cent above 1790 levels. It was in this context of social and political reaction, and economic deprivation, that the sans-culottes made a final, desperate attempt to regain the initiative, in insurrections in Germinal and Prairial (1 April and 20 May 1795). In Prairial in particular, women took the lead, forcing local administrators to accompany them (and thereby to provide legitimacy) and entering workshops to encourage or force women to march with them. As one police observer wrote, ‘bread is the foundation of the insurrection physically speaking, but the Constitution is the soul’. The slogans and cries of the insurgents identified as their enemies ‘merchants and muscadins’.10 The authorities had learned their lessons and order was restored by force. The failure of the May 1795 insurrection unleashed even more wide-ranging reaction: the sans-culottes challenge was over. A massive new wave of repression was unleashed: there were 4200 arrests, with some sent to Cayenne, where conditions were so dire that it was dubbed the ‘dry guillotine’. Advocacy of the Constitution of 1793 became a capital offence. The jeunesse dorée remained unchecked; in the provinces, royalist bands called ‘Companies of Jesus and the Sun’ sought out those ‘terrorists’ still at large, and there were hundreds of killings remarkable for their ritualised cruelty. The Germinal–Prairial risings would be the last popular insurrection aimed at overthrowing government until 1830. This did not mean, however, that working people were at such a point of despair that they regretted the Revolution. A major reason for the failure of an attempted royalist insurrection in Vendémiaire Year IV (October 1795) was that the sansculottes refused to follow royalists who called for popular support to overthrow the

unpopular Thermidor regime. The royalist challenge to the Thermidorian Republic was potent, but divided. On 28 June 1795, the British navy landed six thousand troops on the peninsula of Quiberon, west of Vannes in Brittany. Hercé, the elderly émigré bishop of the abolished bishopric of Dol, blessed the thousands of locals who rushed to join them. From the outset, however, deep mistrust divided the local Breton chouan forces commanded by the constitutional monarchist Puisaye and the uncompromising aristocratic arrivals under Hervilly. Republican forces under General Lazare Hoche cut off access to the peninsula, and chouan troops (Breton guerrilla rebels) were repelled near Vannes and Puisaye again went into hiding with the survivors. About 750 prisoners were shot, among them 366 noble officers (see photos 23 & 24). Enraged, the chouan leader François de Charette ordered three hundred republican prisoners to be killed while he celebrated mass.

[5.7] The ‘Settlement’ of 1795: Back to 1791? The period after Robespierre’s fall was thus one of elation and relief, but also of social, economic and political reaction. The deputies now dominant in the Convention sought a political settlement that would stabilise the Revolution against both sans-culottes upheaval and royalist intransigence. During the Prairial insurrection, insurgents had thrust the decapitated head of the Paris Food Commissioner in the face of the President of the Convention, Boissy d’Anglas. Now, on 5 Messidor Year III (23 June 1795), Boissy d’Anglas presented the preamble to the draft of the new constitution:

We should be governed by the best among us; the best are the most highly educated, and those with the greatest interest in upholding the laws; save for the rarest exceptions, you will only find such men among those who, by reason of their owning property, are devoted to the land in which it is situated … If you were to grant unlimited political rights to men without property, and if they were ever to take their place in the legislative assembly, they would provoke disturbances, or cause them to be provoked, without fear of the consequences; they would levy or permit the levying of taxes fatal to trade and agriculture …11 The Constitution of the Year III (August 1795) accordingly restricted participation in electoral assemblies by wealth, age, education and even marital status, as well as by sex. For the first time, an upper house (the Council of Elders) was deemed necessary to check any radical legislation passed by the lower house, the Council of Five Hundred. Political participation was restricted to the act of voting: petitions, clubs and even unarmed demonstrations were banned. The social and democratic rights promised in the Constitution of 1793 were stripped away. Intent on prohibiting likely opposition to the regime, the Convention agreed to a ‘two-thirds rule’ to keep politics stable by requiring each new Council of Five Hundred to include two-thirds of its predecessor’s members. The men of the

Convention now in power (formerly from the Girondins and the ‘Plain’) were determined never to have another terrifying period like 1793–94, and stood prepared to go to any lengths to avoid it. The Constitution of the Year III was still that of a Republic. It also sought to end the rancorous and often fatal divisions over the relationship between Church and state by ending any public responsibility for the upkeep of religion. But in other ways, the Constitution was a return to the essentials of the Revolution, as they had been in 1791: once again, the citizenry were to have unequal rights, in effect the old distinction between ‘actives’ and ‘passives’. Government was again to be representative, parliamentary rule safe from popular intimidation and initiative. Individual and economic freedoms, and civil rights were again to take precedence over measures to guarantee social welfare or greater social equality.

[5.8] François ‘Gracchus’ Babeuf (1760–1797) Not all revolutionaries were cowed. One of those who had been imprisoned under the Terror but now hoped to reactivate popular initiative was François Babeuf, one of four surviving children of the thirteen born to a minor tax official in the northern province of Picardy.12 Babeuf married a servant, and largely through self-education achieved employment as a feudiste—a legal officer working on the seigneurial registers of local nobles. He later claimed that it was there that he realised the iniquitous origins of inequality. Early in the Revolution he campaigned enthusiastically for the complete abolition of seigneurialism and for an equal land tax. He took the name ‘Camille’ from the Classical Roman reformer Camillus, who had introduced more equal pay in the army, then in 1793 changed his name to ‘Gracchus’, after a second century BCE land reformer. Babeuf was by then a revolutionary administrator, but his zeal for equality led him to falsify names on a land transfer to advantage a group of poor peasants: he was sentenced to twenty years in prison in 1793. While in prison he developed a new program for which he is still known today as the first revolutionary communist: he advocated the nationalisation of property and justified the role of a revolutionary vanguard in seizing power and imposing change. Once released from prison after Thermidor he lived on the run; his wife Marie-Anne was tortured for information about him. For Babeuf, no government could be legitimate unless it guaranteed social equality, and he argued that both the Jacobin and sans-culottes visions of equality were bound to fail because they accepted the foundation of private property. In his propaganda Babeuf had advocated the reintroduction of the Constitution of 1793, a capital offence, and he and his closest associates were executed in 1797.

[5.9] A narrowing path By their politics of exclusion and economic policies of laissez-faire, laissez-passer, the men of the new regime—the Directory, so named because of its five-member executive of ‘directors’—brought political stability at the price of social resentment. The new regime

transformed the war of revolutionary survival into one of expansion and negotiation. ‘Sister’ Republics were created in the Low Countries by alliances in 1795. Wars were now conducted in the old way, about territorial rather than revolutionary gains, and peace treaties with Prussia and Spain were signed in May 1795. There was continuing conflict with Austria and Britain, forcing the Directory to introduce annual conscription of single men aged twenty to twenty-five years. This law sharply intensified resentment of military service, especially in regions seething at the collapse of religious life. In areas far from Paris, draft evasion and desertion became endemic: indeed, by 1798, many parts of the west, the Massif Central and Pyrenees were virtually ungovernable, as young men lived on the run from army recruiters and local authorities, often with the support of their families and communities.

Map 17 Sister Republics under the Director The governing directors were also under challenge from resurgent royalists. Elections that returned too many royalists to the legislative body, the Council of Five Hundred, provided the pretext for the coup of 18 Fructidor Year V (4 September 1797), after which military commissions sentenced at least 289 individuals to death, one-third of them nobles and clerics deemed to be actively involved in attempts to overthrow the Republic. This was a key moment in the shift of emphasis of the Directory from seeking to end the Revolution by the practice of liberal constitutionalism to a resolution to end it through what may be described as ‘liberal authoritarianism’. The regime increasingly resorted to armed force and bureaucratic control in its confrontation with persistent counter-revolution, brigandage, tax evasion and avoidance of conscription. In the process, however, it made itself vulnerable to the temptation to place hopes for stability in the hands of the military men imposing French

rule across the borders. These years were also remarkable for a construction ‘from below’ of a new Catholicism. This renaissance in popular religiosity was, above all, the work of women, and was at its strongest in rural areas from which huge proportions of priests had emigrated and in provincial cities where the collapse of the religious institutions of the Old Regime had left women particularly vulnerable to destitution. For example, in Bayeux in 1796, a crowd of furious women invaded the cathedral—converted into a ‘Temple of Reason’ during the Terror —and dashed a bust of Rousseau on the altar to the floor to cries of ‘When the good Lord was there we had bread!’13

17 Joseph Sicre, the non-juring priest of the frontier community of St-Laurent de Cerdans, used this tiny chapel of St-Cornélis, just across the River Muga in Spain, to baptise and marry hundreds of the faithful from all over the region after 1796. (Photo: Peter McPhee) The Directory and its supporters across the country envisaged a path between the thickets of, on the one hand, sans-culottes and Jacobin militancy and, on the other, counter-revolution. The path would lead to a stable, harmonious land of prosperous small farms and vigorous commerce, free from both the menace of urban egalitarianism and nobles’ nostalgia for the good old days. They practiced a cultural politics of rewarding civic virtue and enterprise, avoiding both Jacobin regeneration and Catholic renewal, for which they expressed a dismissive tolerance. One of the advocates for the regime was Louis-Sébastien Mercier, whose eleven-volume Tableau is probably the best guide to pre-revolutionary Paris and who, after a brief period of imprisonment under the Terror, was fiercely anti-Jacobin thereafter. Mercier recognised how difficult stability was to achieve: ‘Fear has played such a big part in

our revolution, its arena has been so vast, that one has often attributed to politics, to ambition, to deep strategy, that which was done only to disconcert an enemy and to impress on him also fear and terror.’14 In 1795 the Republic removed three powers from the anti-revolutionary coalition through the first Treaty of Basel with Prussia (5 April), the Treaty of The Hague with Holland (16 May) and the second Treaty of Basel with Spain (22 July). But, while Austria and Britain remained at war, the Republic could not feel safe; and in any case, there were powerful voices in France clamouring for the Revolution to be expansionist, to its ‘natural’ borders along the Rhine. Belgium was incorporated into the Republic in 1795. Further afield in Italy, the creation of ‘sister republics’ signaled the transition from a war of revolutionary survival to one of expansion and negotiation. The Directory decided to place Bonaparte at the head of its campaign against Austria in northern Italy in April 1796. Over the next year his forces won a series of battles, exacting huge ransoms (46 million livres) and turning a blind eye to pillage. Anti-French rebellions were bloodily repressed. Bonaparte himself intervened in political debate in Paris to oppose Carnot’s wish for a compromise peace settlement rather than total surrender. The treaty signed at Campo Formio on 26 Vendémiaire VI (18 October 1797) did not staunch popular hostility in the invaded lands, but it did serve to highlight that Bonaparte was now as much a political as a military player.

18 In 1792 French forces occupied Savoy in the Alps, then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Félix Desportes, the Jacobin former mayor of Montmartre, was sent to Geneva as the official ‘resident’ and in 1796 he commissioned the erection of a hospice and a ‘Temple de la Nature’ near Sallanches. It still commands breathtaking views of the Mer de Glace on Mont Blanc today. It was restored in 1923. (Photo: Greg Burgess) The Directory was chronically unstable, not only because of the narrow base of its politics and the absence of any more powerful raison d’être than that of a stake in society. It also found it impossible to articulate a convincing and conclusive rationale for its foreign policy. Was it trying to create a continental commercial empire to rival that of England’s maritime sphere? Or was its objective to create ‘sister’ Republics that would eventually transform the continent into a republican federation under French tutelage? Or was it just trying to find a way to create a durable balance of power?

19 Despite the wars that swept through the town of Thionville, on the Moselle near the Luxembourg border, and repeated enemy occupations, its ‘altar of the homeland’ has survived. These altars were used for civic ceremonies. It was probably erected for the fourth anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic, in 1796, and is the only complete one in existence. (Photo: Peter McPhee) The longing for social order at home and victories abroad inevitably made attractive the idea

of a strong military ruler surmounting parliamentary squabbles. This was an appeal that extended well beyond the political circles of Paris. To celebrate the victories in Italy and the peace of Campo Formio, the municipal administration of the city of Orléans southeast of Paris erected a pyramid in Bonaparte’s honour at a festival on 25 Pluviôse VI (13 February 1798). A priest composed a quatrain to be placed at its foot: There he is, this heroic lover of the homeland, His valour has broken Italy’s chains. The god of combat, the new thunder of warfare He is ripping the seas from England’s control. Young royalists from the richest families of the city had taken to wearing their powdered hair in long tresses as a symbol of support for him.15 Bonaparte in particular was acutely aware of the power of propaganda, and articulated a potent ideology of revolutionary zeal, military crusade and social order. He took this ideology with him to Egypt in 1798. Although the invasion was essentially designed to combat British influence and to disrupt British trade routes to India, he contrived in his proclamation to the people of Egypt to present it as a civilising mission, both to bring revolutionary emancipation from local Mamluk leaders and restore the legitimate authority of the Ottomans. But the second article was a salutary reminder of the costs of resisting Bonaparte’s mission:

People of Egypt, you will be told that I have come to destroy your religion; it is a lie … I have come to restore your rights … Tell them that all men are equal before God; wisdom, talent and virtue are the only differences between men. … from this day on, no Egyptian will be prevented from acceding to an eminent post: the wisest, the most educated, and the most virtuous will govern, and the people will be happy … Article II: Any village which takes up arms against the army will be burnt to the ground.16 Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt was a failure, but he appreciated that he retained sufficient political capital from his earlier victories to offer himself as the strong executive figure France needed. He abandoned his troops and rushed to return to Paris in October 1799. On 18–19 Brumaire Year VIII (9–10 November 1799), the legislative body was driven out by troops. Bonaparte’s nerve almost failed him, and he was on the point of collapse when his younger brother Lucien, at age twenty-four President of the Council of Five Hundred, took the initiative. On 24 Frimaire Year VIII (15 December 1799), the Consuls (Bonaparte, Sieyès and Ducos) announced that a new constitution would terminate uncertainty while being based on ‘the sacred rights of property, equality, and liberty’:

The powers which it institutes will be strong and stable, as they must be in order to

guarantee the rights of citizens and the interests of the State. Citizens, the Revolution is established upon the principles which began it: it is ended.17 A decade of revolution was over.

Chapter 5: Ending the Terror, Ending the Revolution, 1794– 1799 1

Oeuvres de Maximilien Robespierre, vol. 10, pp. 350–66. Peter McPhee, Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life, New Haven, Conn & London: Yale University Press, 2012, pp. 196–8. On religion in 1793–94, see Emmet Kennedy, A Cultural History of the French Revolution, New Haven, CT & London: Yale University Press, 1989; Serge Bianchi, La Révolution culturelle de l’an II, Paris: Aubier, 1982; Michel Vovelle, The Revolution against the Church: from Reason to the Supreme Being, translated by Alan Jose, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. 3 Archives départementales du Loiret, L 6 (4). 4 Philip Dwyer and Peter McPhee (eds), The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook, London & New York: Routledge, 2002, pp. 107–8. 5 McPhee, Robespierre, p. 214 and ch. 12; Richard Bienvenu, The Ninth of Thermidor: the Fall of Robespierre, New York: Oxford University Press, 1968. 6 Olivier Blanc, Last Letters: Prisons and Prisoners of the French Revolution, 1793–1794, translated by Alan Sheridan, London: André Deutsch, 1987, p. 163. 7 RR Palmer, Twelve who Ruled: The Year of the Terror in the French Revolution, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1941, p. 279; Hugh Gough, ‘Genocide and the Bicentenary: The French Revolution and the Revenge of the Vendée’, Historical Journal 30 (1987), p. 978. 8 Marie Jean Antoine de Condorcet, Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind (1794), translated by June Barraclough, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1955, pp. 4–5. 9 On this period, see Denis Woronoff, The Thermidorian Regime and the Directory, 1794–1799, translated by Julian Jackson, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984; Martyn Lyons, France under the Directory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975; Gwynne Lewis and Colin Lucas (eds), Beyond the Terror: Essays in French Regional and Social History, 1794–1815, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. 10 Dominique Godineau, The Women of Paris and their French Revolution, translated by Katherine Streip, Berkeley, Ca: University of California Press, 1998, pp. 310–45. 11 Gazette Nationale ou le Moniteur universel, no. 281, 11 Messidor III (29 June 1795), vol. 25, pp. 81, 92. 12 RB Rose, Gracchus Babeuf: The First Revolutionary Communist, London: Arnold, 1978; JA Scott (ed. and trans.), The Defense of Gracchus Babeuf before the High Court of Vendôme, Amherst, Mass: University of Massachusetts Press, 1967. 13 Olwen Hufton, Bayeux in the Late Eighteenth Century: A Social Study, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967, pp. 231–2. 14 James Livesey, Making Democracy in the French Revolution, Cambridge, Mass. & London: Harvard University Press, 2001, esp. p. 244. See Howard Brown, War, Revolution, and the Bureaucratic State: Politics and Army Administration in France, 1791–1799, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995. 15 D Lottin, Recherches historiques sur la Ville d’Orléans, 8 vols, Orléans: Imprimerie Alexandre Jacob, 1836–45, v. 6, pp. 154–5. 16 Henry Laurens, L’Expédition d’Egypte, 1798–1801, Paris: Armand Colin, 1989, pp. 75–7. 17 Stewart (ed.), Documentary Survey, p. 780. See Philip Dwyer, Napoleon: the Path to Power, 1769–1799, London: Bloomsbury, 2007. 2

Chapter 6 The Significance of the French Revolution Debates about the origins, course and outcomes of the Revolution dominated political thought in Europe for generations after 1789, and remain lively today. Why did an apparently powerful Bourbon regime collapse so spectacularly in 1789? How had the golden expectations of 1789 descended into civil war and terror by 1793? Why had attempts to create an electoral and constitutional polity been superseded by the rule of a strong man by 1799? Did the protracted political instability of the revolutionary decade disguise a more fundamental social and economic stability? Was the French Revolution a major turning-point in French, even world, history, as many historians claim, or instead just a protracted period of violent upheaval and warfare that ended or destroyed millions of lives? We have seen that the Constitution of 1795 may be interpreted as marking the ‘settlement’ of the Revolution in opposition to the radical vision of the Jacobins and sansculottes. It put in place a regime in which political power would be based on property, gender, education, and marital status. It removed the commitments to social welfare and the practice of popular democracy, including the right to protest, which had been included in the Constitution of 1793, but never implemented. By introducing a declaration of ‘duties’ alongside a statement of ‘rights’, the Constitution of the Year III repudiated the great dream of the earlier years, that respect for the rule of law and the rights of others should be the only impediment to individual freedoms. Despite this conservative ‘settlement’, however, the Revolution was profoundly transforming of the exercise of political power, a transformation mostly achieved in 1789–91. An absolutist regime in which key decisions and official appointments were made at court had been replaced by a constitutional government based on the principle of popular sovereignty, even if the active practice of sovereignty was restricted by wealth and gender. The claims of the two privileged orders to ‘corporate’ rights and exemptions had been replaced by the principle of equality before the law; social hierarchy would be determined by capacity, merit and wealth rather than birth and custom. These changes were also reflected in ‘political culture’, that is, the ways in which people behaved and thought about politics. For example, the collapse of the mystique of divine-right monarchy was evident at coronations, when sufferers of scrofula (a tuberculosis disease of the lymph glands) traditionally came forward to be cured of the ‘king’s evil’ by the royal touch. In 1774, 2400 scrofula sufferers came forward to be healed by Louis XVI; in 1825 only 121 approached his youngest brother Charles X. The king’s touch had lost its potency.

Map 18 Political Societies, 1793–1794 The experience of popular sovereignty, the Republic, and democracy through the 6000 Jacobin Clubs and elections in 40 000 communes had embedded assumptions about popular sovereignty. These could not be eradicated. Nor could memories of the Revolution, such as those expressed during the revolutionary Paris Commune of 1871, when a speaker at a women’s club insisted that:

We are simple women but not made of weaker stuff than our grandmothers of ’93. Let us not cause their memories to blush for us, but be up and doing, as they would be were they living now.1 Such appeals to inspiring memories have been international and long-lasting. From Russia in 1917, when two battleships were renamed the Marat and Paris Commune, to student demonstrations on Tiananmen Square in China in 1989, the French Revolution has been a source of inspiration for later revolutionaries.

20 Louis XVI’s attempt to flee to safety ended ignominiously on the night of 21–22 June 1791 in the village of Varennes. The local hotel has sought to appeal to a clientèle by commemorating the ‘great monarch’; elsewhere in the village are detailed historical markers. (Photo: Peter McPhee)

21 On 23 December 1793, after the battle of Savenay, west of Nantes on the Loire River, about 1100 Vendéan rebels were shot; another 1700 were taken to Nantes and executed. This memorial cross in Savenay commemorates them by eliding their deaths with Christ’s martyrdom. (Photo: Peter McPhee)

22 Noël Pinot, the non-juring parish priest of Le Louroux, west of Angers, went into hiding after 1791 and conducted clandestine masses. He was arrested in February 1794. This fresco in the parish church of St-Aubin shows his execution in nearby Angers, and was probably completed to mark his beatification in 1926. (Photo: Peter McPhee)

23 In 1795, after the failure of the Quiberon landing, and a summary trial by a military commission made up of townsmen, about 750 people were shot, including the majority of the noble officers, 366 of those executed. In 1829, the bones were exhumed and deposited in the vault of a memorial chapel at the Auray monastery, on what is now called ‘Martyrs Field’. (Photo: Peter McPhee)

24 Memories of counter-revolution are etched deep into the built landscape of the west. A plaque on a wall in the park of La Garenne in Vannes commemorates those shot there in 1795, after the failure of the Quiberon landing, including Hercé, the elderly émigré bishop of the abolished bishopric of Dol in Brittany. (Photo: Peter McPhee) These positive memories were countered by deep and negative memories in regions such as the Vendée and among priests and nobles, all of whom had lost status and wealth and who knew of family or friends who had died prematurely or been executed (see maps 14–16). Such was the loss of life in the Vendée and Brittany that apologists for the Old Regime have ever since been able to present the Revolution as the war of the Enlightenment on Christianity, monarchy and feudal traditions supposedly beloved of peasants. To nineteenthcentury social conservatives such as Maistre, Chateaubriand and Bonald, the entire decade and its Napoleonic sequel were a demonstration of the folly of meddling with the wisdom of custom in the name of reason and equality, and even evidence of punishment by an angry God. They would have responded to Montesquieu’s question—‘Is the evil of suffering always greater than the evil of change?’—in the negative. In the words of William Doyle:

Already by 1802 a million French citizens lay dead; a million more would perish under Napoleon, and untold more abroad. How many millions more had their lives

ruined? Inspiring and ennobling, the prospect of the French Revolution is also moving and appalling: in every sense a tragedy.2 One noble who had felt the full force of the tragedy was Alexis de Tocqueville, born in 1805 into an ancient and wealthy family deeply scarred by the Revolution. His parents, Hervé, Comte de Tocqueville, formerly an officer of the Constitutional Guard of Louis XVI, and Louise Madeleine Le Peletier de Rosanbo, had married in 1793; the following year they narrowly escaped the guillotine. Louise’s grandfather, Malesherbes (Louis’ minister and defence lawyer) and both her parents were condemned to death, as were her elder sister and her husband, a brother of Chateaubriand, who had emigrated to North America in 1791 and later became one of the most celebrated royalist writers and politicians in post-revolutionary France. In 1831, aged 26 years, Tocqueville was commissioned to study the penitentiary system of the United States. His Democracy in America (1835) was a reflection on the age of revolutions in general as much as a study of the new American republic. In his conclusion, he reflected that:

The world that is rising into existence is still half encumbered by the remains of the world that is waning into decay; and amid the vast perplexity of human affairs none can say how much of ancient institutions and former customs will remain or how much will completely disappear … The nations of our time cannot prevent the conditions of men from becoming equal, but it depends upon themselves whether the principle of equality is to lead them to servitude or freedom, to knowledge or barbarism, to prosperity or wretchedness.3 After a distinguished political career under the July Monarchy (1830–48) and Second Republic (1848–51), Tocqueville devoted himself to writing The Old Regime and the Revolution, a historical masterpiece published in 1856. In it he advanced the thesis that the Revolution had continued the centralising and modernising impulses of the French monarchy since Louis XIV. The violence of the revolutionary changes had also shattered the ancient social order, exposing class distinctions and conflicts more sharply than ever before in the world in which he now lived. These were fundamental, durable changes, but a powerful ‘minimalist’ argument has stressed that these political changes were achieved early in the Revolution and that France then became embroiled in bloody conflict that left deep scars, particularly in religious life, without making the fundamental social changes identified by Tocqueville. This ‘minimalist’ or ‘revisionist’ approach is well articulated by Donald Sutherland:

In 1790, the French Revolution had achieved its goal. It had defeated despotism and it had defeated privilege. This rupture was also definitive. A return to the Old Regime was simply out of the question … the revolutionaries [subsequently] drove very large numbers of women and men to a profound revulsion against them and all their works when they stripped away the markers that gave their lives meaning.4

Sutherland and other ‘minimalists’ argue that the major changes wrought by the Revolution were limited to political life and institutions. That is, for ‘minimalists’ the French Revolution meant very significant if limited political change, and memories of a protracted civil war and international conflict. But what these historians stress above all is social continuity.

[6.1] The ‘Minimalist’ Approach: the Continuity of Daily Life? First, ‘minimalists’ stress continuity in work patterns: that is, that the great mass of urban and rural working people continued to work in skilled and semi-skilled manual labour in a preindustrial, agrarian economy. In the words of Roger Price:

In political and ideological terms the Revolution was no doubt of crucial importance, but humanity was not transformed thereby. Most of the population continued to be subject to the age-old constraints of their environment. At the end of all the political upheavals of the Revolution and Empire little had changed in the daily life of most Frenchmen.5 In contrast with the central element of the Marxist argument—that this was a bourgeois revolution that brought a new class to power and with it the development of a capitalist society—they argue that, if anything, the Revolution actually retarded large-scale, profitoriented enterprise. Certainly, in the countryside, the bulk of Church land had been bought up by the well-to-do; but this was offset by the availability to peasants of émigré land sold in small lots. Most rural people remained small owners or renters producing for household needs. In towns, the ratio of employees to employers in workplaces remained four to one and urban France remained dominated by small, artisanal workplaces, not large-scale capitalist industry, for decades. This argument is connected to a second plank in the minimalist argument, that France remained a land of sharp social polarities. The urban workers who identified themselves as sans-culottes were those who had sacrificed the most for the military victory of the Revolution, but what had they gained by 1795? By then there were no controls on prices or the supply of food as there had been in 1793–94. The sans-culottes’ belief that property redistribution was essential to a meaningful democracy had been repudiated. Some of the rights they had won in 1793 would not be reintroduced for many decades: 1848 for universal manhood suffrage; the 1860s for collective bargaining; 1881 for free and secular primary education; and 1910 for assistance to the sick, aged, and unemployed. The lot of the destitute was even harsher. The Church had largely lost its capacity to dispense charity because its land had been seized and sold, and the tithe had been replaced by state salaries for priests. The obvious failure of making support for the poor a local government responsibility led to successive assemblies putting public work schemes in place, and the Convention had guaranteed public welfare in 1793. By 1795, however, such guarantees had been withdrawn and the winter of 1795–96 was the worst of the century, a time of great suffering. While some recalled the commitments the Jacobins had made to

social welfare, many others sought a return to religion. In 1801 the Concordat made by Bonaparte with the Church restored it to its monopoly of education, but never to its vast property and capacity to distribute charity. In the words of one of the first minimalists, Alfred Cobban, ‘whoever won the Revolution, [the poor] lost’.6 A third key element of the minimalist argument is that France remained a hierarchical society. While the Revolution may be understood as a battle over the meaning of ‘equality’— civil, political, social, racial, sexual—in the end it was not a Revolution for social equality. The Revolution of 1789 marked the end of a hierarchy based essentially on birth, status and privilege, but had replaced it with a political elite of wealth. Equality was to mean only equality before the law. In this hierarchy of wealth, nobles still had a leading role. There were about 25 000 noble families in France: from them, almost 14 000 male nobles over twelve years of age had emigrated. In all, 1,158 noble men and women were executed during the Terror, about 10 per cent of adult nobles. But the majority of nobles survived the Revolution with all or most of their land intact. Napoleon restored nobles to their titles, and encouraged the émigrés to return. In 1830, 266 of the 387 richest families in France were nobles from the Old Regime. Minimalists also argue their case by asking what women achieved. The final key element in their argument is that France remained a patriarchal society as well as a hierarchical one. Revolutionaries extolled the virtues of harmonious family life as the basis of a healthy society, but entrenched male behaviour was often beyond their reach, particularly domestic violence. Certainly, the divorce law of 1792 provided an escape route for perhaps 30 000 women in such circumstances but this was made more restrictive in 1804 and finally abolished in 1816. A divorce law was not reintroduced until 1884, and not until 1944 were women granted the right to vote. Politically, women were as divided as men, whether acting to sustain insurgency and hide priests in the west or as militants in Paris. Men in power were opposed to both. The ambiguities in men’s attitudes to women—drawing on assumptions about ‘women’s nature’—are also evident in the common revolutionary iconography of a serene mother teaching her son the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Similarly, the protective Virgin Mary of Old Regime imagery gave way to the Marianne of the Republic, now in classical garb and liberty cap, but still a feminine allegory watching protectively over more active men. Despite, or because of, the political challenge of radical women, the transition from absolutism—under which all were subjects of the king—to a republican fraternity of male citizens had reinforced the subordinate political position of women. The rights of women had been a central issue throughout the Revolution, but men in general remained opposed to active participation by women in formal politics. The major revolutionary newspaper, the Révolutions de Paris, in its final editorial of 25 Pluviôse–10 Ventôse Year II (13–28 February 1794), gave this advice to future generations:

You generations that will succeed us, more blessed than we, having learnt from our mistakes and become wise by our follies, it will doubtless be enough to have charted for you the main reefs. O my children, we shall leave you only roses to pick; your

fathers will have had nothing but the thorns … For too long we have allowed women to leave their homes to be present at the deliberations of the legislators, at the debates of the popular societies. You will recall their true, their unique vocation, and not permit them to deviate from it any more. They will continue to adorn the national feasts, but they will no longer interfere in public affairs … The motherland will be neither a vixen nor a stepmother. You will see in her only a good mother of her family. You will love her, you will adore her … Every citizen must love the Republic as his mistress.7 But in some ways the position of women had changed profoundly, suggesting that there are dimensions of revolutionary change ignored by the minimalist case. Most important, the inheritance laws of 1790 and 1793 ended primogeniture, whereby parents could favour one child, and introduced equal inheritance between brothers and sisters. While the key motive in this legislation was to erode the economic power of the great noble estates, its effect was to give daughters far greater potential status within all families, for they could no longer be disinherited.8 Although modified by Bonaparte, the inheritance laws represented a durable, profound change in family life. Another measure of the impact of the inheritance laws is that birthrates declined dramatically, from about thirty-nine to thirty-three per thousand in the years 1789–1804, as landholders sought to limit the impact of division of property between family members. This demographic shift is a potent indicator of changing social practice.

[6.2] The ‘Maximalist’ Approach: the Basis of a New Society? In contrast to the minimalist argument, other historians have argued that the Revolution profoundly transformed French society. Among them was Albert Soboul who, as a Marxist, understood the Revolution as pivotal in facilitating the development of a capitalist society that would ultimately lay the economic basis for a future socialist revolution, this time by industrial workers and their allies:

The Revolution marks the advent of bourgeois, capitalist society in French history … These essential characteristics probably explain the vain efforts that have been made to deny the true historical nature … of the French Revolution, for it is a fertile and dangerous precedent. Hence also the shudder that the French Revolution sent through the world, and the continued reverberation that it arouses in people’s minds even today. The very memory of it is revolutionary, and stirs us still.9 This argument contradicts the ‘minimalist’ perspective on the significance of the Revolution that, as a victory of the landowning peasantry and because of the lost decades of trade expansion due to protracted warfare, these years actually retarded the transition to capitalism. In the words of François Furet, the most prominent French ‘revisionist’:

The Marxist vulgate of the French Revolution actually turns the world upside down: it makes the revolutionary break a matter of economic and social change, whereas nothing resembled French society under Louis XVI more than French society under Louis-Philippe [1830–48].10 For ‘maximalists’, in contrast, the Revolution profoundly transformed French society, its values and institutions. It created the modern nation-state, based on uniformity of administration, an internal free market, and a new sense of national identity. Prerevolutionary France had been characterised by ‘localism’: local allegiances, languages, customs, and systems of agriculture underpinned a maze of institutions established over 800 years. French society had been marked by the weight of tradition, privilege, local practices, and exemptions in the size and power of administrative divisions; in economic regulation (customs, weights, measures, and even currency); the range and scale of state taxes; the institutions of justice and the laws they enforced; and the size, location and authority of dioceses. It could be said that only fealty to the king and formal obedience to the Catholic Church were common to all Louis XVI’s subjects. The Revolution reshaped all this according to the values of the bourgeois lawyers and officials who dominated the Assemblies: rationality, efficiency, uniformity and fairness. Using the eighty-three departments as the core unit of public life, they created a uniformity of administration in every dimension of public life, including a reformed Church (compare map 11 with maps 3–6). There would now be internal free trade, with customs barriers pushed back to the frontiers. Weights, measures and currency would be uniform across the nation and, in a strikingly innovative and durable way, would be based on a decimal system of grams, metres, litres and cents. The advantages for the business sector of such uniformity, as well as national laws and restraints on the rights of wage-earners, are apparent, but the impact of the revolutionary reshaping of laws and regulations went well beyond the business sector. Humaneness was a central impulse of revolutionary reform, especially in the legal system.

25 In August 1793, the National Convention introduced a comprehensive

measurement system based on the earth’s meridian and decimal measures: the metre, hectare and litre. The task of surveying exactly the meridian arc to measure metres and kilometres took years, but was eventually completed in 1799 by using two sections of straight road. This stèle (marker) was used on one section, near Perpignan. (Photo: Peter McPhee) Revolutionary reforms to the legal rights of minorities had a profound impact on the freedoms of Protestants and Jews, together about 750 000 people, or 3 per cent of the population. The 700 000 Protestants in parts of the east and the Massif Central were accorded full equality in December 1789, as were the Sephardic Jews of the south on 28 January 1790. The Ashkenazi Jews of the east had to wait until 27 September 1791, but quickly adopted the revolutionary cause. On 21 October 1792 the Jews of Metz in eastern France joined with their Gentile neighbours to celebrate the victory of French armies at Thionville. One of them, Moïse Ensheim, a friend of the Abbé Grégoire, composed a Hebrew version of ‘La Marseillaise’, which used biblical imagery to link Jewish history to the Revolution: O House of Jacob! You have suffered abundant grief. You fell through no fault of your own … Happy are you, O Land of France! Happy are you! Your would-be destroyers have fallen to the dust.11 The cost of embracing an identity as French citizens would be the loss of a corporate identity as Jews. In the words of the Count de Clermont-Tonnerre on 23 December 1789:

We must refuse everything to the Jews as a nation and accord everything to the Jews as individuals … they should not be allowed to form within the State either a political body or an order. They must be citizens individually.12 The challenge he expressed—that Jews should consider themselves first and foremost as citizens of France—would remain present in the lives of later generations. Was the price of religious equality the erosion of cultural difference? Like Jews, Protestants were predisposed to support the Revolution. Like them, too, their loyalty was tested by the maelstrom of military invasion, civil war and terror in 1792–94. Their personal choices could have tragic consequences. The wealthy Protestant textile manufacturer André Guizot of Nîmes welcomed the Revolution, but his active role in Federalism in 1793 cost him his life, aged thirty. He left behind him a devastated, brilliant little boy aged six years, named François, who would become France’s first Protestant Prime Minister in 1840–48.13 Religious toleration was one reason why the Catholic Church could never again enjoy pre-revolutionary levels of obedience and monopoly of morality. There were others. The 1791 debates on capital punishment removed the physical practice of homosexuality and lesbianism as a capital offense. Homosexuals would still be harassed by laws on ‘public

morality’ but, like other minorities, they would look back on the Revolution as a time of emancipation. For the Church, the Revolution represented God’s wrath for the frailty of the faith but, while new and renascent religious orders and religiosity grew with a mission to ‘reChristianise’ the country, their success would always be sporadic. The basis for a new alliance of Church and state was created by the Concordat signed with the Papacy in July 1801, formally celebrated at Easter mass at Notre Dame in 1802. Napoleon ended the revolutionary calendar from New Year’s Day 1806. However, the Catholic Church emerged from the Revolution without its extensive property and internally divided between those who had accepted the Revolution and those who had fled to years of exile.14 Fundamental to the energy revolutionary Assemblies took to their labours was the dream of ‘fraternity’, the transformation of subjects into citizens. Members of ethnic minorities were particularly affected by the abolition of a maze of ancient practices and exemptions. The kingdom of France had been put together from the thirteenth century to the 1760s, with the incorporation most recently of Lorraine and Corsica. Now it was to be regenerated as a united nation of equal citizens. The French Revolution prompted a leap in collective consciousness of ‘the nation’, ‘one and indivisible’ as the Jacobins insisted. This was imposed in part by successive Assemblies suspicious of the power of the clergy in many nonFrench speaking areas, but was also the result of a surge in nationalism ‘from below’. Bretons, Basques, Catalans, Flamands, Alsatians and others often resented some of the revolutionary changes, and bore the brunt of fighting along the frontiers, but to their powerful sense of cultural distinctiveness was added a ‘second identity’, that of being French citizens. This was a core meaning of ‘fraternity’, the assumption of a common identity above linguistic barriers, what Benedict Anderson dubbed the ‘imagined community’ of the nationstate.15 While there is no question that the nature of daily labour changed little across the revolutionary years, significant economic changes should not be ignored. Some changes were negative: the revolutionary wars caused economic chaos in the great ports and their hinterlands: not until the 1830s did the Atlantic trade recover its pre-revolutionary volume. Nevertheless, the French Revolution laid the groundwork for the unleashing of marketoriented agriculture and capitalist manufacturing. The single most significant social outcome of the Revolution was the abolition of the seigneurial regime. This meant that ‘surplus’ taken from peasants by the state, the Church and seigneurs fell from a rough average of 40 per cent to about 15 per cent of peasant household produce. In parts of the countryside, the abolition of feudal dues and the church tithe, both of which had normally been paid in grain, placed farmers in a better position to concentrate on using the land for its most productive purposes. In the Languedoc region of southern France, for example, the end of seigneurial and Church exactions in grain unleashed a marked increase in the use of the poor and stony soil for winegrowing, the beginnings of the region’s agricultural revolution in the early-nineteenth century. These were also years when administrators struggled to contain continuing conflicts over ownership of forests and commons and to end illegal felling and clearances. The

revolutionary years exacerbated long-term stress on the environment. Only after 1801 was more effective control re-imposed over forests: by then, perhaps one-quarter of France’s forests had been felled, and in many regions vast areas of commons had been cleared for agriculture.16 The abolition of the tithe and dues meant that, in a sense, peasants had liberated themselves from towns. They now retained control over a larger portion of their produce. Charles-Joseph Trouvé, a highly intelligent man from an artisan family to whom the Revolution offered opportunities that would once have been unthinkable, became the chief administrator or ‘Prefect’ of the southern department of Aude in 1803–16, and recognised the improvement in the peasants’ standard of living:

The suppression of feudal dues and the tithe, the high price of foodstuffs, the division of the large estates, the sale in small lots of nationalized lands, the ending of indebtedness by [the inflation in the value of] paper currency, gave a great impulse to the industry of the peasantry … Although the Revolution had an impact on the diet of the people of the countryside, this impact was even more marked on clothing … In the old days, rough woollen cloth, or homespun linen, was their finest apparel; they disdain that today, cotton and velveteen cloth are the fabrics they desire, and the large landholder is often confused with his sharecroppers because of the simplicity of his clothing.17 The destitute in provincial towns suffered accordingly: for example, almost one-tenth of the 10 000 people who lived in the Norman town of Bayeux in 1789 were religious or nobles, who had expended much of the ‘surplus’ they extracted in seigneurial dues from the peasants on charity, employment of domestic servants and artisans, and consumption. With the end of the tithe and seigneurial exactions, the population of Bayeux would shrink considerably, and its impoverished women lace-workers were placed in a parlous situation.18 Sales of church and émigré property—about 8 per cent of all property in France— increased the total of land owned by commoners by perhaps one-fifth. Church lands were largely bought by the better-off in regions of large-scale farming like the Paris basin and the northeast, entrenching the power of wealthy farmers; but many small peasants benefited from the sale of émigré property in small lots after 1792. Many noble landholdings had survived largely intact but now noble income came from rent rather than seigneurial dues, and they compensated for the loss of dues by increasing rents on the 30 per cent of total land that they still owned: in 1800–20, rents increased by 50 per cent. They now had a vested interest in more efficient farming on their property. Those nobles who had emigrated suffered heavy losses. One of them was the Marquise de la Tour du Pin, the wife of an army officer from an ancient and wealthy family. Her liberal father-in-law was Minister for War in 1789–90, but his support for Louis XVI during his trial led to his execution. Lucy and her husband emigrated to Boston in 1793, returning in 1796. Lucy later recalled bitterly the night of 4 August 1789:

This decree ruined my father-in-law and our family fortunes never recovered from the effect of that night’s session. It was a veritable orgy of iniquities. The value of the property at La Roche-Chalais lay entirely in feudal dues, income from invested money and leases or from the mills. There was also a toll river-crossing. The total income from all these sources was 30 000 francs per year … We also lost the toll crossing at Cubzac on the Dordogne, which was worth 12 000 francs, and the income from Le Bouilh, Ambleville, Tesson and Cénévrières, a fine property in the Quercy which my father-in-law was forced to sell the following year. And that was how we were ruined by the stroke of a pen … I will not go into details of our ruin; in any case, I never knew them very exactly. I only know that when I married, my father-in-law was understood to have an income of 80 000 francs. Since the Revolution, our losses have amounted to at least 58 000 francs a year.19 The transition to a capitalist, market-oriented economy was neither rapid nor complete. However, taken with the changes to internal free trade, currency, weights and measures, the Revolution made those institutional and social changes that created an environment in which capitalism could thrive. This was underpinned too by a change in the ruling elite and its values. Those who took the initiative in creating all these changes were the bourgeoisie: the administrative, professional and commercial classes. The French Revolution represented the change to the political system and of ruling values to reflect their increasing importance. The cahier of the Third Estate of Elbeuf in 1789, written by textile manufacturers, had complained of:

The inefficient administration of finances … these constraints, these impediments to commerce: barriers reaching to the very heart of the kingdom; endless obstacles to the circulation of commodities … representatives of manufacturing industries and Chambers of Commerce totally ignored and despised; an indifference towards manufactures on the part of government …20 Their complaints had been heard. There was now internal free trade and, in 1801, the importance of Chambers of Commerce was formally recognised in the role they would play in economic regulation. The new France recognised the primacy of wealth, work and talent. Nobles could survive and prosper in this new society, but only if they were prepared to make profound adjustments. In October 1800, Bonaparte decreed that émigrés who had not taken up arms could return, but the émigré noble returned to a transformed world, of litigation by creditors and peasants, the erosion of the mystique of nobility, and the need to run an estate as a business. When Louis XVI’s brother, Louis XVIII, assumed the throne in 1814, his Constitutional Charter was equally clear that there would be no taxation exemptions, no return of seigneurialism and no return of nationalised property to the Church. The nobility would fuse with the wealthiest echelons of the propertied bourgeoisie into a ruling elite of

‘notables’ that dominated French politics until the 1870s.

[6.3] The International Repercussions The French Revolution was at the heart of dramatic international upheavals that were to have repercussion across much of the globe. The causes of the French Revolution should be understood within a global context of imperial crises of commerce and territory. In France this escalated in 1789 into an unprecedented political and social revolution, itself engendering new revolutions and conflicts outside France. The challenge to European elites represented by the French Revolution became a European and international conflagration after 1792, what some historians have dubbed ‘the first total war’ involving mass citizens’ armies.21 Writing after the Napoleonic Wars, the Prussian general, Carl von Clausewitz, was certain of the democratic change that had taken place, and of its military importance:

In 1793 such a force as no one had any conception of made its appearance. War had again suddenly become an affair of the people, and that of a people numbering thirty millions, every one of whom regarded himself as a citizen of the State … The element of War, freed from all conventional restrictions, broke loose, with all its natural force … this participation arose partly from the effects of the French Revolution on the internal affairs of countries, partly from the threatening attitude of the French towards all Nations.22

Nowhere was the impact of the Revolution felt more directly than in the Caribbean colonies. Planter-dominated colonial assemblies had sought to limit the applicability of revolutionary legislation, but everything changed with the eruption of the slave revolt of August 1791 in St-Domingue, then of war in Europe in 1792 that spread to the Caribbean in 1793. In June 1793 freedom was offered to slaves who fought against the British and Spanish in the Caribbean; then on 4 February 1794 slavery was abolished in the French colonies. The decree was never applied in the smaller slave societies of the Indian Ocean. Napoleon sought to re-establish slavery in 1802, but, after a particularly bloody invasion and revolt, finally accepted the independence of Haiti in 1804. The struggle for freedom in St-Domingue had cost perhaps 350 000 lives on both sides since 1791. War and emancipation also had a profound impact on the Atlantic ports that had prospered before the Revolution. Between 1790 and 1806, the downturn in trade and an English naval blockade after 1792 caused the population of Nantes to drop from perhaps 90 000 to 77 000 and that of Bordeaux from 110 000 to 92 000. These great ports would never quite recover their eighteenth-century lustre, still so apparent in their monumental architecture today. Within Europe, the outbreak of Revolution had been welcomed by reformers as a harbinger of liberal reform across the continent. In 1805, William Wordsworth recalled in ‘The Prelude’ how he felt at the age of nineteen in 1789:

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!—Oh! times, In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways Of custom, law, and statute, took at once The attraction of a country in romance! When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights … Not favoured spots alone, but the whole earth, The beauty wore of promise … What temper at the prospect did not wake To happiness unthought of? By 1805, however, Wordsworth had long ceased to be sympathetic to France and its Revolution because of what he saw as its departure from its founding principles after 1793. The hostile political environment in England meant that publication of the poem—now seen as his greatest—was delayed until his death in 1850.23 Similarly, European attitudes to France changed dramatically in 1792–93 because of war, the proclamation of the Republic and the execution of Louis XVI. One of the most important consequences of the French Revolution was the hostile European reaction after 1792, which linked suspicion of radicalism with the strengthening of support for established forms of government and religion. In Britain and elsewhere, there was widespread repression of democrats and the unleashing of war propaganda depicting French revolutionaries as bloodthirsty dictators and cannibalistic mobs. A cluster of brilliant young writers—including Samuel Coleridge, Helen Maria Williams, William Godwin, William Drennan, and Wordsworth himself—had their careers limited or had to make significant political compromises in the context of Prime Minister William Pitt’s ‘reign of alarm’.24 In territories occupied by French forces, most of the population resented or openly opposed French rule, which quickly took the form of military occupation rather than revolutionary emancipation, and which relied on isolated minorities of pro-French reformers. In other parts of Europe, in contrast, the Revolution strengthened the desire for national selfdetermination. In Poland, after partition in 1793 (between Russia, Prussia and Austria), nationalist rebellion in 1794 temporarily succeeded under the leadership of Tadeusz Kosciusko, but was repressed bloodily by the end of the year. In Ireland, sympathy for France remained strong among the ‘United Irishmen’, a clandestine organisation of Protestants and Catholics united in opposition to direct rule from England and the dominance of the Anglican Church over both the Irish Catholics and the large number of Scottish Presbyterians in the north. In 1798, there were risings against English rule, in particular in Wexford, where a Republic was proclaimed, slogans of ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ were painted on walls and the revolutionary calendar was adopted. The killing of ninety pro-English Protestants held as hostages, then the failure after initial success of a French fleet sent to the west of Ireland, prompted a fierce repression of Irish nationalists. There would be as many executions of Irish nationalists in six weeks as of counter-revolutionaries in the year of the Terror in France, in a

population one-sixth the size. The reception of news of the French Revolution was profound but varied around the Mediterranean, but widespread hostility developed particularly in Egypt following the failed French invasion of 1798. There were also repercussions in the South Pacific as Britain and France explored, mapped and seized territory. Most importantly in the longer term, the strains placed on the Spanish and Portuguese empires by the costs of war with France, combined with the revolutionary message of national self-determination and rights, would foment independence movements in Latin America in 1810–21 (Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina).25

Map 19 Colonial Possessions c1780

Map 20 Dates of independence The French Revolution was at the epicentre of all these upheavals after 1789, and the changes it wrought internally were far more sweeping and profound than elsewhere. The Palmer–Godechot thesis of the French Revolution as only one element of an ‘Atlantic’ or ‘democratic’ revolutionary period failed to highlight what was unique about France. Only in France was there a radical alliance of Jacobins, sans-culottes and peasants resulting in a revolutionary attack on absolutism and feudalism, and the victory of equality before the law. In 1789–1802, there were twenty-nine new constitutions in Europe, but twenty-six of them were imposed after French invasion. Nor were the imperial crises western alone, for they were also triggered by and further unleashed ‘conjunctural’ conflicts in the Ottoman, Mughal and East Indies empires, as other histories have demonstrated.26

[6.4] Conclusion: What the Revolution Was … and Was Not No doubt, for the sans-culottes, as for Jacobins, the end of the Revolution left a sense of disappointment and failure. Only between 1848 and World War I were democracy, social welfare, workers associations and rights to education again secured. To radical republicans, the tenacity and rigidity of the new social elite after 1795 was evidence that the Revolution had failed to bear its full fruits by entrenching the power of property-owners. For most nobles and clergy, in contrast, the revolutionary decade had been a torment of loss of life, wealth and status. But this had been a revolutionary experience for all French people, and had left indelible changes. The Revolution meant the radical re-shaping of institutions according to the principles of liberty, civil equality, fraternity and humaneness. French people had become

citizens of a nation rather than subjects of a monarchy. Constitutional government had been established on the basis of the popular sovereignty of men with property. There had been a significant shift of economic power to the bourgeoisie and the peasantry. In the new France, values based on talent and wealth would now be dominant. From that perspective, the French Revolution could be seen as the triumph of the bourgeoisie and wealthier peasantry, which established the terrain on which capitalism could flourish. The French Revolution was also the seed-bed of alternative ideologies, from absolutist, ‘legitimist’ monarchy to communism. It has been a source of inspiration for all who believe that people should not be legally discriminated against because of their social origin, their religious beliefs, their race, sex or sexual preference. From this perspective the Revolution was never ‘over’, which is one reason why people today still study its origins, nature and outcomes. The questions it posed are with us still. Is it possible to accord freedoms to people if most of them lack the education and material well-being to use them fully? Can there be genuine freedom without a degree of social equality, or is social equality essential to a healthy democracy? What is the desirable balance between public order and the right to dissent? And is the inevitable outcome of mass revolution and civil war the rule of a military strongman?

Chapter 6: The significance of the French Revolution 1

Stewart Edwards (ed.), The Communards of Paris, 1871, London: Thames & Hudson, 1973, p. 110. William Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. xiii, 425. 3 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, translated by Henry Reeve, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945, section IV, ch. 8. See André Jardin, Tocqueville, New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1989. 4 DMG Sutherland, The French Revolution and Empire: the Quest for a Civic Order, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, pp. 382, 387. 5 Roger Price, An Economic History of Modern France, 1730–1914, London: Macmillan, 1975, p. xi. 6 Alfred Cobban, The Social Interpretation of the French Revolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964, p. 170. 7 From Gilchrist and Murray (eds), The Press in the French Revolution, pp. 301–2. See Lynn Hunt, The Family Romance of the French Revolution, London: Routledge, 1992 8 See the discussion of this and other family legislation by Suzanne Desan, The Family on Trial in Revolutionary France, Berkeley, Ca: University of California Press, 2004. 9 Albert Soboul, A Short History of the French Revolution 1787–1799, translated by Geoffrey Symcox, Berkeley, Ca: University of California Press, 1977, p. 165. 10 François Furet, Interpreting the French Revolution, translated by Elborg Forster, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981, p. 24. 11 Ronald Schechter, ‘Translating the “Marseillaise”: Biblical Republicanism and the Emancipation of Jews in Revolutionary France’, Past & Present 143 (1994), pp. 128–55. 12 Comte Stanislas de Clermont-Tonnerre, député de Paris, Opinion, Paris, 1789. 13 Charles-Hippolyte Pouthas, Une famille bourgeoise française de Louis XIV à Napoléon, Paris: Librairie Félix Alcan, 1934; Douglas Johnson, Guizot: Aspects of French History, 1787–1874, Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1963. 14 Ralph Gibson, A Social History of French Catholicism, 1789–1914, London & New York: Routledge, 1989, pp. 51–7. 15 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, London: Verso, 1983. 16 Andrée Corvol, (ed.), La Nature en Révolution: Colloque Révolution, nature, paysage et environnement, Paris: Harmattan, 1993; Peter McPhee, Revolution and Environment in Southern France: Peasant, Lords, and Murder in the Corbières, 1780– 2

1830, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999; Noelle L Plack, Common Land, Wine and the French Revolution: Rural Society and Economy in Southern France, c1789–1820, Farnham, Surrey & Burlington, Vt: Ashgate, 2009. 17 C-J Trouvé, États de Languedoc et département de l’Aude, 2 vols., Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1818, vol. 1, pp. 452–3, 563. 18 Olwen Hufton, Bayeux in the Late Eighteenth Century: A Social Study, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967. 19 Felice Harcourt (ed. and translator), Escape from the Terror: the Journal of Madame de la Tour du Pin, London: The Folio Society, 1979, pp. 93–4, 243–4. 20 From Jeffry Kaplow, Elbeuf during the Revolutionary Period: History and Social Structure, Baltimore, Md: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1964. See, too, Peter McPhee, ‘The Economy, Society, and the Environment’, in McPhee (ed.), A Companion to the French Revolution, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, pp. 454–69. 21 David A Bell, The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Warfare As We Know It, Boston, Mass: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. 22 A. Rapoport (ed.), Clausewitz: On War, London: Penguin, 1982, pp. 384–6. 23 See the discussion of Wordsworth’s politics in Kenneth R Johnston, The Hidden Wordsworth: Poet, Lover, Rebel, Spy, New York: WW Norton, 1998. 24 See, for example, Kenneth R Johnston, Unusual Suspects: Pitt’s Reign of Alarm and the Lost Generation of the 1790s, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 25 Latin America, India and the East Indies are examined in, among others, David Armitage and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (eds), The Age of Revolutions in Global Context, 1760–1840, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010; Wim Klooster, Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History, New York: New York University Press, 2009. On Australia see Edward Duyker, Citizen Labillardière: A French Naturalist in New Holland and the South Pacific, Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2003; and Nicole Starbuck, Baudin, Napoleon and the Exploration of Australia, London: Pickering & Chatto, 2013. 26 Suzanne Desan, Lynn Hunt, and William Max Nelson (eds), The French Revolution in Global Perspective, Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2013; Armitage and Subrahmanyam (eds), The Age of Revolutions in Global Context.


22 February 1787

Meeting of the Assembly of Notables

June–August 1787

Refusal of Parlement of Paris to register royal reforms; exile of parlementaires

8 May 1788

Lamoignon’s reforms to reduce power of parlements

7 June 1788

‘Journée des Tuiles’ at Grenoble

8 August 1788

Estates-General convened for May 1789

27 December 1788

Royal Council decrees doubling of the number of representatives for the Third Estate

January 1789

Sieyès publishes Qu’est-ce que le Tiers Etat?

March–April 1789

Elections to the Estates-General; formulation of cahiers

The Estates-General (5 May 1789 – 27 June 1789) 5 May 1789

Opening of the Estates-General at Versailles

17 June 1789

Declaration of the National Assembly

20 June 1789

Tennis Court Oath

23 June 1789

King’s Declaration concerning the Estates-General

The National Constituent Assembly (28 June 1789 – 30 September 1791) 11 July 1789

Dismissal of Necker

14 July 1789

Taking of the Bastille

Late July–early August 1789

Municipal revolutions, peasant revolts (‘Great Fear’)

4–11 August 1789

The August Decree on feudalism

10 August 1789

Decree establishing National Guards

26 August 1789

Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen

11 September 1789

National Assembly grants suspensive, rather than absolute, veto to king

5–6 October 1789

March of the Parisian women on Versailles; royal family brought back to Paris

21 October 1789

Decree on Martial Law

2 November 1789

Church property placed at the disposal of the nation

14 December 1789

Decree establishing municipalities

19 December 1789

First issue of assignats (revolutionary currency)

24 December 1789

Grant of religious liberty to Protestants

28 January 1790

Sephardic Jews granted equal rights

13 February 1790

Decree prohibiting monastic vows in France

26 February 1790

Decree dividing France into departments

22 May 1790

National Assembly renounces wars of conquest

10 June 1790

Request from Avignon for annexation into France

19 June 1790

Decree abolishing hereditary nobility and titles

12 July 1790

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy

14 July 1790

Festival of Federation

18 August 1790

First counter-revolutionary assembly at Jalès

October 1790

Revolt of slaves and black freemen in St-Domingue

31 October 1790

Decree providing for a uniform tariff

27 November 1790

Decree requiring the clerical oath

2 March 1791

Suppression of the guilds

13 April 1791

The Papal Bull Charitas condemning the Revolution

15 May 1791

Children of free blacks in colonies granted equal civic rights

14 June 1791

The Le Chapelier Law on associations

20 June 1791

The King’s declaration and flight from Paris

5 July 1791

The Padua Circular

16–17 July 1791

Petition and ‘massacre’ of the Champ de Mars

14 August 1791

Slave rebellion in St-Domingue

27 August 1791

The Declaration of Pillnitz

3 September 1791

The Constitution of 1791 completed

14 September 1791

Louis XVI accepts the new constitution

14 September 1791

Annexation of Avignon and the Comtat-Venaissin

28 September 1791

Ashkenazi Jews granted equal rights

The Legislative Assembly (1 October 1791 – 20 September 1792) 9 November 1791

Decree against émigrés (vetoed by King on 12 November)

29 November 1791

Priests refusing to take oath to constitution suspended from their functions

9 February 1792

Decree nationalising émigré property

20 April 1792

Declaration of war on Austria

27 May 1792

Decree on deportation of non-juring priests (vetoed 19 June)

12 June 1792

Dismissal of Girondin ministers

13 June 1792

Prussia declares war on France

20 June 1792

Invasion of the Tuileries by Parisian demonstrators

11 July 1792

Declaration of the patrie en danger (‘homeland in danger’)

25 July 1792

Publication of the Brunswick Manifesto

10 August 1792

Storming of the Tuileries and suspension of the King

15 August 1792

Creation of revolutionary tribunal

19 August 1792

Defection of Lafayette to Austrians

23 August 1792

Fall of Longwy to Prussians

2 September 1792

Fall of Verdun to Prussians

2–6 September 1792

‘September massacres’ in the prisons of Paris

The First Phase of the National Convention (20 September 1792 – 2 June 1793) 20 September 1792

Victory at Valmy

22 September 1792

Proclamation of the Republic

6 November 1792

Victory at Jemappes

27 November 1792

French annexation of Savoy

11 December 1792

First appearance of Louis XVI before the Convention

14–17 January 1793

King’s trial

21 January 1793

Execution of Louis XVI

1 February 1793

French declaration of war on England and Holland

24 February 1793

Decree for a levy of 300 000 men

7 March 1793

Declaration of war on Spain

10 March 1793

Reinstatement of special revolutionary tribunal

10 March 1793

Creation of surveillance committees

10–11 March 1793

Massacres at Machecoul and start of Vendéan insurrection

19 March 1793

Decree on Public Relief

28 March 1793

Decree against émigrés

4 April 1793

Defection of Dumouriez to the Austrians

6 April 1793

Decree on the Formation of a Committee of Public Safety

9 April 1793

Decree establishing ‘deputies on mission’

4 May 1793

The first law of the Maximum

31 May–2 June 1793

Invasion of Convention by Paris sections; expulsion of leading Girondins

June 1793

‘Federalist’ revolts in Bordeaux, Lyon, Caen and elsewhere

The Second Phase of the Convention (3 June 1793 – 28 July 1794) 24 June 1793

The Constitution of 1793 voted

13 July 1793

Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat

17 July 1793

Execution of Joseph Chalier in Lyon

27 July 1793

Robespierre appointed to Committee of Public Safety

1 August 1793

Decree establishing a uniform system of weights and measures

23 August 1793

Decree establishing the levy en masse

27 August 1793

Toulon surrenders to the British navy

5–6 September 1793

Popular insurrection (journée) pressures the Convention into radical measures

17 September 1793

The Law of Suspects

17 September 1793

Victory at Peyrestortes, near Perpignan

21 September 1793

Introduction of revolutionary calendar

29 September 1793

The Law of the General Maximum

5 October 1793

Decree establishing the French Era (14 Vendémiaire II)

8 October 1793

Suspension of the Constitution of 1793 ‘until the peace’

9 October 1793

Suppression of ‘Federalist’ insurrection in Lyon

10 October 1793

Declaration of Revolutionary Government (19 Vendémiaire Year II)

16 October 1793

Victory at Wattignies in the northeast

16 October 1793

Execution of Marie-Antoinette

31 October 1793

Execution of the Girondin leaders

4 December 1793

Law on Revolutionary Government (14 Frimaire Year II)

8 December 1793

Decree concerning Religious Liberty (18 Frimaire Year II)

19 December 1793

Decree concerning Public Education (29 Frimaire Year II)

24 December 1793

Desmoulins uses Le Vieux Cordelier to criticise Robespierre and the government

4 February 1794

Abolition of slavery in French colonies

3 March 1794

The Ventôse Decrees (13 Ventôse Year II)

13–24 March 1794

Arrest and execution of Hébertistes

30 March–6 April 1794

Arrest and execution of Dantonists

23 April 1794

Creation of new Bureau of Police

8 June 1794

Festival of Supreme Being in Paris

10 June 1794

The Law of 22 Prairial Year II

26 June 1794

Victory at Fleurus

23 July 1794

Introduction of wage regulation in Paris

27 July 1794

The 9th Thermidor: overthrow of Robespierre

28 July 1794

Execution of Robespierre, Saint-Just and associates

12 November 1794

Closure of Jacobin club

17 November 1794

Decree on Primary Schools (27 Brumaire Year III)

24 December 1794

Abolition of General Maximum

The Third Phase of the Convention: The Thermidorian Reaction (29 July 1794 – 26 October 1795) 28 December 1794

Decree reorganising the Revolutionary Tribunal (8 Nivôse Year III)

1 April 1795

Germinal: popular journée in Paris

5 April 1795

The Treaty of Basle with Prussia (16 Germinal Year III)

7 April 1795

Decree on weights and measures (18 Germinal Year III)

April–May 1795

‘White Terror’ in southern France

16 May 1795

The Treaty of The Hague (27 Floréal Year III)

20 May 1795

Prairial: invasion of Convention by Parisian demonstrators

21 May 1795

Uprising in Ireland

8 June 1795

Death of Louis XVII; comte de Provence becomes pretender to French throne (Louis XVIII)

28 June 1795

Unsuccessful royalist invasion at Quiberon, Brittany

22 July 1795

Peace signed with Spain The Constitution of the Year III (5 Fructidor Year III)

22 August 1795

French forces land in County Mayo, Ireland 30 August 1795

Decree of the Two-Thirds (13 Fructidor Year III)

5 October 1795

Vendémiaire: royalist rising in Paris

26 October 1795

Dissolution of the Convention

The Directory (3 November 1795 – 13 December 1799) 3 November 1795

Installation of the Directory

19 February 1796

Withdrawal of the assignats

2 March 1796

Bonaparte appointed General-in-Chief of the Army in Italy

10 May 1796

Conspiracy of the Equals; Babeuf arrested

December 1796

Failure of Hoche’s Irish expedition

March–April 1797

Royalist successes in legislative elections

27 May 1797

Execution of Babeuf

4 September 1797

18 Fructidor Year V: coup d’état against royalist deputies

17 October 1797

Treaty of Campo Formio (27 Vendémiaire Year VI)

11 May 1798

22 Floréal Year VI: removal from office of Jacobin republican deputies

19 May 1798

Bonaparte leaves on Egyptian Campaign

1 August 1798

Battle of the Nile: French fleet defeated

5 September 1798

The First General Conscription Law (19 Fructidor Year VI)

March 1799

War of the Second Coalition

April 1799

Legislative elections favour neo-Jacobins

23 August 1799

Bonaparte embarks for France, lands 9 October

18 October 1799

Decree establishing Francs (26 Vendémiaire Year VIII)

10 November 1799

The Brumaire Decree (19 Brumaire Year VIII)

13 December 1799

The Constitution of the Year VIII (22 Frimaire Year VIII)

28 December 1799

Churches reopened for worship on Sundays

Further Reading

Agulhon, Maurice, Marianne into Battle: Republican Imagery and Symbolism in France, 1789–1880, translated by Janet Lloyd, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981. Alpaugh, Micah, Non-Violence and the French Revolution: Political Demonstrations in Paris, 1787–1795, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Andress, David, French Society in Revolution, 1789–1799, Manchester & New York: Manchester University Press, 1999. —(ed.), The Oxford Handbook to the French Revolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. —The Terror: Civil War in the French Revolution, London: Little, Brown, 2005. —1789: the Threshold of the Modern Age, London: Little, Brown, 2008. Armitage, David, and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (eds), The Age of Revolutions in Global Context, 1760–1840, Basingstoke & New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Aston, Nigel, Religion and Revolution in France, 1780–1804, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000. —The French Revolution 1789–1804: Authority, Liberty and the Search for Stability, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2004. Auricchio, Laura, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard: Artist in the Age of Revolution, Los Angeles, Ca: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009. Baecque, Antoine de, Glory and Terror: Seven Deaths under the French Revolution, translated by Charlotte Mandell, New York & London: Routledge, 2001. Baker, Keith Michael, Inventing the French Revolution: Essays on French Political culture in the Eighteenth Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Bayly, C A, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780–1914: Global Connections and Comparisons, Oxford: Blackwell, 2004. Bell, David A, The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Warfare as we know it, Boston, Mass: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. Bertaud, Jean-Paul, The Army of the French Revolution: From Citizen-Soldiers to Instrument of Power, translated by RR Palmer, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988. Blaufarb, Rafe, The French Army, 1750–1820: Careers, Talent, Merit, Manchester & New York: Manchester University Press, 2002. Bouloiseau, Marc, The Jacobin Republic 1792–1794, translated by Jonathan Mandelbaum, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Paris: Éditions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 1983. Brown, Howard, War, Revolution, and the Bureaucratic State: Politics and Army Administration in France, 1791–1799, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995. Caiani, Ambrogio A, Louis XVI and the French Revolution, 1789–1792, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Campbell, Peter R (ed.), The Origins of the French Revolution, Basingstoke: Palgrave

Macmillan, 2006. Cobb, Richard, The People’s Armies: The ‘armées révolutionnaires’: Instrument of the Terror in the Departments, April 1793 to Floréal Year II, translated by Marianne Elliott, New Haven, Conn & London: Yale University Press, 1987. Coller, Ian, Arab France: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798–1831, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Ca & London: University of California Press, 2011. Crook, Malcolm, Elections in the French Revolution: An Apprenticeship in Democracy, 1789–1799, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. —Napoleon Comes to Power: Democracy and Dictatorship in Revolutionary France, 1795– 1804, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1998. Darnton, Robert, The Kiss of Lamourette: Reflections in Cultural History, New York: WW Norton, 1990. —The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, New York & London: WW Norton, 1995. Desan, Suzanne, The Family on Trial in Revolutionary France, Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press, 2004. —, Lynn Hunt, and William Max Nelson (eds), The French Revolution in Global Perspective, Ithaca, NY & London: Cornell University Press, 2013. Doyle, William, Origins of the French Revolution, 3rd edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. —The Oxford History of the French Revolution, 2nd edn, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Dwyer, Philip, Napoleon: the Path to Power, 1769–1799, London: Bloomsbury, 2007. —and Peter McPhee (eds), The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook, London & New York: Routledge, 2002. Fitzsimmons, Michael P, The Night the Old Regime Ended: August 4, 1789 and the French Revolution, University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003. —The Remaking of France: the National Assembly, the Constitution of 1791 and the Reorganization of the French Polity, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Forrest, Alan, The French Revolution and the Poor, Oxford: Blackwell, 1981. —Conscripts and Deserters: the Army and French Society during the Revolution and Empire, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989. —Society and Politics in Revolutionary Bordeaux, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975. —Napoleon’s Men: The Soldiers of the Revolution and Empire, London & New York: Hambledon and London Books, 2002. Garrioch, David, The Making of Revolutionary Paris, Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press, 2002. Gibson, Ralph, A Social History of French Catholicism, 1789–1914, London & New York: Routledge, 1989. Gough, Hugh, The Newspaper Press in the French Revolution, Chicago, Ill: Dorsey Press,

1988. —The Terror in the French Revolution, 2nd edn, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2010. Hampson, Norman, Saint-Just, Oxford: Blackwell, 1991. Hanson, Paul R, Contesting the French Revolution, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Haydon, Colin and William Doyle (eds), Robespierre, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Hesse, Carla, The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became Modern, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001. Hufton, Olwen, Bayeux in the Late Eighteenth Century: A Social Study, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967. Hunt, Lynn, Inventing Human Rights: A History, New York: WW Norton, 2007. —Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution, Berkeley, Ca: University of California Press, 1984. —The Family Romance of the French Revolution, London: Routledge, 1992. Johnson, Victoria, Backstage at the Revolution: How the Royal Paris Opera survived the end of the Old Regime, Chicago, Ill & London: University of Chicago Press, 2008. Jones, Colin, The Longman Companion to the French Revolution, London & New York: Longman, 1988. Jones, PM, The Peasantry in the French Revolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. —Reform and Revolution in France: the Politics of Transition, 1774–1791, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. —(ed.), The French Revolution in Social and Political Perspective, London: Arnold, 1996. Jordan, David P, Napoleon and the Revolution, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. —The King’s Trial: The French Revolution vs. Louis XVI, Berkeley, Ca: University of California Press, 1979. —The Revolutionary Career of Maximilien Robespierre, New York: Free Press, 1985. Kennedy, Emmet, A Cultural History of the French Revolution, New Haven, Conn & London: Yale University Press, 1989. Landes, Joan, Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988. Lefebvre, Georges, The French Revolution, translated by John Hall Stewart and James Friguglietti, 2 vols, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964–65. —The Great Fear of 1789: Rural Panic in Revolutionary France, translated by Joan White, New York: Vintage Books, 1973. Lewis, Gwynne, The French Revolution: Rethinking the Debate, London & New York: Routledge, 1993. —The Second Vendée: The Continuity of Counter-Revolution in the Department of the Gard, 1789–1815, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978. Linton, Marisa, Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship, and Authenticity in the French Revolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Lyons, Martyn, France under the Directory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975. McManners, John, Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France, 2 vols, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. McPhee, Peter, Living the French Revolution, 1789–99, London & New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. —Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life, New Haven, Conn & London: Yale University Press, 2012. —(ed.), A Companion to the French Revolution, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. —Liberty or Death: The French Revolution, New Haven, Conn & London: Yale University Press, 2016. Markoff, John, The Abolition of Feudalism: Peasants, Lords, and Legislators in the French Revolution, University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996. Mason, Laura and Tracey Rizzo (eds), The French Revolution: A Document Collection, Boston, Mass & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Maza, Sarah, Private Lives and Public Affairs: The Causes Célèbres of Prevolutionary France, Berkeley, Ca: University of California Press, 1993. Mitchell, CJ, The French Legislative Assembly of 1791, Leiden: EJ Brill, 1988. Murray, William J, The Right-Wing Press in the French Revolution: 1789–1792, London: Royal Historical Society, 1986. Ozouf, Mona, Festivals and the French Revolution, translated by Alan Sheridan, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1988. Palmer, RR, The Age of the Democratic Revolution, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1959. —The Improvement of Humanity: Education and the French Revolution, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985. —Twelve who Ruled: The Year of the Terror in the French Revolution, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969. Parker, Harold T, The Cult of Antiquity and the French Revolutionaries: A Study in the Development of the Revolutionary Spirit, New York: Octagon, 1965. Patrick, Alison, The Men of the First French Republic: Political Alignments in the National Convention of 1792, Baltimore, Md: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972. Phillips, Roderick, Family Breakdown in Late-Eighteenth Century France: Divorces in Rouen 1792–1803, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980. Plack, Noelle L, Common Land, Wine and the French Revolution: Rural Society and Economy in Southern France, c1789–1820, Farnham, Surrey & Burlington, Vt: Ashgate, 2009. Popkin, Jeremy D, You Are All Free: the Haitian Revolution and the Abolition of Slavery, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Price, Munro, The Road from Versailles: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the Fall of the French Monarchy, New York: St Martin’s Press, 2003. Rapport, Michael, Nationality and Citizenship in Revolutionary France: the Treatment of

Foreigners 1789–1799, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000. Reynolds, Siân, Marriage and Revolution: Monsieur and Madame Roland, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Roche, Daniel, The People of Paris: An Essay in Popular Culture in the 18th Century, translated by Marie Evans, Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987. Rose, RB, Gracchus Babeuf: the First Revolutionary Communist, London: Edward Arnold, 1978. Rudé, George, The Crowd in the French Revolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959. Schama, Simon, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, New York: Knopf, 1989. Sepinwall, Alyssa Goldstein, The Abbé Grégorie and the French Revolution: The Making of Modern Universalism, Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005. Sewell, William H, Work and Revolution in France: The Language of Labor from the Old Regime to 1848, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980. Soboul, Albert, The French Revolution, 1787–1799: From the Storming of the Bastille to Napoleon, translated by Alan Forrest and Colin Jones, New York: Vintage Books, 1975. —The Parisian Sans-Culottes and the French Revolution, 1793–94, translated by Gwynne Lewis, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964. Sutherland, DMG, The French Revolution and Empire: the Quest for a Civic Order, Oxford: Blackwell, 2003. Tackett, Timothy, Religion, Revolution, and Regional Culture in Eighteenth-Century France: the Ecclesiastical Oath of 1791, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986. —Becoming a Revolutionary: The Deputies of the French National Assembly and the Emergence of a Revolutionary Culture (1789–1790), Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996. —When the King took Flight, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2003. Thompson, JM, Robespierre, Oxford: Blackwell, 1935. —The Coming of the Terror in the French Revolution, Cambridge, Mass & London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2015. Van Kley, Dale K, The French Idea of Freedom: the Old Regime and the Declaration of Rights of 1789, Stanford, Ca: Stanford University Press, 1994. —The Religious Origins of the French Revolution: from Calvin to the Civil Constitution, 1560–1791, New Haven, Conn & London: Yale University Press, 1996. Vovelle, Michel, The Revolution against the Church: from Reason to the Supreme Being, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Walton, Charles, Policing Public Opinion in the French Revolution: The Culture of Calumny and the Problem of Free Speech, Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Woloch, Isser, The New Regime: Transformations of the French Civic Order, 1789–1820s, New York: WW Norton, 1994. Woronoff, Denis, The Thermidorian Regime and the Directory, 1794–1799, translated by Julian Jackson, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.


A Absolute power, obstacles to, Adams, John, Agriculture, Aisne, department of, Alençon, Alsace, American Revolution, American War of Independence of 1776–83,. See War of Independence (1776–83), Anderson, Benedict, Anglo-French rivalry, Archbishop of Strasbourg, Armées revolutionnaires, Arras, Artois, Ashkenazi Jews, Assembly of Notables, Atheists, Atlantic ports, Atlantic trade, Aude, department of, August Decrees, Avignon,

B Babeuf, François, Bailly, Jean-Sylvain, Barnave, Antoine, Barruel, Abbé, Bastille fortress, St-Antoine, Battle of Fleurus, Baude, J. A., Bertier de Sauvigny, Louis, Bibliothèque Bleue, Bishoprics,

Bishops, Boissy d’Anglas, François-Antoine, Bonaparte, Napoleon, Books, offensive, printing, reading, trade, Bordeaux, Bosher, J. F., Bourgeois, bourgeoisie, Bridaine, Father, Brissot, Jean-Pierre, Brissotins, Brittany, Childbirth in, Building industry, Burke, Edmund,

C Cahiers de doléances, Calas, Jean, Cambon, Pierre-Joseph, Camillus, Capitalist society, Capital (Marx), Capital punishment, Caribbean, trade with, ‘Carmagnole’, Carson, Rachel, Cash crops, Catholic Churh. See Church, Catholic and Royal Army, Catholicism, Cayenne, Celts, Cercle Social, Cereal crops, Chalier, Joseph, Chambers of Commerce,

Charles X, Châteaux, Childbirth, Choudieu, Pierre-René, Church, division, high/upper clergy, monopoly, moral strictures, parish clergy, reforms, regional contrasts, regular clergy, religious commitment, repudiation, rural communities, self-government, wealth and power, Cities,. See Towns and cities, Civil Constitution of the Clergy, Class consciousness, Clergy, defined, high/upper, parish, regular, Cloots, Anarchasis, Clothing revolution, Cobban, Alfred, Collection of Heroic and Civic Acts of French Republicans, Collège Louis-le-Grand, Colonial power, Colonial trade,. See Trade, Committee of Public Safety., Common people (menu peuple), revolt, Common Sense, Community of souls, Companies of Jesus and the Sun, Comte d’Artois, Condorcet, Nicolas de,

Constitutional Charter, Constitution of 1791, Constitution of 1793, Constitution of the Year III (August 1795), Consumer culture, Contraception, Controller-General of Finances, Corday, Charlotte, Cordelier Club, Correction modérée, Couet, Auguste, Council of Trent, Coup of 18 Fructidor Year V (4 September 1797), Cuisine bourgeoise, Cult of the Supreme Being, Cultural revolution of the Year II (1793–1794), Cultural unity, Customs barriers,

D Danton, Georges, Darnton, Robert, DeChristianisation, Declaration of Independence (1776), ‘Declaration of Intentions’, Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, Declaration of War against Austria (20 April 1792), Desmé de Daubuisson, Desmoulins, Camille, Diderot, Denis, Directory, A Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (Rousseau), Divorce law, Doyle, William, Duke of Brunswick, Duke of Montmorency,

E Economy,

rural, Egypt, Elbeuf, Elections, Elector of Trèves, Emergency measures, Émigré property, Encyclopédie, England, Enlightenment, books, ideology, importance, Enragés, Ensheim, Moïse, Equality, Estate, First, Second, Third, Estates-General, Declaration of Intentions, Europe, European reaction, Evening gatherings of villagers,

F Family courts, Family life, Farmers,. See Peasants, Faubourgs,. See Suburbs, Federalist revolt, Female Eunuch (Greer), Féraud, Jean-Bertrand, Festival of Federation (14 July, 1790), Feuillants, Feuille Villageoise, Financial crisis, resolving, War of Independence (1776–83) and,

First Estate,. See also Church, internal polarities, regional contrasts, self-government, sources of wealth and power, tax exemption, Fleurus, battle, Food crisis, Foulon, Joseph, France in eighteenth century, government, language/dialect, overview, population, provincial towns and cities, society, Franklin, Benjamin, French language, Furet, François,

G Gabelle,. See also Taxation, Garrioch, David, Germinal-Prairial risings, Year III, Gironde, department of, Girondins, Godechot, Jacques, Gouges, Olympe de, Government, Grain, Nicolas-Joseph, Great Fear, Greer, Germaine, Gregorian calendar, Grievances, statements of See Cahiers de doléances, Guillotin, Joseph-Ignace,

H Hamlets,. See Villages and hamlets, Hardy, Sébastien,

Harvest crisis, Harvesting, Hierarchical society, Hobsbawm, Eric, Homosexuals,

I Illegal trade, Indirect taxation, Industries, International repercussions, Ireland, Israel, Jonathan,

J Jacobins, Jay, John, Jeunesse dorée, Jews, legal rights of, Journeymen,

K King’s flight (20–22 June 1791), Kosciusko, Tadeusz,

L Lallemand de Ste Croix, Lamberdière, François, Lamoignon, Chrétien-François, L’Amour de Charlot et Toinette, Landholders, Land tenure system, Language, diversity in, uniformity in, Languedoc, Latin America, Launay, marquis de,

Lavoisier, Antoine, Law reform, Le Chapelier law, Lefebvre, Georges, Legal rights of minorities, Legislative Assembly, declaration of war on Austria (1792), expulsion/imprisonment of non-juring clergy, Lemarchand, Guy, Leopold II, Literature, during Enlightenment,. See also Books, Loménie de Brienne, Louis XVI, ‘Declaration of Intentions’, financial crisis and, flight and arrest (20–22 June, 1791), Louis XVIII, Lourmarin, Lyon, population,

M Maillard, Stanislas, Mallet du Pan, Manufacturing, Marais, Marchais, Yves-Michel, March on Versailles, October 1789, The Marriage of Figaro, Marseille, ‘Marseillaise’, Marx, Karl, Marxist historians, Massacre(s), on Champ de Mars (17 July 1791), September, ‘Maximalist’ approach, Maza, Sarah, Meaux, Menu peuple,. See Common people (menu peuple),

Mercier, Louis-Sébastien, Méricourt, Théroigne de, Meslier, Jean, Mesmer, Franz, ‘Minimalist’ approach, Minister of War, Minorities, Minorities, legal rights of, Montagnards, Montauban, Mont Blanc, Montesquieu, Baron de, Mortagne-au-Perche,

N Nantes, National Assembly, National Convention, members, National Guard, National mobilisation, 1792–94, Necker, Jacques, New society, Nîmes, Noble/nobility, direct tax exemption, division, dominant elite, grievances, ‘honorific’ privileges, monopoly, obligations, social status, source of wealth, noblesse d’épée, noblesse de robe, noblesse oblige, Non-privileged,. See Third Estate,


Obscene literature, Occitan, Oise, department of, On the Social Contract (Rousseau), Origins, of French Revolution, Anglophone historians on, class-based, Marxist historians on,

P Paine, Tom, Palm, Etta, Palmer, R. R., Papacy (July 1801), Paris, enterprises, population, slaves in, suburbs, workshops and retail shops, Paris Commune of 1871, Parlement of Grenoble, Parlement of Paris, on uniform land tax, Pays d’élection, Pays d’Etat, Peasants, grievances, nobility and, revolts, as Third Estate social group, Perpignan, Peyrestortes, battle, Philadelphia Magazine, Philosophes, Pitt, William, Pius, Pope, ‘Plain’, political grouping, Ploughing, Poland,

Political culture, Political power, Popular alliance,. See Alliance, Popular sovereignty, Population, Poverty, Price, Roger, Priests, in southeast region, in western region, Privilege, Protestants, equality to, legal rights of, Public life (1789–92), Pyrenees mountains,

R Reason, Reforms, financial, overview, political, public life, Regeneration, Religion, Religiosity, Religious toleration, Republic, proclamation of, Republicans, Republic of letters, Réveil du peuple, Revolutionary commune, Revolutionary Tribunal, Revolution of 1789, American War of Independence and, challenges and direction of, Great Fear, international repercussions, origins of,

overview, political debate and uncertainty, significance, triumph, Révolutions de Paris, Richerism, Robespierre, Maximilien, Robespierrist Commune, Roche, Daniel, Roland, Jean-Marie, Rouget de l’Isle, Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, Royalism, royalist, Rudé, George, Rural society, economy, grievances, population, protests/rebellion, subsistence polyculture, as Third Estate,

S Sade, marquis de, Salic Law, Sans-culottes, challenge, Santerre, Schama, Simon, Scottish Presbyterians, Scrofula, Second Estate, grievances, size, wealth source, Second Revolution (10 August 1792), Ségur Ordinance (1781), Seigneurs,. See also Nobles/nobility, Seo-de-Urgel, Spain, Sephardic Jews,

September massacres (1792), Seven Years War (1756–63), Sieyès, Abbé Emmanuel, Silent Spring (Carson), Sister Republics, Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind (de Condorcet), Skilled trades, Slavery, abolition, Slaves, Soboul, Albert, Socialist revolution, Société des Amis des Noirs, Société des Citoyennes Républicaines Révolutionnaires, Society, Church, ‘maximalist’ approach, ‘minimalist’ approach, noble/nobility, non-privileged, Society of Friends of the Constitution,. See Jacobins, Spirituality, St-Antoine, Statements of grievances,. See Cahiers de doléances, St-Domingue, Steam-powered ploughing, St-Just, Louis-Antoine, Subsistence polyculture, Suburbs, Suffrage, Surplus extraction, Sutherland, Donald,

T Tabula rasa, Taille, Talleyrand, Charles-Maurice de, Taxation, common system, universal, Taylor, George,

Temples of Reason, Terror (1793–94), Thermidorian Reaction, Thermidor Year II (July 1794), Third Estate, election of delegates, grievances, population, revolutionary actions, rural, urban, Tiananmen Square in China,1989, Tithe, Toll-houses, Topography, Toulon, capturing by Napoleon, Toulouse, Towns and cities, Trade, barriers to, book, mastership, migrant population and, slavery and, Transit charges, Treaty of Basel with Prussia, Treaty of Basel with Spain, Treaty of Campo Formio, Treaty of Paris, Treaty of The Hague with Holland, Tridentine Church, Trouvé, Charles-Joseph, Tuileries palace,

U Uniform land tax, United Irishmen, Urban society, Third Estate,

V Valmy, battle of, Veillée,. See Evening gatherings of villagers, Vendée, Vendémiaire Year IV (October 1795), Venus in the Cloister, Versailles, Vieux Cordelier, Villages and hamlets, Violence, September massacres (1792), Voltaire,

W War of Independence (1776–83), Washington, George, Wattignies, battle, Western region, What is the Third Estate?, Women, ambiguous attitudes toward, march on Versailles, October 1789, marital age, physical abuse, pregnancy at marriage, rights of, work of, Wordsworth, William,

Y Young, Arthur,