French Revolution Part III

In view of the internal and external emergency – unrest in most of the departments, military setbacks in the spring of 1793 – and the increasing tensions between Girondins and Montagnards, the majority of the Paris sections, directed by Robespierre, organized a “revolutionary day” (80,000 people and 150 cannons); this forced the elimination and execution of the leading Girondists by the mountain party (May 31 to June 2, 1793) and led to the “Jacobin rule” in the convent and in the convention committees. The central executive body was the welfare committee (members inter alia Danton , L. Carnot, L.A. L. de Saint-Just), in which M. de Robespierre (elected on July 27th, 1793) won the determining influence and on October 10th. and on December 4th when the revolutionary government was given far-reaching powers (the democratic convention constitution of June 24, 1793 was postponed until the conclusion of peace). Carnot organized the external resistance (general conscription: “Levée en masse”); At the same time, the internal terror was intensified: creation of the revolutionary tribunal to try political opponents (on March 10, 1793; on October 16, 1793, execution of Queen Marie-Antoinette after a short trial); Arrest of suspects (enshrined in law on 9/17/1793); in the rebellious départements mass liquidations by convention commissioners (including the “Noyades” in Nantes by J.-B. Carrier, Bloodbath in Lyon by J. Fouché). In addition, the Jacobins – giving in to the egalitarian tendencies of the Parisian »sansculottes« – laid the groundwork for a radically democratic state with dirigistic features (29.9.1793 introduction of the »maximum« of prices for the most important foodstuffs and consumer goods; 23.7.1794 publication of the » Maximum «of wages). Robespierre initially countered atheist and politically radical endeavors by eliminating the Enragés and the Hébertists (execution of J. R. Hébert and his supporters in March 1794), but then replaced himself, after the elimination of the more moderate groups around Danton (April 1794), Christian teaching through the cult of reason (June 8th, 1794: Festival of the “Supreme Being”). Now all-powerful, Robespierre intensified the terror (“La Grande Terreur” since June 10, 1794), although the internal unrest had been suppressed and the external dangers averted. The number of those executed is given differently. It must have been 35,000 to 40,000, most of whom came from the third estate (including many workers). Up to 500,000 people were incarcerated. On 9th Thermidor II (July 27th, 1794) Robespierre was overthrown and many of his partisans were executed with him. In the convention, the moderate republicans regained significant influence (“Thermidorians”). Check to see more about France and other countries in the world.

The Directory

After the adoption of the constitution of the Directory on September 23, 1795 and the formation of the Directory, the National Convention dissolved. The new constitution brought about a return to bourgeois class rule with the census suffrage. The board of directors was aware of the threat posed by the communist-Jacobin conspiracy by F. Babeuf and v. a. Royalist coup attempts (uprising of 13th Vendémiaire III [October 5, 1795]; attempted coup by General Pichegru in the summer of 1797). Through the coup d’état of its republican members (18. Fructidor V [4.9.1797]), which strengthened the power of the board of directors, the royalist and then also the radical opposition was suppressed. The internal failures (national bankruptcy September 30, 1797) and the French defeats in all theaters of war in the summer of 1799 led to the coup d’état of Napoléon Bonapartes on 18th Brumaire VIII (November 9, 1799) and the dissolution of the Directory, which resulted in the French Revolution in the consulate of Napoléon Bonapartes.

The French Revolution in the Scientific Discussion

The French Revolution has received very different interpretations. The conservative interpretation of the revolution as the result of a conspiracy by Illuminati and Freemasons and the bourgeois-idealizing tendency, which neglects the social problems of the revolution, have strongly receded into the background.

In the second half of the 20th century, the discussion was held between representatives of the French socialist interpretation (G. Lefebvre, A. Soboul), who tried to independently continue the approaches of historical materialism and emphasized the uniqueness of the French Revolution, a Marxist-Leninist school (the Soviet Russian A. S. Manfred, the French C. Mazauric, W. Markov in the GDR), who saw the French Revolution as a decisive victory of bourgeois capitalism over feudalism in world history, and a structural analysis research direction (A. Cobban, R. R. Palmer, J. Godechot, F. Furet, D. Richet, G. V. Taylor), who, in contrast to the Marxist concept of a bourgeois-capitalist revolution, often with recourse to the social terms of contemporaries, emphasizes the complexity of the conflicts that caused and shaped the revolution (disputes between the privileged and the unprivileged, between landlords and peasants, urban and rural populations, bourgeoisie and sans-culottes). At Furet and Richet The French Revolution appears as a multi-layered phenomenon in which the revolution, supported by the bourgeoisie and the liberal nobility, is superimposed on the uprising movements of the urban and peasant masses, which are aimed at completely different goals. The fact that the French Revolution brought about a complete break with the Ancien Régime in terms of a capitalist-inspired reorganization of the economy and society is more and more doubted (R. Price). As a political revolution, however, it decisively shaped the mentality and political culture of the French (Furet, “1789. From the event to the subject of historical science”; L. Hunt, M. Vovelle), recently visible from the festivities for the »bicentenaire«, which was held in 1989 in France to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the storm on the Bastille. However, the publications by R. Secher and J. C. Martin, which describe the brutal extermination campaigns against the population of the Vendée, opened up a new perspective.

French Revolution 3