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Revolution Brings Reform and Terror
REVOLUTION The revolutionary government of France made reforms but also used terror and violence to retain power.
WHY IT MATTERS NOW
Some governments that lack the support of a majority of their people still use fear to control their citizens.
TERMS & NAMES
• Legislative Assembly • émigré • sans-culotte • Jacobin • guillotine • Maximilien Robespierre • Reign of Terror
SETTING THE STAGE Peasants were not the only members of French society
to feel the Great Fear. Nobles and officers of the Church were equally afraid. Throughout France, bands of angry peasants struck out against members of the upper classes, attacking and destroying many manor houses. In the summer of 1789, a few months before the women’s march to Versailles, some nobles and members of clergy in the National Assembly responded to the uprisings in an emotional late-night meeting. TAKING NOTES
Recognizing Effects Use a flow chart to identify the major events that followed the creation of the Constitution of 1791. Assembly Creates a Constitution
The Assembly Reforms France
Throughout the night of August 4, 1789, noblemen made grand speeches, declaring their love of liberty and equality. Motivated more by fear than by idealism, they joined other members of the National Assembly in sweeping away the feudal privileges of the First and Second Estates, thus making commoners equal to the nobles and the clergy. By morning, the Old Regime was dead. The Rights of Man Three weeks later, the National Assembly adopted a statement of revolutionary ideals, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Reflecting the influence of the Declaration of Independence, the document stated that “men are born and remain free and equal in rights.” These rights included “liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.” The document also guaranteed citizens equal justice, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. In keeping with these principles, revolutionary leaders adopted the expression “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” as their slogan. Such sentiments, however, did not apply to everyone. When writer Olympe de Gouges (aw•LIMP duh GOOZH) published a declaration of the rights of women, her ideas were rejected. Later, in 1793, she was declared an enemy of the Revolution and executed. A State-Controlled Church Many of the National Assembly’s early reforms
focused on the Church. The assembly took over Church lands and declared that Church officials and priests were to be elected and paid as state officials. Thus, the Catholic Church lost both its lands and its political independence. The reasons for the assembly’s actions were largely economic. Proceeds from the sale of Church lands helped pay off France’s huge debt. The assembly’s actions alarmed millions of French peasants, who were devout Catholics. The effort to make the Church a part of the state offended them, even
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One of the people who stopped Louis from escaping said that he recognized the king from his portrait on a French bank note.
though it was in accord with Enlightenment philosophy. They believed that the pope should rule over a church independent of the state. From this time on, many peasants opposed the assembly’s reforms. Louis Tries to Escape As the National Assembly restructured the relationship between church and state, Louis XVI pondered his fate as a monarch. Some of his advisers warned him that he and his family were in danger. Many supporters of the monarchy thought France unsafe and left the country. Then, in June 1791, the royal family tried to escape from France to the Austrian Netherlands. As they neared the border, however, they were apprehended and returned to Paris under guard. Louis’s attempted escape increased the influence of his radical enemies in the government and sealed his fate.
For two years, the National Assembly argued over a...
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