1 à tous les Français, à sa sortie

Gazzete ou le Moniteur universel, no.143, 23 May 1790, Vol, 4, p.432

Gazzete ou le Moniteur universel, no.143, 23 May 1790, Vol, 4, p.432

3 Déclaration du
roi Louis XVI adressée à tous les Français, à sa sortie de Paris le 20 juin

4 Price, Munro, Louis
XVI and Gustavus III: Secret Diplomacy and Counter-Revolution, 1791–1792,
The Historical Journal, Vol. 42, No. 2 (June 1999), p. 441.

Proces-Verbal(Assemblee legislative), vol. 7. P. 355

Proces-Verbal(Assemblee legislative), vol. 7. P. 355

7 J. M. Thompson,
The French Revolution (

Oxford, B. Blackwell 1943) , p. 224–228

8 Hardman, John, Louis
XVI, The Silent King, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 127

Gazette nationale ou le Moniteur universel, no.216, 3 August 1792, Vol.13.

10 Jordan, David The King’s
Trial: The French Revolution vs. Louis XVI. Berkeley: (University of California
Press, 1979). p. 166.

Restif de la Bretonne, Les nuit de Paris, part XVI (Paris 1963) p.277-284                                                                     

12 Christopher
Catherwood, Leslie Alan Horvitz Encyclopedia of War Crimes and Genocide – (New
York, Facts on File inc, 2006) Page 279

13 https://global.britannica.com/place/France/The-Jacobin-dictatorship#ref465239
(Accessed 08/01/2018)

Overall, war did significantly shape the revolution in France
acting as a major catalyst for radical change causing thousands of deaths from
1792 onwards. Even before 1792 the idea of intervention from foreign powers was
a probable one as shown by the emigres and the Kings flight to Varennes. When
war did eventually break out the revolution was no longer as concerned with
matters of representation or taxation but rather enemies within as it became
embroiled in a state of paranoia which led to the Jacobins taking power. It
really shows the sans culottes attitude towards conflict during the revolution
given their attitude towards Louis’s execution in 1793 for his conspiracy
against his own country, the Jacobins provided an out, acting as a demagogue
body using the crowd to eliminate opposition such as the Girondins bringing an
era of terror. Once again war remained an active conditioner for shaping the
revolution as France’s military success from 1794 onwards resulted in the
downfall of the Jacobins and rise of Napoleon. War changed the targets of the
revolution shifting it from the bourgeois
aims of decentralisation, laissez faire and decreased government authority to
the sans-culottes dominated demands of the right to work, the right to
insurrection, greater centralisation. In conclusion the Revolutionary Wars
massively shaped the Revolution in almost every way from the fall of its
monarchy to the terror and civil war to its First Emperor forever changing the
course of social, military and political history.

War had manipulated the French government into a war machine, the
Directory had managed to consistently wage war on multiple fronts with a number
of nations: Russia, Prussia, Austria, Britain, and the Ottoman Empire etc.
Foreign conquests had managed to bolster the financial power of France giving
it the ability to spread the revolution into surrounding nations as it said in
the Edict of Fraternity of 1792. Napoleon had risen through the ranks becoming
a General at 26 years old conquering the Italian peninsula and invading Egypt,
other military victories include the battle of Austerlitz in 1805 against
Russia and Austria but before that Napoleon had managed to utilise a military
coup to become First Consul and then the First Emperor of France by 1804
abolishing the Directory and reforming many Jacobin and pre-Jacobin concepts
vital to the revolution. To be honest by this time the revolution had
essentially morphed into war, instead of interior reform it was a matter of
external conflict, whether it was Napoleon’s career making victories or
career-ending defeats that marked the end of the revolution still remains a
topic of debate to this day.

Just as the military defeats in the Revolutionary wars aided the
Jacobins rise to power, once the tide turned in France’s favour it had the
opposite effect. By the end of 1793 the nation’s fortunes had begun to change,
the French forces had defeated the Spanish, British and Austrians all within
weeks of each other claiming back the towns of Savoy, Roussillon and
Hondschoote. People started to call for a relaxation on the terror once
economic and living conditions had improved. Unnecessary pressing of the terror
by Robespierre and the Jacobins ultimately caused the coup of Thermidor due to
the loss of support from the sans-culottes13.
However the Jacobin dictatorship is essentially what formatted the structure of
the nation and the thinking of its people which allowed it simply to be
replaced by the Napoleonic Empire.

The war also helped the Jacobins gain enough influence to take power over
France and caused “The Great Terror”. Because of their popularity with the
Sans-Culottes, the Jacobins manage to take advantage of Louis’s absence and the
chaos that had gripped France to gain dominance over the National Assembly. The
Jacobins shifted the revolutionary direction inwards focusing on weeding out
counter-revolutionaries and used the threat posed by traitors, spies and
military losses to increase their influence profoundly. Many people were
executed for treason for collaboration with Louis and/or the invading Prussian
and Austrian armies, many of these accusations was true, many were not. The
Terror was concocted by Jacobins to restore order via fear to the common
peoples in the attempt to rally against external enemies whilst also exposing
inner ones. An example of this is the September massacres of 1792 when the fall
of Verdun panicked the courts into sentencing over a thousand prisoners who had
fled the fortress to death, even members of Church were put to the sword simply
for failing to leave country.11
 It was also utilized to remove any
opponents who provided resistance the Girondins political actions to solidify
their positions, gone was an army of the “Free French” soon after levee en
masse (mass conscription) was introduced in late 1793 in order to bolster the
policy of ‘Total War’12.
The war also resulted in Jacobins forming committees to carry out heavy
surveillance brushing aside the laissez faire attitude of the revolution in its

This coupled with the King’s flight to Varennes plus the Royal
Family’s long association with the Holy Roman Emperor is what accelerated the
path to their demise and completely changed the French Revolution. The
enlightenment movement had taken Europe by storm in the build up to the
industrial revolution in the next century and as such the mandate doctrine of
the Divine Right of Kings to rule in all European nations began to be
challenged, secularisation started to seep into Western European culture and as
the influence of Christianity began to wane, so did the influence of Europe’s
The greatest of this was exhibited in France by educated political thinkers
guiding the crowd and was massively assisted by the catalyst of the Royal
Family’s association with what the National Assembly perceived as threats to
its national security, namely, Prussia and Austria. The ties originate mainly
due to Marie Antoinette’s relationship with Leopold II as siblings, due to this
Marie Antoinette was never really viewed in a positive light by the French
public. Rumours of scandals and unfaithfulness left people of every class
sceptical of the monarchy believing the King’s wife to be a Prussian spy which
majorly played a part in their execution. Louis himself was very hesitant and
sceptical of dependence on foreign intervention rather preferring to rely on
the aid of the Emigres to counter the Revolution.8
This was when France was on the cusp of war, to see their leader, their king
fleeing to the enemies at the gate it damages and reshapes the revolution,
people start to doubt it and it gave away to extremism and radicalism in Paris
leading to mass execution of many people who didn’t fully support the cause. It
also really shows how tight knit the Royal Community was at the time how a
Revolution in one country can attract the attention of other nations to the
point of invasion to spread ideologies from spreading, it shows how afraid the
Monarchies were afraid of losing their power and despite initially underestimating
the revolution eventually grew to fear it. Amongst the military defeats the
French army were suffering, the Brunswick Manifesto was the last straw truly
exposing how in line the Royal Family was with their invaders9.
It’s truly amazing to see how war shaped the revolution as the National
Assembly desperately tried to keep Louis compliant and alive even after the
undeniable repeated actions and documents accusing him of conspiracy and the
National Assembly almost unanimously finding him guilty the death sentence
voting process was actually very close (By a majority of one vote)10
showing how the Revolutionary movement was still clinging to the past and that
the governing body very much saw a future with Louis alive, albeit maybe not
his wife. After the execution of Louis it shapes the revolution in a way that
opens the gates for foreign invaders, Girondins, Jacobins and France’s first

The Emigres that fled France during the Revolution to aid other
European kingdoms massively influenced the revolution. Many pivotal aristocrats
hailing from the First and Second Estate fled the country as public opinion played
a more prominent role following the formation of the National Assembly. A
number of the Emigres included military officers (around 6000) and deserters
massively upsetting the chain of command and disorganising French armed forces
in the build up to the Revolutionary wars. The National Assembly previously
tried to turn the Emigres into outlaws and criminals for deserting their
country though Louis initially vetoed the decree in November, 1791. The many
people that fled France constantly encouraged and provided aid to Prussian and
Austrian plans to invade France on their former nation4.
The Emigres played a part in the Declaration of War by the National Assembly in
April 1792, where “..the Court of Vienna, in contempt of treaties, has not
ceased to grant protection to rebel Frenchmen (notice the use of the word
‘rebel’)”. The National Assembly took such offence and threat to the idea of
the men that once made up their monarchical governing body and army helping the
enemies on their borders labelling it a conspiracy against the sovereignty of
the French Nation5.
The Declaration also goes on to state that “the French will never confuse their
brothers with their true enemies”6,
yet, although the declaration was intended to expose internal
counter-revolutionaries, it actually had the effect of strengthening the
counter-revolutionary movement following a developing insecurity amongst the
French people with foreign invaders on their doorstep.

War is what ultimately led to the execution of the French Royal
Family and subsequently the last King of France. Though the revolutionary
movement at first never actually intended to harm the royal family and rather
dramatically reduce their power to a supporting role in the new constitutional
government, suspicions started to arise around 1790 when Louis blocked various
legislations using suspensive vetos preventing the National Assembly from
passing certain social and political reforms such as the decree against emigres
in 1791.This piece of legislation is prime evidence of the growing resentment
and paranoia against any French outside the country as well as those planning
to leave, had the legislation been passed, these individuals would have been
declared outlaws should they not return by the start of the new year. The
revolution were sure that eventually Louis would accept his place in the new
ruling body even after his flight to Varennes where his Political Testament was
printed in newspapers stating his rejection of the new constitutional system
labelling it as “illegitimate”3.
The King’s flight and attitude from the revolution incurred mass panic in
France and the rumours of betrayal and calls of execution for the Royal Family rapidly
increased as everyone realised war was inevitable.

The French revolution became increasingly paranoid towards any
resistance both foreign and domestic as a result of the fear of war. In 1790
the renunciation of Wars of Conquest shows how paranoia had gripped the
pioneers of the revolution, though the National Assembly “renounces the
undertaking of any war with a view to the undertaking of foreign conquests”1.
We can see the hypocritical nature in this given how the war France basically
started out of supposed self-defence turned into an expansionist war of
liberation as seen by incursions into Germany with French loyalists occupying
towns along the River Rhine and the invasion of the Austrian Netherlands,
France were the first to declare war against Austria (Holy Roman Empire)
Despite vowing to prosecute the aggressor of war for lese nation2.
Of course this paranoia was greatly brought about by several factors, one
of which being the Declaration of Pillnitz where the Kings of Prussia,
Frederick William II, and Austria/ Holy Roman Empire, Leopold II who actually
was the brother of Louis’s wife Marie Antoinette (another major factor for the
shaping of the Revolution in France) threatened the governing body of France
with invasion should the safety of the Royal Family be compromised. Although
the declaration was initially meant to dampen the movement yet only added fuel
to the fire. Suddenly patriotism was abundant throughout the capital with
people ready to repel the foreign threat which did more than most to unite the
movements… For a time.

From 1789 to 1799 France was thrown into a state of chaos and
conflict regarding the social and cultural reforms. The early phases of the
revolution envisioned a constitutional monarchy with a reduced but still very
influential role for King Louis XVI. In its decree of 22nd May,
1790, it was legislated the shifting of the power to declare war and make peace
from the King to the National Assembly but yet the King still remained as the
leader of the armed forces and was still liable for the conduct of foreign
policy. Europe looked onwards towards the situation in France fearful the
revolution against the old ways of Feudalism would spread to neighbouring lands
whilst the Revolutionary movement was fearful of foreign intervention at all


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