History UsefulNotes / TheFrenchRevolution

3rd Feb '16 6:19:51 PM karstovich2
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Louis wasn't too pleased at this, since (1) he knew that, and (2) calling an Estates-General was exactly what he'd been trying to avoid. The Estates-General was an ancient body, going back to the truly feudal era, and largely similar to the old structure of the English/British Parliament: an assembly of clergy (the "First Estate"), an assembly of nobles (the "Second Estate"),[[note]]Of course, these first two are merged in the English system, but let's forget that[[/note]] and of everyone else (the "Third Estate"); each "estate" was to choose its representatives, who would then meet and discuss and advise the King on important matters of state--particularly matters of finance (as France's patchwork tax system was often structured in a way that made it hard to change without an Estates-General). Louis knew that if he called an Estates-General, he could probably force through the needed financial reforms, but he also knew that the same Estates-General might attempt to conduct reforms and make demands that went beyond the royal finances, possibly even holding the financial reforms hostage to gain concessions (despite being a little dim, Louis was well aware that this is more or less exactly what had happened to [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfStuart Charles I of England]] about [[UsefulNotes/EnglishCivilWar 150 years previously]]). There was a ''reason'' that none of the French monarchs had seen fit to call one since 1614--an Estates-General was a powerful tool because of the immense legitimacy it had to make big changes, but that same legitimacy made it extremely ''dangerous''. Better, Louis thought, to try to make do with what was possible without the Estates. But the Assembly of Notables was his last chance, and they told him in no uncertain terms that he had no options. So in May 1789, King Louis XVI called a meeting of the Estates-General at Versailles.
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Louis wasn't too pleased at this, since (1) he knew that, that (the Assembly of Notables, after all, existed to ''go through'' the ''parlements'' by making them succumb to pressure), and (2) calling an Estates-General was exactly what he'd been trying to avoid. The Estates-General was an ancient body, going back to the truly feudal era, and largely similar to the old structure of the English/British Parliament: an assembly of clergy (the "First Estate"), an assembly of nobles (the "Second Estate"),[[note]]Of course, these first two are merged in the English system, but let's forget that[[/note]] and of everyone else (the "Third Estate"); each "estate" was to choose its representatives, who would then meet and discuss and advise the King on important matters of state--particularly matters of finance (as France's patchwork tax system was often structured in a way that made it hard to change without an Estates-General). Louis knew that if he called an Estates-General, he could probably force through the needed financial reforms, but he also knew that the same Estates-General might attempt to conduct reforms and make demands that went beyond the royal finances, possibly even holding the financial reforms hostage to gain concessions (despite being a little dim, Louis was well aware that this is more or less exactly what had happened to [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfStuart Charles I of England]] about [[UsefulNotes/EnglishCivilWar 150 years previously]]). There was a ''reason'' that none of the French monarchs had seen fit to call one since 1614--an Estates-General was a powerful tool because of the immense legitimacy it had to make big changes, but that same legitimacy made it extremely ''dangerous''. Better, Louis thought, to try to make do with what was possible without the Estates. But the Assembly of Notables was his last chance, and they told him in no uncertain terms that he had no options. So in May 1789, King Louis XVI called a meeting of the Estates-General at Versailles.
18th Jan '16 2:32:41 PM karstovich2
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Added DiffLines:
[[AC:{{Podcast}}s]] * The third season of ''Podcast/{{Revolutions}}'' by Creator/MikeDuncan is a history of the French Revolution.
18th Jan '16 1:58:21 PM karstovich2
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The election of the 1789 Estates General brought people from across France to the government. Several of them being quite young and very few of them having direct experience in handling politics. Almost immediately it became clear that the Third Estate, which comprised of middle-classes, professionals and guild members, were in effect a separate ruling body on their own and that they represented France better than the first two estates. This realization that the fading aristocracy would have little voice and role in a more modern state brought about reactions in the government that only made their opponents bolder. This created the tensions of the Revolution, the proposals of changes were met by reactions which spurred even more radical proposals for changes [[SerialEscalation that provoked even more reactions and so on and so forth]]. Meanwhile, the people of France, especially in Paris were skeptical of changes happening slowly, and that the Third Estate while having wider representation than the First Two, was still not wide a representation as people expected. So they decided to take up arms. First the Bastille fell, then the King and Queen were dragged from Versailles to Tuileries by the Women of Paris and NothingIsTheSameAnymore.
to:
The election of the 1789 Estates General brought people from across France to the government. Several of them being quite young and very few of them having direct experience in handling politics. Almost immediately it became clear that the Third Estate, which comprised of middle-classes, whose representatives were from the middle classes, professionals and guild members, were in effect a separate ruling body on their own and that they represented France better than the first two estates. This realization that the fading aristocracy would have little voice and role in a more modern state brought about reactions in the government that only made their opponents bolder. This created the tensions of the Revolution, the proposals of changes were met by reactions which spurred even more radical proposals for changes [[SerialEscalation that provoked even more reactions and so on and so forth]]. Meanwhile, the people of France, especially in Paris were skeptical of changes happening slowly, and that the Third Estate while having wider representation than the First Two, was still not wide a representation as people expected. So they decided to take up arms. First the Bastille fell, then the King and Queen were dragged from Versailles to Tuileries by the Women of Paris and NothingIsTheSameAnymore.
18th Jan '16 1:57:19 PM karstovich2
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Louis wasn't too pleased at this, since (1) he knew that, and (2) calling an Estates-General was exactly what he'd been trying to avoid. The Estates-General was an ancient body, going back to the truly feudal era, and largely similar to the old structure of the English/British Parliament: an assembly of clergy (the "First Estate"), an assembly of nobles (the "Second Estate"),[[note]]Of course, these first two are merged in the English system, but let's forget that[[/note]] and of everyone else (the "Third Estate"); each "estate" was to choose its representatives, who would then meet and discuss and advise the King on important matters of state--particularly matters of finance (as France's patchwork tax system was often structured in a way that made it hard to change without an Estates-General). Louis knew that if he called an Estates-General, he could probably force through the needed financial reforms, but he also knew that the same Estates-General might attempt to conduct reforms and make demands that went beyond the royal finances, possibly even holding the financial reforms hostage to gain concessions (despite being a little dim, Louis was well aware that this is more or less exactly what had happened to [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfStuart Charles I of England]] about [[UsefulNotes/EnglishCivilWar 150 years previously]]). There was a ''reason'' that none of the French monarchs had seen fit to call one since 1614--an Estates-General was a powerful tool because of the immense legitimacy it had to make big changes, but that same legitimacy made it extremely ''dangerous''. But the Assembly of Notables was his last chance, and they told him in no uncertain terms that he had no options. So in May 1789, King Louis XVI called a meeting of the Estates-General at Versailles.
to:
Louis wasn't too pleased at this, since (1) he knew that, and (2) calling an Estates-General was exactly what he'd been trying to avoid. The Estates-General was an ancient body, going back to the truly feudal era, and largely similar to the old structure of the English/British Parliament: an assembly of clergy (the "First Estate"), an assembly of nobles (the "Second Estate"),[[note]]Of course, these first two are merged in the English system, but let's forget that[[/note]] and of everyone else (the "Third Estate"); each "estate" was to choose its representatives, who would then meet and discuss and advise the King on important matters of state--particularly matters of finance (as France's patchwork tax system was often structured in a way that made it hard to change without an Estates-General). Louis knew that if he called an Estates-General, he could probably force through the needed financial reforms, but he also knew that the same Estates-General might attempt to conduct reforms and make demands that went beyond the royal finances, possibly even holding the financial reforms hostage to gain concessions (despite being a little dim, Louis was well aware that this is more or less exactly what had happened to [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfStuart Charles I of England]] about [[UsefulNotes/EnglishCivilWar 150 years previously]]). There was a ''reason'' that none of the French monarchs had seen fit to call one since 1614--an Estates-General was a powerful tool because of the immense legitimacy it had to make big changes, but that same legitimacy made it extremely ''dangerous''. Better, Louis thought, to try to make do with what was possible without the Estates. But the Assembly of Notables was his last chance, and they told him in no uncertain terms that he had no options. So in May 1789, King Louis XVI called a meeting of the Estates-General at Versailles.
18th Jan '16 1:53:20 PM karstovich2
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Even the King realized this. So in May 1789, he called a meeting of the Estates-General at Versailles, an ancient feudal organization that comprised of France's three ruling classes. The last meeting was in 1614. The First Estate was the Clergy, the Second Estate was the Nobility and the vast majority was the Third Estate. The election of the 1789 Estates General brought people from across France to the government. Several of them being quite young and very few of them having direct experience in handling politics. Almost immediately it became clear that the Third Estate, which comprised of middle-classes, professionals and guild members, were in effect a separate ruling body on their own and that they represented France better than the first two estates. This realization that the fading aristocracy would have little voice and role in a more modern state brought about reactions in the government that only made their opponents bolder. This created the tensions of the Revolution, the proposals of changes were met by reactions which spurred even more radical proposals for changes [[SerialEscalation that provoked even more reactions and so on and so forth]]. Meanwhile, the people of France, especially in Paris were skeptical of changes happening slowly, and that the Third Estate while having wider representation than the First Two, was still not wide a representation as people expected. So they decided to take up arms. First the Bastille fell, then the King and Queen were dragged from Versailles to Tuileries by the Women of Paris and NothingIsTheSameAnymore.
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Even the King realized this. this, and his various finance ministers (Turgot, Necker, and Callonne) spent the better part of the 1780s trying to figure out a way to reform the royal finances and thus avert financial catastrophe. They had a number of good ideas (and a large number of not-so-good ones), but that didn't really matter because in order for any royal decree to come into effect as law, it had to be registered by the ''parlements''--local judicial and quasi-legislative assemblies of jurists across France that held an important role in France's legislative process (you thought the King's word was law? He wished!) As it so happened, the ''parlements'' were made up of people who to a man would be adversely affected by any serious reform, and they used every trick in the book to prevent or at least delay registration of any reform laws--and very effectively, since they were all lawyers. Thus in late 1786, the King called an "Assembly of Notables"--an appointed body of high-ranking and prominent men called in to advise the King, not called since 1620, in the hope that that would pressure the ''parlements'' to register the laws. No such luck--when the Notables met in 1787, they were mostly from the same class as the members of the ''parlements'', and uniformly the response of the Assembly was "We can't help you. The only way to get around the ''parlements'' is to call the Estates-General." Louis wasn't too pleased at this, since (1) he knew that, and (2) calling an Estates-General was exactly what he'd been trying to avoid. The Estates-General was an ancient body, going back to the truly feudal era, and largely similar to the old structure of the English/British Parliament: an assembly of clergy (the "First Estate"), an assembly of nobles (the "Second Estate"),[[note]]Of course, these first two are merged in the English system, but let's forget that[[/note]] and of everyone else (the "Third Estate"); each "estate" was to choose its representatives, who would then meet and discuss and advise the King on important matters of state--particularly matters of finance (as France's patchwork tax system was often structured in a way that made it hard to change without an Estates-General). Louis knew that if he called an Estates-General, he could probably force through the needed financial reforms, but he also knew that the same Estates-General might attempt to conduct reforms and make demands that went beyond the royal finances, possibly even holding the financial reforms hostage to gain concessions (despite being a little dim, Louis was well aware that this is more or less exactly what had happened to [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfStuart Charles I of England]] about [[UsefulNotes/EnglishCivilWar 150 years previously]]). There was a ''reason'' that none of the French monarchs had seen fit to call one since 1614--an Estates-General was a powerful tool because of the immense legitimacy it had to make big changes, but that same legitimacy made it extremely ''dangerous''. But the Assembly of Notables was his last chance, and they told him in no uncertain terms that he had no options. So in May 1789, he King Louis XVI called a meeting of the Estates-General at Versailles, an ancient feudal organization that comprised of France's three ruling classes. The last meeting was in 1614. The First Estate was the Clergy, the Second Estate was the Nobility and the vast majority was the Third Estate. Versailles. The election of the 1789 Estates General brought people from across France to the government. Several of them being quite young and very few of them having direct experience in handling politics. Almost immediately it became clear that the Third Estate, which comprised of middle-classes, professionals and guild members, were in effect a separate ruling body on their own and that they represented France better than the first two estates. This realization that the fading aristocracy would have little voice and role in a more modern state brought about reactions in the government that only made their opponents bolder. This created the tensions of the Revolution, the proposals of changes were met by reactions which spurred even more radical proposals for changes [[SerialEscalation that provoked even more reactions and so on and so forth]]. Meanwhile, the people of France, especially in Paris were skeptical of changes happening slowly, and that the Third Estate while having wider representation than the First Two, was still not wide a representation as people expected. So they decided to take up arms. First the Bastille fell, then the King and Queen were dragged from Versailles to Tuileries by the Women of Paris and NothingIsTheSameAnymore.
1st Dec '15 2:31:12 AM JulianLapostat
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* To meet the challenge of the war, the emergency laws of the Terror were unleashed. The National Convention apppointed the Commitee of Public Safety, essentially the first war cabinet, and provided them mandate to ensure that the government remains "Revolutionary until the Peace". This introduced mass {{Conscription}} - the Levee en masse issued by the great engineer Lazare Carnot. This involved able-bodied men, women and children performing all kinds of actions in what is often seen as the first attempt to mount a total war. Women were sent to hospitals and sent to work while the men were sent to fight the War in all kinds of capacities. Such initiative and mobilization would be repeated on a far grander scale during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII.
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* To meet the challenge of the war, the [[EmergencyAuthority emergency laws laws]] of the Terror were unleashed. The National Convention apppointed the Commitee of Public Safety, essentially the first war cabinet, and provided them mandate to ensure that the government remains "Revolutionary until the Peace". This introduced mass {{Conscription}} - the Levee en masse issued by the great engineer Lazare Carnot. This involved able-bodied men, women and children performing all kinds of actions in what is often seen as the first attempt to mount a total war. Women were sent to hospitals and sent to work while the men were sent to fight the War in all kinds of capacities. Such initiative and mobilization would be repeated on a far grander scale during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII.
16th Nov '15 3:36:14 PM LahmacunKebab
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** The monarchs and nations fighting against France during the Wars of the French Revolution (often after France declared war on ''them'') also often are portrayed as utter reactionaries hell-bent on undoing every single political and social advance created by the Revolution (or to "[[UndeadHorseTrope turn back the clock to before 1789]]", in effect ascribing the ideology of the most extreme royalist "ultras" to all of them.[[note]]That many European monarchs were in fact in favour of reforms in the spirit of "enlightened absolutism" (and that e. g. Denmark managed its modernization without a revolution of its own and without being put under revolutionary French tutelage) tends to be ignored.[[/note]] Some nationalistic historians also like to portray the war as if the very existence of France was at stake, while the monarchic governments in fact pursued widely divergent aims - which e. g. made Prussia and Spain drop out of the coalition in 1795 - and for the sake of the balance of power wanted to preserve France in its established position as a major European power.
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** The monarchs and nations fighting against France during the Wars of the French Revolution (often after France declared war on ''them'') also often are portrayed as utter reactionaries hell-bent on undoing every single political and social advance created by the Revolution (or to "[[UndeadHorseTrope turn back the clock to before 1789]]", 1789]]"), in effect ascribing the ideology of the most extreme royalist "ultras" to all of them.[[note]]That many European monarchs were in fact in favour of reforms in the spirit of "enlightened absolutism" (and that e. g. Denmark managed its modernization without a revolution of its own and without being put under revolutionary French tutelage) tends to be ignored.[[/note]] Some nationalistic historians also like to portray the war as if the very existence of France was at stake, while the monarchic governments in fact pursued widely divergent aims - which e. g. made Prussia and Spain drop out of the coalition in 1795 - and for the sake of the balance of power wanted to preserve France in its established position as a major European power.
16th Nov '15 2:53:24 PM LahmacunKebab
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** The Revolt in the Vendée is often portrayed in a more romantic light by historians and novelists. They cite the large scale killings (130,000 but often inflated to 200,000) committed by the Republican side as an example of Revolutionary violence. In truth, the Republican response was driven by a massacre of ''Republican'' Vendeeans committed by Royalist Vendeeans when they killed 200 of them in Machecoul. The Vendean response by the Committee of Public Safety had considerable local support among Republican Vendeeans and peasants who were quite keen on the fact that the government was cutting down on the feudal privileges that the Royalists wanted to reinstate - [[ValuesDissonance namely giving out Church property to peasant landholders]]. One of France's greatest Prime Ministers Georges Clemenceau came from the Vendée and was descended from Republicans who had fought on the side of the Revolution. Undoubtedly there were atrocities committed by the Revolutionary side, but the Vendeeans own atrocities and sparking the response is under-reported by comparison.
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** The Revolt in the Vendée is often portrayed in a more romantic light by historians and novelists. They cite the large scale killings (130,000 but often inflated to 200,000) committed by the Republican side as an example of Revolutionary violence. In truth, the Republican response was driven by a massacre of ''Republican'' Vendeeans committed by Royalist Vendeeans when they killed 200 of them in Machecoul. The Vendean response by the Committee of Public Safety had considerable local support among Republican Vendeeans and peasants who were quite keen on the fact that the government was cutting down on the feudal privileges that the Royalists wanted to reinstate - [[ValuesDissonance namely giving out Church property to peasant landholders]]. One of France's greatest Prime Ministers Georges Clemenceau came from the Vendée and was descended from Republicans who had fought on the side of the Revolution. Undoubtedly there were atrocities committed by the Revolutionary side, but the Vendeeans Vendeeans' own atrocities and sparking the response is under-reported by comparison.
16th Nov '15 2:49:08 PM LahmacunKebab
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* EatTheRich: The UrExample for this StockPhrase came about near this time when Jean-Jacques Rousseau reportedly said, "When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich". Anti-rich violence is a popular image of the Revolution and its TruthInTelevision. One instance is the death of Foullon de Doué, referred to in ''Literature/ATaleOfTwoCities''. The finance minister was highly unpopular, hated by his own tax collectors and was rumoured to have said, "If those rascals have no bread, let them eat hay!" After 14 Juillet, he tried [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere to flee to his country estate]] but the mob caught him, dragged him back to Paris at the Hotel de Ville and after several attempts to lynch him on a lamp-post beheaded him and stuffed his mouth with Grass and paraded around Paris on a pike. On the same day, his son-in-law was killed and beheaded as well, and a creative mob decided to make him [[{{Squick}} "Kiss Daddy"]] by pushing [[NoYay one head against the other]].
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* EatTheRich: The UrExample for this StockPhrase came about near this time when Jean-Jacques Rousseau reportedly said, "When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich". Anti-rich violence is a popular image of the Revolution and its TruthInTelevision. One instance is the death of Foullon de Doué, referred to in ''Literature/ATaleOfTwoCities''. The finance minister was highly unpopular, hated by his own tax collectors and was rumoured to have said, "If those rascals have no bread, let them eat hay!" After 14 Juillet, he tried [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere to flee to his country estate]] but the mob caught him, dragged him back to Paris at the Hotel de Ville and after several attempts to lynch him on a lamp-post beheaded him and stuffed his mouth with Grass grass and paraded around Paris on a pike. On the same day, his son-in-law was killed and beheaded as well, and a creative mob decided to make him [[{{Squick}} "Kiss Daddy"]] by pushing [[NoYay one head against the other]].
16th Nov '15 2:10:41 PM LahmacunKebab
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* Napoleon Bonaparte ended this when he took direct power. [[SarcasmMode It's not like he caused any more mess.]] At least he stabilized the country and its institutions and consolidated most of the reforms of the Revolution with his Napoleonic Code(authored by Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès, a member of the National Convention).
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* Napoleon Bonaparte ended this when he took direct power. [[SarcasmMode It's not like he caused any more mess.]] At least he stabilized the country and its institutions and consolidated most of the reforms of the Revolution with his Napoleonic Code(authored Code (authored by Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès, a member of the National Convention).
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