War and The Republic


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By the Autumn of 1791, most thought the French Revolution was over. The new constitution had been proclaimed, Louis had pledged an oath of loyalty to that constitution and had become a constitutional monarch. However, in reality, France’s problems were far from over…

Austria was situated just over the border with France and was ruled by an absolute monarch. The emperor of Austria was Marie- Antoinette’s brother and had been protecting nobles who had fled revolutionary France. The emperor and the French nobles were plotting against the revolution.

In April 1792, the French government declared war on Austria. Remember that France was no longer ruled by Louis, he had become a CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCH. The war was to have dramatic effects for him, but not everyone in France supported the war.

The war started badly for France. Many former officers had been nobles before the revolution, so had fled the country after the chateaus burning of 1792. The new volunteer soldiers were enthusiastic, but had no experience of war. As the war went badly for France, the economic situation grew worse. There was a loss in confidence in the new paper money, the assignat, so prices rose. Many young men had been taken to fight, so not all the harvest had been gathered. This also led to rising food prices in France, and hunger among the population. These economic hardships led to discontent and unrest in France, with many people blaming Louis and his ministers for the situation. They suspected that Louis wanted France to lose the war, so that the monarchy might be restored.

By the summer of 1792, unrest had grown in France. It came to a climax on August 10th, when National Guards from all over France joined the Paris mob and stormed the King’s palace, the Tuilleries. The French people called Louis ‘Louis the Last’. They did not want a king anymore. The King was then taken prisoner and on September 21st 1792, France was declared a REPUBLIC. It was following this decree that the

Revolution entered its most violent phase…

The angry mob began looking for other ‘traitors’ — clergy and nobles who had supported the king, and those who had criticised the Revolution. By August, they had been imprisoned. Some were simply hacked to death. By September, those left were dragged from jail, put on ‘trial’, and executed. Between 1100 and 1400 prisoners were killed and these massacres horrified Europe. The reign of ‘Terror’ would shortly follow in revolutionary France.

Facts PDF Worksheet:

    • Aimed at Students studying at UK Year 8/9 or equivalent
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