A Disorderly Revolution

The first stage of the French Revolution was a smashing success and featured as little violence as could be expected.  Unfortunately, the instigators were not as bound by common views of the future as they were bound by hatred of a common enemy.  We soon saw why many revolutions crumble once their objectives are met.  Different people had different ideas for the direction France should take.  Urged by the “October Days” march, the king and the Assembly moved to Paris, which only reinforced the idea of political responsiveness to the people’s will.

Reforms soon got out of control.  The Church quickly became a lackey of the state.  Many clergy members, without whom the revolution could not have begun, began to resist the reforms of the Assembly.  Many people were satisfied with the idea of a constitutional monarchy, but control of the Assembly had been seized by the radicals. When the king tried to flee France, it was decided that a king could not have power if the rights of the people were to be protected.  During this transitional stage, Revolution began to splinter, sowing the seeds for something much worse.

Finally, the French Revolution came apart.  Mobs of angry Parisians slaughtered the king’s men.  Later, with rumor and suspicion rampant, mobs butchered 1,200 prisoners and clergy.  The National Convention put King Louis XVI on trial and executed him for treason.  Soon after, an internal power struggle intensified within the Revolution.  The Girondins believed that the Revolution had accomplished its goals. The Jacobins wanted to take the reforms of the Revolution even further, believing that France needed to be purified of all anti-revolutionary influences.

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