Okay…here in this part of the article on the Revolution of 1789 (popularly known as French Revolution), we will pick up from where we left. In this section, we will learn how France went into war after the revolution started and then how Napoleon Bonaparte came to power only to be eventually defeated by Second Coalition. We will learn about the infamous Reign of Terror as well… So, let us start with our list of French Revolution facts (remember to read part 1 to understand the whole flow of the article or else, you will feel lost).
Interesting French Revolution Facts: 1-5
1. The nobles, clergy etc. who migrated out of the country (called émigrés) formed armed groups and with other countries’ (Kingdoms) help, tried to gain control over France again. They were called as counterrevolutionaries.
2. At first other countries were neutral but when they realized that their own people might go against them taking inspiration from France (especially after National Constituent Assembly proclaimed the international law of right to self-determination) and French Revolution by which they regained the papal region of Avignon on 13th September, 1791, they started actively supporting the counterrevolutionaries.
3. Here, in France, the revolutionaries and the King were in no mood to listen to anyone and started an aggressive policy. But the King didn’t support these revolutionaries fully.
4. The King thought that whether revolutionaries win or counterrevolutionaries, it would be a win-win situation for him. He thought that he will either have a strong position in France or he will be rescued by foreign troops.
5. With this renewed spirit, France waged a war against Austria on 20th ,April, 1792. Prussia supported Austria.
Interesting French Revolution Facts: 6-10
6. From 1792, April to 1792, September (war’s first phase), France suffered initial defeat and the queen thought that monarch was really supporting the commoners. She asked her brother – Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II to attack France.
7. This mistake proved to be fatal to both King and queen. The revolutionaries marched to Tuileries Palace where King lived and imprisoned King and his family and they went to prisons and killed most of the nobles and clergy. Finally, France succeeded in sending Prussian troops back on 20th September, 1792. Prussian forces were defeated at Valmy.
8. On the very same day, a new assembly was formed. It was named as National Convention. The assembly met and declared monarchy abolition and republic establishment.
9. In the second phase of the war from September 1792 to April 1793, France occupied Belgium, Savoy, Nice and Rhineland.
10. Internally the National Convention was again divided into Girondins, who supported the bourgeois republic and wanted to spread revolution all around Europe and Montagnards (Mountain men) who wanted the real power (both economic and political) to be vested in the hands of lower classes.
Interesting French Revolution Facts: 11-15
11. National Convention ordered that King Louis XVI to be sentenced to death for treason (the King was condemned to death on 20th January, 1793 and was executed the next day using a guillotine) and the queen was ordered to be guillotined after 9 months.
12. All didn’t go well. Again, France was on the losing side of the war and it already lost Belgium and Rhineland. Austria, Prussia and Great Britain formed the First Coalition and threatened France.
13. Here the Montagnards drove away Girondins and ruled till 27th, July, 1794. With the support of lower class people, they took many revolutionary reforms like they adopted Maximum (government control of prices), confiscation and selling of the land of nobles, free and compulsory education etc.
14. With this rose the remaining nobles in protest and started Wars of Vendée – federal uprising in Normandy and in Provence etc.
15. But the Montagnards were ready to tackle all these protests by their “Reign of Terror” which spanned from 5th September, 1793 to 27th July, 1974 where they imprisoned more than 300,000 suspects and 17000 of them were given death sentence and many of the prisoners were executed without trial.
Interesting French Revolution Facts: 16-20
16. They even raised an army which had a million soldiers. The fourth phase of the war which started with the start of 1794 spring, was in favor of France. They got Belgium back on 26th, June, 1794 and Austria was thoroughly defeated.
17. After the victory, the terror and revolutionary reforms were abolished and the one who started the “Reign of Terror”, Robespierre was thrown away from the National Convention on 27th July, 1794 and on the very next day he was executed.
18. Now, France witnessed “White Terror”. The nobles and clergy went to an extent where they would change the constitution as well. When Royalists tried to control Paris, General Napoleon Bonaparte spoiled their plans with his extraordinary leadership skills on 5th October, 1795.
19. Within few days National Convention was disintegrated. The constitution which was framed by the National Convention placed executive powers in the hands of 5 members (known as Directory) and legislative powers to two chambers called as Council of Five Hundred and Council of Ancients, together known as Corps Législatif. With the onset of war, there were many disputes between the executive and legislative.
20. Such disputes were settled by coups d’état (violent takeover of an existing government by a group). They removed royalists from both executive and legislative on 9th November, 1799 and Napoleon Bonaparte completely banished Royalties from Directory and became the first consul of France.
Interesting French Revolution Facts: 21-25
21. Under the leadership of Bonaparte, France emerged victorious in almost all the wars she waged. Rhineland and Holland were captured. Tuscany, Prussia and Spain maintained peace with France. Sardinia, a part of Italy, surrendered to Bonaparte when he attacked Italy. With the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797, Austria had to give in.
22. France went on far with occupying or making the countries vassals (allies) like Switzerland, Papal States, Naples and Helvetic, Parthenopean and Roman republics were established there.
23. Great Britain was a staunch rival of France. But Bonaparte couldn’t attack Great Britain directly so he threatened British in India by occupying Egypt. Bonaparte had initial success by occupying Malta and Egypt but was defeated in the Battle of Nile on 1st August, 1798. This defeat inspired other countries to fight back against France.
24. Austria, Russia, Turkey, Great Britain formed “Second Coalition” and waged a war against France and won in 1799.
25. Bonaparte went back to France and abolished Directory and replaced the consulate. Bonaparte officially declared the end of French Revolution.
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