“And the programme was a Pozzitive production for the BBCCCCCCCC!!!”
Okay so the more I look into the French Revolution the more I realize that I actually know almost literally nothing about it???
Like, the extent of what I’ve learned in the past is basically
- it happened
- it didn’t go very well?
- lots of people died
- Marie Antoinette???
Let me try and make you a really really basic informal post (it will probably either go horribly or get really long or both.)
Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were the monarchs of France. France was in debt because 1) wars, 2) extravagant lifestyle of monarchy (thanks Louis XIV), and 3) not really taxing First Estate (the clergy) or the Second Estate (the nobles), who basically made all the money/had all the land. The economic situation got worse and worse, the government was in debt, the government taxed the Third Estate, (the common people, peasants and bourgeoise) more heavily, and peasants starved.
Anyway, there was this thing called the Cahier des Doleances, in which everyone sent their complaints about the way things were, and on May 5 1789 the king summoned the representative body (the Etats-Generaux) that hadn’t been used in forever and ever, on the pretext of addressing the people’s grievances. But all that really went on was Louis XVI trying to get them to approve more tax. And then the Third Estate got really fed up about the way voting happened (a way that made sure they never really had a voice despite representing most of France) and tried to change the voting procedures, but nothing really happened on that front, and then on June 20 they got dismissed and wouldn’t go and decided to form their own representative body, the National Assembly. They took an oath on a Tennis Court to write a constitution for France and produced the beautiful Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, which you should really look up and read.
So anyway, Louis XVI had still not solved his financial problems. His economic minister, Jacques Necker, began to strongly suggest taxing the first two estates. This made him very popular with the people and very unpopular with Louis, who dismissed him on the eleventh of July, 1789. About the same time, the king stations foreign troops in Paris, which makes the people decidedly Not Happy.
Enter a young lawyer named Camille Desmoulins. He brings the news about Necker being dismissed from Versailles to Paris. He climbs on a table and passionately calls the citizens to arms (even though he has a stutter and usually does not like public speaking did I mention that I like Camille?). They all pin on leaves/green cockades as symbols of hope and go storm the Bastille, which is an event you’ve probably heard about at least in passing.
And then some things go on, and Lafayette is kind of a mediator between the king and the people, and feudal rights get done away with. In October, a bunch of sans-culotte women of Paris decide to march on Versailles because they are starving, and force the royal family to relocate to their Paris palace (to be among the people.)
And the National Assembly keeps on making reforms, taking power away from the nobility and clergy, and trying to get Louis XVI to adopt a constitution (most of the revolutionaries are aiming for a constitutional monarchy rather than a republic at this point.) It’s not until September of 1791, however, that a constitution is formally adopted.
And before that, something happens which causes a lot of problems—the royal family’s flight to Varennes in late June of ‘91. Basically, they were in contact with monarchs from other nations and were trying to flee the country (although nothing was being done to them; they were still on the throne and weren’t even technically under a constitution yet). It’s generally recognized that they were trying to join forces with other countries in order to reverse the course of the Revolution so far. And the idea that the king would enlist foreigners to go to war against his own people, again, made the citizens very Not Happy.
One thing led to another, and despite Louis’ acceptance of the constitution, he becomes very unpopular. France goes to war with Austria, and some piece of evidence turns up that Louis was collaborating with foreign rulers against France. The Tuileries gets stormed in August of ‘92; the royal family is imprisoned. In December of ‘92, Louis goes to trial. At this point, Robespierre and Saint-Just both begin to be very significant figures; they both give speeches calling for the king’s execution, Robespierre with the famous words, “Louis must die so that the country may live.”
The National Convention (same thing as the Assembly except they liked changing the name a lot) voted for execution, and Louis was guillotined January 21, 1793. Without a king, the Revolution was ready to enter its second phase, and I am going to break off my post.
- called Mandela a terrorist
- supported apartheid
- helped give aid to pol pot
- privatized almost everything
- left millions unemployed
- supported pinochet and thanked him for (IM NOT MAKING THIS UP) “bringing democracy to Chile”
- falklands war
- used the literal military in police uniform to break up protests and strikes
- destroyed unions
- infamous poll tax, where instead of paying tax based on value of your house you paid according to heads in your house, fucking over large poor families
- above lead to huge riots which caused it to get scrapped and she was then ousted by her own party because everyone hated her