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Was the French Revolution Successful: Argumentative Essay

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The french revolution was something that transpired from 1789 through late the 1790s. Now the main reason that this revolution even happened was the French had just received a new king, but this king was not the best leader that France could have hoped for. He never stood up for himself and he was always told what to do by his fellow elites. Now a king who can't rule is something to be afraid of but King Louis the 16th was left with a near-bankrupt economy and a huge problem. France was so in debt that King Louis the 16th had to call on the Estates-General to make a decision. The Estates-General was more of an advisory type of estate and not an estate that made laws or put actions into play. But when they set up the Estates-General they made it to where the three classes would have an equal say in whatever they discuss. So the Clergy got 1 vote the elites got one vote and 98% of the population, aka the commoners, only got 1 vote. This in turn made the commoners very angry with the entire system, because the king and the other two classes could just say that they should pass more taxes on the poor or the third estate, and since the third estate only got 1 vote they would be overruled in almost every vote.

They got so frustrated with the other classes that the third estate decided to go out and have their own assembly. They then decided at this assembly that all men should be equal and not be judged based on their class. But King Louis locked them out of their building once and they decided to go to an old tennis court to make the assembly. Here they signed the “Tennis Court Oath” which stripped the power of the king to nothing and made him more of a Figurehead than an actual ruling king. This is called a Constitutional monarchy. They also made something called “The Bourgeois Militia '' which became known as the national guard. Soon after the creation of the national guard some of the French Military defected over to the national guard. The king also then positioned troops around Paris, but this made the people think that the king was going to get them arrested or kill them. But since the king and the elites and clergy have been ignoring the third estate.

This made them very fearful and on July 14, 1789, they stormed the Hotel de Ville which secured their guns to use but they couldn't find ammunition or gunpowder. However, they knew where to get some. At the Bastille, which was a fortress that the earlier kings built to protect themselves, They knew gunpowder was there. The charge was led by the women of the third estate. The main reason they were storming it was because it was the French armory and it had lots of guns and weapons to fight back with. Once they arrived, they sent the women first to storm the fortress and grab weapons. The stationed governor, Bernard René Jourdan, was the leader of 114 soldiers, including 82 invalids and 32 Swiss guards. The king, in his ignorance, sent no help to the governor. But everyone was shocked to see Bernard René Jourdan’s head fixed on a pike and paraded throughout the city. For the rebels cut off his head with a saw and displayed it as a show of victory. But there was a newspaper written by Jean-Paul Marat which went public and became very popular amongst the revolutionaries. Soon after the leaders of the revolutionaries created the “ Declarations of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”. Which told of liberties and freedom to all men, yes that excludes women, but they just wanted freedom first. They wanted freedom and they wanted food. At this time they were starving because they have been taxed so much that they had no money and bread became extremely expensive.

They blamed the king who lived in Versailles so the women again got together and decided to march to Versailles. People who wanted to help joined them along the way as they marched. When they arrived the king's wife was wondering why the people were so hungry. She famously said, “ If they are hungry, then let them eat cake”. This made them furious and they stormed the place where she was living. While the guards held the people back the queen escaped through a secret passageway in her bedroom. They also paraded the guard’s faces and heads on pikes which seems to be a recurring thing they like to do. The king then came out onto his balcony and talked to the crowd. He said he would share his power with the revolutionary government and go back to Paris with them so they can remove the class separation. Once there he spent roughly two years and was there while they slowly stripped away his power and made him the Figurehead, but he didn’t try to resist because they had him where they wanted him and he didn’t want to die. The king and the nobles used to have parties in their castle as the poor people would work but with the new rules, the money from the taxes would no longer pay for the parties. They also made him impose taxes on the clergy and the elites. They also once demanded that he wear a revolutionary bonnet which symbolized his support for the revolution. But he wanted to leave and retake his throne with the help of other countries, lucky for him his wife was Austrian. So on June 20th, 1791 The king and queen got into a royal carriage while disguised as servants and headed for the French border.

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They stopped in the town of Varennes where the PostMaster stopped them and checked on where they were going and who they were. When he saw the king and queen he recognized them and had them escorted back to the capital. This revealed that he was not someone who actually supported the revolution and the act was up. This led to people even labeling him as a traitor to the revolution. They stripped his power and some thought it would have been better to just kill him. So they protested on the Champ de Mars ordering the king's removal from power. The French military met them there and attempted to disperse the crowd. But it quickly escalated and led to the national guard firing at them. This was the Champ de Mars massacre. This led to the revolutionary sides known as the moderates, who wanted the king to remain alive and just be a representative, and the Jacobin radicals, who wanted to kill the king and show their differences. This leads to something called “Equality in Execution”, and this meant that no matter how rich or poor you were you get the same death as everyone else. It also meant that their death would be swift and painless instead of torture. At the time there was a man who was named Dr. Joseph Guillotine and he had the idea of a large blade that would drop quickly and cut the person’s head off and catch their head in a basket. It was a quick, painless, and easy death. He called it the Guillotine and it was later nicknamed “ The National Razor”. And with this execution device, they executed anyone who they even thought could be plotting against the revolution or even thinking to hinder it. They killed the clergy, the nobility, and even other commoners. This caused the aristocrats and the wealthy to flee to other nearby countries so they can save themselves from being executed. This was bad for the neighboring countries because of the successful revolution in France. Mainly because they were concerned with what their people might think and do in response to the revolutionaries’ success. The French then declared war on the Austrians in April of 1792. This led to Prussia, the then ally of Austria, to join in their defense. After this, the Duke of Brunswick sent a letter to the French saying he would burn Paris to the ground if they did anything to the king. However, this had the complete opposite effect than he intended. On August 10th,1792 the citizens stormed King Loui's palace.

The revolutionaries started to fight with the king’s Swiss guard. King Louis ran to the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly, formally known as the National Assembly, to hide from the radicals. Here Robespierre and the rest voted to suspend the monarchy. Thus making King Louis just regular Louis Capet. They sent him to a cell with his wife where they could watch him as well. On September 22, 1792, the National Convention, formally the Legislative Assembly, was declared the French Republic. They then discussed ideas like equality among each other. They instead started to remove symbols of the old royalist ways. One of the main things they targeted was churches. Any priest who wouldn’t comply with the oath of the revolution was usually deported or thrown in jail. Leading to the creation of an Atheistic religion named “The Cult Of Reason”. They also got rid of any religious items or treasures in the churches and transformed them into “Temples of Reason”. They even went as far as to make a French Republic calendar. Which contained; 100 seconds in a minute, 100 minutes in an hour, and only 10 hours a day. They also had to learn an entirely new set of months as replacements for the old ones. The then leaders of the revolution were called the Sans-Culottes. Who began to round up all of the people who they thought could be anti-revolutionary. No matter who or what “class” they were supposed to be in. And sending them all to prisons. During this, the war was getting worse and thousands of troops were sent to the frontlines to defend France. Unfortunately, this left the city of Paris with a lack of guards and soldiers and the people feared the cells were now breeding grounds for anti-revolutionary ideas to spread. They wondered about what would happen if the enemy reached Paris and freed them and wondered what the freed prisoners would do. This led to large groups of people raiding the prisons.

The September Massacre in 1792 is when they got all of the prisoners including priests, women, and children were executed where they stood. Robespierre and the other radicals still wanted to see one particular person executed. Louis Capet was tried for treason and was proven guilty. But some of the moderates just wanted to deport him to another country. However, Robespierre insisted that the only way the revolution could truly live on was under the condition that the king was executed. The Convention voted and the vote was 387 in favor of killing him and 334 opposing his execution. When they executed the former King Louis he was trying to give a speech but it wasn’t a very discernable speech due to the loud drums playing. Later a woman by the name of Charlotte Corday blamed Jean-Paul Marat for the violence and the reason for their quick radicalization. So she tricked Jean-Paul Marat by going to Paris and informing him that she had a list she needed to show him. He invited her in for the meeting, but when she entered she stabbed him and killed him in the hope to bring peace to France. She was swiftly arrested and sentenced to the Guillotine, and she was executed. This led to the “Reign Of Terror”. Robespierre and 11 others got together and created a Committee of Public Safety. They even made a court called the “Revolutionary Tribunal” to judge the people who they suspected to be enemies of the revolution. The people were watched closely by the police and any found guilty of this were sent straight to the guillotine. One major person who was executed during this time was Marie Antoinette. She was tried and found guilty in 1793. She was 37 when she died on October 16th, 1793. Robespierre then made “The Great Terror”. Where roughly 17,000 people were killed by the Guillotine. But Robespierre really screwed up when he said that many of the people on their new list of enemies were in the Convention with them and that he wasn't going to allow them to know who they are.

The convention then voted to send him to the guillotine instead and Robespierre was the last victim of the great terror that he started. After his fall a new group called the “ Thermidorians” took control and executed the former members as well. This led to Bourgeoisie street fighters to attack the Sans-Culottes in a period named “ The White Terror”. This led to loyalists hosting protests to get the king back. And on October 5th, 1795 they staged an insurrection and fought with the national guard. There so happen to be a young Napoleon Bonaparte around who took over the situation and fired guns and cannons at the protesters. Earning him the rank of General. After fighting in the war he returned to France where he was extremely popular. He noticed their government at the time wasn’t, so he had ideas for power and with the help of politician Emmanual Joseph Sieyès. He staged a coup and made the council dissolve and get rid of the government and make him a dictator.

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Was the French Revolution Successful: Argumentative Essay. (2023, August 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
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