French revolution selected chronology



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FRENCH REVOLUTION – SELECTED CHRONOLOGY

Abridged from http://www.indiana.edu/~b356/chron-to-print.HTM


1774 Louis XVI, great-great-grandson of Louis XIV (the "Sun King" who built Versailles), becomes king of France; in 1770 he was married to Marie Antoinette
July 1778 Allied with the American colonies, France declares war on Britain.
Sept. 1783 Peace of Versailles between France, American colonies, Britain.
August 1786 Controller-General Calonne, faced with impending state bankruptcy, suggests reforms to Louis XVI: tax reductions, free grain trade, unitary land tax. Normally, any such reform would have to be "enregistered" (accepted) by the Parlement of Paris (sovereign law court), but the Parlement has often rejected reform attempts in the name of protecting historic liberties. Rather than presenting Calonne's reforms to the Parlement, then, the monarchy convokes an Assembly of Notables.
August 1788 De facto state bankruptcy.
January 1789 Sieyes publishes What is the Third Estate?; electioneering raises questions about how voting will proceed in Estates-General (by head or by estate).
5 May 1789 Opening of Estates-General, voting to be by order (i.e., one vote for the First Estate, one for the Second, and one for the Third) rather than by person. The latter is favoured by the Third Estate, as it is twice as big as either the First or Second. In voting by orders, each order meets separately to decide its vote.
6 May 1789 Delegates from the Third Estate refuse to meet as a separate group, call themselves "the Commons."
13 June 1789 Several members of the First join the Commons.
17 June 1789 The Commons, whose membership now includes about half the delegates to the Estates-General, takes the name "National Assembly."
11 July 1789 Louis dismisses his chief minister, the popular Swiss banker, Necker, and replaces him with the reactionary Breteuil.
12 July 1789 Word of Necker's being fired reaches Paris prompting protests in many different contexts (speeches in the gardens of the Palais Royal, closing of stock exchange, looting, etc.).
14 July 1789 A Paris crowd storms the Bastille Prison, looking for arms with which to defend itself against the army rumouredly massed around the city. Troops refuse to fire on crowd.
In the following weeks, the Paris electors call themselves the Commune of Paris, electing Bailly, mayor, and Lafayette, head of the National Guard. Municipal government passes into the hands of 60 electoral districts. Political clubs form.
January 1790 A radical political club begins meeting at the former Jacobin monastery in Paris; members take the name "Jacobins." The 24 livres annual membership fee guarantees a fairly affluent membership.
July 1790 Civil Constitution of the Clergy (i.e., Catholic Church is reorganized as branch of state; bishops to be elected and all clergy must swear oath to uphold national constitution).
14 July 1790 Festival of Federation: to celebrate the first anniversary of the Fall of the Bastille,deputies from all across France gather in Paris for an enormous festival/ceremony of Federation (declaration of loyalty and national solidarity).
20 June 1791 Royal family attempts to flee France, but is arrested at Varennes (monarchy'sreputation is irreparably damaged).
17 July 1791 The National Guard fires on crowd meeting to show support for the CordeliersClub's petition for a republican government (the "Champs de Mars Massacre").
22 Aug. 1791 Slave revolt in Saint Domingue (West Indies).
Sept. 1791 Assembly finishes Constitution, Louis promises to uphold it; Constituent Assembly dissolves itself and is replaced by Legislative Assembly.
6 April 1792 Wearing of religious dress forbidden.
20 June 1792 Paris crowds invade the Tuileries Palace, say King should not have veto right; he dons revolutionary garb (tri-color cockade, "bonnet of liberty") but keeps the veto.
11 July 1792 Legislative Assembly declares "La patrie en danger"("the fatherland is in danger"), thereby giving itself emergency powers (including ignoring king's veto); Prussian army on the French border.
28 June 1792 Lafayette calls for abolition of Jacobin clubs and punishment of 20th June demonstrators.
11 July 1792 Legislative Assembly declares "La patrie en danger"("the fatherland is in danger"), thereby giving itself emergency powers (including ignoring king's veto); Prussian army on the French border.
25 July 1792 Brunswick Manifesto: most of Europe allies and declares war on revolutionaryFrance, promising that any renewed violence like that of 20 June will result in an "exemplary and unforgettable act of vengeance."
3 August 1792 47 of 48 Paris sections sign petition calling for overthrow of king; Assembly agrees to discuss on 9 August.
9-10 August 1792 Assembly agrees nothing about king; popular protests at Tuileries and Legislative Assembly lead to abolition of monarchy; voting by universal manhood suffrage to occur for National Assembly. For the next six weeks, power is divided among the Legislative Assembly, the Paris Commune (municipal government), and a Provisional Executive Committee (headed by Danton).
12 August 1792 Royal family placed in Temple Prison
19 August 1792 Lafayette flees abroad (is imprisoned there).
28 August 1792 Legislative Assembly allows house-to-house searches for arms or people suspected of anti-revolutionary sympathies.
2-6 Sept. 1792 "September Massacres" in Paris: alarm at impending fall of Verdun to European Allies leads to panic and the murder of over 1000 prison inmates

Church ornaments requisitioned and melted down for war effort; Divorce legalized.


20 Sept. 1792 Against all odds, the French defeat Prussians at the Battle of Valmy; the war, however, continues for years
20 Sept. 1792 First meeting of National Convention.
22 Sept. 1792 Convention declares a Republic.
13 Nov. 1792 Debate on Louis Capet's fate begins.
10 Dec. 1792 Louis' trial begins.
27 Dec. 1792 Girondins propose a referendum on Louis' fate.
14 Jan. 1793 Convention votes on case of Louis: he is unanimously found guilty; by vote of 424 to 283 there will be no referendum.
16-17 Jan. 1793 Meeting late into the night, the Convention votes that Louis be beheaded (387 to 334).
20 Jan. 1793 LePeletier de Saint Fargeau assassinated for having voted "yes" on killing the former king.
21 Jan. 1793 Execution of former Louis XVI.
1 Feb. 1793 France declares war on Great Britain and Holland; war continues for years, as does civil war in Vendée, opposition to revolutionary centralisation erupts violently in Lyon and Marseille; Convention sends "representatives on mission" to supervise war effort and report on counter-revolutionary activity.

6 April 1793 Convention creates Committee of Public Safety


29 Aug. 1793 Toulon surrenders to British fleet.
5 Sept. 1793 Paris sections march on Convention, leading to most radical period of the Revolution, the Terror; "revolutionary armies" established, Law of Suspects passed, and wage and price controls (the maximum) put in place.
10 Oct. 1793 Convention decrees that "the government of France will be revolutionary until the peace," i.e., suspends the constitution.
16 Oct. 1793 Marie Antoinette executed.
For the next nine months, government is largely led by the Commitee of Public Safety (most famous members: Robespierre, Danton, Barère, Couthon, Saint-Just). Constitution of 1793 is never put in place due to the war effort; however, a revolutionary calendar is implemented (22 Sept. 1793 is the first day of the Year II).
May 1794 Decree institutes Cult of Supreme Being.

8 June 1794 Festival of Supreme Being.


27 July 1794 Robespierre and the Mountain overthrown; most guillotined, a few jailed.

Convention continues to govern for a year; this is the period known as the Thermidorean Convention. Revolutionary tribunals are suspended and suspects freed. Price controls are lifted, war continues, bad harvest--all leads to severe shortages.

Nov. 1794 Militant sans-culottes purged from Paris sections, and Jacobin Club shut.
23 Sept.1795 Constitution of Year III ratified.

The Directory: Oct. 1795 (brumaire IV)-Nov. 1799 (brumaire VIII)

Government by a five-man executive (the Directory) and a bicameral legislative.

1796 Civil war in Western France comes to a close, and Bonaparte made head of Army of Italy--extraordinary series of victories.


16 April 1796 Death penalty for those who support either Constitution of 1793 or return of monarchy.

Power struggles within the Directory continue for next several years, debating legacy of Revolution and Terror.


April 1802 Concordat re-establishes ties of France and papacy.

May 1802 Bonaparte elected First Consul for Life (by plebiscite).



Dec. 1804 Bonaparte becomes Emperor Napoleon.


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