French Revolution (part 3) – Reign of Terror | World history | Khan Academy


Where we left off in the last
video, we saw that things were already starting to get ugly. As early as October of 1789 we
saw the Women’s March where there were these suspicions
that the royals were hoarding the grain. So they marched to Versailles
and they essentially stormed Versailles and forced the
royals, forced Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette to move
back to Paris. Then things continued
to be tense. There were uprisings. The king didn’t know
what to do. He obviously didn’t like
the situation. People became more and more
suspicious of the king. Nobles were leaving the country,
they were emigrating out of France. The king and queen themselves
started to get paranoid that, gee, you know, maybe people have
even more radical notions than this constitutional
monarchy. Maybe we ourselves
should escape. So then we saw in 1791– and let
me write this all down in a timeline. We’re now in 1791. And this is review of
the last video. June, we saw the royals
try to escape. But they’re captured in Varennes
and they’re sent back to Paris to essentially
to be in house arrest in the Tuileries. This is the building
right here, it doesn’t exist anymore. But if you go to Paris and if
you visit the Louvre, you’ll see the Louvre opens across
the street into the Tuileries Garden. And this is where that
building used to be. So the royals end up in house
arrest at the Tuileries. This was in June. Then, in July in 1791, once
again, all review from the last video. People said, hey they tried to
escape, that’s equivalent to abdication of the throne. They don’t even want to be our
king and queen and we don’t need kings and queens
to begin with. So the most radical elements,
the most radical leftist elements, in particular the
Jacobins, they started getting petitions in the Champ-de-Mars
to essentially get people to say, we don’t need a
royalty anymore. We just need a republic. We need a state without
kings and queens. But then, the National Assembly
sent in some troops. Things got ugly. Rocks were thrown, shots were
fired, 50 people died. And you have the Champ-de-Mars
Massacre. So things are really,
really heating up. And then we saw at the end of
1791, to make things even worse, we’re not even
at the end. In August, we had the
Declaration of Pillnitz, which we saw was the rulers of Austria
and Prussia saying that they don’t like
what’s happening to the royals in France. And for obvious reasons. Well one, Leopold II was the
brother of Marie-Antoinette. But even more profound, they
didn’t like this notion of people rising up against
royalty. That might give people in their
own empires, or in their own countries ideas about
what to do with them. So even though this might have
not been taken seriously, this was just a declaration
by these guys. This made people in France
even more paranoid. Now, while all of this was
happening, you might have remembered the Tennis Court
Oath that occurred several years ago. Where they said we promise
to create a constitution. And so a constitution
does get created. So in 1791, the National
Assembly, or the constituent assembly, actually does create
a constitution of 1791, which establishes France as a
constitutional monarchy. So they’re saying, yeah, we’ll
still have a king. But it’ll be more of
a figure head. Not necessarily someone
who can create laws. The National Assembly will
be responsible for that. The king will get a few
abilities to veto legislation and whatnot. But most of their powers
are removed. So this was a constitutional
monarchy. And it’s really along the lines
of what was already going on in Great Britain. But this, on some levels, it’s
a major achievement. They had that oath to create
a constitution. But on a whole other level,
things are getting so ugly in France, and in particular,
in Paris. The Revolution was really
focused on what was going on in Paris and Versailles. Things were getting so ugly that
this is the starting to become a sideshow. And to some degree, the
revolutionaries have gone beyond wanting just a
constitutional monarchy. They’re starting to think about
wanting a republic. We saw that during the
Champ-de-Mars Massacre. People started signing
signatures to actually have a republic. And then were fired on, which
probably makes them want to have a republic even more. Now the other thing you might
remember from the very first video, is the thing that really
precipitated this whole Revolution. Or at least in my mind, one
of the main things that precipitated this whole
Revolution is that France was broke. And people are going hungry. This is happening the whole
time while all these politicians and revolutionaries
and royalties are moving around and
trying to kind of strategize their position. No one has solved
either of these problems the entire time. There is no money in France. There is a famine, people
are going hungry. And so pretty much everyone,
whether you look at Louis XVI, let me look at him again, it’s
always nice to remember what he looked like. Whether you’re talking about
Louis XVI, who’s now in house arrest. Or whether you’re
talking about many of the revolutionaries, everyone starts
to say, gee, how can we solve this problem? People are going to throw us
out if we don’t solve this problem of hunger
and being broke. So as you’ll see in history many
times, the best solution for that, or the perceived
best solution, is to start a war. So they declare war
on Austria. And if you think about it from
Louis XVI’s point of view, he thought of it as kind of
a win-win situation. If the war is successful, and he
kind of threw his weight behind the war. And this happened– let me
write down the dates. That always helps me frame
where it happens. So this was kind of ending 1791,
and then war is declared in April, this is now 1792. And then this, right
here, is in April. And if you think about it,
this was a win-win, or at least from Louis XVI’s point
of view, it was a win-win. If they did will well in the
war, it might make him more popular, might make
him stronger. They might be able to plunder
the wealth of other countries to help to build France’s
coffer. If the war goes badly and France
loses, then what’s going to happen? Then you’re going to have
Austria and probably the other people you’re at war with. We’ll see very quickly, France
is going to be at war with most of the powers of Europe. But if you lose the war, these
powers, which are controlled by monarchs, they’re going to
essentially get rid of the revolutionaries and probably put
Louis XVI back in power. So from Louis XVI’s point of
view, it was a good idea. And for a lot of the
revolutionaries, they wanted to solve these two problems. So
they said, hey yeah, that would be good if we could
plunder other countries. If we could steal grain from
other countries to make at least the French less hungry. And maybe we can spread
the Revolution. We can topple all of
these other kings. This won’t just be a French
Revolution, this will be an all of Europe Revolution. So they declared
war on Austria. Very quickly, they tried
to attack the Austrian Netherlands, which was
kind of disjoint from the rest of Austria. So they attacked right there
into the Austrian Netherlands. Although they got kind
of bogged down there. It wasn’t as successful as
they thought it would be. And Prussia, which as you might
remember, participated in the Declaration of Pillnitz,
decided to enter the war on the side of Austria. So Prussia attacks and at first,
it’s pretty, pretty successful. It’s able to make some
headway into France. And then the general in charge
of the Prussian army, the Duke of Brunswick, he makes the
Brunswick Manifesto. Let me write that down. Which is essentially just like
the Declaration of Pillnitz, but it has a lot more
teeth behind it now. Because this dude, the Duke of
Brunswick, he’s actually, he’s got an army invading France. And he declares, his manifesto
is saying, I intend to overthrow this whole
revolutionary government. And I intend to install
the king again. All of this happened
in April of 1792. Declare war on Austria seemed
like a win-win for the king. The revolutionaries wanted to
spread the Revolution and plunder other countries. And then immediately, Prussia
jumps in, starts attacking France, and says we’re going
to install the king. So you could imagine, this is
making the revolutionaries even more paranoid about
what the king is up to. They think that the king has
some type of secret deal with the Prussians, or with the other
enemies that they’re going up against. So in August
of 1792, it’s only a few months later, four or
five months later. In August of 1792, you
essentially had the Commune of Paris. And when I say the Commune
of Paris, it’s really the government of Paris
at this time. And it’s been taken over by
even more revolutionary people, mainly Jacobins. And they storm where the royal
family is staying, at the Tuileries, which is that
building right here. And this painting right here
is a depiction of the revolutionaries, mainly
Jacobins, who are actually storming the Tuileries. And they imprison Louis XVI
and Marie-Antoinette. Because they’re like, hey the
Prussians have an army, and they’ve already declared the
intention to install the king. We’re going to imprison the
king because we don’t know what he’s up do. So they imprison– my spelling–
imprison Louis XIV and Marie-Antoinette. And they’re also able to do some
machinations within the actual National Assembly. And there’s actually a rump
session of the National Assembly, which means
that a lot of the opponents weren’t there. So it was a session where it was
mainly the leftists, the radicals, the Jacobins
were there. And so in August at that rump
session, the assembly declares a republic. Which is equivalent to
saying that Louis XVI is no longer king. And this nation we have, or this
country we now have, will never have a king. It is now a republic. It as a government
without a king. And while all of this was
happening, you have these gangs kind of going around
the region around Paris. And they’re just trying and
killing people that just seem to be suspicious, seem to be
allied in some way with the nobility or with the king, or
in someway a royalist. They want eventually for the
monarchy to come back. And in those riots, in those
arbitrary executions and killings, they actually ended up
killing over 1,400 people. 1,400 executed at this time. So you can see, things
are getting uglier and uglier and uglier. The king is imprisoned. And you’re going to see that
he’s not going to be imprisoned long. But it’s not going to
end well for him. And essentially, the
revolutionaries have said France is now a republic. All while they’re at war with
two major powers, with the Austrians and the Prussians. Now they are eventually able
to hold off, and when I say they, I’m talking about
armies of France. They are eventually able
to hold off the invading Prussian army. They call it the Stalemate of
Valmy, not clear who won. The Prussians weren’t that
eager to go into France. So they didn’t push too hard or
send too many more troops. So for at least temporarily,
the external threat was diffused, if you want
to call it that way. And so the National Assembly
went forth and said– they got rid of– I mean, they had
already declared a republic. But they went even further. So this is now, we’re in
September of 1792. You had the Stalemate
at Valmy. And then the National Assembly,
or the National Convention said, hey, we’re
going to create a new constitution. So that constitution of 1791
did not last too long. It lasted about a year. So a new constitution. The intent is to create
a new constitution. Now, while all that’s said,
this bloodshed that we saw after they imprisoned Louis XVI,
these kind of riots in Paris and these arbitrary
killings, this is just a foreshadowing of much worse
that’s going to come in the very next year. By 1793– let me write this
down in a bloody color. So 1793 we’re in now. So the National Assembly, the
first thing that they do, or maybe I should say even
more particular. In January of 1793, remember
they’ve already deposed the king, they have him imprisoned,
they’re at war with these other countries that
have stated the intention to put the king back
into power. So the first thing they do is
they execute Louis XVI. And this is a picture
of the execution. He was guillotined. And this right here is
Doctor Guillotine. And it was actually invented,
this right here is the guillotine, and it was actually
invented as a more humane way to kill people. At the time they said, when we
kill people, it’s not for them to feel pain, it’s more
to just kill them. So we’ll use this very humane
instrument called the guillotine. Where you use a blade
to very quickly chop off someone’s head. And it was invented by this
physician right here. But, the one of the first
important people they got to try it out was Louis XVI,
guillotined in January. And then in February, remember
people are still going hungry, they’re still eager to spread
the Revolution, they still want to plunder other
countries. So in February, the National
Assembly, or the National Council, the revolutionary
government, declares war on Britain and the Dutch
Republic. You don’t know who this
is, I’m going to tell you in a second. And Dutch Republic. Now you’re probably saying, gee,
how does France, this one country right here, how is it
able to have war against Austria, Prussia? Now declaring war against the
Dutch and Great Britain. And actually the month before,
Spain and Portugal had declared war, had kind of
jumped in on the side of Austria and Prussia. So how does this one country,
France, how does this one revolutionary government fend
itself off against the armies of so many nations? And the answer to that is that
the revolutionary government declared in February what they
called the Levee en Masse. And I’m not French, so I’m
saying it wrong, I’m sure. Which was essentially the first
version of what we now call the draft. And they were able to actually,
they actually said every able-bodied young man in
France who was unmarried will now be in the army. And so they were able to
immediately raise several hundreds of thousands
of soldiers. And actually within a couple
of years, there’s several accounts of it, but it might
have been over one million plus soldiers. Which is very different from
how many of these other kingdoms would raise
their armies. They would pay salaries to
professional soldiers. So these at the time were
smaller armies than what France was able to muster up
through the revolutionary government saying look, this is
a government for the people by the people. So now you’re not fighting
for a king, you’re fighting for yourself. You’re fighting for your own
representation so you don’t get so subjected by
foreign kings. So everyone jumped in
the war effort. So they essentially had the
largest army in Europe. But I keep repeating, all of
this was in the context of unrest throughout France. There were royalists out there
wanting to be counter revolutionaries. People were going hungry. So to kind of, I guess, clamp
down on things, in April of 1792, the National Assembly
created the Committee of Public Safety, which sounds like
a very nice committee. And they essentially become the
default government, or we can say the de facto
government. And it was put in control of
this nice looking gentleman right here, Maximilien
Robespierre. Seems like a very civilized
fellow. But really what the Committee
of Public Safety was good at was being hugely political,
hugely paranoid. And under especially Maximilien
Robespierre’s control, who was especially
paranoid, anyone– if they just caught a whiff of someone
being not radical enough, or maybe too radical, or someone I
just didn’t like, or someone who might help depose me–
they just started guillotining people. So this is really the start
of the Reign of Terror. So roughly over the next year,
on the order of, give or take, 16,000 people are guillotined. They go to Doctor Guillotine’s
humane invention. And they are only estimates
of this. There wasn’t good accounting
of this. But it’s believed that as many
as 40,000 people were summarily executed. Which essentially means you’re
guilty of this, I know you’re guilty, hey, you over there with
a gun, please shoot this person for me. So this was an extremely
bloody time. And just so you imagine, most
of this was occurring in and around Paris. So all of a sudden, in one
little city, it was a major city, but you have tens of
thousands of people being massacred, just if this guy, or
the people who are plotting with this guy, or the people who
are plotting against this guy, thought or caught a whiff
of you being not completely loyal to the Revolution. Now eventually, people
eventually got suspicious of Maximilien Robespierre. They’re saying, hey, all your
paranoia is hurting the Revolution more than
helping it. So then in the Thermidorian
Reaction– it sounds like it’s some type of a refrigerator
or heater. Now this right here, this
is in July of 1794. And it’s called the Thermidorian
Reaction, and I might do a whole video
on this, because the revolutionary government,
they actually created a new calendar. Where they renamed the month
Thermidor, which was essentially July, it was
shifted a little bit. And actually, it changed the
number of hours in the day. They would have 10 hours a day,
100 minutes an hour, 100 seconds a minute. They would have three 10-day
weeks per month. So they had this
whole calendar. But Thermidor was the
month of July. So it was really the July
Reaction, where people got sick of Maximilien
Robespierre. So in 1794, July 1794, he too. So what goes around
comes around. So this right here, this
is 1794, July. This right here is this
nice-looking gentleman, and he, too, gets guillotined. Now, there’s two other things
that I want to point out. I’ll take a few steps
back into 1793. Just as a maybe a bit
of a footnote. We saw that in January Louis XVI
was executed for, I guess, depending on your opinion
whether it was a good or a bad thing. In October Marie-Antoinette
also executed. So this is in 1793,
also executed. So nine months after her
husband, executed. And then as one kind of small
footnote at this point, as you can imagine, all of France was
in unrest at the time. And then in 1793, there
was a revolt. This was in July of 1793. So it’s a year before the end of
the Reign of Terror, really during the Reign of Terror. In the port of Toulon, there
was a revolt against the revolutionary government. And it was put down, mainly with
the help of an aspiring artillery captain. An artillery captain is someone
who’s essentially in charge of the cannons. And that artillery captain, who
was able to help put down that revolt, and get a lot of,
I guess, cred with the revolutionary government, his
name was– I need to write it someplace nice and new, and this
is for foreshadowing of the next video– so in July
of 1793, in Toulon, a new artillery captain started to
look like he really knows what he’s doing. And his name is Napoleon
Bonaparte. And he’s going to have a lot
to do with the next video.

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