The Phase of Radical Republicanism (1792-94)

The Phase of Radical Republicanism (1792-94):

The war revolutionized the revolution in France, and a Republic was formed in France. Then the differences cropped up within the radical group itself. In fact, Girondists believed that the objective of the People’s War and People’s Republic was fulfilled so now the revolution should have stopped itself at this point. Furthermore, a Girondist leader Brissot was apprehensive about the fact that a more radical group Jacobians would try to bring the revolution under the influence of the mob of Paris. But Jacobians were more organized than Girondists and they had a strong power base. In fact, Jacobians had their power base in the institutions like National Convention, Jacobin Club, and Commune (an organization of peasants and artisans). So, in June 1793, a pro-Jacobian mob of 20,000 persons made an attack on the National Convention, and all the Zirondist leaders were pulled out and killed. Thus, started in French history the phase of Jacobian terror continued between June 1793 and June 1794.

This Jacobian government was the first modern dictatorship. Jacobian leaders like Robespierre, Herbert Dante, etc. concentrated all the powers into their hands. This reign of terror had some institutional base as well. For example, under this government, there were organs like a public safety committee, a General safety committee, and a revolutionary tribunal. Trials could be made against anybody and they could be given the death sentence. It is said that under Jacobian rule at least 10,000 persons were guillotined. Quite surprisingly most of them belonged to the lower class. In this way, the revolution started to devour its own children. Furthermore, under this terror, even Jacobian leaders were not spared. Up to March 1794, Robespierre put his other companions like Herbert and Dante on guillotine. So it became one man dictatorship. Surprisingly Robespierre created this Jacobian terror in the name of “General Will of Rousseau”. But very soon reaction set in against the government of Robespierre. So up to June 1794, the reign of terror declined in France, and Robespierre himself was put on guillotine.

In fact, the nature of the French Revolution can’t be defined without the knowledge of changing class equations in the course of revolution in France. In the beginning, it was the nobility, who made the first attack on the system but it was the middle class who took the leadership in its hand. So French Revolution appeared to be a middle-class revolution. But still, we cannot deny the role of popular pressure. In fact under the fear of a possible alliance between the monarchy and the nobility in France middle-class leadership sought the support of the lower class as well. It decided to use the lower class force as the subordinate force but there was a divergence in the objective of the middle class and that of the lower class. It was due to the fact that the lower class or the popular movement was not simply directed against the monarchy and the nobility but it was directed against the middle class as well. And it was under the pressure of the lower class that middle-class leadership took some radical decisions even during the first stage of the revolution.

Furthermore, during the second stage, the popular movement became too much prominent as the lower class seized the platform. That’s why the French Revolution became too much violent and radical. It expressed itself in Jacobian terror. But this situation did not continue for a longer period because at this turn of history lower class was less organized than the middle class. Above all a rupture was created within the lower class group on the issue of rationing of grains. In fact, the artisans of Paris demanded grains at subsidized rates but the peasants of France opposed this move for fear that they had to sell the grains at a cheaper rate. It was due to this reason that the government of Robespierre declined and once again the platform was recaptured by middle-class leadership. Under the government of the Directory, the radical temper of the revolution changed and later Napoleon Bonaparte changed the Character of the revolution itself by linking it to the objective of military conquest and national glory.

Important Links:

Intellectual Enlightenment
Political Causes of the French Revolution
Economic Causes of the French Revolution
Beginning of the French Revolution
Functions of the Constituent Assembly
Unsuccessful Attempt of the Royal Family to Flee the Country
Phases of the French Revolution
Role of Philosophers in the French Revolution
Nature of the French Revolution
Correlation Between the Objectives and Achievements of the French Revolution
Do you agree that the French Revolution achieved far less than what it intended to achieve?
Triumph of Jacobinism
Transformation of the Republic into a Military Dictatorship
Importance of the French Revolution
The Origin of the French Revolution
The Course of the French Revolution
Why Revolution in France?
French Revolution of 1848
The Foreign Policy of Louis Philippe
Causes of the Revolution of February 1848
Short Note on the French Revolution of 1848
Bonaparte Napoleon
Napoleon Ascendency
Consulate Rule and Constitution of 1799
Reforms of Napoleon
Napoleon Concord With Pope
Napoleonic Code
Continental System
Causes of the Failure of the Continental System
Napoleonic Imperialism
Napoleonic War
Short Note on Napoleon Bonaparte
Decline of the Napoleonic Empire
Spread of Revolutionary Principles
Popular Movement
Metternich and the Vienna Peace Settlement
The Phase of Constitutional Monarchy (1789-92)
French Revolution– Wikipedia