Unsuccessful Attempt of the Royal Family to Flee the Country

Unsuccessful Attempt of the Royal Family to Flee the Country:

The Constituent Assembly and the public were not opposed to the monarchy. If the King had applied foresight, he could have lived a prestigious, stately life under the provisions of the new constitution and served his country properly. The King made such a grave mistake that it led to the complete decline of the royal convention and his own entity. After the destruction of the Bastille, many feudal barons left France and took shelter in the neighboring states. The feudal lords joined hands with the neighboring governments and started conspiring against the revolutionary government of France. King’s brother- the count of Artwane also joined the band of conspirators. On the night of June 20, 1791, the King dressed as an ordinary slave and the Queen dressed as a Russian woman ran away from the palace. A young man identified them in the village of Varennes when they were crossing the boundary. The King and the Queen were brought to Paris. During the restless and continuous journey, the King was badly humiliated. Wearing sepulchral looks and grave composure people welcomed the King.

The mishap uprooted the public loyalty to the King. During this period, the government ran its administration without any hindrance. Under those circumstances, people began to think that the state could be governed without a King. The number of supporters of the Republic began to grow in France. The most important impact of the King’s flight was the birth of the Republican Party. It proved to be very significant in the French history.

Royal prerogatives were restored to the King who lived in hesitation. The blueprint of the constitution was finalized. The King took an oath of allegiance to the constitution which was accepted on September 30, 1791. The Constituent Assembly was dissolved with a declaration that it had achieved its objectives. But before its dissolution, the Assembly made a grave mistake. It passed a resolution overlooking the experiences of political upheavals which it had undergone during the last two years. It was emphasized in the resolution that members of the Constituent Assembly would not be elected as members of the legislative or the council of ministers. In this way, the constitutional matters were handed over to those immature persons who had not contributed anything to its formation.

The National Assembly was dissolved and a new Constituent Assembly was elected. It had a majority of those who supported the constitutional monarchy. They believed that the Revolution had done its work and now it was in the interest of the country to implement a new constitution. But there were a number of people who wanted to finish the monarchy and make the country a republic. The Republicans were divided into two parties: The Jacobins and the Griondists. The Jacobins were the most violent revolutionaries. Mara Datan and Robespierre were their prominent leaders. With it begins the second phase of the French Revolution. The steps taken during the first phase of the Revolution were in favor of the nobility and the middle class. The newly constituted Constituent Assembly worked for the welfare of the taxpayers. Their announcements and activities did not relate to the problems of farmers or workers. In the second phase, the leadership of the Revolution passed from the hands of the liberal middle class into those of the revolutionary middle class. This revolutionary middle class advocated the leadership of the common people. The most important cause of the change of leadership was that the politically enlightened lower class feared that the Revolution might not help them. Another reason for this change was the reaction of the European states to the French Revolution. The vibrations of the French Revolution shook some other countries in Europe and filled their governments with apprehension. These countries were making all efforts to re-establish monarchy in France, which could be retaliated with aggression alone.

The chief problem that the new Constituent Assembly faced was how to control the French nationals who opposed the Revolution and tried to crush it. These included priests and aristocrats. Some people who had fled away from France during the Revolution were preparing public opinion against the Revolution in those countries and were prompting their rulers to invade France. To safeguard the Revolution, France came into a clash with Prussia, Austria, and other countries. As a result of all this there broke out a historical war which gave a totally new direction to the Revolution. First of all France was declared a republic and then followed the reign of terror against the background of which arose Napoleon.

In the joint declaration of Pilnitz, Prussia, and Austria expressed their determination to re-establish monarchy in France. France declared war against both these rival countries on April 20, 1792. During the war with them, the Revolutionaries threw away the yoke of monarchy from their shoulders. Kingship was abolished and a national convention was constituted to prepare a new constitution for the country. In the meantime, during September 1792 thousands of anti-Revolutionaries were executed in a week.

The first session of the Convention was held on September 20, 1792. The Convention was dominated by radicals who first of all abolished the monarchy and established a republic. The most important task before the Convention was to defend the country and it got unexpected success in it. The Convention abolished slavery in the French colonies. The practice of booking a person for non-payment of debt was also banned and a metric system of measurement was adopted. The property of the anti-Revolutionaries was either seized by the government or distributed among the public. The maximum retail price for food items and other necessities of life was fixed for the convenience of the common people. The newly constituted Convention prosecuted Louis XVI and condemned him to death on January 16, 1793. The execution of Louis filled all the orthodox governments in Europe with fear. Austria and Prussia were already fighting against France. Now England, Holland, Spain, and some other countries joined them. Clouds of danger surrounded France on all sides. Thousands of people were executed on the charge of treason. During this period of chaos, the Girondists who politically dominated the National Assembly since its inception were replaced by Jacobins. The Girondists were charged with incompetence and treason and ousted from authority and the Jacobins established their monopoly in the Convention.

The Jacobins established their authority under the leadership of Robespierre. In the name of supplying wartime needs, they formed two committees- the Public Welfare Society and the Public Defence Society. The Public Defence Society which has twelve members converted the French administration into a reign of terror. A law was passed according to which anyone who fell under a cloud could be hanged. These two committees began to overpower the Commune which was the backbone of the Revolution. Robespierre, the leader of the Jacobins was assassinated on July 1, 1794. And with it the reign of terror came to an end in France, but before his fall he had put about 20,000 people to death.

After the end of the reign of terror, the leadership of the Revolution again passed into the hands of the liberals. With the rise of the liberals, the interests of the middle class again began to dominate the government.

Even during the situation of chaos, the Convention succeeded in gaining unprecedented success in wars. By the end of 1793, all invading forces had been pushed out of the country. In 1794 the French forces began counterattacks on the enemy countries. It appeared that the French troops were invincible.

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
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?