A CHRONOLOGICAL SUMMARY OF EVENTS FROM JANUARY, 1789, TO JULY, 1792. BY THE TRANSLATOR
January. THE elections to the Estates-General begin. There are nearly five million electors.
APRIL. In Paris the elections are delayed by the Court party; also a tax of six francs is made a qualification of the suffrage. The districts refuse the presidents nominated by the King.
27. The employees of a paper-maker, Réveillon, burn his effigy. He has spoken of lowering wages, and is to be decorated.
28. The mob demand Réveillon’s head of the electors sitting at the Archbishop’s palace. They burn his house, and the Guards fire upon them. Many are killed. The riot does not become general. It is thought to be instigated by the Court, in the hope that it would become general, and thus excuse repressive measures. It is desired to frighten Paris, which is regarded as being too democratic. The elections of the deputies for Paris are not completed till May 20th.
may 3. The deputies arrive at Versailles. The King offends them at the outset by making them enter his reception-room according to precedence—that is, by orders, not province by province.
4. Procession of the Estates.
5. Opening of the Estates-General. Speeches are delivered by the King, the Keeper of the Seals, and Necker. It is evident that the Court is preoccupied exclusively with money matters and taxation.
6. The Third Estate takes possession of the large hall, and waits for the other two orders to join it. It insists that all three orders shall vote together. A decree is passed by the Council suppressing Mirabeau's journal of the Estates-General; another forbids the publication of any periodical without permission. This amounts to a Censorship.
7. Some members of the Third Estate invite the other orders to join them. The nobility form themselves into an assembly. The clergy wait.
12. Conferences to bring about union.
27. The clergy are invited to join the Third Estate.
june 1o. The nobles and clergy are summoned for the last time. Ten of the clergy go over.
15. Siéyès proposes that the Third Estate shall declare itself the Assembly of the known and acknowledged representatives of the French Nation.
16. Siéyès proposes the title of National Assembly.
17. The title is adopted; the Assembly assumes the right of taxation.
20. The great hall is closed by the King’s orders on the pretext of making ready for the Royal Session on the 22nd. The Assembly goes to the Tennis Court and takes an oath not to separate until it shall have established a Constitution. The clergy begin to join the Assembly.
23. The Royal Session is held : a day late. The King declares that the actions of the Third Estate are null and void, and that the Three Estates are to meet separately. During the coming week the King has to give in, and requests the nobles to join the Assembly.
25. Versailles is full of troops; the Deputies are practically prisoners. The Court hopes to overcome them. The electors of Paris assemble to instruct their deputies. The French Guards, confined to barracks, overpower their guards, and fraternize with the people. On the 23rd the King had refused to change the system of promotion by rank and influence. There is great excitement in the Palais Royal gardens. The Guards refuse to obey orders contrary to those of the Assembly.
26. The King unwillingly grants the union of the Orders.
27. The union of the Three Estates takes place. Great popular excitement.
29. Eleven Guards, sent to the Abbaye for taking the oath, were to be removed to the Bicêtre, a prison and hospital combined, where the treatment of venereal diseases was commenced by a flogging. Four thousand Parisians rush to the Abbaye, break down the doors, and liberate the victims. A body of cavalry sent to cut them down fraternizes with them. All proceed to the Palais Royal gardens.
july 10. The Assembly requests the removal of the troops.
11.The King refuses to remove the troops. Necker is dismissed. All this time Paris has been restless and suspicious.
12.The news of Necker’s dismissal reaches Paris. Desmoulins rallies the crowd in the Palais Royal; a procession is formed of armed citizens carrying busts of Necker and the Duc d'Orleans. They are charged by cavalry, and dispersed. Other conflicts follow. German troops fire on the people in the Tuileries gardens. The people demand arms at the Hotel de Ville. After some delay a portion of the crowd succeeds in finding arms. Some French Guards kill some of the German cavalry.
13. Delegates from Paris entreat the Assembly to form a “citizen guard”, and describe the state of Paris. The Assembly sends deputations to the King and to Paris; the first reproaches Louis with Necker’s dismissal and insists on the removal of the troops. The Assembly sits all night. Paris is full of a starving population; there is famine in the provinces, and the country-folk are pouring into the city. The electors of Paris decide to arm 60,000 Guards. The roads are full of troops; food cannot be got to Paris without risk and difficulty.
The messengers return from Versailles with the King’s unsatisfactory answer. The people march to the Hôtel de Ville and offer to defend Paris. Some powder in the Hotel de Ville is distributed. Guns are sought for; 50,000 pikes are made. There is a general feeling that Paris will he attacked by the order of the Court.
15. Guns are found at the Invalides, and the Bastille is attacked and taken, the French Guards helping and bringing their cannon. The Court spend the day in planning an attack upon Paris. Officers arrive from Paris with the news that the Bastille has fallen. Paris is discovered to be on its guard; the attack is given up.
15. Confusion at Versailles. The King at last enters the Assembly and states that he has ordered the troops away from Paris and Versailles. Versailles is overcome with joy. The news reaches Paris in time to prevent a serious collision between the troops and the people. A hundred deputies take the news to Paris.
16. The Queen wishes the King to fly, and begin a civil war at the head of his troops. The King has been closeted with his ministers all night. The King is told that Paris expects him, and writes inviting Necker to return.
17. The King, surrounded by deputies, reaches Paris. He is received at the Hotel de Ville. His speechless and his somewhat sullen behavior disappoints the people. He returns to Versailles. His brother and many of the greater princes and nobles take to flight.
20. Discussion in the Assembly as to the administration of Paris.
august. About this time bands of armed men—“brigands”—are prowling about the country. It is said that they are paid enemies of the Revolution, destroying the crops in order to starve the people. There is no order, no security in the provinces. The people begin to arm themselves. In a week's time the Assembly is told that three millions of peasants are in arms. Once in arms, the people feel their power. The towns arm, and take their local bastilles. Seigneurs who have behaved with more than usual brutality are attacked in their chateaux and killed. Then, marching on the chateaux everywhere, the people demand arms, burning title-deeds and feudal instruments, in hundreds of cases burning the chateaux too.
(What was done by "brigands" and what by domiciled peasants it would be hard to say. For a long time the people had grown impatient; the Assembly, from which they had hoped so much, seemed to waste its time in talking politics, and the King seemed to be their enemy. They now refused to pay taxes, burned the Custom barriers, pillaged the markets, and forced the municipalities to fix maximum prices for bread). Now all the old machinery of government becomes utterly disorganized, and the chateaux are going up in smoke and flames.
4. The Assembly, emboldened by the provincial revolution, and the practical abolition of feudal rights, abolishes them in theory. During the preceding days the more liberal of the nobles have decided to abandon such rights. Equality before the law and individual liberty are established by decree.
6. The estates of the Church are claimed as national property by Buzot
8-11. The estates of the Church and the tithes are respectively confiscated and abolished, provision being made for the cures by maintaining tithes as a temporary measure.
All this time, and until September, Paris is without real municipal government, police, or justice. The city is starving as though in a state of siege. Purchases are made by force of arms. In the meantime the Assembly is discussing the royal veto. The Palais Royal wishes to send deputations to Versailles : Loustallot wishes first to refer the question of the veto to the people of Paris. A deputation goes to the Hotel de Ville, and is refused a hearing.
Meanwhile the Court is conspiring to remove the King to safety and to begin a civil war. The Assembly does nothing of note, and is undecided in its behaviour.
sept. 12. It is at last decided that the decrees of August 4th must be presented for the King's sanction. It is reported that the King intends to oppose them.
13. Mirabeau and others, fearing the King will refuse his sanction, wish to dispense with the veto.
15. The King gives an unsatisfactory reply, criticising, but not sanctioning, the decrees.
21. The King says he will order the publication of the decrees, and hopes the Assembly will decree such laws as he can sanction.
24. Necker presents a financial statement to the Assembly. Two loans which had been decided upon of 113 millions produce only 12 millions. The nation has no credit. Necker suggests that every one should sacrifice 25 per cent. of his income.
OCT. 1. Banquets are held at Versailles. Starvation continues in Paris. The news of the banquets brings the discontent to a head.
5.Ten thousand women, clamouring for bread, go first to the Hôtel de Ville, thence to Versailles. The people of Paris follow in their thousands. The National Guards follow, carrying La Fayette with them. They invade the Assembly. Deputations go to the King. He at last accepts the decrees.
6. The next day the people invade the chateau, and force the King to return to Paris with them. The King has been forced to promise food, and bread-carts set out for Paris amid the riots. The common people think the King's presence will end the famine; but the real reason for bringing him in is to prevent his escape and the danger of civil war. The royal family is henceforth in the keeping of La Fayette.
9. On the 9th the King declares his intention of visiting the provinces, thus veiling his intention to escape.
About this time the Jacobins begin to grow powerful. The Assembly henceforth meets first in the Archbishop's palace, then in the riding-hall near the Tuileries.
In the following months, moved by the state of the finances, fear of the Court, desire to stand well with the people, and the original theories and ideals with which the deputies came to Paris, the Assembly is employed in completing the Constitution, on the work of general reform, and in establishing a federated government whose principles shall be uniformity, local self-government, and popular sovereignty. France is now divided into 83 departments and 374 districts; and the appropriate administrative bodies are created. The communes are all unaltered, and are placed under the direction of municipalities. The qualifications of the suffrage are decided upon. The Parliaments are abolished and courts of law established; internal Customs are removed. The external tariff is modified. The old taxes are to remain in force till others are voted (a task which should have been the first work of the Assembly). Besides selling Church property, the Assembly suppresses monasteries and convents, the inmates being pensioned. A “Civil Constitution of the Clergy” is promulgated, to come into force in the summer of 1790.
8-10. The debate begins on the confiscation of Church property.
11- Some of the clergy of Brittany threaten rebellion.
18. The municipalities make them take back their words.
22. The decree of the “three days' labour” is issued.
24. The clergy of Toulouse threaten civil war. Meanwhile the wealthy clergy of Belgium, Brabant, and Flanders are raising an army.
NOV. 3. The Assembly decrees that the estates of the clergy are at the disposal of the nation and that the clergy, as an order, no longer exist.
5. A law is passed, stating that “such tribunals as do not register within three days shall be prosecuted for illegal behaviour”. This is necessary as the old courts are sitting in many cases, and are guilty of barbarous atrocities. The Parliaments are given "an indefinite vacation."
dec. Of those that dare to resist the Parliament of Brittany is most obstinate, as the reactionary nobles are gathering at St. Malo. However, the people of Rennes, Vannes, and St. Malo send word to the Assembly that they have discovered the traitors. The Parliaments of Brittany and Bordeaux are summoned to the Bar.
22. The Parliaments are suppressed.
The work of organizing a system of justice is begun.
The Parliament of Brittany argues for the divorce of Brittany from France.
The Parliaments in general, being unable to defend themselves, speak in defence of provincial Estates.
The municipalities everywhere demand the sole rights of the people.
J. II. On this day the Parliament of Brittany is interdicted from all public functions until it shall request to be allowed to take the oath.
Confederation is now making rapid strides. At first this federation is of a provincial nature. In January the representatives of 15o,000 National Guards of Brittany and Anjou meet at Pontivy, in uniform, and establish a system of confederation.
As such associations are formed, they become associated also with each other. In the winter Dijon calls upon the municipalities of Burgundy to hasten to the assistance of starving Lyon, and to unite with Franche-Comte. In all this there is nothing of the parochial spirit later stigmatised as Federalism. The federations begin by looking to Paris as their head.
FEB. In this month there are disturbances and riots here and there. Beggars spread abroad in bands. The feudal riots begin again; there is a reign of terror for the nobles, the decrees of August 4th not being executed quickly enough to satisfy the peasants. The National Guards as a rule protect the nobles, and the risings are checked.
All this time plots and conspiracies have been carried on in the Tuileries. Various schemes are formed, and discovered, for getting the King to Metz, where the nobles are maintaining an army. The Tuileries are watched night and day, so that by December the King is really a prisoner. Mirabeau advises him to retire to Rouen, and to head the Revolution. Marie Antoinette's advice is uniformly disloyal; she is, in fact, a mere agent for Austria, and the creature of her own passion for revenge.
The Impartials Club is founded, with the object of restoring power to the Kings and to preserve Church property.
4. On the 4th the King repairs to the Assembly and compliments it on its reforms, and declares himself above all the friend of the Constitution. The Assembly becomes delirious, and escorts him to the Tuileries, where it is received by the Queen in the presence of the Dauphin. "I will teach him to cherish liberty", she says. Shortly after this her brother, the Emperor, declares in a manifesto that he too is the friend of liberty.
The Assembly returns, and swears fidelity to the Constitution which as yet does not exist.
FEB. 5-15. A succession of fetes takes place throughout the country. People flock to take the oath.
18. Favras, an agent of Monsieur, the Comte de Provence, who had undertaken to carry off the King, is hanged. Monsieur denies all knowledge of him. Favras accuses nobody. This is the first time a noble has been hanged.
MARCH. Federation continues. In March, Brittany demands that France shall send one man in every thousand to Paris. Ineffectual attempts are made to cause collisions between soldiery and people.
At Easter the clergy attempt to turn the people against the Assembly.
APRIL. The King is keeping up enormous establishments at Trèves and Turin; Artois, Condé, Lambesc, and all the émigré nobles are paid huge pensions. But the pensions of the widows of poor officers are often unpaid or postponed. The Assembly passes a decree early in the year prohibiting this payment of emigrants. The King "forgets" to sanction it and disobeys it. Cannes, reporter of the Committee of Finances, reports that he cannot discover the application of a sum of 60,000,000 francs. Thereupon the Assembly decrees that the Keeper of the Seals must acquaint them of the refusal or sanction of every decree within eight days.
Cannes replies to the protests aroused by this enactment by printing the Red Book. This is a record of the utter corruption of the aristocracy and the weakness of royalty. It justifies the Revolution in the mind of all liberal France.
Ecclesiastical estates are now being sold. The municipalities, led by that of Paris, buy one half, to sell again; this property serves as security for paper money. Each note has a lot of land assigned to it; hence the notes are called assignais.
12. Dom Gerle suggests that the Assembly shall decree the Catholic religion to be the religion of the nation. This places the Assembly in an awkward position. The clergy want the Assembly to refuse, so that they can protest to the King and rouse all Catholics. Mirabeau, with adroit eloquence, saves the situation, recalling the massacres of St. Bartholomew's Day. The King makes it known that he will receive no such protest. The Catholics attempt to set the Catholic population against the Protestants.
18. Religious riots in Toulouse.
Protestants form armed confederations. Catholic plots and confederations are formed all over the country.
may 1o. An inventory of the property of the religious communities has been ordered. At Montauban the Catholics take advantage of the execution of this decree to fire on the magistrates, the Guards, and the Protestants. All the south is in a ferment. There is a counter-revolution at Nimes. The bishops try to turn the cures, who receive go a year from the Assembly, against the Government and the Civil Constitution.
3o. A great Federal meeting takes place at Lyons, the National Guard alone sending so,000 men.
june 13. Froment tries to incite the Catholics of Nimes to a disgraceful massacre of Protestants and revolutionists. The affair fizzles out after some bloodshed, only a sixth of the men he has organised following him. In return, the soldiery and the people turn upon Froment's men and exterminate them. At Arles and Avignon attempted risings end in the victory of the Revolution. Throughout the country the army shows itself loyal to the people. The King forces Bouille to take the oath of fidelity to the Revolution.
All this time France has been forestalling the law by spontaneously organising local government and a system of federation.
In May a great Federal meeting is held in Lyons; the Mayor and commune of Paris now request the Assembly to convoke a general Confederation, which is granted; although the Jacobins fear the King may gain by it. The expenses are to be defrayed by the various districts. Hospitality is universal when the time comes. In this month, moved by the universal enthusiasm, the Assembly abolishes titles of nobility.
19. The "deputies of the human race", headed by Clootz, demand a part in the Confederation fête.
july. The great meeting is to take place in the Champ de Mars, which is turned into a huge amphitheatre. The people themselves do most of the work, the men sent by the municipality being sulky, or perhaps bribed. Bands of delegates—largely army and navy veterans—arrive, singing the ça ira. All Paris strives to take them in.
14. Many people camp out all night on the Champ de Mars to ensure being present at the ceremony. It is wretchedly wet. 160,000 are seated; 150,000 stand; in the ficld itself are 50,000 Federal delegates; of whom 14,000 National Guards and delegates from the army and navy are to perform evolutions. The hills of Chaillot and Passy are crowded. To keep warm, the first arrivals begin to dance the farandole in rondos of provinces. The King and Queen come with La Fayette; 200 priests approach the altar; 1,200 musicians play; 40 cannon are fired. The people swear the oath of fidelity.
27. The Assembly, learning that Louis has granted the Austrians passage across French territory in order to crush the revolution in Belgium, refuses it; and 30,000 National Guards immediately march to oppose it effectually.
Europe forms an alliance against the Revolution, firstly against that of Brabant.
The Federation not having alleviated the tendency to force the poorer classes out of the State, the Jacobin societies begin to spread. In two years 2,400 clubs have been formed. This begins to give the Revolution another character. So far, no great revolution had ever been effected with so little bloodshed.
During the spring and summer soldiers have been attempting to obtain their arrears of pay, stolen by their officers. The officers employ bullies, skilled fencers, to insult them and kill the most persistent in duels. The officers are everywhere disloyal to the army and the Government.
AUGUST. At Nancy the King's regiment asks its officers to settle accounts, and is paid. A Swiss regiment sends two envoys to the King's regiment asking for information. Their officers, Swiss patricians, feudal lords, &c., having power of life and death over their men, flog the envoys in open parade before the French officers.
This Swiss regiment is popular in the army. On July 14, 1789, it had refused to fire on the people, thus paralysing Besenval, and leaving Paris free to march on the Bastille. The French promenade the two Swiss envoys around the town and force their officers to pay them a heavy indemnity.
The officers improperly kept the cash-boxes of the regiments at the treasurer's. The men take them back to quarters. They are nearly empty. The men force the officers to pay their arrears.
These disturbances are discussed in the Assembly. Mirabeau very sensibly advocates dissolving the Army and reconstituting it. La Fayette mistakenly causes a decree to be passed stating that the King should appoint inspectors of accounts from among the officers. He also frightens the Jacobins with tales of a military insurrection. Bouille is put in command of the eastern regiments. An officer from Besançon, a bully and duellist, is sent to Nancy as inspector. Letters from the soldiers at Nancy to the Assembly are intercepted. A false accusation against the soldiers on the part of the municipality of Nancy is read in the Assembly. They are commanded, by decree, to declare their errors to their commanders.
26. Malseigne, the inspector, arrives at Nancy with the decree. He begins by insulting the Swiss, and has to fight his way out. Bouillé commands the Swiss to evacuate Nancy. They refuse. He selects nearly five thousand troops, chiefly Germans, with seven hundred royalist National Guards. Two thousand loyal Guards rush into the town. Malseigne takes refuge with some carbineers, who give him up. Bouillé writes to the Assembly for two deputies to assist him, but does not wait for them.
31. Three deputations advance to meet Bourne outside Nancy, to ask his conditions. He commands the regiments to march out, give up Malseigne, and be judged by the Assembly. The French regiments obey. The Swiss remain, knowing that their own brutal officers will be allowed to judge them. Some Guards go to their help. Bouille enters the town under the fire of the poorer inhabitants. Half the Swiss are killed at once; of the rest twenty-one are hanged by their officers, one is broken on the wheel, fifty are sent to the galleys at Brest.
On the same day the Assembly agrees, too late, to give impartial justice.
However, it publicly thanks Bouillé on his return to Paris. Louis refers to the slaughter as "an afflicting but necessary affair". He recommends Bouillé to "continue." Loustallot dies a few days later—it has always been said, of grief.
The Nancy massacre causes the municipalities and the National Guard to be suspected of being aristocratic in their sympathies, and gives a great impetus to Jacobinism. It was mistakenly said that the Guards had sided with Bouillé. There are reactionary conspiracies to cause division among the Guards.
Sept. 2. Paris hears of the Nancy massacre. 40,000 men surround the Tuileries and demand the retirement of the War Minister, Latour-Dupin. Necker escapes from Paris, flies next day. The Assembly takes over the Treasury.
Everywhere the nobles have been provoking the people and the Guards. At Lahors two brothers, after killing several people in the streets who wished to arrest them, shut themselves up in their house and fire on the crowd, killing many, till their house is burned. In the Assembly a noble threatens Mirabeau with his cane. A bully follows Charles de Lancette for two days, trying to provoke a duel. Being accused of cowardice by the entire Right, he fights the Duc de Castries, and is wounded. The Duc's house is methodically dismantled by the people, a sentry being placed over the King's portrait. La Fayette has to look on. From this day the vengeance of the people becomes a factor to be feared and reckoned with. Now follows a period of uneasy tranquillity. Many foreigners come to Paris as to a spectacle. But in secret Louis is denouncing France to Europe, and the Jacobins are becoming powerfully organised in opposition to the nobles and clergy. Paris is all day a mass of meetings.
OCT. 30. The Bishops publishing their Exposition de principes, an attempt to terrorise the loyal clergy, the Jacobins decide to run a journal, publishing extracts from the correspondence of the main society with the provincial branches, which will make public a vast number of accusations against the nobles and clergy. They choose for editor Choderlos de Laclos, the agent of the Duc d'Orleans. This arrangement is due to the fact that they need money; Orleans supplies it. During this period Robespierre, who has been rather despised in the Assembly for his academical and didactic dulness, begins to gain his prodigious ascendancy over the Jacobins. The Cordeliers are also gaining in influence. Among them are Danton, Desmoulins, and Marat. They gain an enormous influence over the proletariat and the mob pure and simple.
NOV. 19. Mirabeau opposes Robespierre's proposal that only active citizens shall form the National Guard.
Nov. 27. Priests are ordered to take the oath of the Constitution within a week.
dec. In this month Marat proposes to form an organization of spies to watch the Government. Failing, he becomes an inquisition in himself. He begins to accustom the mob to the ideas of blood and blind vengeance.
jan. 4. The clergy in the Assembly are put to the test of the oath. Many refuse.
At the beginning of this year the effects of the error of antagonising the proletariat by shutting them off from citizenship and excluding them from the defence of their country, thus abandoning them to Marat and other firebrands, begin to be felt. The Reign of Terror might already be foretold. The Jacobins manage, by violence and calumny, to destroy the Club of the Friends of the Monarchical Constitution.
feb. The King's aunts, at the end of this month, wish to emigrate, finding it difficult to keep their chaplains. The King recommends them to go to Rome. First Mirabeau and then all Paris becomes alarmed; their departure would increase the power of the émigrés. However, the Assembly allows them to proceed.
28. The men of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine turn out to demolish the Castle (prison) of Vincennes. La Fayette and the Assembly are warned. A body of nobles guards the King with daggers and sword-sticks (quite fatuously), giving the day the name of the Day of Poignards. La Fayette and Santerre turn out; Santerre will not fire on the people. La Fayette makes a few arrests and saves the day.
march. This is a time of suspicion and unfruitful commotion. The question as to whether passive citizens shall bear arms is revived —this time practically by the municipality nd people, who set to work at their forges.
The party of the Left is slowly gaining in power and provincial repute. Robespierre is Public Accuser in the new Courts.
The King still meditates flight as his best means of action and reaction. Many of the Departments would further his flight, but not to Metz : they will not fight for emigres, only for Louis as head of the Revolution. Mirabeau is much with the King. Had he lived it is impossible to guess what the course of the Revolution might have been. But he sickens, is worn out with quackery and real illness.
APRIL. and finally, after a battle with the Jacobins, and an attempt to obtain fair treatment for emigres, he takes to his bed and dies, apparently of colic or appendicitis —of course, incorrectly treated. Mirabeau's funeral takes place, the greatest public funeral ever seen in France until that of Napoleon.
7. Robespierre, who assumes an imperious attitude now that Mirabeau is dead, and who has his Jacobins behind him, obtains the passage of a decree to the effect that no member of the Assembly shall be raised to the Ministry until four years after the Assembly is dissolved.
Five weeks later he is responsible for another decree to the effect that members of the Assembly shall not be elected for the following Assembly. For some reason the Assembly quietly passes this decree also, although the two decrees together ensure that France shall for some years be entirely in inexperienced hands, and also that ministers shall as far as possible deal with strangers in their subsequent Governments; that her greatest men (most of whom were elected to the first Assembly) shall be thrust aside for two or four years, and that the elections will be at the mercy of the factions. These decrees hardly affect Robespierre, whose power derives increasingly from the Jacobins.
At the time of Mirabeau's death the party in favour of the new Constitution found themselves in a dilemma. Taxes were refused; municipalities did what they chose; granaries were pillaged; there was no discipline in the army; the clubs were usurping all authority; in short, the executive was almost inoperative. It had been necessary to render it weak; it was equally essential now, if the Constitution were to be stable, to render it strong. Meanwhile the émigrés at Basle, Coblentz, and elsewhere threaten all the terrors of reaction. The King's brother calls upon the Powers of Europe to restore Louis's authority. In the midst of these conditions the primary assemblies for the election of the Constituent Assembly are already being convoked. It is a critical moment; but the latent stresses are precipitated by the action of the King.
In April the royal carriages were about to start for St. Cloud, but were turned back by the National Guard. It was suspected that other attempts would be made
June. Finally, on the night of June 10th, all preparations were completed. Bouillé was to receive the King and then to march on Paris. The King, his sister, the Queen, the two children, and their governess, drove out of Paris in a hackney-coach to the rendezvous, where a large travelling. carriage awaited them, with three soldiers dressed as couriers. Louis was disguised as a valet.
The story of the attempted escape need not be re-told here in detail. It is enough to say that the troops—some Austrian—posted along the road excite suspicion; at Chalons all guess what is afoot. Sainte-Menehould is passed with difficulty; and an ex-dragoon, one Drouet, rides to Varennes to intercept the party. Through a blunder of Louis, Drouet is in time. Drouet rouses the mayor and a few guards, and scares off the few hussars in the town: the mayor, a grocer by trade, invites the royal family to enter his house. The King makes futile attempts to "order his carriage". All the roads are in a turmoil. Bouillé arrives too late; the King is being taken back to Paris.
21. Intense alarm prevails in Paris when the King's flight is known. An immediate invasion is feared, an invasion and civil war in one, for the émigrés are gathered on the frontier, and royalists are expected to rise throughout France.
Louis has not only betrayed his country; he has left a document proving that he can never be trusted to rule according to the Constitution.
The Assembly does all that is necessary, and Paris remains quiet.
25. Louis re-enters Paris, escorted by three deputies. He is provisionally suspended. Some desire to maintain him on the throne with better advisers; some consider that he has abdicated; and a Republic is at last openly advocated. The Centre joins Lameth's party in an attempt to preserve the throne. It is finally decreed that the King shall be considered as having abdicated if he retract his oath or make war on France, but not otherwise. The Republicans thereupon draw up a petition denying the sufficiency of the Assembly, stating that the matter should be put before the nation. This is carried by an immense crowd to the Champ de Mars. La Fayette disperses the crowd, but it returns in greater numbers. Two men found under the altar, supposed spies, are killed. The mayor shows the red flag and orders the multitude to disperse. Stones are thrown; the Guard fires, many are killed; the crowd scatters.
AUG. 27. Declaration of Pilnitz.
The Assembly nears its term of office. Taxes, criminal law, public and constitutional affairs have all been dealt with. It seems desirable to draw up the complete Constitution. The Constitution when completed is presented to Louis, the suspension being interrupted.
sept. 4. He accepts and engages to maintain it. At the end of the month the Assembly dissolves.
OCT. 1. The Legislative Assembly meets; 400 of the deputies are advocates. Vergniaud, Condorcet, Brissot, and Carnot are perhaps the most eminent members.
In Avignon (still Papal) the Papal nobles had set up gibbets. June saw a rising of the people; four aristocrats were hanged, one on each of four gibbets. Emigration followed. The Papal Legate leaves and returns. Petitions for union with France are sent to the Assembly. Carpentras and Avignon are at war. Jourdan, a dyer, with thousands of "Brigands of Avignon", besieges Carpentras. Finally on September i4th the Assembly annexes Avignon and the Comtat. 16. On October 16th, however, one l'Escuyer goes to the Cordelicrs' Church to warn the Papal party to keep the peace. A statue of the Virgin is said to have wept blood, and Papal placards are seen posted about. L'Escuyer is stabbed to death, chiefly by the scissors of female worshippers. The municipality fills the dungeons with aristocrats.
17-18. Jourdan establishes a court-martial and massacres the prisoners. In November the Assembly sends Commissioners and troops; Jourdan escapes being cut down; 130 bodies of adults and children are found in a Papal oubliette; finally there is an amnesty.
Meanwhile there is a great deal of unrest in the country, what with aristocrats in the south, priests everywhere, patriot municipalities, and ambitious departmental directories. The autumn passes with nothing notable done; there are intrigues at the Tuileries, and Orleans is so grossly insulted as finally to break with Louis altogether. There are rumours of war; Coblentz is a little Court in itself, so many are the émigrés waiting there to invade France.
28. Monsieur, Louis' brother, is invited to return within two months, under heavy penalties.
NOV. 4. Petion is elected Mayor of Paris.
9. All émigrés are declared suspect, and, unless they return by January 1st, outlawed. Other severe decrees are passed : the King vetoes all but the first. Decrees for putting France into a state of defence have also been vetoed.
29. The King is requested to demand that the German and emigrant forces shall be dispersed under pain of war.
In a few days he states that the Elector of Treves and other princes will see to it that all gatherings and hostile acts on the part of émigrés in their dominions must cease before January 25th; if they ignore his wishes he must declare war.
dec. 6. Narbonne is appointed Minister of War; 150,000 men are requisitioned; 20,000,000 francs are voted. Three armies are formed, under Rochambeau, Luckner, and La Fayette. Monsieur and Condé are impeached. The Elector of Treves engages to disperse the émigrés. He makes but a pretence of so doing. Austria will support him, and posts 50,000 men in Holland, 6,000 in Breisgau, and marches up 30,000 more.
The Assembly requires the Emperor to give, before February 10th, a precise statement of his intentions. Incapable ministers are impeached. The King has to select a Girondist ministry (in March). The Emperor finally gives a wholly unsatisfactory reply : the Monarchy is to be reestablished on the basis of the royal seance of June 23, 1759, the property of the Church is to be restored, Alsace to be given back to the German princes and Avignon to the Pope. War is now inevitable.
april 20. Louis repairs to the Assembly with his foreign minister, Dumouriez, who explains the situation with regard to Austria. Louis then, by the terms of the Constitution, proposes war to the Assembly. On his withdrawal war is accordingly declared, to the great joy of the country, which at once begins to volunteer. Rochambeau has the northern army, his frontier being from Dunkirk to Philippeville; La Fayette the Centre, his frontier stretching to Weissemburg; Luckner has the army on the Rhine, his frontier running from Weissemburg to Basle. The Alps and Pyrenees, not yet in danger, are confided to Montesquieu.
Dumouriez determines to begin by invading Belgium.
He thinks the Brabant patriots will join him. Dillon and Biron are to march on Tournai and Mons respectively; La Fayette is to march from Metz to Stenai, Sedan, and Namur.
28. The columns are weak, the men undisciplined. Dillon has just crossed the frontier and come into action when his troops stampede, carry him off, and kill him. Biron's men also retire in panic. La Fayette hears of this at Bouvines, and, seeing that the invasion has failed, retires. Rochambeau resigns, complaining that he receives commands instead of being free to issue them. The frontier from the sea to the Jura is now divided between La Fayette and Luckner.
These checks are imputed to Dumouriez' unskilfulness. A split occurs between the Gironde and the Feuillants. The Jacobins accuse the counter-revolutionaries. The latter hope to see the ancien regime restored.
JUNE 8. The Assembly votes the formation of an armed camp before Paris.
9. There is a skirmish at Maubeuge.
Louis, for some time urged to employ constitutional priests, in order to put an end to religious agitation, cannot work harmoniously with his ministers. On the 13th he dismisses them on Dumouriez' advice. On the 19th he vetoes two decrees, those concerning the non-juring priests and the Federal camp.
20. On the loth the people are greatly agitated; under the pretext of celebrating the anniversary of the Oath of the Tennis Court, 8,000 men march to the hall of the Assembly, asking permission to present a petition. They are introduced. They complain of the inactivity of the armies, and of the presence of traitors; if the executive be at fault it must be destroyed. The procession, now numbering 30,000 men, Guards, women, children—defiles through the Hall and proceeds to the Tuileries. The mob breaks in; Louis confronts them, and has to sit for hours on a balcony above the people. He refuses to sanction the decrees, but adroitly seizes and wears a red bonnet. Many deputies hurry to protect him. At last Petion disperses the people. This procession is known as that of the "Black Breeches". The popular party arouses by this action the hostility of the constitutionalists. Rochefoucauld wishes Louis to go to Rouen, where the troops are loyalist. La Fayette wishes him to lead the army. But Louis, expecting help from Europe, treats with no one.
28. La Fayette, leaving his army to come to Paris, demands the punishment of the "Black Breeches" and the destruction of the Jacobin party. He hopes to effect this with the aid of the National Guards. He meets with no encouragement and returns to his army, having lost much of his popularity. Vergniaud, realising the danger of France, advises deposition.
july 5. The Assembly declares France in danger; all citizens having served in the National Guard are called out and all able-bodied men; guns and pikes are served out, and volunteers enrolled
Petion is suspended on account of his action on June 10th.
The Bishop of Lyons, Lamourette, calls on all parties to swear a fraternal oath
and unite as brothers in the face of danger. All swear and embrace, exchanging
the historic "Kiss of Lamourette."