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Modern Western Civilization
Class 13: Reaction and the Rise of Napoleon
I. The Thermidorean Reaction (1795-1799)
- A. The Reign of Terror
Was not popular in the long run -It was genuinely terrifying -
it got out of hand and malicious accusations were made. -episode
of the rafts at Nantes and 2000 killed
- B. -also politicians feared for their own heads when Robespierre
made a threatening speech on July 26th. -also should note that
Robespierre's fascination with the new religion did not endear
him to many in the Convention.
- C. Robespierre - Condemned to the Guillotine in the Convention
- 9th of Thermidor (July 27th 1794) -executed July 28th 1794
II. The New Government - The Directory
- A. The Directory
The Directory was a 5 man executive body - aim was to avoid dictatorship
and excessive democracy.
This was a four-year period of lack of strong government and a
series of coup d'etats. The leaders were not strongly ideological,
but did not want to turn the clock back.
- B. The new people in control were again rich bourgeois liberals
- chief aim was to perpetuate their own rule.
-Girondist deputies allowed to take seats
-Paris Commune outlawed
-Law of 22 Prairal revoked
-People involved in the Terror were now attacked
-the White Terror
-economic liberalism revived + inflation
- C. A frivolous culture came into being - fashions etc. Salons
(recalll - story of relatives of terror victims going to parties
wearing red scarfs around their neck)
- D. There was also a revival of Catholicism
-although cult of reason and the new calendar were kept.
- E. 1795 August 22 - Constitution of the Year III
-The first formally constituted Republic.
-But this was a totally different world from only six years before
-property and wealth, not birth were now important.
-France now had great national consciousness - no more could "L"etat,
c'est moi" ever be said.
-Peasants now were a major landowning group in society.
-The Sans-cullottes were removed from political life.
Riots by the poor were now put down - October 1795 - a Paris mob
was put down. (note - one of the organizers was black.)
-Napoleon commanded the cannon.
The Poor had been victims of the Terror so some loss of fervor
- F. Political pressures on the Directory
-There was continuing pressure from the left, from the old Jacobins
+ there were food riots.
-There were strong movements to have the Monarchy restored
The Monarchists actually won a majority in the election of 1797
- The Directory staged a coup against them, supported by Napoleon
- Coup of 18 Fructidor/Sept 4, 1797
-The problem for Monarchists was when Louis (XVII), the young
son of Louis XVI died. The new legitimate heir to the Throne,
was an unrepentant conservative who wanted to restore the 1789
constitution - not acceptable to the Peasants (who had gained
land), or even the moderate Middle Class.
-It was also not acceptable to Napoleon who had his own ambitions.
-To keep control Directory increasingly depended on the Army -
opens way to Napoleon.
III. Expansion and Empire
- The Military expansion begun under the convention continued,
with help of CPS's war economy - great new generals had been brought
to the fore in eight of Napoleons marshals.
-March 1795 - Peace concluded with Prussia and Spain but war continued
with GB and Austria. So Directory dependent on the military for
- Napoleon waits.
IV. Summing Up the French Revolution
Before going on to look at Napoleon lets sum up the French Revolution
A. Three Periods
- Liberal Revolution 1789-1792
-Estates General - Nat. Assem. - Nat. Const. Assem - -Legislative
- Radical Revolution 1792-1794
- The Convention - + Comm. Pub. Safety
- Thermidorean Reaction 1794-1799
B. Achievements of French Revolution
- Liberal Rev.
- end of Feudalism
- Made the people important in politics
- The old order was never re-established
- Radical Rev.
- National army, Idea of a Nation at war
-Metric system (Convention) + Abolishes Slavery in Colonies (Nap.
- In General
- In idea of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,
Fraternity was new - leads to nationalism
C. Problems of French Revolution
- -It did not produce a stable government
- -The Reign of Terror
- -Rad. Rev - led to ideas of totalitarian democracy