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what happened during the radical phase of the french revolution?

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  1. lwhhow says:

    When you have a revolution, overthrow a government and a long established order it really helps if you have something ready to put in it’s place. The big thing in understanding what happened is….the French didn’t.
    Although the Revolution was a long time coming it was ‘spontaneous’ when it happened. It’s goal was to overthrow the rule of the king and aristocrats and their old order. That was accomplished. The question then was….what now? They had nothing ready to put in place. No leader, no institutions. Law and order went down hill pretty quickly in the streets. The only leadership/ control being just a loose argumentative ‘Assembly’.
    The Assembly broke into 3 parts pretty quickly….the ‘right’/ conservatives, the middle/ moderates, the ‘left’/ radicals. The conservatives thought the king/ aristocrats hadn’t been all that bad and wanted a system half way back to that. The moderates wanted a legal democracy like the US was and Britain would become in the future. The left/ radicals however wanted all manner of wild things. As the 3 groups argued conditions in the streets grew worse and worse and the violence/ killings started.
    The Revolution had started summer 1789 by summer 1792 it was out of control and the Assembly had lost control of events.
    The conservatives were wiped out completely leaving the moderate democrats led by Lafayette to square off in a losing confrontation against the radicals led by Murat, Danton, Robespierre. Lafayette was declared a public enemy in August 1792, the radicals were completely in charge and the ‘Paris Massacres’ started September.
    The radical leaders knew they could each gain in power individually for themselves by playing to the out of control ‘Paris mob’. Each tried to out do his rivals in giving the out of control mobs of rioters whatever they wanted….executions, bloody spectacles, revenge, loot, hate speech, riots, free food etc. To keep ahead of the others each had to go farther and farther and they could never stop…or the mob would kill them. The radical leaders had in effect become prisoners of the mobs.
    Meanwhile in the Assembly now all radicals, all limits were gone. They passed bills, laws, edicts to….re start the whole world from year one, re do the calender, burn books, burn/ desecrate churches, dig up the bodies of dead kings, out law religion, cancel God, order 1000′s of executions etc……
    In July 1793 Murat the big hate speech guy and top propagandist was assassinated by a teenage girl in his bathtub. In April 1794 Robespierre whacked (murdered) his rival Danton. From August 1793 Robespierre was supreme and instituted ‘the Reign of Terror’.
    Robespierre 1793-1794 saw the purpose of the Revolution as being to make him left wing radical supreme dictator with powers to remake the world, society, religion and force all the public to be leftist radicals like he. Those who would not comply, refused, couldn’t change would be killed and wiped out.
    His way to do this he explained was to have terror ‘reign’. As kings used to ‘reign’ from a throne. He would have ‘terror’ reign as ‘king’. He sent out 10,000′s of secret police, mercenaries, officials and troops throughout French society and throughout France to murder, rape, bully, torture, terrorize 100,000-200,000 people. The point was to keep his rivals, the public, and everyone so ‘terrified’ of him and his minions that they wouldn’t even think of getting in the way of his plans to remake the world (or at least France) from scratch.
    In summer 1794 he declared God dead and outlawed and a new religion all had to follow ‘the Cult of Reason’ / ‘Cult of the Supreme Being’ with himself as high priest and pope. He threw a huge public spectacle in Paris for it where he himself appeared dressed as a high priest and the new ‘God’.
    His followers/ assistants ‘the Committee of Public Safety’ laughed at him. Furious he told them he would have them all executed the next day as soon as he could arrange it. That night they got him, his brother, his guards and killed them.
    Robespierre’s successors realized things had gone too far, tried to find moderates and others they hadn’t killed yet, include them in the ridership and in 1795 created ‘the Directory’ which ruled moderately until being overthrown in a military coup by General Napoleon 1798.
    The radical phase is usally said to be from the trial/execution of the king Dec. 1792- to the Directory taking over more and more 1795.

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