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The Radical Period Of The French Revolution

1024 words - 4 pages

The Radical Period of The French Revolution

By the end of 1971, Europe was preparing to witness the end of a
seemingly triumphant revolution in France. The country was restructuring
its government in a forceful and bloodless manner, while the tyrant King
Louis the XVI agreed to the demands of the masses (albeit without much
choice). However, due to the fanatical aspirations of men such as Danton,
Marat and Robespierre,it would be only a matter of months before the
moderate stage of social and political reform was transformed into a
radical phase of barbaric and violent force. In their quest for freedom,
equality and fraternity, the leaders of the Jacobins inadvertently turned
the revolution into an oligarchic dictatorship that threatened to destroy
all that was achieved in the previous two years of insurrection.

The revolution took a sharp turn on August 9th, 1792. The Municipal
government was overthrown in Paris and a Commune was established by the
leaders of the radical forces. During this time there were continual food
riots erupting in every area of the country and, with the threat of war
against Austria and Prussia looming, it was vital that order was to be
maintained during such tumultuous times. Although the constitution was
already enshrined and the citizens had their freedom and liberties, there
was still plenty of public dissent and disapproval as to whether or not
these laws would help create a new government and prevent the country from
breaking apart. The people had come this far and were not prepared to watch
their efforts lead to failure or the restoration of an absolute monarch. As
a result, the radical forces were able to gain the support of the citizens
in declaring that the constitution of 1791 was ineffective and useless
since it did not suit the needs of ALL the popula n of France. Moderate
forces preferred to concentrate on the foreign affairs of "new" France, but
the radicals insisted on domestic stability first. Led by the popular
Danton and the merciless Marat, the Paris Commune discarded the old
constitution and called for a National Convention to begin work on a new,
revised version.

The National Convention, divided by the moderate Girondins and the
radical Jacobins, was the place where the future of the country was to be
eventually determined. It was the premise of the Jacobins that they should
eradicate the "enemy within" and secure the destiny of the revolution
through the destruction of counter-revolutionary forces. They believed that
by weeding out those who opposed the revolution, they could achieve their
goals quickly and efficiently. The Girondins were not so quick to agree
with the Jacobins, and so political deadlock begin to form in the
Convention. It was not until after the September massacres, when 1200
prisoners were executed without trials, that Robespierre and his followers
were able to justify their premise. They condemned the actions of the

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