Schemes the French Constitution was established in
Schemes for the French Revolution began with the actions of King Louis XVI. His endeavors brought France into an economic crisis, which led to extreme turmoil in France. Many citizens, in effect, began to fight against the injustices of the pre-established monarchy. One of these citizens was Jean-Paul Marat. Marat became a leading revolutionary in France through his publications and activism in the French Revolution. He was supported by radical revolutionaries and became an infamous public figure. Alongside his colleagues, Marat fought endlessly against the enemies of the Revolution, consequently, he formed many enemies of his own. The most renowned of these was his assassin, Charlotte Corday. Corday was tremendously influenced by Marat’s rivals to assassinate him, and soon after rose to fame. Subsequently, Jean-Paul Marat’s assassination altered the level of violence in the French Revolution and led to the Reign of Terror. The French government in the eighteenth century, although monarchical, was supposed to be advised by the Estates General. The French monarchs, however, rejected the authority of the Estates General for years, until it was summoned again in 1789. Financially burdened, partially, from its participation in costly wars and the extravagant spending of the Queen, Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI sought advisement from the Estates General concerning France’s economic crisis (“French Revolution”). When the assembly met the First and Second Estates were included, but the Third Estate was omitted from making crucial decisions. The Third Estate represented a large percentage of the French, while the clergy and nobility that made up the two other Estates represented a much smaller percentage of the population combined. One of the problems that ignited the French Revolution began with this event because the people were not given a voice or allowed to take part in their government. In addition to this, the monarchy placed a system of taxation which only increased poverty. Also, commodities were inflated, which resulted in starvation and many deaths. Historically the Third Estate is said to be ” laden with all that which is really painful, with all the burdens which the privileged classes refuse to carry” (Sieyes), nevertheless as the foundation of this nation they had no valid representation and faced all of the injustices of the monarchy. The Third Estate would no longer stand for the injustices of the monarchy, in effect the National Assembly was formed. Having been locked out of their designated courthouse by King Louis XVI, the assembly continued on in a tennis court. Here the Tennis Court Oath was created, and in it, the Assembly demanded a national constitution be established as a revolutionary effort to assert the Third Estate’s authority. The Assembly became victorious as the French Constitution was established in 1791 (‘French Revolution”). France was now declared as a constitutional monarchy, this devastatingly limited the monarch’s power. The National Assembly dissolved soon after and in effect the Legislative Assembly took power. A government system that allowed active members of the nation to elect representatives to take part in the Legislature was then created. It reunited the Estates General into one body that was fair to all the French. The Legislative Assembly would too dissolve as its members began to join the various political factions of Paris. In an effort to generate another constitution after the French monarchy was overthrown, the French National Convention was established in September of 1792. This establishment was composed majorly of two factions: the Girondins and Montagnards (Llewellyn and Thompson). The Revolutionary Wars began shortly before the Convention was established. Revolutionary War efforts were initiated with the suspension of King Louis XVI and the creation of the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.” Conflict arose now as royalist sympathizers were targeted by revolutionaries. Revolutionists decimated royalists in their efforts to reform France. In the ideal Girondist world, all things would be free and capitalist. The group advocated for a constitutional monarchy and a government that protected the liberty and rights of all men. Girondins are described to be “moderate Republicans” (Llewellyn and Thompson), as they endorsed a government chosen and represented by the French people as a whole not just the citizens of Paris. They passionately led the French Revolution from late 1791 until 1793 when they were labeled as enemies of the Revolution. Although the Girondins seemed to have reasonable intentions, the Montagnards did not agree with them. Montagnards refers to those who occupied the highest benches in the Jacobin clubs (Kates 8-10). Jacobins resemble the attributes of the Montagnards, as the Montagnards simply derived from them. Whilst supporting the Revolution, the Montagnards focused primarily on the well-being of Paris rather than the nation as a whole. The Montagnards were very powerful, and they had far greater numbers in the Convention as well as supporters than their rivals. The faction was supported and composed of many influential men of the Revolution such as Maximilien Robespierre, Jacques Hebert, and Jean-Paul Marat, to name a few. They claimed to advocate for the people who had no voice at all, to bring justice, and unearth the rights of men due to to the neglect of these things by the monarchy (Llewellyn and Thompson). The Girondins were labeled, by the Montagnards, as royalist sympathizers for appealing the sentencing of King Louis XVI when he was sentenced to the guillotine for his crimes. They believed the trial was not fair because it was decided by the Parisians rather tthan the nation as a whole. This created tension between the Girondins and Montagnards since the Montagnards fully supported this sentencing. The appeal, however, was rejected by the National Convention, which further weakened the Girondin authority as they were already outnumbered in the Convention. However, the Girondins did fight back and raged a war against the radical Parisians. They were able to have several of the radicals arrested such as JeJean-Paularat and Jacques Hebert (Llewellyn and Thompson). Nevertheless, the Montagnards fought back. In an essence the Montagnards ambitions were very similar to those of the Girondins, however, they differed in that radical men constructed the majority of the supporters and members of the Montagnards. Jean-Paul Marat was one of the most influential radical men of this faction. He fought against the Girondins passionately and believed they were all enemies of the Revolution due to their means of carrying out their objectives being different from his (Silva-Grondin). He and many others felt it was necessary to use any means necessary to ensure their victory, which meant eliminating anyone who threatened to impede the Revolution. Consequently, Jean-Paul Marat called for the Girondins to be arrested and guillotined for being enemies of the Revolution. Eventually, the Convention came to a decision to expel the Girondins and they were executed in late October of 1793 (Llewellyn and Thompson). However, the Girondins did have one victory before their deaths, the execution of Jean-Paul Marat. As the Revolution continued, the Montagnards’ power increased. By the end of 1793, they controlled the National Convention and sent the Girondins to face the guillotine. Soon after, the Committee of Public Safety was also formed and its majority was composed of Montagnards. In effect, the Committee ruled France until they were eradicated from the Convention and thereafter executed in many numbers. It was not until the Thermidorian Reaction in July 1794 that the Montagnards lost their power. At this point the prominent spokesman of the Montagnards have been assassinated, ousted or guillotined; the Montagnards no longer had a voice. The infamous revolutionary, Jean-Paul Marat, was born in Boudry to a Huguenot family. Marat’s family faced discrimination as they were constrained in employment opportunities. Thus, unable to afford higher education Marat became a reputable physician from indoctrinating himself. His exemplary skills were desired by French aristocrats, correspondingly Marat came to inhabit France. As a child, Marat sought out to become a public figure, this led him to produce philosophical and medical work during his time in France, becoming a frequently discussed topic. Marat has countlessly confronted the corruption within aristocratic governments. A deep hatred of aristocracy is a common theme in his works, this hatred is believed to derive from the rejection he faced from aristocrats earlier in his life (Silva-Grondin). In his “Chains of Slavery,” he openly attacked the British and French governments, expounding the flaws within aristocracy present in French governments (Vidalenc). Marat also created the L’Ami du Peuple, which becomes the French national newspaper in 1793, in an effort to unravel the corruption of the French government. L’Ami du Peuple contained thorough and critical portrayals of the French officials as against the wellbeing of the nation and its people. A high sense of nationalism and trust between Marat and his consumers were created in these journals as they created a sense of relatability with the common people, who made up more than nine-tenths of the nation. He attracted this large following as he promised to change that would benefit the commoners. Marat is also infamous for his public attacks and hatred towards nobility, another common theme among the French population. Noblemen often found themselves featured in L’Ami du Peuple, where they were demonized and created to be antagonists of France. At this point, Marat had become a very powerful man, as he influenced the majority of the French. However, not everyone was a fan of Marat, especially not the Girondins. Marat’s assassin, Charlotte Corday, was born into a noble family in Normandy, France. Corday lived as a bystander during the revolution until she moved to Caen, France. While she lived here, it became a center for the federalists, which is the name given to the Girondins by the Montagnards (“Charlotte Corday”). She was influenced by these men and soon went to Paris to support the Girondins. Although she claims that she was not a part of their group, she did work for their cause. Charlotte showed her allegiance to the Girondins with an act of “kindness” to them and what she believed to be beneficial to the Revolution. Corday claims that her intentions from killing Marat were to “free France from the evils of Marat and restore liberty, equality, and fraternity” (Towle) to France. Although her intentions seemed admirable, they were far from reality. After being rejected twice in one day, on her third try, Charlotte Corday was admitted into the home of Jean-Paul Marat on July 13, 1793. She entered under false pretenses of having a list of Girondin members for Marat to order to the guillotine. Once Marat begins reading the letter, Corday pulls out a stiletto and stabs Marat in the heart. This set off a chain of violent acts the French Revolution had yet to see, notoriously known as the Reign of Terror. France’s beloved friend of the people had now been assassinated, civilians’ hearts wept for their friend, then they became infuriated (Silva-Grondin). Following his death Marat quickly became propaganda for the Revolution as he received a hero’s funeral from his friends and was paraded around the streets of Paris, being saluted and honored for his service to the people. He was quickly depicted in artwork such as “The Death of Marat,” by Jacques David and statues have been created for him. In a closer look of the “The Death of Marat,” Marat is portrayed as helpless as he is dying naked in his bath. His hands are still able to grasp the quill that he has used countless times to write and edit the articles of L’ami du Peuple, showing his commitment to fighting for the people’s cause. The revolutionaries formed Marat into a martyr, as he was even illustrated to resemble Christ on the cross, “blood streaming from his chest,” (Glover). Although Marat received a tribune, Corday was only invited to the guillotine. After Marat’s death, the Reign of Terror was initiated. France and the world had never encountered such a vicious and prolonged act such as this one. The Terror lasted approximately from September of 1793 to July of 1794 (“The Reign of Terror”). The friends of Marat filled with rage from his death led the Terror, most prominently Robespierre as the principal enforcer. This part of the Revolution was far more violent than the previous four. Robespierre and Danton were now the strongest leaders left of the Montagnards. Designed to eliminate counter-revolutionaries, the Terror was institutionalized, ironically, by the Committee of Public Safety. In their mission, they made use of the guillotine frequently, over sixteen thousand heads were rolled across the country within six months. Marie Antoinette became the first victim of the Terror. The recent widow and former Queen of France was stripped of her dignity and respect as she, too, was paraded through the streets of Paris. Unlike her husband, who received royal treatment, but just as the commoners would be, and antagonized before facing her fate. Now one enemy was eliminated, however, the Terror would come to claim many more. The Terror claimed the lives of hundreds and thousands of French citizens. Many of the victims of the Terror were ordinary people rather than aristocrats. Robespierre’s mind was too infected that he continuously used the guillotine to fight for a cause that no longer needed to be fought. By September 1793 the Law of Suspects was established, which essentially meant anyone could face the guillotine now. Simple acts such as criticizing a revolutionist or the revolutionary government could send one to the guillotine. Having any relationship with a counter-revolutionist would earn someone an invitation to the guillotine. The Law of Suspects contradicted the “Declaration of the Rights of Man,” which the members of the Committee advocated for at one point. Robespierre claimed “softness to traitors will destroy us all” to justify his actions. Meanwhile, the men he affiliated with began to feel the Terror became corrupt and must cease. Robespierre’s co-leader Danton publicly called for an end to the Terror. He then became its next victim. Robespierre had become entirely mad, this was finally recognized in the Thermidorian Reaction. The term Thermidor derives from the new calendar that was institutionalized in France during the Revolution. On the eight of Thermidor, equivalent to July 26th, Robespierre gave “a speech full of appeals and threats” (“Thermidorian Reaction”). The National Convention took action once recognizing Robespierre’s corruption, then after arresting him. The Convention went on to sentencing him to face the weapon he so fondly used. Following his death, the guillotine ended the lives of hundreds of Robespierre’s associates, suppositionally creating a “brief White Terror against Jacobins throughout France”(“Thermidorian Reaction”). Ultimately, despite not having a direct part in the Terror, Jean-Paul Marat played a major role in its enactment. However, his effect on the Revolution would not begin until the incompetent King Louis XVI conjures up the Estates General, which ignited a series of unfortunate events for the monarchy. Meanwhile, Marat contributed profoundly to the Revolution. He made efforts to rid the Revolution of its enemies in order to ensure its success. Unfortunately, he would not live on to see its end, but his assassination proved to be significant to the violent course of the Revolution.