Phase 2 The Radical Revolution Summer 1792 Summer 1794 In the summer of 1792

Phase 2 the radical revolution summer 1792 summer

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during the Revolution. Phase 2: The Radical Revolution (Summer, 1792-Summer, 1794) In the summer of 1792, the French Revolution entered a second phase. Its politics turned more radical in the sense that new revolutionaries acting on behalf of the people seized control of the government and drove it in a republican, egalitarian direction. Three factors help account for this sudden and drastic change of direction. First, by permitting freedom of speech, assembly, and press, the revolutionaries of the first phase encouraged anyone who wished to engage in political discussion to do so. Moreover, these revolutionaries had embraced, even if incompletely, the ideas of freedom and equality. Men and women of the lower orders seized upon these ideas as well and had the opportunities to discuss them in public. And they felt cheated of their rights by the Constitution of 1791, which they correctly saw as a legal document protecting the rights of the wealthy more than their own. The second factor that drove the revolution in a radical direction had to do with actions of the king. The 1Laura Mason and Tracy Rizzo, eds. The French Revolution: A Document Collection(Boston: Houghton-Mifflin,. 1999), p. 110.
63 Constitution of 1791 had preserved the monarchy (its executive power, however, was circumscribed by the independent legislative and judicial branches of the government). When Louis XVI and his family attempted to flee France and to seek refuge at the absolutist Habsburg court in June of 1791, however, many French men and women drew the conclusion that the king and his supporters were plotting counterrevolution, seeking to destroy the gains of the revolution and return to absolute monarchy. His capture at the French city of Varennes and his humiliating return to Paris discredited monarchy in general and led the revolutionary government eventually to abolish the monarchy and declare France a Republic. The third factor in the radicalization of the Revolution, the outbreak of war, was related to the threat of counterrevolution, both within and outside of France. In 1793 the revolutionary government instituted a military draft that ignited a rebellion in the Vendée region in western France. Deeply Catholic peasants and rural weavers had resented the persecution of their priests by the urban middle classes in the region as well as their domination of the regional economy and politics. Led by priests and royalist nobles, the rebels formed guerrilla bands that grew into the self-styled Catholic and Royalist Army. The rebels occupied several towns, even threatening the important port city of Nantes, before a Revolutionary army suppressed the rebellion. The revolutionary turn of events in France inspired fear in the leaders of the other states of Europe that revolution would spill over into their territories. Austria and Prussia, both absolutist regimes, banded together to denounce the French Revolution in the Declaration of Pillnitz in 1791. When they asserted that it was a matter of “common interest to all sovereigns of Europe”2to restore order in France by restoring the absolute powers of the king there, the

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