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France history notes
1. History of France Kings and Queens
2. Napoleon Bonaparte
3. Napoleon Bonaparte
4. Napoleon Bonaparte the early years
5. General of Revolutionary France.
6. Napoleon Military Ambition
7. The Revolutionary Directory
8. French army of Italy
9. Bonaparte First Consul for life
10. Napoleon Invasion of England
11. The Battle of Austerliz
12. Map of the Battle of Austerlitz
13. Battle of Jenna
By 1789 the French Revolution had begun in earnest and the young, ambitious Corsican, seized his chance to further advance his military career via the new order that was sprouting new roots within France.
The basic right of the masses to a system of representative government and not absolute monarchy was now also spreading throughout Europe, fuelled by the successful revolt against Britain of the American colonies. Poverty and food shortages turned the populations ever more against the aristocrats,clerics and ruling classes and there was violent,civil unrest.
In the Dutch Netherlands 1784 the Patriot party attempted to attain a democratic government, but was suppressed. In 1787 the Austrian Netherlands (present day Belgium) sought to become an independent republic,this attempt was also suppressed.
In France King Louis XVI faced a bankrupt state and demanded taxes be raised. The ruling class of France known as the ' Estates General' consisting of representatives from the ' Three Estates'
(1 clergymen, 2 noblemen and 3 commoners) were gathered to officially agree to the Kings demands. Unfortunately for the King, the Third Estate, consisting of the middle classes, were outraged and withdrew from the Estates General to form a National Assembly of reform. This action placed the ' People' in direct revolt of the Kings authority and instability gripped France. With roomers of a planned attack by the Kings troops upon the National Assembly, in 1789 on 14th July, citizens stormed the very symbol of the Bourbon line and it's repression of France's people, the Bastille fortress.
Open rebellion now spread rapidly and in August of the same year the National Assembly announced the ' Declaration of the rights of Man' (the principle of freedom of conscience, speech, poverty and that sovereign power lay with the nation not a Monarch). The feudal system of an old and tyrannical era was to be abolished.
King Louis XVI lost the support of his troops and was captured while attempting to flee France 1791.
He was forced to approve a new constitution that removed his powers of absolute monarchy and place control of the Nation within the National Assembly.
The monarchies of Europe were outraged and fearful of their own crowns. A coalition of European military powers formed ( The First Coalition) and set about an invasion of the new French Republic to remove the National Assembly and restore King Louis XVI to the throne. The Revolutionary wars 1792-1802 had begun, and the coalition marched into France.
The French King, Queen and aristocrats were murdered and turmoil engulfed France. There were counter revolutionary risings that were brutally suppressed, and internal power struggles within the original revolutionaries that led to the ' Reign of Terror' instigated by Revolutionary leader of the
' Committee of Public Safety' Maximillien Robespierre, who executed anyone that he deemed a personal or national threat (approximate 40,000 people).
French agitators tried desperately to spread revolution to hostile neighbouring countries that colluded against France (Netherlands, Britain and Spain) their only great success being Ireland where rebellion against the British Crown was easier to effect. [ More]
Napoleon :- The military ambition.
General of Revolutionary France
The French Revolution found its roots within the ravaged economy of France. Having depleted her resources supporting the cause of the American colonies in the American War Of Independence, France struggled to retain the support of her general public who were poor and struggling to survive in the economic downturn.
A bad harvest in 1788 compounded the problems of high unemployment, poor wages and already severe food shortages. The masses were now angry and easy prey to those that sought political domination to further their own ends.
With internal and external political intrigue rife, the scene was set for the people to rise against the scapegoat symbols of their troubles, the ruling classes and seat of monarchy.