How far and why did the aims of the revolutionaries in France change during the period 1789-1793?

Authors Avatar

How far and why did the aims of the revolutionaries in France change during the period 1789-1793?

The aims of the revolutionaries changed in many ways between 1789 and 1793. In 1789, the bourgeoisie, who controlled the National Assembly, heavily influenced the aims of the revolution. They wanted to establish laissez-faire, abolish the privileges and exemptions from taxation the nobility and clergy had been granted before 1789 and give themselves more involvement in the running of the country, which they felt they deserved. They also aimed for equality before the law, and end to the feudal system, and a constitutional monarchy – they were keen to keep Louis XVI in power, but just not as an absolute monarch. They were also eager to abolish guilds and government restrictions on entry into particular businesses, as well as internal customs duties and to establish a national market. These aims were not radical – as demonstrated by the cahiers, which showed the liberal aristocrats to be more radical than the Third Estate! Demands were also much less radical than they became in 1792. The most radical events in 1789 were the October Days and the storming of the Bastille, both of which were tremendously less radical than the events that took place by 1793.

However, by 1793, the aims of the revolutionaries had changed drastically. Radicalism had been growing since 1790 and now the aims were dominated by the sans-culottes and the Jacobin club. Aims now consisted of crushing counter-revolutionary uprisings, restoring control and order so as to win the war against the First Coalition, more state control in economy, greater centralisation and removing both internal and external enemies. The objectives of the revolutionaries were now to introduce universal male suffrage and popular democracy, have the right of insurrection and the right to control and change their elected representative at any time. The Revolution was now aimed to happen all over Europe with the Law of Fraternity. The French revolutionaries aimed to expand their ideas and aims. They also aimed for no secrecy in politics, where voting would be aloud and meetings open to the public. The sans-culottes also wanted to crush other wealthier groups who had been granted privileges before 1789 such as the clergy with dechristianisation.

Join now!

I believe that these aims are so different because of events that took place between 1789 and 1793. These began with Louis XVI’s reluctancy to accept the reforms taking place in Paris. Louis responded to the Tennis Court Oath by sending military force into Paris in order to dissolve the National Assembly. He dissolved Necker at the height of his popularity, inspiring large-scale popular demonstrations against him. After the storming of the Bastille, the King refused to officially support the August Decrees and the Declaration of Rights and instead adopted a policy of non-cooperation until forced to accept them ...

This is a preview of the whole essay