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Radicalization of the French Revolution, from 1789 to the end of 1794

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Discussing the radicalization of the French Revolution.
  3. La Prise de la Bastille by Jacques Godechot.
    1. Violence in the French Revolution.
    2. The rise in the price of bread.
    3. Economic questions.
  4. The conception of liberty and equality.
  5. This first phase of the revolution.
  6. The flight to Varennes as the turning point in French History.
  7. The radicalization of the French Revolution.
    1. Not only due to politicians of the parliament, but also to Parisian sections and clubs.
    2. The role of the people and its peak in 1792 and 1793.
  8. Conclusion.
  9. Bibliography.

The French Revolution is often depicted as a process of growing violence, underpinned by more and more radical theories. Indeed, a Manichean view often leads people to believe that France was peaceful in the beginning of 1789, and turned violent and radical in 1793. In other word, it is often said that the French Revolution is a period of constant and growing radicalization. Nevertheless, this view is not correct. I think the word radicalization is very ambiguous, that is why one need to give a precise definition of this concept. To me, the word ?radicalization? has to be analysed through different perspectives. First, this term put an emphasis on theories, which have proved to me more and more radical, that is to say hostile to the Ancien Régime. Second, the term radicalization asks the question: who gets power? Third, I think that the level of violence is linked to the term radicalization. On top of that, the radicalization is due to different events, such as the Tennis Court oath, flight of the King? Which events provoked the radicalization of the French Revolution? What are the main characteristics of this Revolution?

[...] Moreover, the victories of the revolutionary army in September and October 1793 Wattignies and Hondschoote legitimized the power of the committee of public safety. To conclude, one can say that the radicalization of the French Revolution has been provoked by events, such as the massacre of the Champ de Mars, the flight to Varennes or the arrest of 20 girondin deputies in June 1793. Circumstances also played a key role in the radicalization of the French Revolution; in 1789, the economic crisis has been a key element in the events of the summer, while in 1793, the war and the [...]


[...] The major aim of the Estate Generals was to find a solution in order to avoid bankruptcy and to reduce inequalities. In 1789, the purpose of deputies elected by the third estate was not to topple the King. They wanted to find a solution to reduce the burden of taxes. Indeed, many feudal taxes were considered as unfair. For instance, the majority of the cahiers de doléances claimed for the abolition of the corvée. The corvée obliged peasants to do public works on roads without being paid. [...]


[...] The victory of the Girondins put an end to the relative ?moderation? of the Revolution, and permitted the Jacobins to govern France thanks to the Committee of public safety. Contrary to the Girondins, the Jacobins thought that a temporary suppression of liberty could be justified by the Revolution and the need to eradicate tyranny. The Jacobins thought that the Revolution could justify the intervention of the political sphere on every matter. In my view, it is not exaggerated to say that the legal power was in the hand of the Parisian sections and of the municipality until the decrees of Ventôse. [...]

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