Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
The French Revolution and
The Napoleonic Era
The French Revolution
The Reign of Terror and the Guillotine
Similar machines had been used in Scotland, Germany, and Italy.
In France, the guillotine became the accepted method of execution
following tests on sheep and cadavers. Joseph Guillotine, a doctor,
suggested its use for all executions, because it was a quick, painless
death. Prior to this, only nobility had the option to die this way.
After an execution, two men would toss the body into a large basket,
while a third would do the same to the head. With well-known people,
the executioner would hold up the head and the people would cheer.
The guillotine became the preferred method of execution
and became known as "The National Razor."
The Reign of Terror
There was a radical takeover of the government to create a Republic.
This was called the "Reign of Terror." It was controlled by the
Committee of Public Safety - the Jacobins. Robospierre ran the country.
He got an army of 800,000. It was the biggest army ever, in Europe,
up to that time. Between 20,000 - 40,000 people were executed. At
their trials, they could not speak in their own defense. The victims
were clergy, aristocracy, and common people. Anyone who disagreed
with the Jacobins was a "threat to the Republic."
Louis XVI's plans to escape from Paris across the
border into Austria failed after he was captured at Varennes.
The king and queen tried to escape to Austrian-held
Netherlands dressed as common people, but were caught. When they
were returned to Paris, the soldiers wouldn't salute, people didn't
remove their hats, and the people were silent. The royalty had lost
all support of the people.
Marie Antoinette showed great courage at her trial,
but was executed in October 1793.
The king was guillotined on January 21, 1793 - by
one vote of the National Convention - for being a threat to the
Republic. The queen was guillotined nine months later.
A guard holds the severed head of King Louis XVI
for the crowd to see.
Moments later, thousands of triumphant citizens yelled, "Vive
She accidentally stepped on the foot of the executioner
and apologized. She never said, "Let them eat cake." That came from
a Rosseau writing published before she was born. Little Louis died
in prison in 1795 at the age of ten.
Robespierre lies wounded before the Revolutionary
Christianity was banned for awhile. Robespierre even
executed some of his fellow leaders. Danton and others were executed
As Danton approaches the scaffold, he predicts that
the people will
turn against Robespierre in less than three months.
In 1794, the Bourgeosie arrested and executed Robespierre. The Revolution
began to swing back to the moderates.
France had a new Constitution in 1795. It was now a Republic, but
weak. People were mad because there were severe economic problems.
Results of the French Revolution
The French Revolution ended feudalism, absolute monarchy, and the
special privileges of the nobles and clergy. The Constitution guaranteed
individual rights (lost during the Reign of Terror). The Bourgeosie
gained power and became the most powerful class in France. They
started "Nationalism," the love of country, instead of love for
a monarch or small group.
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