Archive for the ‘Chapter 17: Rebellion and Revolution: American Independence and the French Revolution’ Category

Execution of Louis XVI

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

While searching the internet for an interesting topic regarding the French Revolution, I stumbled upon an eyewitness account of the execution of Louis XVI. As we all know Louis was essentially the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. As previously stated in my other post regarding the current economy of France, Louis inherited a country with an empty treasury and a starving population. Louis’ marriage with an Austrian archduchess only made matters worse. He did; however, attempt to right wrongs by calling for the Estates-General which greatly reduced his powers. Following the Estates-General, he was brought to court for trial for crimes against the people. Evidently, they have an eyewitness account recorded from Henry Essex Edgeworth, who was an English priest living in France. Throughout the voyage to the scaffold, Louis remained rather quiet and even during the two hour procession he remained silent. He then talked to the gendarmes regarding the care of Edgeworth, “I recommend to you this good man; take care that after my death no insult be offered to him…” Guards then approached him to take off his clothes, yet he denied them that privilege and undressed himself appropriately. He also allowed them to do what they were ordered to do, with the exception of binding him. His final walk to the scaffold at first appeared to Edgeworth as if he would lose all composure; however, Louis needed no help walking up and announced, “I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I Pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France,” before being executed. According to Edgeworth, an eighteen year old picked up the king’s head and “Vive la Republique!” was yelled throughout the people. This first-hand account of the execution of a man who did little if any wrong adds to the dramatic air surrounding the French Revolution


Versailles Palace

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Surprisingly Versailles Palace, one of the most expensive buildings ever constructed, started out as a simplistic hunting lodge for Louis XIII (which meant the lodge itself wasn’t simplistic but the usage of the lodge remained solely for hunting). From this lodge, built in 1624, began the expansion that eventually became the royal residency from 1682 until 1789. There were four men in charge of the expansion of the hunting lodge into the palace: Louis Le Vau (architect), Andre Le Nortre (landscape artist), Charles Le Brun (painter and decorator), and Jules Hardouin-Mansart (who took over in 1676 as the architect). The palace remained “a work in progress” for many years and in 1680, Louis XIV employed 36,000 bricklayers in order to add more wings and outbuildings. One of the major attractions was the Hall of Mirrors, which was filled with crystals (giving a small example of how much of an expenditure this palace was for the French aristocracy). Following this construction, the Seven Year’s War, and some other additions to the palace, the French went bankrupt in 1788. This forced Louis XVI to call for the Estates-General, which marked the beginning of the fall of the monarchy.

Links for the two sources sources.
Link for the picture

Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

During the turmoil that ensued throughout the French Revolution, a spark of hope existed as the National Assembly put forth a document recognizing the rights of men and citizens. In August of 1789, the National Assembly presented this document in order to protect equality, freedom, property, and resistance to oppression. Interestingly enough, much of the language seems similar to that of the Declaration of Independence and other interesting aspects of the image is that of the angels and the eye of providence atop the entire document. This eye represents God watching mankind and the angels could represent either God’s protection or any other number of symbolic meanings.

Website for the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen

Maximilien Robespierre and the Terror

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

In 1793, a radical group called the Jacobins led by Maximilien Robespierre began to dominate the Convention. They quickly overthrew the more moderate Girondin faction and began the period that has become known as the Terror or the Red Terror. A Committee of Public Safety was created that was also led in part by Robespierre. The Committee and the Jacobins’ reign is considered a Terror and Maximilien a kind of violent dictator because they executed (many by the guillotine) more than 30,000 French citizens who did not support the Jacobin government and were considered “enemies of the people.” Robespierre became so paranoid about those who were “ignorant” and did not support his government that his relationship with the Committee and some Jacobins became sour. Robespierre thought they were trying to limit all the work they had done and he publicly accused some of his former colleagues of being traitors. The Committee along with much of France who were tired of all the executions decided it was time for Robespierre’s reign to come to an end and in July of 1794 Robespierre was arrested and guillotined.


Napoleon’s Coronation Painting

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

As discussed in class, there is some uncertainty about whether Napoleon Bonaparte was crowning himself or his wife Josephine in Jacques-Louis David’s painting of Napoleon’s coronation on December 2, 1804. Although Napoleon did crown himself, the text The West: A Narrative History, says that in David’s painting, Napoleon was crowning Josephine.

This is what the movie version (Napoleon Bonaparte (2002)) depicts:Napoleon\’s Coronation (Movie Version)




Friday, September 24th, 2010

Evidently French inches were measured longer than English inches, which would put Napoleon at around 5.5-5.7 which was average height for Frenchmen during the period. I don’t know much you trust, but here is the link

Marie Antoinette

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

As discussed in class, Marie Antoinette, Queen and wife of Louis XVI, is thought to be clueless of the harsh conditions that citizens of France were faced with. She was thought to be living it up in the palace, unaware of what was happening in the pre-revolutionary period and actual revolution of France. She is most known for saying, “Let them eat cake” which refers to those who were suffering in famine with hardly any food. These people could barely buy bread let alone cake. As was also mentioned in class, there are those who think Marie Antoinette was just clueless when she supposedly said these words, and others who think she was being deliberatley malicious. Director Sofia Coppola’s film version of Marie Antoinette depicts Marie Antoinette’s words like this:

Let Them Eat Cake- Marie Antoinette Film (video)

Video from:

The Guillotine

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

The guillotine was a new invention around the time that Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed (1792-1793). The guillotine is a device used for decapitation, in which a blade inside of a wooden frame, suspended by pulling a rope, is dropped, killing whoever is on the receiving end.  This is what it looks like: 

This device became a symbol of great terror in France, and was used commonly during the French Revolution. 

Also, here is a clip from the film version of A Tale of Two Cities from 1935 based on the novel by Charles Dickens.  Starting around 4:00, the clip shows the final scene, in which the guillotine is used for one of the character’s execution.

A Tale Of Two Cities (video)



Maps Before and After the French Revolution

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Due to al-Tikriti’s request, I decided to search for the before and after maps depicting the change in the organization of France.

This shows how France was divided and had no means of unification because of the way in which they were divided into larger “territories”. Through the territories, people didn’t identify as a nation because they felt no connection to the concept and felt tied to the specific territory in which they lived.

This map is an exceptional representation of how France, after the French Revolution, was able to eliminate the larger “territories” and break them into Departments that drove those living in France to identify as a Frenchman rather than (for example) a Bretagne.

First image

Second Image

Olympe de Gouges

Friday, September 17th, 2010

During the French Revolution, women took a much more active role, especially in their efforts to attain equal rights and to be included in France’s new constitution. In October of 1789, 7,000 armed women marched on Versailles which eventually forced King Louis XVI to recognize the power of the Third Estate, or the National Assembly.

 One woman by the name of Olympe de Gouges, became a well-known symbol for equal rights for women. She was a commoner and self-educated, but she was responsible for the Declaration of the Rights of Women, which was like the newly written Declaration of the Rights of Men, but replaced all the words “man” in the document with “woman.” Eventually Olympe de Gouges was executed because she had spoken out for Queen Marie Antoinette who was executed at the guillotine.