Who was to blame for the failure
of constitutional monarchy?
The October Days
Louis refusal to approve Assembly’s
decrees creates tension
October 1st 1789, a banquet is thrown at Versailles for
the Flanders regiment, where anti-revolutionary speeches
are made and officers trampled on the tricolore cockade.
The banquet coincided with food shortages in
Paris and a crowd of women, perhaps 7000, make
the 5 hour march to Versailles
They invade the National Assembly and send a
deputation to the king demanding he approved the
August decrees and return to Paris. On 6th October,
Louis and his family head to the Tuileries.
The King was
Instead of ‘Louis, King of France and
Navarre’, he became ‘Louis, by the Grace
of God and the constitutional law of the
State, King of France’ – i.e. subordinate to
law and his subjects became citizens
But.. In some ways the October Days gave
the king a new power. The Assembly began to
fear the mob rule of Parisian crowd. The
Assembly wanted to bring the revolution to an
end before it went too far. The king was seen
as the only man who could do this.
After the new Constitution Louis now
had different rulings like:
He had the right to
appoint ministers and
Suspensive veto (but
could not be applied to
such as new taxes)
Dependent on Assembly
for foreign policy as he
needed its consent before
he could declare war
Agreed that his office,
although heredity was
subordinate to assembly, as
it passed the laws which king
had to obey. ‘In France
there is no authority superior
to the law - it is only by
means of the law that the
king reigns “
But was the king sincere?
a devout man, the civil
constitution of clergy
offended his conscience
Under the influence of
Marie-Antoinette who loathed her
The Flight to Varennes
June 1790, Louis flees from Paris and
heads to Lorraine and to put himself under
protection of military commander.
The hope was to renegotiated
the constitution from a position
He fails – recognised in
Varennes by local
postmaster Drouet, the
royal coach is brought
back to Paris in silence.
Significance of the flight...
Before he left, Louis wrote a
note critical of the revolution..
‘the king does not think it would
be possible a govern so large and
important a kingdom as France
by the means established by the
National Assembly such as they
exist in at present.’
Republicanism starts to grow. On 24th June 1791,
30,000 people marched to National Assembly in
support of petition calling for king’s dismissal. The
When 50,000 Parisians met at the Champ de Mars
on 16th July to sign a petition against the king, the
Assembly declared martial law and the National
Guard fired on peaceful and unarmed crowd.
The massacre hardened the divisions between
those who wanted to retain the monarchy and
those who believed that the revolution could never
be complete with Louis still on the throne.
People no longer believe Louis has the interest of the French people at heart and the no longer trust him.
The Brunswick Manifesto
the Commander in chief of Austrian-Prussian armies
issues the Brunswick Manifesto promising that that if
Louis or the royal family were harmed, the city would
face an ‘exemplary vengeance’.
Attack on Tuileries,August 1792
Believing the Legisaltive Assembly will
not call for a republic, the crowd take
matters into their own hands...
August 9th, 1792 – invasion of Tuileries by Parisian
with republican sympathisers in the National Guard
The King seeks safety from the mob by
going to the Legislative Assembly
Mob invade the Assembly and force
the suspension of the monarchy
They call for a new government based on universal suffrage
(instead of active citizenry) to decide on the future of the
French government; this new government is known as the