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French Revolution (part 2)

Royals try to escape. Champ De Mars Massacre. Declaration of Pillnitz. Movement towards becoming a Republic. Created by Sal Khan.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user Ian Mangan
    did they ever find out if there was grain in the palace
    (191 votes)
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  • leaf blue style avatar for user Dave
    Are the Jacobins anything to do with the Jacobites in Scottish/English history?
    (36 votes)
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    • leaf red style avatar for user MissCombobulate
      No, they are different. The French Jacobins took their name from a convent/monastery on Rue de Saint Jaques (Latin: Jacobus). Their 'official' name was 'The Society of Friends of the Constitution'. The Jacobites in Scotland and England were called that because of their support of James II of England (VII of Scotland). You'd have to check me on the Jacobites, but I'm pretty sure that they are different :)
      (59 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Alexander
    where is Prussia?
    (14 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user aliban809
    At , what does Sal mean by 'writing on the walls?' Is it figurative language?
    (7 votes)
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    • male robot hal style avatar for user Aharon Levi
      Yes. It is an idiom or figurative phrase that has come to mean imminent doom or misfortune or sometimes it means that a fate is sealed - there is no changing it.

      The phrase originates from the Biblical book of Daniel. According to the episode recorded there a banquet was hosted by king Belshazzar, and a hand appeared and wrote on the wall some mysterious words. The prophet Daniel was summoned and interpreted this message as the imminent end for the Babylonian kingdom. That night, Belshazzar was killed and the Persians sacked the capital city.

      Hope that helps :)
      The nicest compliment is an up vote :)
      (45 votes)
  • male robot johnny style avatar for user Sangani, Ravi
    Sal says that now there were two forces in the French Revolution. What are these two forces?
    (8 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Pete Barraud
      Girondins were led by Brissot and were called thus due to the fact that Brissot et al came from the Girondes (around Bordeaux). Danton was Parisian and part of the Cordelliers Club. The Girondins were a break away faction from the Jacobins once the Jacobins became more radicalised due to the Montagnard faction. The Cordellier were traditionally more extreme than the Jacobins (they let women and working class join their club, the scoundrels) - Danton was only executed because of his opposition to pointless terror and Robespierre and his connection to Desmoulins
      (7 votes)
  • spunky sam blue style avatar for user ryan higgs
    is France a republic now
    (1 vote)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Greg L
    At Sal says that Louis XVI did not trust any of the other countries in Europe to give them shelter. Later at we are told that Leopold II is Marie Antoinette's brother. Why did Louis feel that he could not trust his in-laws in Austria to provide shelter and sanctuary?
    (10 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Greg L
    Can someone clarify the boundaries and status of the Holy Roman Empire at this time.
    The French Revolution comes at a time after Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. At this time was Germany not predominately Lutheran? If so why would they still belong to a political structure tied to the Catholic Church? Especially since the reformation was as much about breaking political ties with the Catholic Church as rejecting aspects of Catholic dogma.
    Meanwhile, wasn't France predominately Catholic? If so why would they not be part of an empire started by Charlemagne a French ruler?
    And how are the Italian states which are Catholic, and home to Rome and the the Pope not part of the Holy Roman Empire?
    (9 votes)
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  • leafers tree style avatar for user legou
    At , he says that the Holy Roman Empire is "neither holy, not roman, nor an empire" . Why was it called the Holy Roman Empire if it had nothing to do with Rome?
    (5 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user mreehooper
      After the fall of the Roman empire, Europe fell into chaos. Charlemagne, a Frankish (not French) king united a large section of Europe under a single king: Charlemagne. He and the Pope agreed that he would rule as a Christian; the Pope wanted a strong king that would rule Europe. So was born the HRE. It lasted until 1804. It wasn't holy, because it wasn't a Church or sanctified entity. It wasn't Roman, but tried to use the mystique of ancient Rome and the Church as a unifying motif. And it wasn't an Empire because right after Charlemagne died, the empire was divided among his sons. One took the title with him, but because the structure of the HRE depended on powerful lords (called Electors), the Electors were able to dilute the power of the Emperor and Empire.
      (7 votes)
  • starky ultimate style avatar for user Amruthya
    why should they bring thier king back if they want a republic?
    (6 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Anne Puggioni
      In those times, People of France were still attached to the king who got the right to rule directly from the will of God (divine-right theory of kingship). Only God could judge an unjust king. The king's body was sacred and to depose him or to restrict his powers was considered as a sacrilegious act.
      (6 votes)

Video transcript

We left off the last video at the end of 1789. The Bastille had been stormed in July as Parisians wanted to get the weapons from the Bastille and free a few political prisoners to, in their minds, protect themselves from any tyranny from Louis XVI. Louis XVI had reluctantly kind of gone behind the scenes and said, OK, National Assembly, I'm not going to get in your way anymore. Because he's seen the writing on the walls that every time he's done something, it's only led to even more extreme counteraction. So at the end of 1789, already chaos has broken loose in a lot of France. The National Assembly, they're in process of creating a constitution, which won't fully happen until 1791. But they're starting to bring things together in order to draft that constitution. But in August of 1789, they've already done their version of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. So if everything was well, we would just wait until a few years, we'd get a constitution, and maybe we would have some type of a constitutional monarchy. But unfortunate, especially for Louis XVI, things weren't all well. As we mentioned, all of this was propagated, all of this was started to begin with because people were hungry. We have this fiscal crisis, we have a famine. And so in October of 1789-- we're still in 1789-- October of 1789-- rumors started to spread that Marie-Antoinette, the king's wife, that she was hoarding grain at Versailles. So people started imagining these big stacks of grain at Versailles, and this is in a time where people couldn't get their bread. And bread was the main staple of the diet. So there was actually a march of peasant women onto Versailles. And they were armed. This is a depiction of the peasant women marching on Versailles. And they went to Versailles, and they actually were able to get into the building itself. And they demanded-- because they were suspicious of what Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were up to at Versailles-- they demanded that they move to Paris. So the women's march. And they were able to get their demands. It resulted in Louis XVI and wife, Marie-Antoinette, moving back to Paris, where they couldn't do things like hoard grain. And they'll be surrounded by all of the maybe not-so-friendly people who could watch what they're doing. I think the main factor was that people are hungry, rumors are spreading that the king is hoarding grain. But there were also rumors that the king was being very disrespectful to some of the symbols of the new France, of the new National Assembly. So that also made people angry. And across the board everyone kind of knew, and including Louis XVI, that he wasn't really into what was going on. He wasn't into this kind of constitutional monarchy that was forming, this power that was being lost to the National Assembly. So we have this very uncomfortable situation entering into 1790, where the king and queen are essentially in house arrest in a building called the Tuileries in Paris. You have this National Assembly drafting this constitution. They're charted to draft the constitution up there. They all pledged at the Tennis Court Oath. And at the same time, throughout France, you have some counter insurgencies. This is France right here. Throughout France you have counter insurgencies, people who don't like the Revolution that's going on. And then those would be subdued. And people are all plotting one against each other. And then you have some nobility, that says, gee, you know what? I don't like the way that this is going. We've seen already a lot of violence. People are angry. I'm just going to take my money and whatever I can pack, and I'm just going to get out of the country. I'm going to emigrate away from the country. So you start having nobility starting to leave France. They're called the Emigres. I know I'm not pronouncing it correctly. But you see, you have this notion of gee, I had it good in France, I'm not going to have it good much longer, I'd better leave. And this same idea, now that we get to 1791. So 1790 was just kind of a bunch of unease. Now that we're at 1791, the same idea of trying to get away from the danger got into the heads of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. But they couldn't leave the country. They didn't trust Great Britain. They didn't trust any of these other countries to safely give them shelter. So one of their generals, who was sympathetic to their cause, said, hey, at least come here to the frontier areas and you could hide from all of the unrest that's going on. So dressed as actual servants-- and it shows you what type of people they were-- they dressed as servants. And they actually made their servants dress as nobility to make them the targets in case they were ambushed anyway on their way trying to escape from Paris. Dressed as servants, the king and queen-- the king tried to escape to this general's estate. But when they were in Varennes, right here, they were actually spotted. And then the people essentially took them captive and brought them back to Paris. So this is called, or you could imagine this is the flight to Varennes, or the flight away from Paris, or however you want to do it. So already, Louis XVI started to see the writing on the wall. They tried to get away. But people brought them back. Now you can imagine, a lot of people already did not like the king. They didn't like the notion of even having a king. And the most revolutionary, the most radical elements, were called the Jacobins. And after the king and queen tried to escape and came back, they were like hey, gee, what's the use of even having a king? You National Assembly, why are you even trying to write some type of constitution that gives any power whatsoever to a king? We should have a republic. Which is essentially-- there's a lot of kind of nuanced definitions of what a republic is, but the most simple one is it's a state without a king, without an emperor, without a queen. So they're saying, we don't need, you know-- you National Assembly, you think you're being radical. But you're not being radical enough. We want to eliminate the idea of having a monarchy altogether. And the fact that Louis XVI actually tried to run away, we view that as him abdicating the throne. Abdication, or essentially quitting. And they actually started to organize in Paris. This right here is the Champ-de-Mars. I know I'm saying it completely wrong. This is a current picture of it. And so they started taking signatures in this kind of public park in Paris to essentially say, we don't need a king. We want to essentially create our own republic. That this National Assembly, they're not radical enough. And so people started gathering over here in the Champ-de-Mars and things got a little ugly. So the actual troops were sent in to kind of calm everyone down. And these were actually troops controlled by the National Assembly. The people who are mainly controlled by the Third Estate. But things got a little crazy. Rocks were thrown at some of the troops. Some of the troops, at first, they started firing in the air. But eventually when things got really crazy, they fired into the crowd. And about 50 people died. And this was the massacre. Or the Champ-de-Mars Massacre. I know I'm saying it wrong. This isn't a video on French pronunciation. But you could imagine, now people are even angrier. People are still starving. That problem has not gone away. The king and queen has been kind of very reluctantly-- everyone is suspicious of the fact that they're probably going to try to come back to power. They tried to run away. When the Jacobins, or in general kind of revolutionaries, but they're led by the Jacobins, when they start to suggest that, hey, we should have a republic. We shouldn't even have a king. And they gather people here, all of a sudden, the troops that are controlled by the current National Assembly actually fire on the crowd, and actually kill civilians for throwing rocks. And they might have been big rocks. But you can imagine, this is going to anger already hungry and already suppressed people even more. And to make people even more paranoid that the king and queen might eventually come back to power, you had two major powers all of a sudden trying to insert certain themselves into the French Revolution. I'm going to do a little bit of an aside here. Because this is something, at least you when I first learned European history, I found the most confusing. You have these states, you can call them. You have Austria, which I've highlighted in orange. The kind of map here is a modern map. But in orange, I've kind of shown what Austria was at that point in time. Around 1789, 1790, 1791. In this red color, I have Prussia. I want to show you that these are very different than our current notions of one, Austria. Austria today is this modern country right here. And Prussia doesn't even exist as a modern country. And then you had this notion of the Holy Roman Empire, which overlaps with these other kingdoms, or empires, or whatever you want to call them. And I want to do a little bit of an aside here. The Holy Roman Empire, as Voltaire famously said, is neither holy nor Roman nor an empire. And he was right. It was really kind of a very loose confederation of German kingdoms and states-- mainly German kingdoms and states. As you can see, it kind of coincides with modern Germany. And the two most influential powers in the Holy Roman Empire, or actually the most influential power in the Holy Roman Empire, was the Austrians. And the ruler of the Austrians had the title of Holy Roman Emperor. And that was Leopold II. But it's not like he was like the Roman Emperors of old. The Roman Emperors of old actually came out of Rome. Notice, nothing in the Holy Roman Empire at that time, it had no control of Rome. So it was not Roman, we're not talking about people who spoke Latin. We're talking about people who spoke Germanic languages. And it wasn't an empire. That it wasn't a tightly knit kind of governance structure. It was this loose confederation of states. But what was the most influential was the region that was under control of the Habsburgs of Austria, or Leopold II. And not only was he in control, or not only did he have the title of Holy Roman Empire, and essentially had control of the Austrian, I guess you could say Empire, at that point in time. He was also Marie-Antoinette's brother. Leopold II, that's her brother. So Leopold II and Frederick William II of Prussia, which is another mainly Germanic state. Let me do that in a better color. They issued the Declaration of Pillnitz. Let me write this down. So this is going to add even more insult to injury to just the general population of France. The Declaration of Pillnitz. And this was done in August. so I just want to make it very clear what happened. In June of 1791, they tried to escape, they were captured at Varennes. Then in July of 1791, you have the Champ-de-Mars Massacre. So already, people are very wary of the royals. The idea that we don't need them is spreading. And people are getting angrier. And then you have the Declaration of Pillnitz by these foreign powers, one of whom is essentially the brother of the current French royalty. And that declaration is essentially saying that they intend to bring the French monarchy back to power. They don't say that they're definitely going to do it in military terms or whatever. But it's a declaration that they do not approve of what's going on in France. And even though they themselves might have not taken it too seriously, the people of France took it really seriously. You have these huge powers on their border right here. You had the Austrians and the Prussians. So this wasn't anything that people could take very lightly. So it only increased the fear that the royals were going to do something to come back to full power and really suppress people. And it really gave even more fuel for the Jacobins to kind of argue for some type of a republic. So I'm going to leave you there in this video. As you can see, we saw in the first video, things got bad. Now they're getting really worst. Chaos is breaking out in France. People are questioning whether they even need a king or queen. Foreign powers are getting involved, saying hey, they don't like what they're seeing there, with kings and queens getting overthrown. Maybe that'll give ideas to their people. And by the way, I'm your brother, so I want to help you out too. That scares people even more. The current National Assembly, which is kind of the beginning of the Revolution, they themselves are on some level massacring people. So it's really leading to a really tense and ugly time in French history. And you're going to see that that's going to culminate with what's called the Reign of Terror. And we're going to see that in the next video.