French Revolution and Napoleon (1789-1815)

  • Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès publishes What is the Third Estate?

    His 1789 pamphlet What is the Third Estate? became the de facto manifesto of the Revolution, helping to transform the Estates-General into the National Assembly in June 1789.
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    French Revolution and Napoleon (1789-1815)

  • The Réveillon Riots in Paris, caused by low wages and food shortages, led to about 25 deaths by troops.

    The factory employed around 300 people. The riots were one of the first instances of violence during the French Revolution. The factory where the riot took place was unusual in pre-revolutionary France as the factory was guild-free in an era where guilds controlled quality standards.
  • The Estate General opens at Versailles

    a general assembly representing the French estates of the realm: the clergy (First Estate), the nobles (Second Estate), and the common people (Third Estate). Summoned by King Louis XVI to propose solutions to his government's financial problems, the Estates-General sat for several weeks in May and June 1789 but came to an impasse as the three estates clashed over their respective powers. It was brought to an end when many members of the Third Estate formed themselves into a National Assembly.
  • The Dauphine of France dies

    Louis died of consumption at Fontainebleau in 1765 at the age of 36, while his father was still alive so he never became king of France. His mother, Queen Marie Leszczyńska, and his maternal grandfather, the former king of Poland, Stanisław Leszczyński, Duke of Lorraine, also survived him. His eldest surviving son, Louis-Auguste, duc de Berry, became the new dauphin, ascending the throne as Louis XVI at the death of Louis XV, in May 1774.
  • The Third Estate decides to call itself the National Assembly

    Shuttle diplomacy among the estates continued without success until May 27; on May 28, the representatives of the 3rd Estate began to meet on their own,calling themselves the Communes ("Commons") and proceeding with their "verification of powers" independently of the other bodies; from June 13 to June 17 they were gradually joined by some of the nobles and the majority of the clergy and other people such as the peasants. On June 17, this group began to call itself the National Assembly.
  • Tennis Court Oath

    The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789. The only person who did not sign was Joseph Martin-Dauch, a politician who would not execute decisions not sanctioned by the king. They made a makeshift conference room inside a tennis court located in the Saint-Louis district of the city of Versailles, near the Palace of Versailles.
  • Large crowd storms left bank prison and frees mutinous French Guards

    Large crowd storms left bank prison and frees mutinous French Guards
  • Camille Desmoulins gives a speech in the gardens of the Palais Royale, urging the citizens of Paris to take up arms.

    was a journalist and politician who played an important role in the French Revolution. He was a childhood friend of Maximilien Robespierre and a close friend and political ally of Georges Danton, who were influential figures in the French Revolution. Desmoulins was tried and executed alongside Danton in response to Dantonist opposition to the Committee of Public Safety
  • Fall of the Bastille

    The Storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris, France on the morning of 14 July 1789. The medieval fortress and prison in Paris known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the center of Paris. The prison only contained seven inmates at the time of its storming but was a symbol of the abuses of the monarchy: its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution.
  • Lafayette appointed Commandante of the National Guard.

    Lafayette appointed Commandante of the National Guard.
  • National Assembly abolishes feudalism

    Faced with chaos, yet afraid to call on the king to restore order, some liberal nobles and middle-class delegates at Versailles responded to peasant demands with a surprise maneuver on the night of August 4, 1789.The duke of Aiguillon urged equality in taxation and the elimination of feudal dues.
  • Surrender of feudal rights: The August Decrees

    The next major event of the revolution occurred on 4 August 1789, when the National Constituent Assembly abolished feudalism, sweeping away both the seigneurial rights of the Second Estate (the nobility) and the tithes gathered by the First Estate (the Roman Catholic clergy).
  • National Assembly asses Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen

    Inspired by the Enlightenment, the original version of the Declaration was discussed by the representatives on the basis of a 24 article draft proposed by the sixth bureau, led by Jérôme Champion de Cicé. The draft was later modified during the debates. A second and lengthier declaration, known as the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1793 was later adopted.
  • Women march to Versailles and are joined by men in bringing the royal family back to Paris

    The march began among women in the marketplaces of Paris who, on the morning of 5 October 1789, were near rioting over the high price and scarcity of bread. Their demonstrations quickly became intertwined with the activities of revolutionaries who were seeking liberal political reforms and a constitutional monarchy for France.
  • First publication of Desmoulins' weekly Histoire des Révolutions ...

    Desmoulins published a pamphlet, Jean Pierre Brissot démasqué, which attacked Brissot savagely and personally. In it, Desmoulins claimed that the invented verb brissoter had taken on the meaning "to cheat," and accused Brissot of betraying republicanism. The case constructed against Brissot in this pamphlet was expanded and used to terrible and destructive effect in Desmoulins' later, 1793 publication, Fragment de l'histoire secrète de la Révolution.
  • Civil Constiution of the Clergy

    It is often stated this law confiscated the Church's French land holdings or banned monastic vows: that had already been accomplished by earlier legislation. It did, however, complete the destruction of the monastic orders, legislating out of existence "all regular and secular chapters for either sex, abbacies and priorships, both regular and in commendam, for either sex", etc. It also sought to settle the chaos caused by the earlier confiscation of Church lands and the abolition of the tithe.
  • The parlements are abolished

    The political institutions of the Parlement in Ancien Régime France developed out of the previous council of the king, the Conseil du roi or curia regis, and consequently had ancient and customary rights of consultation and deliberation.
  • Fall of Necker

    He continued to live on at Coppet, under the care of his daughter, Madame de Staël, and his niece, Madame Necker de Saussure. But his time was past and his books had no political influence. A momentary excitement was caused by the advance of the French armies in 1798, when he burnt most of his political papers. He died at Coppet on 9 April 1804.
  • Louis and Marie-Antoinette atempt to flee in disguise and are captured at Varennes

    Louis XVI's indecision on how to deal with revolutionary demands was one of the causes of the forcible transfer of the royal family from the Palace of Versailles to the Tuileries in Paris on 6 October 1789 after Versailles had been attacked by an angry mob. Henceforth the king seems to have become emotionally paralyzed, leaving most important decisions to the politically untrained queen.
  • Padua Circular

    Leopold II issues the Padua Circular calling on the royal houses of Europe to come to his brother-in-law, Louis XVI's aid.
  • National Assembly declares the king to be inviolable and he is reinstated.

    National Assembly declares the king to be inviolable and he is reinstated.
  • Slave revolts in Saint Domingue

    There was a slave revolt in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which culminated in the elimination of slavery there and the founding of the Republic of Haiti. The Haitian Revolution was the only slave revolt which led to the founding of a state. Furthermore, it is generally considered the most successful slave rebellion ever to have occurred and as a defining moment in the histories of both Europe and the Americas.
  • Louis vetoes the ruling of the Assembly on émigrés and priests.

    Under the constitution of 1791, Louis XVI could refuse to sign a decree passed by the legislature. If the measure passed the two consecutive subsequent legislatures, it would automatically become a law. The issue of what kind of veto power the King would have in the constitution—absolute or suspensive—had been divisive, but the King’s use of the veto in defense of refractory clergy and émigrés helped undermine his popular support and greatly facilitated the fall of the monarchy on 10 August 1792
  • Food riots in Paris

    As demonstrations spread across Paris on the morning of 14 July, Pierre–Victor Besenval, commander of the royal soldiers stationed in the capital, contemplated ordering his men to suppress the protests. However, as reports poured in from across the city, he realized that the situation was moving beyond his control. As he describes below, his primary concern was to refrain from taking any action that could lead to widespread and unnecessary violence.
  • Declaration of war on Austria

    On Apr. 20, 1792, France declared war on Austria. The French armies lacked organization and discipline, and many noble officers had emigrated. The allied Austrian and Prussian forces under Charles William Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick, quickly crossed the frontier and began to march on Paris.
  • The people storm the Tuileries and confront the king.

    a mob of nearly 30,000 French citizens advanced toward the Tuileries Palace to capture King Louis XVI. Louis had been given information that told him an angry mob was headed for the palace, so he decided to move himself and his family to the Legislative Assembly building.
  • Brunswick Manifesto

    warns that should the royal family be harmed by the popular movement, an "exemplary and eternally memorable revenge" will follow.
  • Insurrection in Paris and attack on Tuileries palace lead to removal of king's authority

    On 10 August 1792, during the French Revolution, revolutionary Fédéré militias — with the backing of a new municipal government of Paris that came to be known as the "insurrectionary" Paris Commune and ultimately supported by the National Guard — besieged the Tuileries palace. King Louis XVI and the royal family took shelter with the Legislative Assembly.
  • Murder of prisoners in "September massacres" in Paris

    The September Massacres were a wave of mob violence which overtook Paris in late summer 1792, during the French Revolution. By the time it had subsided, half the prison population of Paris had been executed: some 1,200 trapped prisoners, including many women and young boys. Outbursts of violence, in particular against the Roman Catholic Church, would continue throughout France for nearly a decade to come.
  • Fall of Verdun to Brunswick's troops.

    The Brunswick Manifesto threatened that if the French royal family were harmed, then French civilians would be harmed. It was a measure intended to intimidate Paris, but rather helped further spur the increasingly radical French Revolution and finally led to the war between revolutionary France and counter-revolutionary monarchies.
  • Establishment of the republic

    was founded on 22 September 1792, by the newly established National Convention. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First French Empire in 1804 under Napoleon I. This period was characterized by the fall of the monarchy, the establishment of the National Convention and the infamous Reign of Terror, the founding of the Directory and the Thermidorian Reaction, and finally, the creation of the Consulate and Napoleon’s rise to power.
  • Execution of Louis XVI

    After events on the 10 August 1792, which saw the fall of the monarchy after the attack on the Tuileries by insurgents, Louis was arrested, interned in the Temple prison with his family, tried for high treason before the National Convention, found guilty by almost all (and 'not guilty' by none), and condemned to death by a slight majority. His execution made him the first victim of the Reign of Terror.
  • Beginning of uprising in the Vendée

    was a Royalist rebellion and counterrevolution in the Vendée region of France during the French Revolution. The Vendée is a coastal region, located immediately south of the Loire River in western France. The uprising headed by the self-styled Catholic and Royal Army was closely tied to the Chouannerie, which took place in the area north of the Loire.
  • Insurrection leading to arrest of the Girondins

    In the National Convention, he emerged as the leader of the Mountain, as the Jacobin faction was known, and opposed the Girondins. In December 1792, he successfully argued in favor of Louis XVI's execution, and in May 1793 he encouraged the people to rise up in insurrection over military defeats and a food shortage. The uprising gave him an opportunity to finally purge the Girondins.
  • Robespierre named to the Committee of Public Safety

    he Committee of Public Safety was created by the National Convention in 1793. Originally consisting of nine members of the convention, it was formed as an administrative body to supervise and expedite the work of the executive bodies of the convention and of the government ministers appointed by the convention. The revolutionary movement was menaced, however, by a coalition of European nations and by counter-revolutionary forces in France.
  • Convention establishes General Maximum on prices and wages

    The General Maximum or Law of the Maximum was a law created during the course of the French Revolution as an extension of the Law of Suspects on 29 September 1793. It succeeded the 4 May 1793 loi du maximum which had the same purpose: setting price limits, detering price gouging, and allowing for the continued flow of food supply to the people of France.
  • Execution of Marie-Antoinette

    Many French people hated the Queen for her Austrian blood and her expensive tastes. Marie Antoinette was called Madame Deficit and blame was placed on her for the country's financial problems. She tried to change her image by wearing simple gowns and posing for portraits with her children, but her efforts had little effect on the brutal public. In October, she was tried by a mock trial, as was her husband. Marie Antoinette was convicted of treason and sentenced to be guillotined.
  • Slavert abolished in the French Colonies

    On 4 February 1794, the First Republic (Convention) voted for the abolition of slavery in all French colonies. The abolition decree stated that "the Convention declares the slavery of the Blacks abolished in all the colonies; consequently, all men, irrespective of colour, living in the colonies are French citizens and will enjoy all the rights provided by the Constitution."
  • Arrest, trial, and executions of so-called ultra-revolutionaries

    On 17 January 1793 Louis was condemned to death for "conspiracy against the public liberty and the general safety" by a close majority in Convention: 361 voted to execute the king, 288 voted against, and another 72 voted to execute him subject to a variety of delaying conditions.
  • Arrest, trial, and execution of Danton and his followers

    Danton, Desmoulins, and many other actual or accused Dantonist associates were tried from April 3 through 5th before the Revolutionary Tribunal. The trial was less criminal in nature than political, and as such unfolded in an irregular fashion. The accused were prevented from defending themselves by a decree of the National Convention.
  • Arrest of Robespierre and his supporters

    Maximilien Robespierre, the architect of the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, is overthrown and arrested by the National Convention. As the leading member of the Committee of Public Safety from 1793, Robespierre encouraged the execution, mostly by guillotine, of more than 17,000 enemies of the Revolution.
  • Directory of government takes office

    was a body of five directors that held executive power in France following the National Convention and preceding the Consulate. The Directory era itself is further split into two periods, the First Directory and the Second Directory, divided by the Coup of 18 Fructidor. Directoire style refers to the Neoclassical styles in the decorative arts and fashion that characterize the period.
  • Succession of Italian victories by Bonaparte

    Napoleon then initiated a series of campaigns against the Austrians and Sardinians in Italy, winning in rapid succession Savoy, Nice, Lombardy, and Mantua for France. In 1797 he crossed the Alps into Vienna and negotiated the Treaty of Campo Formio, ending the first phase of the Revolution.
  • Preliminary Peace of Leoben

    was signed on 17 April 1797 by Napoleon Bonaparte. It was a preliminary accord that contained many secret clauses. From these clauses, Austria would lose the Austrian Netherlands and Lombardy in exchange for the Venetian territories of Istria and Dalmatia.
  • Treaty of Campo Formio

    Signed by Napoleon Bonaparte and Count Philipp von Cobenzl as representatives of revolutionary France and the Austrian monarchy. The treaty marked the victorious conclusion to Napoleon's campaigns in Italy, the collapse of the First Coalition, and the end of the first phase of the French Revolutionary Wars.
  • Alliance between Russia and Britain

  • Coup against Directory government government in France

    The coup of 18 Brumaire brought General Napoleon Bonaparte to power as First Consul of France, and ended the French Revolution. The coup d'état overthrew the Directory, replacing it with the French Consulate. This occurred on 9 November 1799, which was 18 Brumaire, Year VIII under the French Republican Calendar.
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    Battle of the Trebia (Suvorov defeats French)

    The Battle of Trebbia or the Napoleonic battle of river Trebbia was fought on 17–20 June 1799 near the Trebbia River in northern Italy during the joint campaign of the Russian and Austrian troops of about 30,000 men against the French army of 33,000 to 35,000 men. The battle resulted in the victory of the combined forces of the Habsburg Monarchy and the Russian Empire under Field Marshal Suvorov against the French army under General Etienne-Jacques-Joseph-Alexandre MacDonald.
  • Coup of 30 Prairial Year VII

    was a bloodless coup in France that occurred on 18 June 1799—30 Prairial Year VII by the French Republican Calendar. It left Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès as the dominant figure of the French government, and prefigured the coup of 18 Brumaire that brought Napoleon Bonaparte to power.
  • Constitution of the Year VIII

    leadership of Napoleon established under the Consulate. French Revolution may be considered ended.
  • Napoleon signs a concordat with the pope

    During the French Revolution, the National Assembly had taken Church properties and issued the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which made the Church a department of the State, effectively removing it from the authority. At the time, the Gallican Church was the official church of France, but it was essentially Catholicism. The Civil Constitution caused hostility among the Vendeans towards the change in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the French government.
  • Treaty of Amiens

    The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended hostilities between the French Republic and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was signed in the city of Amiens on 25 March 1802 by Joseph Bonaparte and the Marquess Cornwallis as a "Definitive Treaty of Peace".
  • Napoleon crowned as emperor of France

    In Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned Napoleon I, the first Frenchman to hold the title of emperor in a thousand years. Pope Pius VII handed Napoleon the crown that the 35-year-old conqueror of Europe placed on his own head.
  • Napoleon crowns himself Emperor, in the company of the Pope.

    Napoleon crowns himself Emperor, in the company of the Pope.
  • British naval forces defeat the French at the battle of Trafalgar

    The battle was the most decisive naval victory of the war. Twenty-seven British ships of the line led by Admiral Lord Nelson aboard HMS Victory defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships of the line under French Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve off the southwest coast of Spain, just west of Cape Trafalgar. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost twenty-two ships, without a single British vessel being lost.
  • Battle of Ulm

    was a series of minor skirmishes at the end of Emperor Napoleon's Ulm Campaign. It culminated in the surrender of Karl Freiherr Mack von Leiberich and a significant part of his army near Ulm in Württemberg.
  • Battle of Jena

    The twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt were fought on 14 October 1806 on the plateau west of the river Saale in today's Germany, between the forces of Napoleon I of France and Frederick William III of Prussia. The decisive defeat suffered by the Prussian Army subjugated the Kingdom of Prussia to the French Empire until the Sixth Coalition was formed in 1812.
  • Treaty of Tilsit

    The Treaties of Tilsit were two agreements signed by Napoleon I of France in the town of Tilsit in July, 1807 in the aftermath of his victory at Friedland. The first was signed on 7 July, between Tsar Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France, when they met on a raft in the middle of the Neman River. The second was signed with Prussia on 9 July.
  • Imperial University established

    was a highly centralized educational state organization founded by Napoleon I in 1808 and given authority not only over the individual (previously independent) universities but also over primary and secondary education.
  • Battle of Raszyn.

    The first Battle of Raszyn was fought on 19 April 1809 between armies of the Austrian Empire and the Duchy of Warsaw, as part of the War of the Fifth Coalition in the Napoleonic Wars. The Austrians were defeated.
  • Napoleon invades Russia

    Napoleon Bonaparte is generally regarded as one of history’s top military tacticians. But 200 years ago this Sunday, he committed a grave error by leading his Grande Armée—likely the largest European armed force ever assembled to that point—across the Niemen River into Russia.
  • Battle of Salamanca

    The Battle of Salamanca saw the Anglo-Portuguese army under the Duke of Wellington defeat Marshal Auguste Marmont's French forces among the hills around Arapiles, south of Salamanca, Spain on 22 July 1812 during the Peninsular War. A Spanish division was also present but took no part in the battle.
  • Battle of Lützen

    Napoleon I of France halted the advances of the Sixth Coalition after his devastating losses in Russia. The Russian commander, Prince Peter Wittgenstein, attempting to preempt Napoleon's capture of Leipzig, attacked Napoleon's isolated right wing near Lützen, Germany. After a day of heavy fighting, the combined Prussian and Russian force retreated, but without cavalry the French were unable to follow their defeated enemy.
  • Battle of Bautzen.

    a combined Russian/Prussian army was pushed back by Napoleon, but escaped destruction, some sources claim, because Michel Ney failed to block their retreat. The Prussians under Count Gebhard von Blücher and Russians under Prince Peter Wittgenstein, retreating after their defeat at Lützen were attacked by French forces under Napoleon I, Emperor of the French.
  • Armistice of Poischwitz.

    The Truce or Armistice of Pläswitz was a 7-week armistice during the Napoleonic Wars, agreed between Napoleon I of France and the Allies on June 4, 1813 was proposed by Metternich during the retreat of the main Allied army into Silesia after Bautzen, seconded by Napoleonand keenly accepted by the Allies
  • Battle of Vitoria.

    At the Battle of Vitoria (21 June 1813) a British, Portuguese and Spanish army under General the Marquess of Wellington broke the French army under Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan near Vitoria in Spain, eventually leading to victory in the Peninsular War.
  • Siege of Danzig

    The Siege of Danzig was a siege of the city of Danzig during the War of the Sixth Coalition by Russian and Prussian forces against Jean Rapp's permanent French garrison, which had been augmented by soldiers from the Grande Armée retreating from its Russian campaign.
  • Congress of Vienna

    This objective resulted in the redrawing of the continent's political map, establishing the boundaries of France, the Duchy of Warsaw, the Netherlands, the states of the Rhine, the German Kingdom of Saxony, and various Italian territories, and the creation of spheres of influence through which Austria, Britain, France and Russia brokered local and regional problems.