The French Revolution

  • Compte Rendu au Roi

    Director-General of Finances, Jacques Necker, presents his financial report to King Louis XVI.
  • Necker resigns.

    Necker resigns his position as Minister of Finance.
  • Joly de Fleury appointed Minister of France

    Joly de Fleury appointed Minister of Finance.
  • Period: to

    The King introduces another tax

    The King imposes a third additional tax for the period 1783-1786.
  • Treaty of Versailles

    France signs the Treaty of Versailles, ending the conflict with Britain over the American colonies.
  • Callonne is appointed as Minister of Finance

    Calonne is appointed Controller-General (Minister of Finances).
  • Period: to

    Necker publishes his vies on the need for financial reform

    Necker publishes his views on the need for financial reform.
  • Period: to

    The Diamond Necklace Affair

    The scandal of the Diamond Necklace Affair tarnishes the reputation of Queen Marie-Antoinette.
  • Calonne proposes financial reforms to the King.

    Calonne proposes financial reforms to the King.
  • Assembly of Notables

    The King convenes the Assembly of Notables to discuss fiscal reform.
  • Calonne is dismissed

    The King dismisses reforming finance minister Calonne and appoints Brienne in his place.
  • The Assembly of Notables is closed

    The King closes the Assembly of Notables.
  • Period: to

    Parlements of Paris and Bordeaux are exiled

    The law courts (parlements) of Paris and Bordeaux rebel against the King’s authority and are exiled.
  • The Disaster of the Royal Session

    The King exerts authority upon the law courts in the ‘royal session’.
  • The Paris parlement proclaims the need for an Estates-General

    The Paris parlement states that the King has a duty to submit new laws to the parlements and that new taxes can only be imposed by agreement with the nation, as represented by the Estates-General.
  • The King attempts to disempower the parlements

    The King tries to disempower parlements by redefining their role and powers.
  • Period: to

    The Aristocratic Revolt

    The first phase of the revolution is often referred to as the ‘aristocratic’ or noble revolt, referring to the fact that resistance came from the nobles in the Assembly of Notables and the parlements. Note, however, that even at this early stage resistance came from other social groups, such as the urban crowds that supported the parlements. These law courts defy the King; town populations demonstrate in favour of the judges.
  • Estates-General is called

    The King calls a meeting of Estates-General for May 1789.
  • The royal treasury suspends payments

    The royal treasury suspends payments, a near equivalent of bankruptcy.
  • Brienne resigns

    Finance minister Brienne resigns; the more popular Necker is recalled.
  • The King reopens parlements

    The King reopens parlements. The Paris parlement demands that the Estates-General meet and vote by order.
  • Period: to

    Assembly of Notables convenes to discuss the organisation of the Estates-General

    Assembly of Notables meets again to discuss the organisation of the Estates-General.
  • The number of Third Estate deputies is doubled

    Concession of doubling of the number of deputies for the Third Estate.
  • Formal call for Estates-General to meet

    Formal call for Estates-General to meet.
  • Period: to

    What is the Third Estate?

    Publication of Sieyès’ What is the Third Estate?
  • Period: to

    Cahiers de Doleances

    Election of deputies to the Estates-General at Versailles. Drafting of Books of Grievances.
  • Period: to

    Revellion riots

    Crowds attack and destroy Revellion factory. Class conflict?
  • Estates-General

    Opening of the Estates-General. King maintains traditional honorific distinctions between orders.
  • Third Estate demands voting by head

    Controversy over voting by order or by head. Third Estate demands voting by head.
  • Period: to

    Clergy and nobility accept the principle of equal taxation

    Clergy and nobility accept principle of equality in taxation.
  • Some parish priests join the Third Estate

    Some parish priests join the Third Estate.
  • The Third Estate declares itself the National Assembly

    The second stage of the revolution is often loosely referred to as the bourgeois revolt, referring to the fact that the deputies of the Third Estate now stepped forward and claimed a new constitutional role for themselves. Note, however, that other social groups, such as liberal nobles and liberal priests also supported them. The Third Estate declares that it virtually is the nation and declares itself to be a national assembly.
  • The Tennis Court Oath

    The Third Estate retreats to a commercial tennis court and swears not to disband until there is a constitution.
  • The National Assembly defies royal order

    The National Assembly defies the royal order to return to discussion by order.
  • Some nobles join the Third Estate

    A deputation of nobles joins the Third Estate.
  • The three orders unite

    The three orders unite.
  • The King orders troops to Paris

    The King orders troops to Paris.
  • Period: to

    The King refuses to withdraw his troops

    Despite popular protests against troop presence, the King refuses to withdraw them.
  • Period: to

    The King dismisses Necker

    Increasing agitation in Paris. The King dismisses Necker. The third stage of the revolution is often called the revolt of the urban working classes – Desmoulins exhorts the people to arm themselves.
  • The Storming of the Bastille

    The capture of the Bastille.
  • The King recalls Necker

    The King capitulates – troops withdrawn, Necker recalled.
  • Period: to

    The Great Fear

    The peasant revolt – Gradual escalation of rumour and fear in country areas leads to rural rebellions (‘the Great Fear’).
  • Foulon and Berthier are murdered

    The crowd brutally murders royal officials Foulon and Berthier.
  • Period: to

    The August Decrees

    National Assembly initially abolishes feudalism outright, then qualifies the reform (‘August Decrees’).
  • The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

    Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.
  • Period: to

    The National Assembly votes to give the King a suspensive veto

    Assembly votes to give King suspensive veto and not to have a two-house parliament.
  • Period: to

    The Women's March

    The October Days – King, royal family then assembly move to Paris.
  • The nationalisation of Church property

    Nationalisation of Church property.
  • The abolition of religious orders

    Abolition of religious orders apart from teaching and medical services.
  • France is divided into 83 departments

    Rationalisation of France into 83 administrative departments.
  • Creation of the municiple sections of Paris

    Creation of the municipal ‘sections’ of Paris.
  • The abolition of the nobility

    Abolition of nobility and all other honorific distinctions.
  • The Civil Constitution of the Clergy

    The Civil Constitution of the Clergy is decreed.
  • Fete de la Federation

    Lafayette’s Festival of Federation.
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    The abolition of parlements

    Reorganisation of judiciary; abolition of parlements.
  • Period: to

    The abolition of Ancien Regime law courts

    Assembly assumes control of national treasury, abolishes law courts of old regime.
  • The National Assembly declares that priests must uphold the Civil Constitution of the Clergy

    Assembly demands that priests swear oath of loyalty to Civil Constitution of Clergy.
  • The Civil Constitution of the Clergy is checked

    Checking of oath of the clergy.
  • The abolition of guilds and corporations

    Abolition of guilds and corporations.
  • The Pope condemns the Civil Constitution of the Clergy

    The Pope condemns the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.
  • The crowd do not allow the royal family to leave to go to Saint-Cloud

    The crowd violently prevents the royal family from leaving Paris for Saint-Cloud.
  • Le Chapelier law

    The Le Chapelier law restricts working-class organisation, including strikes.
  • Period: to

    The Flight to Varennes

    The Flight to Varennes of the royal family.
  • The Royal Family are returned to Paris

    Royal family returned to Paris, but Assembly only suspends the King.
  • The King is reinstated

    The King is reinstated.
  • The Champ de Mars Massacre

    Petition, demonstration and massacre on the Champ de Mars.
  • European nations form a coalition against France

    European nations form a coalition against revolutionary France.
  • Rebellion in Saint-Domingue

    Rebellion of slaves in French colony of Saint-Domingue.
  • Declaration of Pillnitz

    Declaration of Pillnitz.
  • Period: to

    The National Constituent Assembly is dissolved

    The King approves the Constitution (1791) and swears loyalty to the nation. The first parliament, the National Constituent Assembly, is dissolved.
  • The first meeting of the Legislative Assembly

    Meeting of the second parliament, the Legislative Assembly.
  • Brissot suggests war

    Brissot first suggests revolutionary war.
  • The Legislative Assembly orders emigrated nobles to return to France or lose their property

    Assembly orders emigrated nobles to return or lose their property.
  • The introduction of the Committees of Surveilance

    Assembly decrees Committees of Surveillance.
  • The Legislative Assembly orders refractory priests to uphold the Civil Constitution of the Clergy

    Assembly renews order to refractory priests to take the oath of loyalty.
  • France makes an ultimatum to Austria

    France makes ultimatum to Austria.
  • France decalres war on Austria

    France declares war on Austria.
  • The first use of the guillotine

    First use of the guillotine.
  • The Legislative Assembly passes a new law aginst refractory priests

    Assembly passes new law against refractory priests.
  • Prussia declares war on France

    Brissotin ministry dismissed. Prussia declares war on France.
  • Sans-Culottes storm the Tuileries Palace

    The first revolutionary upheaval: the sans-culottes invade the Tuileries Palace humiliate the King.
  • Le Patrie en Danger

    Decree of the Country in Danger.
  • The Brunswick Manifesto

    The Brunswick Manifesto.
  • The Federal troops arrive in Paris

    The federal troops (volunteers from Marseilles) arrive in Paris.
  • The Paris sections demand that the King be dethroned

    The radical Paris ‘sections’ demand that the King be dethroned.
  • The Storming of the Tuileries

    The second revolutionary upheaval – the crowd invades the Tuileries and overthrows the monarchy.
  • The introduction of the Extraordinary Tribunal

    The Extraordinary Tribunal is established.
  • Prussian troops enter France

    Lafayette defects. Prussian troops cross border into France.
  • The Prussians capture Verdun

    Prussians capture Verdun, the last fortress before Paris.
  • Period: to

    The September Massacres

    Panic in Paris – ‘September Massacres’ of prisoners.
  • The National Convention

    The third parliament, the National Convention, meets.
  • The Republic is formed

    The Republic is proclaimed.
  • Period: to

    The King's trial

    The King is brought to trial, is interrogated and makes his defence.
  • Period: to

    The King is sentenced to death

    Condemnation of the King, passing of death sentence, vote against reprieve.
  • Le Pelletier is assasinated

    First political assassination – Le Pelletier.
  • The King is executed

    Execution of the King.
  • France declares war on Great Britain and the Dutch Republic

    France declares war on Great Britain and the Dutch Republic.
  • The National Convention introduces conscription

    Assembly declares conscription of an army of 300,000 men.
  • Period: to

    Food riots in Paris

    Food shortages, food riots in Paris.
  • Introduction of the Revolutionary Tribunal

    Creation of the Revolutionary Tribunal.
  • The Vendee Rebellion

    Rebellion in the Vendeé region begins.
  • Introduction of revolutionary committees

    Creation of revolutionary committees.
  • Introduction of the Committee of Public Safety

    Creation of Committee of Public Safety.
  • Period: to

    Unsuccessful trial of Marat

    Unsuccessful attempt by Girondins to try Marat.
  • Federalist revolt in Marseilles

    Federalist rebellion in Marseille.
  • The Law of the Maximum

    Convention decrees the Maximum on food prices.
  • Introduction of the Commission of Twelve

    Appointment of the Commission of Twelve.
  • Popular uprising against the Girondins

    Popular uprising in Paris against the Girondins.
  • The Girondins are purged from the National Convention

    Popular pressure leads to the purge of Girondins from the Convention.
  • The Jacobin Constitution

    The ‘Jacobin’ Constitution of 1793 is accepted by the Convention.
  • Danton quits the Committee of Public Safety

    Danton quits Committee of Public Safety.
  • The death of Marat

    Second political assassination – the death of Marat.
  • The death penalty is introduced for hoarding

    The Economic Terror – the death penalty is introduced for hoarding.
  • Robespierre joins the Committe of Public Safety

    Robespierre accepts membership of the Committee of Public Safety.
  • Levee en masse

    Decree of mass levy of troops.
  • Terror becomes the order of the day

    The Convention bows to popular pressure to introduce government by Terror.
  • The Battle of Hondschoote

    The Battle of Hondschoote – a turning point for the French war effort.
  • The Law of Suspects

    Law of Suspects facilitates arrest on almost any pretext.
  • The Law of the General Maximum

    The Maximum is made general.
  • The Declaration of Revolutionary Government

    Declaration of ‘revolutionary government’ (government by emergency measures).
  • Period: to

    29 Girondin Deputies

    Trial of the Girondins, culminating in their execution.
  • The formal decree of revolutionary government

    Formal decree of revolutionary government.
  • The abolition of slavery

    Successful rebellion in Saint-Domingue forces Convention to abolish slavery.
  • Period: to

    The execution of the Hebertists

    Arrest and execution of the left-wing radical Hébertists.
  • The disbanding of revolutionary armies

    Disbanding of revolutionary armies.
  • The execution of Danton and Desmoulins

    Trial and execution of Danton and Desmoulins.
  • The festival of the Supreme Being

    Festival of the Supreme Being.
  • The introduction of wage control

    Introduction of wage controls in Paris.
  • Period: to

    The Thermidorian Reaction

    Fall of Robespierre and close associates (9-10 Thermidor, in the new dating).
  • Period: to

    The trial of numerous Jacobins

    Trial of Jacobins such as Billaud-Varenne.
  • Period: to

    The rebellion of Germinal

    The rebellion of Germinal..
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    The rebellion of Prairial.

    The rebellion of Prairial.
  • The Constitution of 1795

    Constitution of 1795.
  • The rebellion of Vendemaire

    Rebellion of Vendémiaire.
  • The National Convention dissolves

    The Convention closes down.
  • The Directory is established

    The Directory is established.