Author Archives: Isabella Brafman

Vendée Defeat at Nantes

Along with other areas outside of Paris, the Vendée was becoming more opposed to the revolution and violent. Religion was the first divisive factor causing unrest in the Vendée. The countryside in the Vendée was anti-revolution and in support of the refractory church, but the towns and cities were republican, in support of the revolution. Once the Convention enacted a conscription policy for men to fight in the name of the republic, malcontent in the Vendée was heightened and civil unrest ensued (Shusterman, 182). Peasants initiated military engagements and large peasant armies fought in two different places: Machecoul in the Marais, and Saint-Florent in the Mauges. Led by Charette and Cathalineau, the rebels decided to attack Nantes, the region’s most important city. When the fighting moved from the area around Nantes to the city itself, Cathalineau was shot. The fighting then turned towards the republicans’ advantage, eventually resulting in their victory.

If the Vendéans had succeeded in taking Nantes, they would have become “masters of the situation”(Shusterman, 186), altering the course of the revolution. The event at Nantes shows religion’s strong influence in motivating a counter-revolutionary military campaign. Religion did not play the same role in the Federalist Revolt. The Vendée defeat at Nantes evened out the fighting between the republicans and the counter-revolutionaries, which allowed for the revolution to successfully protect itself and continue in Paris.

Works Cited

William Doyle, The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2001).

Noah Shusterman, The French Revolution: Faith, Desire, and Politics (Routledge, 2014).

Federalist Revolt

In this second phase of the revolution, much of France had begun to turn against Paris and the revolution. The growing division between the Girondins and the Montagnards, and the supremacy of the Montagnards in terms of leadership, eventually led to the expulsion of the Girondins from the Convention by the Montagnards. The Federalist Revolt was led by many different groups: some were made up of the expelled Girondins who had fled Paris and were important leaders in the movement, others were Royalists who assumed the revolt was in the name of the monarchy (Shusterman, 177). These differing agendas show that the Federalist Revolt did not have a single, cohesive goal besides their opposition to the Montagnards, Robespierre, and Marat. This was viewed from Paris as a grave danger, for some even counter-revolutionary, but in reality it did not have the resources or strong leadership to threaten the revolution in Paris (Shusterman, 178).

Works Cited

William Doyle, The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2001).

Noah Shusterman, The French Revolution: Faith, Desire, and Politics (Routledge, 2014).

Women’s March on Versailles

For several months following an especially bad harvest, the people of Paris were experiencing bread shortages. This mainly affected the women since they were in charge of feeding their children and husbands. Armed with broomsticks, pitchforks, swords, and guns with no ammunition, the women gathered at the Hotel de Ville in Paris and demanded bread. They were hungry and frustrated, which eventually prompted them to make the 12 mile walk to Versailles and demand bread from the king himself (Shusterman, 50-51). Bread was not the women’s sole demand. They also had the goal of getting the King to approve the Assembly’s Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen (Dwyer & McPhee, 30). As a result of the successful march, the King returned to Paris with the people, and accepted the Decree of August 11 and the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen (Shusterman, 43). The Women’s March on Versailles holds significance in many ways. First of all, it shows the dichotomy between the lavishness of Versailles and the starvation people were experiencing in Paris. The women physically at Versailles signifies these two worlds meeting, and the detached monarchy finally facing the realities of the common people. The march also exhibits the mob mentality that was characteristic of the times. En route to Versailles, the women killed two soldiers protecting the palace and boasted their heads on pikes. This is consistent with the previous riots in Paris that also escalated to the point of parading public killings. Once the women arrived at Versailles, their rioting “was a mixture of protest and celebration” (Shusterman, 51). Their greeting of the king with both grievances and praise shows the politics of the time: at this point, the people only wanted to transition to a constitutional monarchy, not get rid of the monarchy entirely.    

 

Works Cited

 

William Doyle, The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2001).

Noah Shusterman, The French Revolution: Faith, Desire, and Politics (Routledge, 2014).