The Revolution Brings Reform and Terror: Storyboard

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  • In September 1791, the National Assembly formed a new constitution which greatly limited the powers of Louis XVI. The new constitution had also created a new legislative body known as the Legislative Assembly.  The Legislative Assembly had the ability to create laws and approve or disapprove declarations of war.  Previous problems such as food shortages and government debt brought many disagreements between members of the Legislative Assembly, this resulted in the assembly splitting into three groups: Radicals, Moderates, and Conservatives.
  • The Legislative Assembly declared war on Austria and Prussia after urging Louis to be returned to his role as an absolute monarch.  The war between with Austria and Prussia was the start to a series of violent events within France: citizens of Paris broke into prisons and killed hundreds of prisoners due to a rumor that supporters of the King had planned to break out and seize the city. Fearful and angry citizens had also imprisoned the royal family following a threat from the Prussian commander to destroy Paris.
  • As a result of the pressure from rioting citizens, the Legislative Assembly disregarded the constitution produced by the National Assembly and declared the King deposed and the monarchy abolished.  The election of a new legislature was called for and the National Convention was formed.  In early 1793, the National Convention had reduced Louis XVI's role to that of a prisoner.  The former king was tried for treason and put to death by guillotine on January 21st.
  • Despite losing a monarch, France had still been involved in a war with Austria and Prussia, only this time Great Britain, Holland, and Spain had joined to weaken France.  Following a series of defeats, the National Convention had ordered a draft of 300,000 French citizens ages 18-40.
  • One Jacobin leader, Maximilien Robespierre, rose to power as the leader of the Committee of Public Safety.  Robespierre had set out to wipe every trace of France's past, for example, changing the calendar by removing Sundays, and closing churches throughout Paris and other areas of France.  Although Robespierre role was to protect the safety of French citizens, he managed to kill over 40,000 citizens via the guillotine.  Many would say that Robespierre ruled like that of a dictator, which caused his rule to become known as The Reign of Terror.
  • After Robespierre was sent to the guillotine in 1794, French citizens became weary of the Terror.  Prices of everyday goods, such as bread and salt, had also begun to rise.  In 1795, the National Convention drafted a plan for a new government that called for a two-house legislature as well as an executive body made up of five men.  This new government system was known as the Directory. 
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