Friday, November 15, 2013

Neoclassicism (pt. 2)

Less than a month later, a mob of angry and exacerbated peasants and farmers launched an attack in Paris against the city's chief executive building and symbol for the political authority of the royal family in France, the Bastille.  On July 14, 1789, French townsfolk stormed the Bastille and successfully captured it, effectively seizing the entire city.  The Archbishop of Bordeaux was hired to write a first draft of their "constitution," and by late August, the people of France had produced their Declaration on the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, asserting new limits to the power of the king.  Then, soon after, yet another mob of angry lower-class farmers marched on Versailles and attacked the lavish palace of the king, capturing him, and relocating him to be held hostage in Paris.  The whole nation was now under the control of the revolutionaries and plunged largely into anarchy until the populace united into a declared republic in 1792.
These first years of the French Revolution became known as the Reign of Terror for the exorbitant bloodshed which they produced.  Under Robespierre, an untold amount of people, from royals to aristocrats to ordinary lower-class men and women, were executed or killed either under the authority of the French Republic itself or in the Revolutionary Wars the nation-state engaged in after the execution of King Louis XVI.  Among them: Marie Antoinette, who was put on trial for treason, immorality, and even maternal abuse and was guillotined on October 16, 1793.  She was found guilty by a jury of nine men.
The Republic failed, the Terror ended, eventually Robespierre was himself executed, and new political organizations took control of France for a series of years until they were all overthrown and replaced with an imperial regime under the control of one man.  The First French Empire was declared by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804.  A few months later, in December of that same year, Napoleon crowned himself the Emperor of France and established his own reign over the next decade of French history.

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