Charles Downer Hazen's The French Revolution

Volume 1

When Loménie de Brienne was proposed to King Louis XVI for an ecclesiastical advancement, the king refused, saying, "The Archbishop of Paris ought at least, I think, to believe in the existence of God." (115)

From 1666 and 1683, Colbert (inventor of French bureaucracy) issued 149 different decrees re: various trades. From 1550 to 1776, the courts dealt with the issue of what constitutes a new coat and an old coat; tailors were allowed only to work upon new coats, and menders were allowed to work only upon old coats. From 1578 to 1767, shoemakers and cobblers argued in court re: the definition of an old boot; shoemakers were allowed only to work on new boots, and cobblers could only work on old boots. Restrictions, definitions, disputes, paternalism: the results were stifling to industry, initiative, and invention. (126)

From the Remonstrances of Parlement of Paris against Turgot's Six Edicts (1776): "The first rule of justice is to preserve for every man that which belongs to him. This is the fundamental rule of natural law, as well as of the law of nations and of civil government. It is a rule that consists not only of maintaining property rights, but also of preserving personal rights, in addition to those which derive from the prerogatives of birth and Estate.

From this rule of law and equity it follows that any system designed to create an equality of duties between men, even under the guise of humanity and benevolence, would tend to destroy those distinctions that are necessary to a well-ordered monarchy, and quickly result in disorder. The inevitable result of absolute equality would be the overthrow of civil society, which is maintained in harmony only through the hierarchy of power, authority, precedence, and distinction which keeps each man in his place and protects all states of being from confusion.

This social order is not only essential to the practice of every sound government—it has its origin in divine law. The infinite and immutable wisdom obvious in the universe established an unequal distribution of strength and character, necessarily resulting in inequality in the conditions of men within the social order. Despite the best efforts of the human mind, this 'universal law' is found in every realm, in turn maintaining the order that preserves it." (128-9;]

On 19 February 1781 Jacques Necker, director-general of the finances of France, published his famous 116-page Compte Rendu, in which he drew the balance sheet of France. He showed what money was coming in to the public coffers and how the money was being spent, including what the king was giving to favored courtiers (28 million livres annually). He juggled the books to make it look like there was a surplus, when in reality, the country was swimming in deficits. The Compte, however, was enormously popular and sold 100,000 copies. (138-40)

Abbé Sieyes' "What is the Third Estate?" opens with these lines:

We must put to ourselves three questions:

First: What is the Third Estate? Everything.

Second: What has it been hitherto in our political system? Nothing.

Third: What does it ask? To become something. (201)

Mirabeau on Robespierre: "Robespierre will go far, for he believes everything he says." (206)

Thomas Jefferson was present at the opening of the States General. (215)

All of the members of the Third Estate of the States General marched in alphabetical order & signed the Tennis Court Oath on 20 June 1789, except for Martin Dauch, a lawyer & deputy of Castelnaudary in the south of France. He had signed, but wrote after his name the word "opposed". (232)

Once the Bastille had "fallen", de Launay, the Governor of the Bastille, & his men were led away toward the Hotel de Ville. On the square in front of the Hotel, de Launay was murdered & his head was cut off with a pocketknife by a cook named Desnot, who then put the head on a pike & paraded with it. Desnot bragged about the deed for the next decade, hoping that he would get a medal from the government. (253)

When Louis XVI heard about the overthrow of the Bastille, he said, "But this is a revolt!", to which the Duke de la Rochefoucauld replied, "No, Sire, it is a Revolution." (255)

Minister of Finance Necker in late 1789 proposed a "patriotic tax", by which each taxpayer would voluntarily declare his income and then contribute 1/4 of it to the treasury. The government would not inquire into the veracity of the claims: a simple statement would be taken as truth. (344)

Another solution to the financial crisis: gifts. On 7 September 1789, twelve ladies of Paris visited the National Assembly and offered it their jewels to help the treasury. The idea spread. People donated money, silver, a doll's gold furniture, 8 quarter-casks of wine, two horses, and other things that didn't quite fit: a judge offered to administer justice without charging, a teacher offered free reading and writing lessons, a finer-born woman offered lessons in English. Most popular were silver shoe buckles. (345-6)

On 13 February 1790, the National Assembly passed a law forbidding perpetual vows—like those the clergy took—as contrary to the principles of liberty. As a result, monks and nuns were free to leave their cloisters. Many of the monks took their new freedom and reentered the world, becoming teachers, tutors, librarians, and civil servants. Few nuns left, however, because they didn't want to or because they weren't told of the changes to the law by their superiors. (363-4)

In an effort to end duelling, Lepelletier de Saint Fargeau proposed that those found guilty of duelling would be bound to a scaffold, exposed to public view for two hours, clothed in armor, and then shut up for 2 years in an insane asylum. The measure did not pass. (383)

At Strasbourg a tricolor flag was planted on the bridge that traversed the Rhine River, with an inscription: "Here begins the Land of Liberty". (387)

The President of the National Assembly 19 June 1790 was Baron de Menou, who later went with Napoleon to Egypt. While there, he married the daughter of a rich native in an Islamic ceremony, changed his name to Abdullah Jacques Menou, and took over the French army after Kleber died. (391)

Upon his death on 2 April 1791, Mirabeau was buried in the Pantheon with full honors and ceremony, amid universal mourning. Three years later, Mirabeau's remains were removed from the Pantheon and were deposited in a nameless grave in Paris, unknown to this day. (415)

Minister of the Interior Roland's wife was a committed republican who, as she read Plutarch's Lives, wept because she had not been born in Athens or Sparta. (495)

Francis II, the son of Emporer Leopold who died on 1 March 1792, was narrow-minded, uneducated, and had a politics that could be summed up as "the dogma of absolute immobility": nothing should change, ever. (498)

Volume 2

After Louis XVI's execution on the guillotine, the crowd rushed forward to touch his blood. (594)

The Girondins convinced the Convention to send Marat before the Revolutionary Tribunal, thus breaking the idea that members of the Convention couldn't be brought up on trial. Bad move … the Jacobins would use it to decimate the Girondins soon. Two could play that game. (631)

The Convention passed a decree on 23 August 1793: "From this moment until such time as its enemies shall have been driven from the soil of the Republic all Frenchmen are in permanent requisition for the services of the armies. The young men shall fight; the married men shall forge arms and transport provisions; the women shall make tents and clothes and shall serve in the hospitals; the children shall turn linen into lint; the old men shall betake themselves to the public squares in order to arouse the courage of the warriors and preach hatred of kings and the unity of the Republic." (666)

The Committee of Public Safety gradually assumed more power. 28 July 1793: right to issue arrests. 2 August 2003: Convention allocated it 50 million francs to spend as it saw, without having to explain how it was spending the money. 10 October 1793: all officials in every branch of local governments, departments, districts, and municipalities were placed under its surveillance. 4 December 1789: local governments subordinated to the Committee. (679)

As Reign of Terror progressed, the Revolutionary Tribunal sped up the entire so-called judicial process. A brief investigation, the judge asks the jury if it's convinced, the jury answers yes, the judge pronounces the guilty verdict and sentences the accused to death, and the condemned is immediately executed in the Place de la Revolution. (684)

Law passed on 17 September 1793: all "suspected" persons were to be arrested at once. Suspects? (1) By conduct, connections, speech, writings, have shown themselves enemies of liberty. (2) Unable to justify their means of living & discharge of civic duties. (3) Refused certificates of civism, official cards granted to good citizens. (4) Public officials removed by the National Convention. (5) Any former nobles, or anyone related to a former noble, who has not constantly shown devotion to the Revolution. (6) Immigrated from France during 1 July 1789—8 April 1792. (694)

21 Girondins were condemned in a kangarooo court. Valaze stabbed himself on the spot, committing suicide. 31 October, all 21 were guillotined, including the dead Valaze. (705)

Roland found out that his wife had been executed. He left his hiding place, walked into the country, and threw himself on his sword, piercing his heart. On his coat was pinned a note: "From the moment when I learned that they had murdered my wife I would no longer remain in a world stained with enemies." (705)

Prisoners were bound, put on boats, and the boats were then sunk in the Loire. 1877 people died. (709)

Robespierre's Law of the 22nd Prairial was desingned to remove the remaining enemies of the Revolution, "the enemies of the people". Lord Morley: "This monstrous law is simply the complete abrogation of all law. Of all laws ever passed in the world it is the most nakedly iniquitous." (786)

New elections for the Directory were held in October 1795. Felix Hamon was listed as a member of the new legislature, and was even appointed—and reappointed—to several committees. After 18 months, it was discovered that no such person exisited. (843)

Thermidor Babeuf was the first socialist, the first to propose it as policy. (856)

The number and power of the clergy in Northern Italy: in Milan, 1 out of every 22 people was in the clergy; in Bologna, 1 in 12. In Bologna, 70,000 people, and 100 churches and monastaries; in Milan, 128,000 people and 180 churches and monastaries; in Ravenna, 10,000 people, but 100 churches and 38 monastaries and convents. (869)

A new revolutionary religion, Theophilanthropy. Not anti-Christian, but they found Catholicism to be superstitious and intolerant, and an enemy of the Revolution. Held to the belief in God and immortality of soul, but it focused on practical morality instead of unprovable doctrines. Few if any dogmas, and renounced proselytizing. First ceremony in January 1797, but ended by Napoleon, who wanted to ally with the Roman Catholic Church. (929-30)

January/February 1798: French take Rome and drive the Pope out to Tuscany. Raiding commences. 6 antique cameos, the most beautiful in the Vatican collection, were sent to Paris. 4 were broken on the way. 1 went to the President of the Directory, Merlin, who gave it to the National Library. Napoleon gave his to Josephine. (942-43)

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