The French Revolution, a historical period of extensive social and political disturbance in France, lasted from 1789 until 1821; and it overthrew the monarchy, set up a republic, and dealt with violent periods of political confusion. The Revolution brought its principles to Europe and more.
It changed modern history, caused the decline of absolutism, and substituted it with republics and democracies. One word that would describe the Third Phase is “tentative”. This word showed how the Directory and the whole Third Phase were not fully developed and disoriented.
With Robespierre and the Reign of Terror gone, many of the Girondists came back to their political chairs in July 1794. The Nation Convention freed many Girondists prisoners, gave less power to the Committee for Public Safety, and had many radicals in the Second Phase were executed in a movement (‘‘the white terror’’) known as the Thermidorian Reaction.
However, the Convention removed the real accomplishments achieved. For instance, the National Convention took away the price controls, which caused the prices to shoot up. This inflation led to the peasants trying to rebel, but the government quickly ended it. Though the Convention favored the Cult of Supreme Being, they allowed catholic services to be held and many refractory priests came back.
On August 22, 1795, the convention replaced the Constitution of 1793 with a more conservative constitution. The Constitution of the Year III protected property, set up a voting process that reduced the powers of the masses, and created a new executive branch: The Directory, a five-member oligarchy.
The bicameral legislature of two – houses: the upper body, Council of Elders, were men over forty years old and were husbands or widowers; and the lower body, Council of Five Hundred, consisted of men at least thirty and were either married or single.
The Council of Elders chose the Directory by a list created by the Council of Five Hundred. Due to the property qualification, most people could not vote, so it limited the franchise but the soldiers could still vote. Because the soldiers can vote, although they don’t have property, showed that the word “tentative” perfectly describes the Third Phase. Fearing that they would lose their power, the convention ratified that two–thirds of the new legislature must be members of the National Convention.
Meanwhile, fortified by the Directory, the French army had gained more power. During the beginning of the Third Phase, the army defended France against Prussia and Austria. On October 5, 1795- 13 Vendemiaire – the government attacked the royalist who rose up against them, so a general named Napoleon Bonaparte, made a bold move, he commanded the cannon, and with a ‘‘whiff of grapeshot’’ he dispersed the crowd.
Once in power, the Directory was incapable to end external or internal threats – for example – it suspended/ignored the elections of 1795’s results. The Republican phase was over on September 1797 – 18 Fructidor. Also, in the spring of 1796, Gracchus Babeuf led the Conspiracy of Equals; he called for more radical democracy, then, later on, was arrested and executed. Not before long, the Directory began to manipulate its power, they, with Napoleon and the army, took over the government. Legitimacy depended on coercive power (the army).
Napoleon fought Austria and won, made them sign a treaty, the Treaty of Campo Formio, and created a nation, the Cisalpine Republic. A general did not have the authority to sign treaties, it’s usually between states.
Furthermore, in 1789, Napoleon went to Egypt to defeat Britain, cut their link to India, gain more territory, and conduct a historical and scientific expedition. As the French military was in Egypt, things took a turn.
In October 1799, Napoleon’s army is defeated and Napoleon abandoned his men and headed back to France due to Abbe Sieyès calling him back. This war enlarged the distrust of the Directory.
In addition, on November 9, 1799, when Napoleon overthrew the Directory. Next, Napoleon removed the legislature and made himself the first consul. Even the French voters (the Plebiscite) overwhelmingly agreed to his plan. 3,011,007 to 1,567 agreed with Napoleon because he stood for stability due to the Directory not stable.
This whole phase lacked any sort of goal or purpose; the destruction of the sans-culottes, the narrowing of the franchise, the two–thirds rule, and the revival of Catholicism are all consequences from the actions of the Directory which would lead to them depending on the army. Which showed how disoriented and not fully develop the Third Phase was (‘‘Tentative’’). These events would lead to even bigger consequences even the rise of the Napoleon Age. Indeed, Napoleon did so much for liberty, equality, and fraternity than the other people in the French Revolution.
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