Timeline of the French Revolution
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The following is a chronology of the French Revolution.
Events preceding but pertinent to the French Revolution
Throughout the era
- The centuries-old opposition of privileged bodies and castes to royal absolutism.
- The Enlightenment leads many European writers to criticize the absolute monarchy and espouse democratic, liberalist, nationalist, and socialist ideas.
- The power of the French nobility erodes with the emergence of a powerful bourgeoisie.
- Wars compound the debt situation and increase taxation.
- Food shortages occur due to poor harvests, economic deregulation and market manipulations.
Ascension of Louis XVI amid Financial Crisis
- May 10: Louis XVI, age nineteen, ascends to the throne as the state nears bankruptcy.
- Summer: Poor grain harvests for the second year in a row raise the price of bread by winter.
- August 24: Louis dismisses his minister Maupeou who tried to reform the provincial parlements which were the spearheads of the aristocracy's resistance to the Crown's absolutism and centralization efforts.
- August 24: Louis appoints Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot as controller-general of the finances. He notably liberalized grain commerce which resulted in an increase in bread prices.
- April 18: Due to an increase in grain prices, bread riots known as the Flour War begin in Dijon and spread.
- May 2–3: Flour War rebels demonstrate in front of the Palace of Versailles.
- May 6: Government minister Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes advocates calling an estates-general to end the crisis.
- May 11: By a combination of repressive measures and aid, Turgot puts down most of the bread riots.
- January: Turgot presents his Six Edicts calling for the abolition of privilege and the taxation of all social classes.
- May 11: Turgot is dismissed after having made powerful enemies with his edicts and other policies.
- October: Jacques Necker is appointed director-general of the finances. He opposes the deregulation of the grain market implemented by Turgot and stabilizes the social and financial situation in France.
- February 6: After years of unofficial support, France formally recognizes the United States dragging it into a war which would further increase France's debt.
- February: Necker publishes the Compte rendu au roi (Report to the King), a book explaining government finances in a way that, for the first time, generates public interest in the subject.
- May 19: Necker resigns unable to implement his reforms and forced out by a coalition of enemies gathering Princes of the blood, financiers, provincial parliaments and the Ferme générale.
- November 3: Charles Alexandre de Calonne is appointed as a compromise between Turgot's liberalism and Necker's dirigism.
- October: Calonne, failing to end the financial crisis with credit and loans, attempts monetary reforms.
Assembly of Notables
- May 31: The Diamond Necklace Affair concludes with the acquittal of Cardinal Rohan and the discrediting of Marie Antoinette.
- August 20: Calonne informs Louis that the royal finances are insolvent and proposes a new tax code.
- December 29: The Assembly of Notables, organized by Calonne to endorse his proposals, is convoked.
- February 22: First Assembly of Notables meets against a background of state financial instability and general resistance by the nobility to an imposition of taxes and fiscal reforms.
- March: Calonne's publication of his proposals and the intransigence of the Notables leads to a public clash and impasse.
- April 8: Louis dismisses both Calonne and the keeper of the seals, or minister of justice, Miromesnil, in an attempt to break the impasse.
- April 13: Louis appoints Lamoignon keeper of the seals
- April 30: The Archbishop of Toulouse and vocal leader of the higher clergy, Loménie de Brienne is appointed chief minister of state.
- May 25: The first Assembly of Notables is dissolved.
- June: Brienne sends edicts for tax reform legislation to the parlements for registration.
- July 2: Parlement of Paris overwhelmingly rejects the royal legislation.
- August 6: Legislation is passed at a lit de justice. Subsequently the parlement declares the registration illegal. Supported by public opinion, it initiates criminal proceedings against the disgraced Calonne.
- August 15: Louis dismisses the Parisian parlement and orders the parlementaires to remove themselves to Troyes.
- August 19: Louis orders the closure of all political clubs in Paris.
- September: Civil unrest in the Dutch republic leads to its invasion by the Prussian army, and increases tensions in Paris. Brienne backs down with his legislative demands, settling for an extension of the vingtième tax, and the parlementaires are allowed to return to Paris.
- November 19: A royal session of the Paris parlements for registration of new loans turns into an informal lit de justice when Louis doesn't allow a vote to be taken.
- November 20: The vocal opposition of the duc d'Orléans leads to his temporary exile by lettres de cachet, and the arrest and imprisonment of two magistrates.
- May 6: Orders for the arrest of two Parisian parlementaires, d'Eprémesnil and Goislard, who are most implacably opposed to the government reforms, are issued; the parlement declares its solidarity with the two magistrates
- May 7: d'Eprémesnil and Goislard are imprisoned
- May 8: Judicial reforms partly abolishing the power of parlements to review legislation are forced through the parlements by Lamoignon in a lit de justice timed to coincide with military sessions
- June 7: Day of the Tiles in Grenoble - a meeting called to assemble a parlement in defiance of government order put down by soldiers.
- June: Outcry over the enforced reforms ensues, and courts across France refuse to sit
- July 5: Brienne begins to consider calling an Estates-General
- July 21: Meeting of the Estates of Dauphiné, known as the Assembly of Vizille and led by Jean Joseph Mounier, to elect deputies to the Estates-General, adopts measures to increase the influence of the Third Estate.
- August 8: After being informed that the royal treasury is empty, Brienne sets May 1, 1789 as the date for the Estates-General in an attempt to restore confidence with his creditors
- August 16: Repayments on government loans stop, and the French government effectively declares bankruptcy
- August 25: Brienne resigns as Minister of Finance, and is replaced by the favored choice among the Third Estate, Jacques Necker
- September: Necker releases those arrested for criticising Brienne's ministry, leading to a proliferation of political pamphlets
- September 14: Malesherbes resigns
- November 6: Necker convenes a second Assembly of Notables to discuss the Estates-General
- December 12: The second Assembly of Notables is dismissed, having firmly refused to consider doubling the representation of the Third Estate
- December 27: Prompted by public controversy, Necker announces that the representation of the Third Estate will be doubled, and that nobles and clergymen will be able to stand for the same cause.
- January - Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès publishes What is the Third Estate? (Qu'est-ce que le tiers-état ?).
- April 28 - The Réveillon Riots in Paris, caused by low wages and food shortages, lead to about 25 deaths by troops.
- May 5: The Estates-General meets for the first time since 1614.
Estates-General and Constituent Assembly
- May 5: Meeting of the Estates-General - voting to be by Estate, not by head
- May 28: The Third Estate (Tiers Etat) begins to meet on its own, calling themselves "communes" (commons)
- June 4: The Dauphin of France dies
- June 9: The Third Estate votes for the common verification of credentials, in opposition to the First Estate (the clergy) and the Second Estate (the nobility)
- June 13: Some priests from the First Estate choose to join the Third Estate
- June 17: The Third Estate (commons) declares itself to be the National Assembly
- June 20: Third Estate/National Assembly are locked out of meeting houses; the Third Estate chooses to continue thinking King Louis XVI has locked them out and decides upon a declarative vow, known as the "serment au Jeu de Paume" (The Tennis Court Oath), not to dissolve until the constitution has been established
- June 22: National Assembly meets in church of St Louis, joined by a majority of clergy
- June 23: Two companies of French guards mutiny in the face of public unrest. Louis XVI holds a Séance Royale, puts forward his 35-point program aimed at allowing the continuation of the three estates.
- June 24: 48 nobles, headed by the Duke of Orléans, side with the Third Estate. A significant number of the clergy follow their example.
- June 27: Louis recognises the validity of the National Assembly, and orders the First and Second Estates to join the Third.
- June 30: Large crowd storms left bank prison and frees mutinous French Guards
- July 1: Louis recruits more troops, among them many foreign mercenaries
- July 9: National Assembly reconstitutes itself as National Constituent Assembly
- July 11: Necker dismissed by Louis; populace sack the monasteries, ransack aristocrats' homes in search of food and weapons
- July 12: Camille Desmoulins announces the dismissal of Necker to the Paris crowd. The Karl Eugen, Prince von Lothringen-Lambesc appears at the Tuilleries with an armed guard - a soldier and civilian are killed.
- July 13: National Guard formed in Paris, of middle class men.
- July 14: Storming of the Bastille; de Launay, (the governor), Foulon (the Secretary of State) and de Flesselles (the then equivalent of the mayor of Paris), amongst others, are massacred.
- July 15: Lafayette appointed Commandante of the National Guard.
- July 16: Necker recalled, troops pulled out of Paris
- July 17: The beginning of the Great Fear, the peasantry revolt against feudalism and a number of urban disturbances and revolts. Many members of the aristocracy flee Paris to become émigrés. Louis XVI accepts the tricolor cockade.
- July 18: Publication of Desmoulins' La France libre favouring a republic and arguing that revolutionary violence is justified.
- August 4: Surrender of feudal rights: The August Decrees.
- August 26: The Assembly adopts the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
- September 11: The National Assembly grants suspensive veto to Louis XVI; Louis fails to ratify the August acts of the National Assembly.
- October 5–6: Outbreak of the Paris mob; Liberal monarchical constitution; the Women's March on Versailles
- October 6: Louis XVI agrees to ratify the August Decrees, Palace of Versailles stormed.
King Louis and the National Assembly removed to Paris.
- November 2: Church property nationalised and otherwise expropriated
- November: First publication of Desmoulins' weekly Histoire des Révolutions ...
- December: National Assembly distinguishes between 'active' (monied) and 'passive' (property-less) citizens - only the active could vote
- December 12: Assignats are used as legal tender
- January: Former Provinces of France replaced by new administrative Departments.
- February 13: Suppression of monastic vows and religious orders
- March 5: Feudal Committee reports back to National Assembly, delaying the abolition of feudalism.
- March 29: Pope Pius condemns the Declaration of the Rights of Man in secret consistory.
- May: National Assembly renounces involvement in wars of conquest.
- June 19: Nobility abolished by the National Assembly.
- July 12: The Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Demands priests to take an oath of loyalty to the state, splitting the clergy between juring (oath-taking) and non-juring priests.
- July: Growing power of the clubs (including: Cordeliers, Jacobin Club)
- July: Reorganization of Paris
- August 16: The parlements are abolished
- September: First edition of radical newspaper Le Père Duchesne printed by Jacques Hébert.
- September: Fall of Necker
- January 1: Mirabeau elected President of the Assembly
- February 28: Day of Daggers; Lafayette orders the arrest of 400 armed aristocrats at the Tuileries Palace
- March 2: Abolition of trade guilds
- March 10: Pope Pius VI condemns the Civil Constitution of the Clergy
- April 2: Death of Mirabeau; first person to be buried in the Pantheon, formerly the Abbey of St Genevieve
- April 13: Encyclical of Pope Pius VI, Charitas, condemning the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and the unauthorised appointment of Bishops is published
- April 18: Louis and Marie-Antoinette prevented from travelling to Saint-Cloud for Easter
- June 14: Le Chapelier Law 1791 banning trade unions is passed by National Assembly
- June 20–25: Royal family's flight to Varennes
- June 25: Louis XVI forced to return to Paris
- July 5: Leopold II issues the Padua Circular calling on the royal houses of Europe to come to his brother-in-law, Louis XVI's aid.
- July 14: Second anniversary of the fall of the Bastille is celebrated at the Champ de Mars.
- July 15: National Assembly declares the king to be inviolable and he is reinstated.
- July 17: Anti-Royalist demonstration at the Champ de Mars; National Guard kills fifty people.
- July: Remains of Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire reburied in Pantheon.
- August 14: Slave revolts in Saint Domingue (Haiti)
- August 27: Declaration of Pillnitz (Frederick William II and Leopold II)
- September 13–14: Louis XVI accepts the Constitution formally
- September 30: Dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly
- October 1: Legislative Assembly meets - many young, inexperienced, radical deputies.
- November 9 All émigrés are ordered by the Assembly to return under threat of death
- November 11 Louis vetoes the ruling of the Assembly on émigrés and priests.
- January – March: Food riots in Paris
- February 7: Alliance of Austria and Prussia
- March 20: Guillotine adopted as official means of execution.
- April 20: France declares war against Austria
- April 25: Battle Hymn of the Army of the Rhine composed by Rouget de Lisle. First execution using the guillotine.
- April 28: France invades Austrian Netherlands (Belgium).
- June 20: The people storm the Tuileries and confront the king.
- July 5: Legislative Assembly declares that the fatherland is in danger (La Patrie en Danger).
- July 25: Brunswick Manifesto - warns that should the royal family be harmed by the popular movement, an "exemplary and eternally memorable revenge" will follow.
- July 30: Austria and Prussia begin invasion of France.
- July: The tricolor cockade made compulsory for men to wear. La Marseillaise sung by volunteers from Marseilles on their arrival in Paris.
- August 1: News of the Brunswick Manifesto reaches Paris - interpreted as proof that Louis XVI has been collaborating with the foreign Coalition.
- August 9: Revolutionary commune takes possession of the hôtel de ville.
- August 10–13: Storming of the Tuileries Palace. Swiss Guard massacred. Louis XVI of France is arrested and taken into custody, along with his family. Georges Danton becomes Minister of Justice.
- August 16: Paris commune presents petition to the Legislative Assembly demanding the establishment of a Revolutionary Tribunal and summoning of a National Convention.
- August 19: Lafayette flees to Austria. Invasion of France by Coalition troops led by Duke of Brunswick
- August 22: Royalist riots in Brittany, La Vendée and Dauphiné.
- September 3: Fall of Verdun to Brunswick's troops.
- September 3–7: The September Massacres of prisoners in the Paris prisons.
- September 19: Dissolution of Legislative Assembly.
- September 20:National Convention. French Army stops advance of Coalition troops at Valmy.
- September 21: Abolition of royalty and proclamation of the First French Republic.
- September 22: First day of the French Revolutionary Calendar (N.B.: calendar introduced in 1793).
- December 3: Louis XVI brought to trial, appears before the National Convention (11 & 23 December). Robespierre argues that "Louis must die, so that the country may live".
- December 4 : A Belgian delegation is received at the National Convention to claim independence from Austria.
- January 21: Citizen Louis Capet (formerly known as Louis XVI) guillotined.
- March 7: Outbreak of rebellion against the Revolution: War in the Vendée.
- March 11: Revolutionary Tribunal established in Paris.
- April 6: Committee of Public Safety established.
- May 30: A revolt breaks out in Lyon.
- June 2: Arrest of Girondist deputies to National Convention by Jacobins.
- June 10: Jacobins gain control of the Committee of Public Safety.
- June 24: Ratification of new Constitution by National Convention, but not yet proclaimed. Slavery is abolished in France until 1802 (Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte).
- July 3: Louis XVII of France was carried away from Marie Antoinette and was given to the treatment of a cobbler named Antoine Simon as a demand from the National Convention
- July 13: Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat by Charlotte Corday.
- July 17: Charlotte Corday is guillotined after her trial for murdering Marat
- July 27: Robespierre elected to Committee of Public Safety.
- July 28: Convention proscribes 21 Girondist deputies as enemies of France.
- August 23: Levée en masse (conscription) order.
- September 5: Start of Reign of Terror.
- September 9: Establishment of sans-culottes paramilitary forces - revolutionary armies.
- September 17: Law of Suspects passed.
- September 22: A new calendar is introduced, denoting September 22, 1792 as being the start of year I.
- September 29: Convention passes the General Maximum, fixing the prices of many goods and services.
- October 10: 1793 Constitution put on hold; decree that the government must be "revolutionary until the peace".
- October 15: Queen Marie Antoinette is impeached and convicted for treachery against the country, and for treason, originally they claimed that Marie had intercourse with her child, it was at this remark she stood up before the jury and told them no mother would do such a thing, and at that the people agreed they had gone too far on accusations. (so satisfied with treason)
- October 16: Marie Antoinette guillotined.
- October 21: An anti-clerical law passed, priests and supporters liable to death on sight.
- October 24: Trial of the 21 Girondist deputies by the Revolutionary Tribunal.
- October 31: The 21 Girondist deputies guillotined.
- November 3: Olympe de Gouges, champion of rights for women, guillotined for Girondist sympathies.
- November 8: Madame Roland guillotined as part of purge of Girondists.
- November 10: The Cathedral of Notre Dame is re-dedicated to the civic religion of the Cult of Reason.
- December: First issue of Desmoulins' Le Vieux Cordelier.
- December 4: Law of 14 Frimaire (Law of Revolutionary Government) passed; power becomes centralised on the Committee of Public Safety.
- December 23: Anti-Republican forces in the Vendée finally defeated and 6000 prisoners executed.
- February: Final 'pacification' of the Vendée - mass killings, scorched earth policy.
- March 13: Last edition of Jacques Hébert's Le Père Duchesne produced.
- March 19: Hébert and his supporters arrested.
- March 24: Hébert and leaders of the Cordeliers guillotined.
- March 28: Death of philosopher and mathematician Marquis de Condorcet in prison.
- March 30: Danton, Desmoulins and their supporters arrested.
- April 5: Danton and Desmoulins guillotined.
- May 7: National Convention, led by Robespierre, passes decree to establish the Cult of the Supreme Being.
- May 8: Antoine Lavoisier, chemist, guillotined as traitor.
- June 8: Festival of the Supreme Being.
- June 10: Law of 22 Prairial - the Revolutionary Tribunal became a court of condemnation without the need for witnesses.
- June 26: French forces defeat Austrians at the Battle of Fleurus.
- July 25: André Chenier, poet, guillotined for conspiring against the Revolution.
- July 27–28: Night of 9-10 Thermidor - Robespierre arrested, guillotined without trial, along with other members of the Committee of Public Safety. Commune of Paris abolished. End of the Reign of Terror. Also called The Thermidorian Reaction.
- Latter half of 1794: The White Terror - reaction against remaining Jacobins.
- November 11: Closure of Jacobin Club.
- May 31: Suppression of the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal.
- July 14: Marseillaise accepted as the French National Anthem.
- August 22: 1795 Constitution ratified - bicameral system, executive Directory of five.
- October 5: 13 Vendémiaire - Napoleon's "whiff of grapeshot" quells Paris insurrection.
- October 26: National Convention dissolved.
- November 2: Executive Directory takes on executive power.
- March 9: Marriage of Napoleon Bonaparte and Joséphine de Beauharnais
- May 10: Battle of Lodi (Napoleon in Italy)
- June 4: Beginning of the Siege of Mantua
- April 18: Preliminary Peace of Leoben
- July 8: Cisalpine Republic established
- September 4: Coup d'état of 18 Fructidor revives Republican measures
- October 18: Treaty of Campo Formio
- February: Roman Republic proclaimed
- April: Helvetian Republic proclaimed
- May 11: Law of 22 Floréal Year VI - Council elections annulled, left wing deputies excluded from Council.
- July 21: Battle of the Pyramids
- August 1: Battle of the Nile - Nelson's victory isolates Napoleon in Egypt.
- December 24: Alliance between Russia and Britain
- June 17–19: Battle of the Trebia (Suvorov defeats French)
- June 18: Coup of 30 Prairial Year VII - removed Directors, left Sieyès as dominant figure in government.
- August 24: Napoleon leaves Egypt.
- October 9: Napoleon returns to France
- October 22: Russians withdraw from coalition
- November 9: The Coup d'État of 18 Brumaire: end of the Directory
- December 24: Constitution of the Year VIII - leadership of Napoleon established under the Consulate. French Revolution may be considered ended.
- Adcock, M. (2004). Analysing the French Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.