... ive members of the Constituent Assembly, which followed the king to Paris, handed in their resignations. In Paris, both the court and the assembly became increasingly subject to pressures from its citizens. Radical sentiment became predominant in the assembly, but the original objective, a constitutional monarchy, was retained. The first draft of the constitution received the approval of the French monarch on July 14, 1790. By the terms of the document, the provinces of France were abolished, and the country was divided into departments, each named for a mountain or stream and provided with a local elective administration.
Hereditary titles were outlawed, trial by jury in criminal cases was ordained, and fundamental modification of French law was projected. By the institution of property qualifications for the vote, the constitution confined the electorate to the middle and upper classes. The constitution vested legislative authority in a Legislative Assembly, to consist of 745 members elected by an indirect system of voting. Although executive authority was vested in the king, strict limitations were imposed on his powers.
His veto power was merely suspensive, and the assembly had effective control of his conduct of foreign affairs. During the 15-month interval between Louis's acceptance of the initial draft of the constitution and completion of the final draft, important changes in the relationship of forces within the French revolutionary movement took shape. These changes were dictated, first of all, by the mood of suspicion and discontent among the disfranchised section of the population. Wanting the vote and relief from social and economic misery, the non propertied classes steadily gravitated toward radicalism.
This process, largely accelerated throughout France by the highly organized Jacobins, acquired further impetus as reports circulated that Marie Antoinette was in constant communication with her brother Leopold II, Holy Roman emperor. Like most other monarchs of Europe, Leopold made no effort in masking his hostility to the revolutionary occurrences in France. Popular suspicions regarding the activities of the queen and the complicity of the king were confirmed when, on June 21, the royal family was apprehended at Varennes while attempting to escape from France. With the growth of radicalism in the government on July 17, 1791, the Republicans of Paris massed in the Champ de Mars and demanded that the king be deposed.
On the order of Lafayette, the National Guard opened fire on the demonstrators and dispersed them. The bloodshed immeasurably widened the cleavage between the republican and bourgeois sections of the population. After suspending Louis for a brief period, the moderate majority of the Constituent Assembly, fearful of the growing disorder, reinstated the king in the hope of stemming the mounting radicalism and of preventing foreign intervention. Louis took the oath to support the revised constitution on September 14. Two weeks later, with the election of the new legislature authorized by the constitution, the Constituent Assembly was dissolved. Meanwhile, on August 27, Leopold II and Frederick William II, King of Prussia, had issued a joint declaration regarding France, which contained a thinly veiled threat of armed intervention against the revolution.
Sentiment for war spread rapidly among the monarchists, who hoped for defeat of the revolutionary government and the restoration of the Old Regime. On April 20, 1792, the Legislative Assembly declared war on the Austrian part of the Holy Roman Empire, beginning the series of conflicts known as the French revolutionary wars. The Struggle for Freedom Aided by treasonable errors of omission and commission among the French high command, mostly monarchists, the armies of Austria won several victories in the Austrian Netherlands. The subsequent invasion of France produced major repercussions in the national capital.
The Roland ministry fell on June 13, and mass unrest erupted, one week later, into an attack on the Tuileries, the residence of the royal family. On July 11, after Sardinia and Prussia joined the war against France, the Legislative Assembly declared a national emergency. Reserves were dispatched to the hard-pressed armies, and volunteers were summoned to Paris from all parts of the country. On August 10 the discontent, combined with the threat contained in the manifesto of the allied commander, Charles William Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick, to destroy the capital city if the royal family were mistreated, precipitated a Parisian insurrection.
The insurgents, led by radical elements of the capital and national volunteers en route to the front, stormed the Tuileries and massacred the king's Swiss Guard. Louis and his family took refuge in the nearby hall of the Legislative Assembly, which promptly suspended the king and placed him in confinement. Simultaneously, the insurrectionists deposed the governing council of Paris, which was replaced by a new provisional executive council. The Montagnards, under the leadership of the lawyer Georges Jacques Danton, dominated the new Parisian government.
They swiftly achieved control of the Legislative Assembly. The assembly shortly approved elections, by universal male suffrage, for a new constitutional convention. Between September 2 and 7, more than 1000 Royalists and suspected traitors who had been rounded up in various parts of France, were tried and executed. These "September massacres" were induced by popular fear of the advancing allied armies and of rumored plots to overthrow the revolutionary government. On September 20 a French army, commanded by General Charles Francois Dumourier, checked the Prussian advance on Paris at Valmy.
On the day after the victory at Valmy, the newly elected National Convention convened in Paris. In its first official moves that day, the convention proclaimed establishment of the First Republic and abolished the monarchy. Encouraging reports arrived almost weekly from the armies, which had assumed the offensive after the battle at Valmy and had successively captured Mainz, Frankfurt am Main, Nice, Savoie, the Austrian Netherlands, and other areas. In the meantime, however, strife steadily intensified in the convention, with the plain vacillating between support of the conservative Girondists and the radical Montagnards. In a test of strength, a majority approved the Montagnard proposal that Louis be brought to trial before the convention for treason. On January 15, 1793, by an almost unanimous vote, the convention found the monarch guilty as charged, but on the following day, when the nature of the penalty was determined, factional lines were sharply drawn.
By a vote of 387 to 334, the delegates approved the death penalty. Louis XVI went to the guillotine on January 21, and with him, the French Monarchy was decapitated.