Tag Archives: French Revolution

Photo comparing daily diets of the ‘haves’ vs ‘have nots’ in France 1789

Photo comparing daily diets of the 'haves' vs 'have nots' in France 1789 from www.aircirculation.org

From www.aircirculation.org

 

Tennis Court Oath

The Tennis Court Oath – 20th June 1789

On the 20th June 1789 at Versailles in France, the National Assembly swore the Tennis Court Oath in which they vowed not to separate until a written constitution had been established for the country.

Storming of the Bastille

Short overview of the storming of the Bastille, 14 July 1789

The morning of the 14th July 1789 saw the beginning of the French Revolution when Parisian revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, a large fortress, prison and ammunition store that symbolised everything that was wrong with the monarchy.

French Revolution Political Spectrum

The political spectrum during the French Revolution

A great diagram to illustrate the political spectrum during the French Revolution. Original source unknown.

Click to download as a PDF

The Flight to Varennes

What happened when Louis XVI attempted to escape from Paris in the Flight to Varennes?

King Louis XVI of France and his family were caught attempting to escape Paris during the Flight to Varennes.

The Flight to Varennes and the National Assembly lesson plan

Rationale

This lesson is aimed at A Level students studying the French Revolution. Inspiration comes from the classic (yet still excellent) SHP KS3 textbook ‘Societies in Change’.

I teach CIE AS Level 9389, although this lesson would work just as well for other specifications. My most recent examination breakdown highlighted the need to increase student engagement with sources, so I devised this lesson in which students take the role of the National Assembly after the Flight to Varennes and use a range of primary documents to form and justify their own judgements about how the Assembly should deal with Louis XVI.

Having studied the causes of the French Revolution and the collapse of the ancien regime in 1789, students are required to consider the changing relationship between Louis and the National Assembly that led to his execution. By using documents to consider the public and private attitude of Louis towards the Revolution, and how his attitude changed over time, students are equipped to understand why the Revolution became more radical.

While some of the sources used in this lesson have been edited for length, the text is presented as it is in the original translations in order to immerse students in the structures and language of the 18th century. You can download a single PDF containing all the sources by clicking here. Alternatively each one is linked to separately in the lesson overview below.

The lesson

Set the scene by reading Source A, which is a letter by Marie Antoinette to her mother shortly after her marriage to Louis in 1770. Draw out the apparently positive relationship between the people and the royal family – it is especially interesting to discuss how Marie recognises the crushing taxes on the poor yet once queen did nothing to ease them.

retour_de_la_famille_royale_ea100530Show Source B – a contemporary illustration of the royal family being returned to Paris after being captured at Varennes. Don’t share the story yet, but point out the date as being much later than the letter: it is after the Fall of the Bastille, the October Days, and the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly. Ask students to compare it to the previous source. If it isn’t mentioned by the students, it’s worth steering discussion towards the role of the guards – previously the guards were there to protect the royal family; now they are prison guards.

Discuss the change in the relationship between the two sources. What has changed? Why might that change have come about? Draw on previous knowledge of the August Decrees, the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and the drafts of the Constituent Assembly to show that now the people were exercising authority rather than the monarchy. How would the king react? They will probably identify that he could submit to them, continue to be an obstruction, or try to regain his authority. If the latter, how would he do that?

Show short video clip about the Flight to Varennes. Discuss how different interest groups in France would respond on his return – what options were open to the Assembly? Students may jump on the idea of the king being a ‘traitor’ it’s important at this point to remind them that there is no proof of treason – only a suspicion.

Study Source C, Source D and Source E. What do they reveal about the king’s reasons for escaping? Ensure that students make detailed reference to provenance to demonstrate the difference in explanations between the public and in private.

Introduce Source F. Explain that it was written before the Flight, but found afterwards during a search of the royal apartments. How does this affect previous judgements? Draw out comparisons with Source D – had the king’s opinion changed between April and June? In what way? Why?

Explain that it was against this background of evidence that the National Assembly had to decide what to do with Louis. The students now take the role of the Assembly and must prioritise five possible responses (printing a copy of these as A5 cards can help them visualise the debate).

  • Welcome Louis back and carry on as before, with government and king trying to work together
  • Keep Louis in prison until the constitution is ready for his agreement
  • Replace Louis with his son, Louis Charles, aged six
  • Proclaim Louis overthrown and declare a Republic
  • Arrange a referendum to decide his future

As the discussion progresses, introduce new pieces of evidence. Begin with Source G, which is an editorial from the radical Le Père Duchêsne. Highlight that this is the sentiment of some people outside the walls of the Assembly. How might that affect the decision? Allow the discussion to progress, and continue to introduce new evidence at F99E066Cintervals:

  • Source H – Louis accepting the Constitution
  • Source I – Louis’ memorandum to his brother
  • Source J – Louis’ letter to Frederick William II of Prussia

Source J is the only one that can be used to categorically prove treason. You should continue to monitor the discussion and remind students that confrontational action against the King could bring about reprisals from Austria. Similarly, leniancy could bring violence from the mob.

After all the evidence has been presented, students should reach a final judgement and present their rationale.

La Marseillaise first sung

The origins of ‘La Marseillaise’

On the 30th July 1792, a group of volunteer soldiers from the city of Marseille were the first to introduce and sing “La Marseillaise” in Paris.

10th August

France’s ‘Second Revolution’: the storming of the Tuileries Palace

On the 10th August 1792, French revolutionary troops stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

Execution of Louis XVI

A brief overview of the execution of Louis XVI

On the 21st January 1793, former French King Louis XVI was executed by guillotine at the Place de la Revolution in Paris.

Marat murdered in his bath

The assassination of Jean-Paul Marat – background and consequences

On the 13th July 1793, the radical French journalist Jean-Paul Marat was stabbed to death in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday.