Hi, make yourself comfortable. So after the constitutional monarchy is overthrown in Paris in 1792, the French create a Republic. Nowadays, you'll sometimes read references to France being in the Fifth Republic. This is the First Republic. But I'm not going to call it the First Republic, because at the time it was happening, they didn't know there would be a second one. What they do when they create the Republic is they get rid of the National Constituent Assembly and create a National Convention designed to have representatives of the common people from across the nation, gathered together in Paris. The National Convention, in turn, is going to deal harshly with the nation's enemies. This begins in September, 1792. A number of people are being held in jails and in impromptu prisons around Paris. These people are members of the aristocracy: men, women, children, priests who hadn't agreed to become officials of the French state, bishops. In September 1792 the Convention, fearing attack, decides that the best thing to do is to deal harshly with the enemies of the revolution. Mobs break into these prisons. They hold impromptu trials on the outskirts of these prisons. Here's a drawing of one of those prisons, [Prison de] lï¿½Abbaye in Paris. Let me just zero in on a portion of this. Impromptu tribunal hauls the prisoners out. Are you a member of the aristocracy? Are you a member of the nobility? Are you a priest? And then, if the answer is not satisfactory, they pronounce the prisoner guilty and throw the prisoner outside to be hacked to pieces. About 1,400 people were butchered in this way: adolescents, young women, priests. Now, here in the 21st century, we've read so many histories about mass murders and horrors, it's worth appreciating that in the world of the 1790s to butcher 1400 people in the course of political unrest, this was just about unheard of. This kind of mass murder was sensational; yes, there had been horrors that had been carried out during the wars of religion, but those were the kinds of things that had happened 100 years earlier or more. So this is a very exceptional occurrence; it's an emotional shock. But in France, it's justified as what's necessary, that terror is needed in order to strengthen the new state. And very quickly, people have to take sides. Do the ends justify the means? It's worth stopping and reflecting for a moment on the character of this version of the democratic revolution. I might call this monism, that is, one voice, so you have the nation should speak with one voice because one voice means unity, which of course means strength. But that means you can't tolerate more than a certain amount of dissent, because it will disrupt the unity of the nation and its strength in its hour of trial, when it's beset by enemies both foreign and domestic, in a state of emergency. This is a character of governance in which separation of powers is the last thing that you want. But of course, it can be contrasted with another branch of the democratic revolution, represented a little bit by the American experiment, and that deliberately encourages many voices. It encourages the separation of government. Federal versus state, within the federal government almost a bewildering variety of separation, in which it welcomes many voices as the source of the nation's strength. And not as worried about the danger of dissent. Now you can explain that in the American case, they just felt a little more sheltered from foreign and domestic enemies, but the French situation was more urgent, that dire measures were needed. But these two different kinds of beliefs about what democratic government means are differences that will last. The new government of the Republic doesn't have one single leader; it creates a set of committees. The powerful one is the Committee of Public Safety. It's making decisions on who are the enemies of the Revolution. And the enemies of the Revolution are many. In towns around France, enemies are being killed in the thousands. In Paris itself, they are being tried and brought to the guillotine. This is an image of the execution of the former Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, in 1793, during what some historians call the Reign of Terror in 1793 and into the spring of 1794. Its singular figure, the leading politician in the Committee of Public Safety, is that icy and articulate lawyer Maximilien de Robespierre. Robespierre is a powerful figure. He is doctrinaire, cool, determined to protect the Revolution against its enemies. The Committee of Public Safety is truly leading a nation in arms. That's a meaningful term. The nation is in arms. Everybody has to take sides. The nobles have fled their property. Land is being redistributed. Basically, you've got to be on one side or the other. And if you're on the side of the Revolution, you better fight for it because, if you lose the battle, your defeat may be total in every sense of the word. But the nation in arms harnesses enormous power. Mass armies can effectively fight against the hired mercenary standing armies of their foreign enemies. They too can seize the tools of the Military Revolution, and use them to their advantage. This map, you don't have to study it in detail, what you want to notice in this map is just the sense of foreign invasions in 1793, other battles; you want to get a sense of revolutionary councils forming in all of these cities marked in orange. And areas of France that are in rebellion against the revolutionary government: some of these areas marked in purple, for example, were centers of counter-revolutionary revolt. One of the most important of these regions is the Vendee. By the way, this map is in error. The British did land to help the folks in the Vendee, but that happened in 1795, not in 1793. Robespierre is overthrown in 1794. The Reign of Terror begins to terrify too many people. People of property, people who have something to lose, feel a need to steady the helm. There's a reaction against Robespierre, and he himself went to the guillotine in July 1794. It's very interesting to follow the way historians have interpreted the legacy of Robespierre. To some, including French historians like Mathiez, Robespierre is the man of necessity, the only kind of leader who could have preserved the gains of the revolution and protected the nation. To others, he is a symbol of a new kind of tyranny, the forerunner of Lenin or Hitler or Stalin. And these opinions are shaped by the emotional reactions people were having to the French Revolution at the time, reactions that color our popular culture to this day. We in America are much influenced by English writers, say, like Charles Dickens in a book like A Tale of Two Cities, which doesn't paint a very flattering portrait of the Reign of Terror. But French historians are more divided about these issues, and different people interpret the French Revolution according to their contemporary needs. Let me move to the period of the Bourgeois Republic. This runs, oh, from about 1794 to 1799. This is a period in which the Republic is trying to steady itself. I call it the Bourgeois Republic. This term, bourgeois, it's kind of from the word burgher in German or Dutch, has to do with the satisfied citizen merchant of a town. It invokes an image of middle class. And that's a little bit what this Republic was trying to represent: men and women who had something to lose who wanted to make the Republic work but consolidate it. Their leading general, a man named Napoleon Bonaparte from Corsica, is winning some victories for their Republic, especially in Italy. And eventually, General Bonaparte will invade Egypt in the name of the new Republic. And then he'll come back to Paris after his Egyptian venture fails, and he will replace the Republic with a consulate. They're using vocabulary drawn from memories and images of ancient Rome and the Roman Republic. Bonaparte as the First Consul is an interesting figure. You may have an image of Napoleon in which he's kind of a pudgy guy, wearing a funny hat, has his hand stuck in his coat. That's not the image you would have of Bonaparte as First Consul. Instead, look at these sketches from the French revolutionary artist Jacques-Louis David. He was trying to capture General Bonaparte in this one. Here's another painting that he never had time to complete. Napoleon Bonaparte, never one to sit still for long. This is very much the heroic image of the savior of the Republic. And that's a way to understand how many Frenchmen saw General Bonaparte when he becomes First Consul, overthrowing the directory that had run the Republic to that point. They see him as now the citizen sovereign: a symbol of the new Republic, giving it firm leadership; and, in turn, this new firm leader, the savior of the Republic, is going to lead a new kind of aristocracy: not just an aristocracy of wealth or purchased offices but an aristocracy of merit, with merit being defined above all as service to the Republic and to its Consul, General Bonaparte. Let's stop there and reflect a little bit on the way the French Revolution has become, during the 1790s, a global cause. See you next time.