V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > B. The French Revolution and Europe, 1789–1914 > 1. Overview > c. The Legislative Assembly
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
c. The Legislative Assembly
1791, Oct. 1–1792, Sept. 21
 
The legislative assembly, with 745 members, represented primarily the middle class. Parties: (1) The Right became weaker almost daily; (2) the Left comprised the majority and consisted of (a) the Plain, an unorganized group of moderate republicans and monarchists, which was swayed by (b) the Girondists, who advocated the establishment of a form of a federal republic and included the brilliant orators Guadet, Vergniaud, and Brissot; and (c) the Mountain, which drew its strength from the Jacobin and Cordelier clubs. Although the divisions between the last two did not attain their clearest form until the Convention, their beginnings were evident in the assembly.  1
The poor harvest of 1791 and rising grain prices, worsened by distribution problems and increased demands as the result of the war, caused growing unrest and riots in Paris. Abolition of religious orders and elimination of the tithe also led to problems in administering poor relief.  2
 
1792, March 20–25
 
Guillotine accepted as form of execution. First used on April 25, the guillotine symbolized the leveling between classes during the Revolution by eliminating the previous distinction between the execution of elites (beheading) and commoners (hanging). The guillotine was often portrayed as a “feminine” form of execution, and bourgeois males were expected to demonstrate superiority by embracing death without displaying emotion at their executions.  3
 
1792–97
 
WAR OF THE FIRST COALITION. The French interpreted the Declaration of Pillnitz as a bald threat of interference and issued ultimatums against Leopold II and Francis II.  4
 
1792, April 20
 
France declared war against Austria. The French suffered reverses, and allied armies captured Verdun (Sept. 1). The Prussians were finally defeated at the Battle of Valmy (Sept. 20), which gave heart to the revolutionary armies.  5
 
Aug. 10
 
Popular demonstrations and the storming of the Tuileries led to the suspension of functions of the monarchy. The assembly voted to enact all legislation vetoed by the king, who was confined to the Temple (old house of the Knights Templar). The assembly also voted to call a convention elected by universal male suffrage to enact a new constitution. In the meantime, the government was controlled by the Provisional Executive Council (headed by Danton) and the Paris Commune.  6
 
Sept. 2–7
 
September Massacres occurred at Paris as the result of news of the siege of Verdun. Suspects were taken from the prisons and executed by the mob after being tried by hastily improvised tribunals. Similar scenes were enacted at Versailles, Lyons, Rheims, Meaux, and Orléans.  7
 
Sept. 9–16
 
Suspension of free trade on grain. Provisions provided for requisitioning for the army and civil authorities. Amnesty was given to individuals arrested for agitation over grain.  8
 
Sept. 20
 
Divorce was legalized, and the state assumed responsibility for recording marriages, births, and deaths, which was formerly done by the church. The Battle of Valmy gave a first victory to revolutionary armies over the Prussians.  9
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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