History of France eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 109 pages of information about History of France.
noble, a bishop, or a deputy all counted alike.  The party names of democrat for those who wanted to exalt the power of the people, and of aristocrat for those who maintained the privileges of the nobles, came into use, and the most extreme democrats were called Jacobins, from an old convent of Jacobin friars, where they used to meet.  The mob of Paris, always eager, fickle, and often blood-thirsty, were excited to the last degree by the debates; and, full of the remembrance of the insolence and cruelty of the nobles, sometimes rose and hunted down persons whom they deemed aristocrats, hanging them to the iron rods by which lamps were suspended over the streets.  The king in alarm drew the army nearer, and it was supposed that he was going to prevent all change by force of arms.  Thereupon the citizens enrolled themselves as a National Guard, wearing cockades of red, blue, and white, and commanded by La Fayette, a noble of democratic opinions, who had run away at seventeen to serve in the American War.  On a report that the cannon of the Bastille had been pointed upon Paris, the mob rose in a frenzy, rushed upon it, hanged the guard, and absolutely tore down the old castle to its foundations, though they did not find a single prisoner in it.  “This is a revolt,” said Louis, when he heard of it.  “Sire, it is a revolution,” was the answer.

3.  The New Constitution.—­The mob had found out its power.  The fishwomen of the markets, always a peculiar and privileged class, were frantically excited, and were sure to be foremost in all the demonstrations stirred up by Jacobins.  There was a great scarcity of provisions in Paris, and this, together with the continual dread that reforms would be checked by violence, maddened the people.  On a report that the Guards had shown enthusiasm for the king, the whole populace came pouring out of Paris to Versailles, and, after threatening the life of the queen, brought the family back with them to Paris, and kept them almost as prisoners while the Assembly, which followed them to Paris, debated on the new constitution.  The nobles were viewed as the worst enemies of the nation, and all over the country there were risings of the peasants, headed by democrats from the towns, who sacked their castles, and often seized their persons.  Many fled to England and Germany, and the dread that these would unite and return to bring back the old system continually increased the fury of the people.  The Assembly, now known as the Constituent Assembly, swept away all titles and privileges, and no one was henceforth to bear any prefix to his name but citizen; while at the same time the clergy were to renounce all the property of the Church, and to swear that their office and commission was derived from the will of the people alone, and that they owed no obedience save to the State.  The estates thus yielded up were supposed to be enough to supply all State expenses without taxes; but as they could not at once be turned

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History of France from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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