1789: one of the only dates that even the most uneducated know. This is to tell you! The French Revolution, aka THE historic EVENT that changed everything, and with which we have always been harping on our ears. Be careful, it could be that in the flood of tricks that you have been taught, some little received ideas have slipped in, we will deconstruct all of this together hand in hand.
1. No, July 14, 1789 does not mark the beginning of the revolution
Oh no! The Revolution does not begin with the storming of the Bastille! The process starts a few months before. The trigger took place on May 5 of the same year, the day when King Louis XVI brought together the States General to try to find an agreement on a tax reform, to deal with a country that was heavily indebted. The deputies of the third estate, angry at not having a preponderant opinion, rebel. On June 20, they meet and promise to give a constitution to the kingdom, to replace the old order. This promise is better known as… The Tennis Court oath. July 14 simply marks the entry of a new actor on the scene: the people.
2. No, the storming of the Bastille was not intended to free political prisoners
On the day of the assault, only 7 prisoners were locked up within these walls. 4 counterfeiters whose trials were under investigation, 2 madmen, and a noble imprisoned at the request of his family. That’s all. If the revolutionaries decided to bring down this prison, it is therefore not for the detainees, but quite simply to recover ammunition. This is, in any case, the explanation given by many historians. The fortress, considered a symbol of monarchical domination and oppression, continued to be slowly demolished.
3. La Marseillaise was certainly not written in Marseille
As its name absolutely does not indicate, the “Marseillaise” is actually… Strasbourgeoise! Yes, on April 24, 1792, France was at war with Austria. The mayor of Strasbourg (Baron de Dietrich) received officers, including the now famous officer, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle. Knowing the music-loving man, the mayor invites him to compose a song capable of galvanizing the Republican troops. And boom, our national anthem born in Strasbourg. If the song is called “La Marseillaise”, it is because it was later picked up by Marseille volunteers who were about to go to Paris to support the revolutionaries. When they entered the capital on July 30, 1792, they sang this song, then renamed “War Song of the Armies at the Borders”. Good after, you would not be hot for us to modernize all this?? It’s a bit out of context today, this stuff, isn’t it?
4. The guillotine wasn’t really invented during the revolution
Let’s say it’s half a received idea. Let’s say that we didn’t wait for the Revolution to make heads roll, in the literal sense of the term. Nor did we wait for the Revolution to invent decapitating machines! More than two centuries ago, we already find the “mannaia” in Italy and the “maiden” in Scotland. Dr. Guillotin was inspired by these two devices to propose, before the National Assembly, a machine capable of “making the head jump in the blink of an eye”, in 1789. In 1791, the guillotine became the systematic instrument of judicial killing, because it puts an end to the slow and painful deaths caused by hanging or quartering. The guillotine as such really appeared during the Revolution, but decapitating machines have been around for much longer.
5. In the end, the guillotine didn’t kill SOOOOO many people
Around 17,000 people were guillotined during the Revolution, including Louis XVI and his family. That’s a lot, but compared to some 50,000 dead shot or died of disease in prisons or the 200,000 dead in the civil war that broke out in Vendée in March 1793, bah the guillotine, finally… It’s far from to have been the deadliest weapon.
6. The French Revolution is not an anti-religious movement
In 1789, France was deeply Christian. The Revolution does not change the game. Moreover, many are the men of the Church, in particular priests, who take part in the Revolution (cc Abbé Grégoire)! The mountain deputy had also declared “Jesus Christ was the first of the sans-culottes”.
7. No, the French Revolution of 1789 did not directly lead to the overthrow of the monarchy
Nope, nope, nope! The revolutionaries of 1789 first established a constitutional monarchy. Indeed, on September 14, 1791, the French Constitution came into force, but we are still far from the first Republic! That day, King Louis XVI took the oath and became King of the French under a constitutional monarchy. Break with absolute monarchy, but continuity, always, of the system of royalty. It will be necessary to wait until September 22, 1792 for the monarchy to be abolished, and for the first Republic to be finally proclaimed.
8. The famous “let them eat brioche” by Marie-Antoinette… More of a legend than anything else
You have surely heard of this story, perhaps even in the course of history, yet… It is obviously dark fake news! Rumor has it that when Marie-Antoinette was told that the people had no more bread to eat, she simply replied “Let them eat brioche!” “. AH. AH. AH. Very funny Mary. If this sentence may well have been pronounced by a princess, nothing really proves that it was released by the wife of Louis XVI.