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France abolishes Monarchy and becomes a Republic

The secret negotiations made by King Louis XVI with the ruler of Prussia caused a lot of worry, not only inside France, but also among its neighbours. The rulers of the neighbouring countries planned to send troops to put down the unrest in France. But before it could materialize, the National Assembly, which was elected in April1792, decided to declare war against Prussia and Austria. People saw this as a war against the European Kings and autocracy. People from all over France joined the army. It was only during this time the ‘Marseillaise’ was composed by Roget de L’ Isle. The volunteers first sung it when they first marched from Marseilles to Paris. It is now the National Anthem of France.


National Anthem of France
Words and music by Rouger de lisle (1760-1836)

Arise children of the fatherland
The day of glory has arrived
Against us tyranny's
Bloody standard is raised
Listen to the sound in the fields
The howling of these fearsome soldiers
They are coming into our midst
To cut the throats of your sons and consorts

To arms citizens
Form you battalions
March, march
Let impure blood
Water our furrows

What do they want this horde of slaves
Of traitors and conspiratorial kings?
For whom these vile chains
These long-prepared irons?
Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
What methods must be taken?
It is we they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!

What! These foreign cohorts!
They would make laws in our courts!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would cut down our warrior sons
Good Lord! By chained hands
Our brow would yield under the yoke
The vile despots would have themselves be
The masters of destiny

Tremble, tyrants and traitors
The shame of all good men
Tremble! Your parricidal schemes
Will receive their just reward
Against you we are all soldiers
If they fall, our young heros
France will bear new ones
Ready to join the fight against you

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors
Bear or hold back your blows
Spare these sad victims
Who with regret are taking up arms against us
But not these bloody despots
These accomplices of BouillŽ
All these tigers who pitilessly
Are ripping open their mothers' breasts (womb)

We shall enter into the pit
When our elders will no longer be there
There we shall find their ashes
And the mark of their virtues
We are much less jealous of surviving them
Than of sharing their coffins
We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or joining them

Sacred Love for the Fatherland
Lead and support our avenging arms
Liberty, cherished liberty
Join the struggle with your defenders
Under our flags, let victory
hasten to you virile (or manly) force
So that in death your enemies
See your triumph and our glory

The Impact of the revolutionary wars:

  • Caused a lot of economic difficulties.
  • Since the men were away, womenfolk had to earn for the livelihood of their family. 
  • People wanted the revolution to continue as the 1791 constitution did not give political rights to all.  
  • Political clubs appeared and people began to discuss government policies and the course of action to be taken. The Jacobins club is an example. 
  • Women also formed their own club.  

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