Modern World History 2.11 French Revolution: Phase Two (and Three)

Didn't get enough of the French Revolution the first time around? We've gotcha covered. Check out our second French Revolution video, preferably with a baguette and some nice cheese. C'est magnifique.

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Transcript

00:31

So, they went to war with Austria.

00:32

Seriously, why fix your own government when you can fight Hapsburgs instead?

00:36

This war signaled the beginning of a terrible time

00:38

in France, aptly named the Reign of Terror.

00:42

Huh. Wonder if that was unanimous, or if there was some guy trying to sell "Reign of Butterflies and Rainbows."

00:47

From September 1793 to July 1794,

00:50

tens of thousands of people across France were executed.

00:54

Supposedly, they were all enemies of the revolution, but really, Robespierre just didn't like them.

00:59

Robespierre, the first name Maximilien,

01:02

middle name Stupidjerkface,

01:04

was a leader of the revolution and

01:06

an architect of the Reign of Terror.

01:08

In his expert opinion, the only way French politics could really ditch the old and ring in the new was with a rousing rendition of Kumbaya.

01:16

No, wait. That was the "Reign of Butterflies and Rainbows" guy suggested. Yeah.

01:21

Robespierre said the actual only way was mass murder.

01:24

Fortunately for the people of France, karma saw to it that Robespierre got his before he could send every citizen to the guillotine.

01:31

So, yeah. Life was bonkers in France.

01:34

There were uprisings and insurrections,

01:36

and inflation was a rising problem.

01:38

The bourgeoisie stepped into the breach after Robespierre's execution and formed

01:42

the Directory, which was a bicameral, or two-housed, legislature that did absolutely nothing to quell France's troubles.

01:50

Enter the world's most power-hungry short person.

01:53

Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military leader with victories against

01:57

the Austrians, the Italians, and the Ottomans under his belt,

02:00

when he engineered a coup d'état in 1799.

02:04

The next fifteen years or so were very hairy for the rest of Europe.

02:08

Partly because waxing wasn't in vogue yet, but mostly because Napoleon looked at all this

02:13

lovely territory and thought it should all be his.

02:16

It took the Quadruple Alliance of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Britain working together to finally put Napoleon down permanently.

02:26

In the months before Napoleon finally got his butt handed to him at the Battle of Waterloo,

02:30

the Quadruple Alliance held a meet-up called the Conference of Vienna.

02:34

Europe's leaders, except for Boney, obviously, were tired of

02:38

war and they were tired of how much war was costing them.

02:42

They figured that if they could just time-warp the continent

02:44

back to how things were in 1799,

02:47

before Napoleon ever waddled on to the scene,

02:50

then everything would be just okay.

02:53

So, the Conference of Vienna set about redrawing the

02:55

boundaries of Europe's countries and doing the time warp again so that no one nation would ever be too powerful again.

03:02

What the conference failed to account for was the surging nationalism that had sprung up when Bonaparte started gobbling up other countries for lunch.

03:10

Nationalism is the feeling held by a group of people who share a history, culture, and/or language,

03:15

that they should have their own free and independent country.

03:18

Of course this emotion would pop up in Europe at the beginning of the 19th century, given Bonaparte's war-mongering.

03:25

However, when the Conference of Vienna redrew Europe's borders,

03:28

it placed lines right smack dab in the middle of several nationalist movements.

03:33

The conference also did its utmost to get rid of nationalism altogether

03:37

and that whole desire for "equality and liberty" thing

03:40

by putting their monarchies Bonaparte had kicked to the curb, back in power.

03:44

This strategy did not work.

03:46

Revolution was back in Europe by 1848, visiting every country, save Scandinavia, Russia, and Spain.

03:52

And there you thought Bonaparte was going to have the last laugh on democracy.

03:56

But it's hard to have the last laugh on anything when you're stuck on an island in the middle of the Atlantic.