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.
|Social Studies||Modern World History|
So, they went to war with Austria.
Seriously, why fix your own government when you can fight Hapsburgs instead?
This war signaled the beginning of a terrible time
in France, aptly named the Reign of Terror.
Huh. Wonder if that was unanimous, or if there was some guy trying to sell "Reign of Butterflies and Rainbows."
From September 1793 to July 1794,
tens of thousands of people across France were executed.
Supposedly, they were all enemies of the revolution, but really, Robespierre just didn't like them.
Robespierre, the first name Maximilien,
middle name Stupidjerkface,
was a leader of the revolution and
an architect of the Reign of Terror.
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.
No, wait. That was the "Reign of Butterflies and Rainbows" guy suggested. Yeah.
Robespierre said the actual only way was mass murder.
Fortunately for the people of France, karma saw to it that Robespierre got his before he could send every citizen to the guillotine.
So, yeah. Life was bonkers in France.
There were uprisings and insurrections,
and inflation was a rising problem.
The bourgeoisie stepped into the breach after Robespierre's execution and formed
the Directory, which was a bicameral, or two-housed, legislature that did absolutely nothing to quell France's troubles.
Enter the world's most power-hungry short person.
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military leader with victories against
the Austrians, the Italians, and the Ottomans under his belt,
when he engineered a coup d'état in 1799.
The next fifteen years or so were very hairy for the rest of Europe.
Partly because waxing wasn't in vogue yet, but mostly because Napoleon looked at all this
lovely territory and thought it should all be his.
It took the Quadruple Alliance of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Britain working together to finally put Napoleon down permanently.
In the months before Napoleon finally got his butt handed to him at the Battle of Waterloo,
the Quadruple Alliance held a meet-up called the Conference of Vienna.
Europe's leaders, except for Boney, obviously, were tired of
war and they were tired of how much war was costing them.
They figured that if they could just time-warp the continent
back to how things were in 1799,
before Napoleon ever waddled on to the scene,
then everything would be just okay.
So, the Conference of Vienna set about redrawing the
boundaries of Europe's countries and doing the time warp again so that no one nation would ever be too powerful again.
What the conference failed to account for was the surging nationalism that had sprung up when Bonaparte started gobbling up other countries for lunch.
Nationalism is the feeling held by a group of people who share a history, culture, and/or language,
that they should have their own free and independent country.
Of course this emotion would pop up in Europe at the beginning of the 19th century, given Bonaparte's war-mongering.
However, when the Conference of Vienna redrew Europe's borders,
it placed lines right smack dab in the middle of several nationalist movements.
The conference also did its utmost to get rid of nationalism altogether
and that whole desire for "equality and liberty" thing
by putting their monarchies Bonaparte had kicked to the curb, back in power.
This strategy did not work.
Revolution was back in Europe by 1848, visiting every country, save Scandinavia, Russia, and Spain.
And there you thought Bonaparte was going to have the last laugh on democracy.
But it's hard to have the last laugh on anything when you're stuck on an island in the middle of the Atlantic.