In 1793, during the French Revolution, the period known as the Reign of Terror began.
The cost of war with Great Britain, (Including the Seven Years war (1754-1763) and the American Revolutionary War 1775-1783) caused the French economy to collapse. Poverty among the general population was rife and anger grew towards the monarchy and aristocrats that continued to live in comfort.
Additionally on the 5th of May the Estates General Convened, on orders of the King, to discuss important issues that had arisen due to the economic depression. The first issue was weather the voting system of the Estates General should be processed by ‘Estates’ rather then a combined votes. In France at the time the populous was divided into three ‘Estates’. The ‘First Estate’ comprised of the clergy, the ‘Second Estate’ comprised of the nobility and the ‘Third Estate’ comprised of the general populous or common people of France. The new system would mean that despite representing a minute percentage of the country if the privileged estates voted the same way, which was likely, then they would always win in a vote over the interests of the majority. As talks continued without any foreseeable outcome the Third Estate began meeting separately in known as meetings of the Communes (or Commons). As delegates of the other estates began to join they created the Assemblee Nationale (or National Assembly) on the 13th of June.
In March 1789 Revolution filled the air in France with the starving masses and on the 14th of July 1789 they demonstrated their anger towards the crown and aristocratic authority. They stormed the Bastille, the medieval fortress in Paris that had for centuries stood as a symbol of the monarch’s power. In August 1789 the National Assembly created “The Declaration of the Rights of Man” which was the bases for the revolutionary movement.
The momentum of revolution continued and the French king fled Paris on the 21st of June 1971. On the 13th of August 1792 King Louis XVI and his family was captured and imprisoned. King Louis’ wife was Marie Antoinette, the Daughter of the German King and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I. Her brother, Leopold II, now the emperor warned the revolutionaries against harming his sister and her family and as the revolution grew Leopold formed an alliance with the King of Prussia against the French revolutionaries on the 27th of August 1791.
By the 21st of September that year the French National Assembly abolished the monarchy and declared France a republic. On the 20th of April 1792 the National Assembly voted for war with its European enemies and it declared war on Austria on the same day beginning the ‘French Revolutionary Wars’. King Louis was executed on the 21st of January 1793 after his trial for treason. This was far from the last blood to be spilt on the streets of France in the name of revolution. From the 5th of September 1793 until the 28th of July the following year, 10’s of thousands of people were executed. Initially those that supported the monarch were killed but as time went on the parameters were blurred and many people were killed for having different political views. Some wanted to end the revolution now the monarchy and aristocracy had been defeated (such as the Girondists) and as “enemies of the revolution” they too were executed. In total around 40,000 people were executed during the period known as “The Reign of Terror” from the 5th of September 1793 to the 28th of July 1794.