The Grande Peur (French: Great Fear ) is a phenomenon from the early days of the French Revolution . In response to rumors of a conspiracy of the aristocracy , the rural population between 20 July and 6 August 1789 took up arms and there were violent peasant revolts. Under the pressure of these events, the Constituent Assembly decided on the night of August 4th to 5th, 1789, to abolish numerous privileges of the privileged classes.
In the summer of 1789, many farmers refused to pay taxes or levies on their liege lords. In addition, the rural population was frightened and agitated by the events in Paris. She was afraid of the vengeance of the nobility, and there were rumors that hordes of beggars, robbers and schemers would sweep the country. After the news of the storming of the Bastille became known, uprisings broke out in Normandy , on the Scarpe , in Burgundy and in the area around Mâcon , which soon spread to almost all of France. The peasants had initially armed themselves against the alleged threat of robbers with sickles, pitchforks and hunting rifles, but when they discovered that their gangs did not exist, the pent-up aggression was directed against the nobility and their property: the fear of robbers and the aristocratic conspiracy, the indignation over the economic crisis and the revolt itself created a general atmosphere of panic. The peasants stormed castles and set them on fire in order to destroy the archives with the files containing the tax obligations and noble privileges, they broke the hunting rights and attacked pigeon sheds of the nobles. In Alsace , violence was also directed against the Ashkenazi Jews of eastern France who lived there and who were discriminated against because they spoke Yiddish or Alsatian instead of French .
The National Assembly in Versailles responded to the rural peasant uprisings. In order to prove their ability to act, they abolished some privileges for the first and second estate at their meeting from August 4th to 5th, 1789 . For example, while privileges such as tax privileges and compulsory labor were abolished, rights linked to property ownership remained. The farmers only had the option of buying themselves free from these taxes. Despite this compromise, the peasant uprisings were an important step on the way to overcoming the feudal order in the agricultural sector. With the end of the constitutional monarchy in 1792, the feudal order was then completely repealed.
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