Timeline for the French Revolution

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This article aims to provide an overview of the main events of the French Revolution (1789 to 1799).


In order to reduce the debt of the state, King Louis XVI. (for the first time since 1614) on August 8, 1788, the Estates General as of May 1, 1789; they met for the first time four days later. Because the third estate demanded the right to vote and less taxes and the first and second estate did not want to forego their privileges, the revolution began on June 17th . In August 1789, the declaration of human and civil rights was formulated. The National Assembly drafted a constitution in 1791 that France into a constitutional monarchy transformed. There was economic hardship within and outside interference; the unrest increased. King Louis XVI was executed in January 1793; Queen Marie Antoinette in October 1793.

Various social groups influenced political life in France at this time with varying degrees of success. This list roughly shows the order in which the groups were most significant:

In addition to these groups with a large number of members, there were also smaller and very small political influence groups, such as the Salmklub , the women's clubs and a large number of political newspaper editors such as Marat with his Ami du Peuple or Hébert with his Pere Duchesne . The women's associations could only participate in political life for the first four years and make their demands for political power and gender equality . With the execution of her most important fighter, Olympe de Gouges (1793), and the ban on women's clubs, her political work was stopped.

In 1795 a new constitution restored the separation of powers . A five-man board of directors took over the government.

The beginning of the consulate on November 10, 1799 is considered the end date of the French Revolution.


Opening of the Estates General on May 5, 1789
  • January 24th: Louis XVI. Adopts a law that lays down the modalities for the election of members of the Estates General in accordance with the Estates rules.
  • January: With Qu'est-ce que le Tiers État? ( What is the Third Estate ) of the Abbé Sieyès is one of the central writings of the French Revolution.
  • April 30th: Creation of the Breton Club .
  • May 5: The Estates General meet in Versailles .
  • June 17th: The representatives of the Third Estate declare themselves to be the National Assembly; this is considered to be the beginning of the revolution and, at the same time, its first phase.
  • June 20: Ballhaus oath in which the members of the Third Estate of the French Estates General vow not to part ways before they had given France a constitution.
  • June 23: The king asks the National Assembly to disband on the grounds that it lacks legitimacy .
  • June 27th: Clergy and nobility join the National Assembly.
  • July 9: Declaration on the National Constituent Assembly ( Constituent Assembly ).
  • July 11: Removal of Finance Minister Jacques Necker .
  • July 12: Protestants burn down customs posts in Paris, loot a monastery, arm themselves and form a citizens' militia.
  • July 14th: The storming of the Bastille , which later becomes the myth of the origin of the French Revolution.
  • July 15: Lafayette becomes National Guard in command .
  • July 16: Necker is reinstated in office by the king.
  • July 17th: The king is received by the new Paris city leaders. The first nobles emigrate out of fear of the rebels.
  • July / August: La grande Peur (The Great Fear); Farmers plunder granaries, set locks on fire and burn documents.
  • August 4th: August resolutions: abolition of the privileges of the nobility, clergy, cities and provinces by the National Assembly.
  • August: The Breton Club is dissolved
  • August 26: Declaration of human and civil rights .
  • September 30th: The National Assembly has the exclusive legislative initiative. The king now only has a suspensive veto right .
  • October 5th to October 6th: The "procession of market women (" Poissards ") to Versailles " forces the king to return to Paris. The king subordinates himself to the protection of soldiers of the National Assembly and confirms the legislative competence of the National Assembly.
  • November 2nd: Nationalization of church property ( secularization ).
  • December 19: Assignats are introduced to balance the state finances.
  • December 22nd: establishment of 83 departments .
  • December 24th: The Club of Friends of the Constitution meets for the first time; the session will take place in the Jacobin monastery in Paris .


  • January 28th: ​​Jews from Paris, Alsace and Lorraine submit a petition to the National Assembly, whereupon it recognizes all Jews as full citizens by majority vote.
  • February 13th: The monasteries are closed.
  • March 21: A decree orders the abolition of the salt tax called Gabelle .
  • April 17th: The assignats receive monetary value.
  • April 27th: The Club des Cordeliers is founded.
  • June 4th: creation of the 48 sections of Paris.
  • June 19: Abolition of the nobility.
  • July 12: Civil Constitution of the Clergy . Following the division of departments , new dioceses are formed; the clergy become state officials and are supposed to take the oath on the (not yet adopted) constitution. Strong opposition from the Pope and the clergy.
  • July 14th: Federation festival on the anniversary of the Bastille storm on the Champ de Mars ; a solidarity celebration takes place in Hamburg .
  • September 6: Abolition of the Parlemente, the previous courts.
  • October 31: All internal tariffs are lifted.
  • November 27th: A decree of the National Assembly obliges the clergy to take an oath on the constitution.


The French Constitution of 1791


  • March 20: A decree of the National Assembly makes guillotine killing the only form of execution for death sentences in France.
  • March 24th: With Jean-Marie Roland as interior minister and with Étienne Clavière as finance minister, the Girondins put ministers in the cabinet for the first time.
  • April 20: Declaration of war on Austria . The first coalition war between Austria and Prussia against France. France's freedom mission to liberate other peoples.
  • June 13th: The King dismisses all Girondin ministers from the government.
  • June 20: A crowd penetrates the Tuileries, the king appeases by putting on the Jacobin cap .
  • July 11th: Prussia enters the war. The National Assembly proclaims “la Patrie en danger” ( “The fatherland in danger” ).
  • July 25th: The Duke of Braunschweig , Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Army in the First Coalition War , sends a manifesto to the Parisian people, calling on them to be loyal and obedient to their king.
  • August 10: Tuileries storm of the Sansculottes ; the National Assembly suspends the king and imprisons him and his family in the Temple . With this, the National Assembly abolished the monarchy and took over executive power.
  • August 11: The right to vote in the census is revoked.
  • August 19: The Prussian army invades France (see coalition wars )
  • September 2 to September 5: The September Massacres ; Assassination of numerous political opponents of the sans-culottes, including around 1,400 clergy and Christians loyal to Rome.
  • September: Elections to the National Convention according to universal male suffrage.
  • September 20th: The Valmy cannonade ; first decisive victory of the revolutionary army, turning point in the military conflict.
  • September 21: The newly elected National Convention meets, the monarchy is abolished, the second phase of the revolution begins.
  • September 22nd: Proclamation of the Republic ( First Republic ), introduction of the republican calendar .
  • November 6th: The French defeat the Austrians in the Battle of Jemappes .
  • November 19th: In a decree other peoples are assured of the assistance of the French.
  • December 11th: The trial of the king begins with his first hearing.


  • January 17: Death sentence against Louis XVI. from France
  • January 21: Execution of King Louis XVI. - The immediate consequence is the accession of Great Britain, Spain , Portugal and most of the German and Italian states to the coalition against France.
  • February 1st: Declaration of war on Great Britain and Holland .
  • February 7: Declaration of war on Spain.
  • March: start of the uprising in the Vendée , as a result of which large parts of France come under the rule of the counter-revolution.
  • March 10: Founding of the Revolutionary Tribunal (judiciary), whose judgments cannot be contested (cashed in).
  • March 18: The revolutionary army under General Dumouriez loses in the Battle of Neerwinde against Austrian troops under Prince von Sachsen-Coburg and Archduke Karl, Duke of Teschen .
  • April 6: The Welfare Committee is established as the executive and legislative body of the National Convention, with Georges Danton as its first chairman.
  • May 4: The “Small Maximum Act ” sets food prices state-wise to prevent a supply crisis.
  • May 31 to June 2: uprising of the Parisian sans-culottes against the Convention to implement radical demands for equality.
  • June 2: The Girondins were overthrown and overthrown in the National Convention by the Paris National Guard.
The Republican Constitution of 1793
  • June 24: The constitution for year I , drawn up under the leadership of Louis Antoine de Saint-Just , is passed by the National Convention (see also August 10).
  • July 13: Jean-Paul Marat is murdered by Charlotte Corday .
  • July 17th: Feudal rights are abolished.
  • July 26th: The death penalty for grain buyers, smugglers and black marketeers is decided.
  • July 27: Maximilien de Robespierre takes over the chairmanship of the Welfare Committee.
  • August 6th: Desecration of the royal tombs of St. Denis. The bones of the French kings are thrown into the Seine.
  • August 10: The constitution of year I is adopted in a referendum with a large majority.
  • August 23rd: The National Convention decrees the levée en masse ; Introduction of general conscription .
  • 4th to 5th September: attempt by the Parisian sans-culottes against the Convention. The Convention accepts strict measures to preserve the revolution.
  • September 5: Welfare Committee and National Convention profess terrorism; Beginning of the Great Terror .
  • September 17th: Suspects Act . Legalize the arrest of any suspect.
  • September 18: The city of Toulon is handed over to the Allies by opponents of the National Convention.
  • September 29: The "Great Maximum Law " regulates maximum prices for everyday goods.
  • October 5: The National Convention adopts the second republican calendar .
  • October 9th: Lyon, a stronghold of Girondins and Royalists, is captured by the troops of the National Convention.
  • October 10: Unrestricted powers of the Welfare Committee.
  • October 14: The trial of former Queen Marie Antoinette begins.
  • October 16: Marie-Antoinette was sentenced to death and executed on the same day.
  • October 17th: In the Battle of Cholet, the Vendée insurgents suffer a heavy defeat by the Republican troops.
  • October 24th: The Revolutionary Tribunal sentenced the first Girondins to death and had them executed on October 31st.
  • November: Public cremation of the relics of Saint Genoveva of Paris .
  • November 22nd: The convention decides to divide the national goods for sale into the smallest possible objects.
  • December 18: The government army recaptures the city of Toulon and a criminal court against the insurgents.
  • December 19: Compulsory schooling and free schooling


  • February 4th: Abolition of slavery in the colonies .
  • February 15: The tricolor becomes the national flag.
  • February 26: The first of the two Ventôse decrees on measures against "enemies of the revolution" is published.
  • March 14th to March 25th: execution of the Hébertists .
  • April 5: Danton and his supporters are executed . ( The revolution eats its children ; Georg Büchner : Danton's death ).
  • June 8th: Robespierre presides over the celebrations of the Supreme Being , as an official state cult. The cult of reason and freedom should replace the Christian religion.
  • June 10: New Terror Law (the so-called Prairial Decrees) issued, Revolutionary Tribunal imposes death sentences on mere suspicion and without defense. Start of the Great Terror; “ La Grande Terreur ”; Execution of around 2500 opponents of Robespierre.
  • June 26: In the First Coalition War , the revolutionary army triumphs over the Austrians in the Battle of Fleurus .
  • July 23: The Paris Commune sets a maximum wage.
  • July 27th: Thermidor Uprising ( 9th Thermidor II); Robespierre's removal and indictment; End of terror.
  • July 28: Execution of Robespierres, Saint-Justs and over 100 other supporters of terror following a decision by the convention, an attempt at liberation fails.
  • September 18: The Convention decides to separate church and state; Beginning of the third phase of the revolution.
  • November 11th: The convent closes the Jacobin Club.
  • December 8: The Girondin deputies return to the legislature.
  • December 24th: Abolition of the maximum laws .


The Directional Constitution of August 22, 1795
  • August 22nd: The National Convention adopts the Constitution of Year III (Directory Constitution ).
  • October 1st: The Austrian Netherlands are annexed.
  • October 5: Napoleon Bonaparte shoots down a royalist uprising in Paris with gunfire.
  • October 26: Constitution of the Directory enters into force after a referendum .
  • October 31: The first board of directors is elected.





See also


  1. ^ Doyle: Oxford History of the French Revolution , 3rd edition, 1990. Greer himself estimates the number of victims at 35,000 to 40,000.