FRENCH REVOLUTION AND AFTERMATH, 1789-1815 (Part 2)
(B) Estates-General of 1789
- The Estates-General (or States-General) of 1789 was the first meeting since 1614 of the French Estates-General, a general assembly representing the French estates of the realm: the clergy (First Estate), the nobles (Second Estate), and the common people (Third Estate).
- Summoned by King Louis XVI to propose solutions to his government’s financial problems, the Estates-General sat for several weeks in May and June 1789 but came to an impasse over the first item on the agenda; whether they should vote by estate, giving the first two estates an advantage, which was the king’s choice, or vote all together, giving the Third Estate the advantage. Although Louis XVI granted the Third Estate greater numerical representation, the Parlement of Paris stepped in and invoked an old rule mandating that each estate receive one vote, regardless of size. As a result, though the Third Estate was vastly larger than the clergy and nobility, each estate had the same representation—one vote. Inevitably, the Third Estate’s vote was overridden by the combined votes of the clergy and nobility. The First and Second Estates—clergy and nobility, respectively—were too closely related in many matters. Both were linked intrinsically to the royalty and shared many similar privileges. As a result, their votes often went the same way, automatically neutralizing any effort by the Third Estate.
- Third Estate itself varied greatly in socioeconomic status: some members were peasants and laborers, whereas others had the occupations, wealth, and lifestyles of nobility. These disparities between members of the Third Estate made it difficult for the wealthy members to relate to the peasants with whom they were grouped. Because of these rifts, the Estates-General, though organized to reach a peaceful solution, remained in a prolonged internal feud. It was only through the efforts of men such as Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès that the members of the Third Estate finally realized that fighting among themselves was fruitless and that if they took advantage of the estate’s massive size, they would be a force that could not be ignored.
- To add insult to injury, delegates from the Third Estate were forced to wear traditional black robes and to enter the Estates-General meeting hall by a side door. Necker tried to placate the Third Estate into tolerating these slights until some progress could be made, but his diplomatic efforts accomplished little. Fed up with their mistreatment, activists and pamphleteers of the Third Estate took to the streets in protest.
- The most famous effort was a pamphlet written by liberal clergy member Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès titled “What Is the Third Estate?” In response to his own question, Sieyès answered, “The Nation.” The pamphlet is organized around three hypothetical questions and Sieyès’ responses. The questions are:
- What is the third estate? Everything.
- What has it been until now in the political order? Nothing.
- What does it ask? To become something.
- The pamphlet articulated the pervasive feeling in France that though a small minority might be in control, the country truly belonged to the masses. Sieyès’s pamphlet compelled the Third Estate to action, inciting the masses to take matters into their own hands if the aristocracy failed to give them due respect.
Third Estate Revolt:
- As the impasse in the Estates-General continued, the Third Estate became more convinced of its entitlement to liberty. Seeing that neither the king nor the other estates would acquiesce to its requests, the Third Estate began to organize within itself and recruit actively from the other estates.
- On June 17, 1789, bolstered by community wide support, the Third Estate officially broke away from the Estates-General and proclaimed itself the National Assembly. In so doing, it also granted itself control over taxation. Shortly thereafter, many members of the other estates joined the cause.
Blame on Aristocracy:
- Although the reconvening of the Estates-General presented France’s aristocracy and clergy with a perfect opportunity to appease the Third Estate and maintain control, they focused only on maintaining the dominance of their respective estates rather than address the important issues that plagued the country. When the Estates-General convened, the Third Estate wasn’t seeking a revolution—just a bit of liberty and a more equitable tax burden.
- The entire Revolution might have been avoided had the first two estates simply acquiesced to some of the Third Estate’s moderate proposals. Instead, they fell back on tradition and their posh lifestyles and lit the revolutionary flame.
(C) The National Assembly: 1789–1791
Tennis Court Oath:
- Three days after splitting from the Estates-General, the delegates from the Third Estate (now the National Assembly) found themselves locked out of the usual meeting hall and convened on a nearby tennis court instead. There, all but one of the members took the Tennis Court Oath, which stated simply that the group would remain indissoluble until it had succeeded in creating a new national constitution.
- Upon hearing of the National Assembly’s formation, King Louis XVI held a general gathering in which the government attempted to intimidate the Third Estate into submission. The assembly, however, had grown too strong, and the king was forced to recognize the group. Parisians had received word of the upheaval, and revolutionary energy coursed through the city. Inspired by the National Assembly, commoners rioted in protest of rising prices. Fearing violence, the king had troops surround his palace at Versailles.
Dismissal of Necker and Storming of Bastille:
- Blaming him for the failure of the Estates-General, Louis XVI once again dismissed Director General of Finance Jacques Necker. Necker was a very popular figure, and when word of the dismissal reached the public, hostilities spiked yet again.
- In light of the rising tension, a scramble for arms broke out, and on July 13, 1789, revolutionaries raided the Paris town hall in pursuit of arms. There they found few weapons but plenty of gunpowder. The next day, upon realizing that it contained a large armory, citizens on the side of the National Assembly stormed the Bastille, a medieval fortress and prison in Paris.
- Although the weapons were useful, the storming of the Bastille was more symbolic than it was necessary for the revolutionary cause. The revolutionaries faced little immediate threat and had such intimidating numbers that they were capable of nonviolent coercion. By storming one of Paris’s most notorious state prisons and hoarding weapons, however, the revolutionaries gained a symbolic victory over the Old Regime and conveyed the message that they were not to be trifled with.
Lafayette and the National Guard
- As the assembly secured control over the capital, it seemed as if peace might still prevail: the previous governmental council was exiled, and Necker was reinstated. Assembly members assumed top government positions in Paris, and even the king himself traveled to Paris in revolutionary garb to voice his support. To bolster the defense of the assembly, the Marquis de Lafayette, a noble, assembled a collection of citizens into the French National Guard. Although some blood had already been shed, the Revolution seemed to be subsiding and safely in the hands of the people.
The Great Fear
- For all the developments that were taking place in Paris, the majority of the conflicts erupted in the struggling countryside. Peasants and farmers alike, who had been suffering under high prices and unfair feudal contracts, began to wreak havoc in rural France.
- After hearing word of the Third Estate’s mistreatment by the Estates-General, and feeding off of the infectious revolutionary spirit that permeated France, the peasants amplified their attacks in the countryside over the span of a few weeks, sparking a hysteria dubbed the Great Fear. Starting around July 20, 1789, and continuing through the first days of August, the Great Fear spread through sporadic pockets of the French countryside. Peasants attacked country manors and estates, in some cases burning them down in an attempt to escape their feudal obligations.
The August Decrees
- Though few deaths among the nobility were reported, the National Assembly, which was meeting in Versailles at the time, feared that the raging rural peasants would destroy all that the assembly had worked hard to attain. In an effort to quell the destruction, the assembly issued the August Decrees, which nullified many of the feudal obligations that the peasants had to their landlords. For the time being, the countryside calmed down.
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
- Just three weeks later, on August 26, 1789, the assembly issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a document that guaranteed due process in judicial matters and established sovereignty among the French people. Influenced by the thoughts of the era’s greatest minds, the themes found in the declaration made one thing resoundingly clear: every person was a Frenchman— and equal. Not surprisingly, the French people embraced the declaration, while the king and many nobles did not. It effectively ended the ancien régime and ensured equality for the bourgeoisie.
- Although subsequent French constitutions that the Revolution produced would be overturned and generally ignored, the themes of the Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen would remain with the French citizenry in perpetuity.
- Its 17 articles, adopted between August 20 and August 26, 1789, by France’s National Assembly, served as the preamble to the Constitution of 1791. Similar documents served as the preamble to the Constitution of 1793 (retitled simply Declaration of the Rights of Man) and to the Constitution of 1795 (retitled Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the Citizen).
- The basic principle of the Declaration was that all “men are born and remain free and equal in rights” (Article 1), which were specified as the rights of liberty, private property, the inviolability of the person, and resistance to oppression (Article 2). All citizens were equal before the law and were to have the right to participate in legislation directly or indirectly (Article 6); no one was to be arrested without a judicial order (Article 7). Freedom of religion (Article 10) and freedom of speech (Article 11) were safeguarded within the bounds of public “order” and “law.”
- The document reflects the interests of the elites who wrote it: property was given the status of an inviolable right, which could be taken by the state only if an indemnity were given (Article 17); offices and position were opened to all citizens (Article 6).
- The sources of the Declaration included the major thinkers of the French Enlightenment, such as Montesquieu, who had urged the separation of powers, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who wrote of general will—the concept that the state represents the general will of the citizens. The idea that the individual must be safeguarded against arbitrary police or judicial action was anticipated by the 18th-century parlements, as well as by writers such as Voltaire. French jurists and economists such as the physiocrats had insisted on the inviolability of private property. Other influences on the authors of the Declaration were foreign documents such as the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) in North America and the manifestos of the Dutch Patriot movement of the 1780s. The French Declaration went beyond these models, however, in its scope and in its claim to be based on principles that are fundamental to man and therefore universally applicable.
The Food Crisis
- Despite the assembly’s gains, little had been done to solve the growing food crisis in France. Shouldering the burden of feeding their families, it was the French women who took up arms on October 5, 1789. They first stormed the city hall in Paris, amassing a sizable army and gathering arms. Numbering several thousand, the mob marched to Versailles, followed by the National Guard, which accompanied the women to protect them. Overwhelmed by the mob, King Louis XVI, effectively forced to take responsibility for the situation, immediately sanctioned the August Decrees and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
- The next day, having little choice, the royal family accompanied the crowd back to Paris. To ensure that he was aware of the woes of the city and its citizens, the king and his family were “imprisoned” in the Tuileries Palace in the city
- Though they focused on the king as figurehead, most of the revolutionaries were more against the nobles than the king. Everyday people in France had limited interaction with royalty and instead placed blame for the country’s problems on the shoulders of local nobility. A common phrase in France at the time was, “If only the king knew,” as though he were ignorant of the woes of the people. It was partly owing to this perspective that the assembly attempted to establish a constitutional monarchy alongside the king, rather than simply oust him and rule the nation itself.
The National Assembly and the Church
- Over the next two years, the National Assembly took a number of progressive actions to address the failing economy and tighten up the country. A number of them targeted the Catholic Church, which was at the time one of the largest landholders in France. To jump-start the economy, the state in February 1790 confiscated all the church’s land and then used it to back a new French currency called the assignat. In the beginning, at least, the assignat financed the Revolution and acted as an indicator of the economy’s strength.
- A short time later, in July 1790, the French Catholic Church itself fell prey to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, a decree by the National Assembly that established a national church system with elected clergy. The country was divided into eighty-three departments, each of which was governed by an elected official and represented by an elected bishop. The voting for these positions was open to anyone who met certain relatively lenient criteria, such as property ownership.
The Assembly’s Tenuous Control
- Despite the National Assembly’s progress, weaknesses were already being exposed within France, and the Great Fear and the women’s march on Versailles demonstrated that perhaps the assembly didn’t have as much control as it liked to think. The revolution that the assembly was overseeing in Paris was run almost exclusively by the bourgeoisie, who were far more educated and intelligent than the citizens out in the country.
- Although the August Decrees helped assuage the peasants’ anger, their dissatisfaction would become a recurring problem. The differing priorities that were already apparent foreshadowed future rifts.
- Most notable among the assembly’s controversial priorities was its treatment of the churches. Although France as a whole was largely secular, large pockets of devoutly religious citizens could be found all over the country. By dissolving the authority of churches, especially the Catholic Church—a move that greatly angered the pope—the assembly seemed to signal to the religious French that they had to make a choice: God or the Revolution. It upset many people in France.
(D) Escalating Violence: 1791–1792
Louis XVI’s Flight
- Although King Louis XVI maintained a supportive front toward the Revolution, he remained in contact with the rulers of Austria, Prussia, and Sweden, asking for their help in restoring his family to power. In late June 1791, Louis XVI and his family attempted to escape to the Austrian border, where they were supposed to meet the Austrian army and arrange an attack on the revolutionaries. However, the runaway party was caught just before reaching the border and brought back to Tuileries in Paris.
- This escape attempt considerably weakened the king’s position and lowered his regard in the eyes of the French people. Beforehand, although he had little real power remaining, he at least still had the faith of his country. The king’s attempt to run away, however, made it clear to skeptics that he was a reluctant associate at best and would turn his back on the constitution and its system of limited monarchy at any moment.
- The more radical revolutionaries, who had never wanted a constitutional monarchy, trusted the king even less after his attempted escape. The more moderate revolutionaries, who once were staunch proponents of the constitutional monarchy, found themselves hard-pressed to defend a situation in which a monarch was abandoning his responsibilities. Therefore, although Louis XVI constitutionally retained some power after being returned to Paris, it was clear that his days were numbered.
The Declaration of Pillnitz
- In response to Louis XVI’s capture and forced return to Paris, Prussia and Austria issued the Declaration of Pillnitz on August 27, 1791, warning the French against harming the king and demanding that the monarchy be restored. The declaration also implied that Prussia and Austria would intervene militarily in France if any harm came to the king.
- Prussia and Austria’s initial concern was simply for Louis XVI’s well-being, but soon the countries began to worry that the French people’s revolutionary sentiment would infect their own citizens. The Declaration of Pillnitz was issued to force the French Revolutionaries to think twice about their actions and, if nothing else, make them aware that other countries were watching the Revolution closely.
The Constitution of 1791
- In September 1791, the National Assembly released its much-anticipated Constitution of 1791, which created a constitutional monarchy, or limited monarchy, for France. This move allowed King Louis XVI to maintain control of the country, even though he and his ministers would have to answer to new legislature, which the new constitution dubbed the Legislative Assembly.
- So, it retained the monarchy, but sovereignty effectively resided in the Legislative Assembly, which was elected by a system of indirect voting. The franchise was restricted to “active” citizens who paid a minimal sum in taxes; about two-thirds of adult men had the right to vote for electors and to choose certain local officials directly. The constitution lasted less than a year.
- The constitution also succeeded in eliminating the nobility as a legal order and struck down monopolies and guilds. It established a poll tax and barred servants from voting, ensuring that control of the country stayed firmly in the hands of the middle class.
- The Assembly, as constitution-framers, were afraid that if only representatives governed France, it was likely to be ruled by the representatives’ self-interest; therefore, the king was allowed a suspensive veto to balance out the interests of the people.
- Assembly’s belief in a sovereign nation can be seen in the constitutional separation of powers. The National Assembly was the legislative body, the king and royal ministers made up the executive branch and the judiciary was independent of the other two branches. On a local level, the previous feudal geographic divisions were formally abolished, and the territory of the French state was divided into several administrative units, Departments (Départements), but with the principle of centralism.
The Jacobins and Girondins
- Divisions quickly formed within the new Legislative Assembly, which coalesced into two main camps. On one side were the Jacobins, a group of radical liberals—consisting mainly of deputies, leading thinkers, and generally progressive society members—who wanted to drive the Revolution forward aggressively. The Jacobins found Louis’s actions contemptible and wanted to forgo the constitutional monarchy and declare France a republic.
- Disagreeing with the Jacobins’ opinions were many of the more moderate members of the Legislative Assembly, who deemed a constitutional monarchy essential. The most notable of these moderates was Jacques-Pierre Brissot. His followers were thus labeled Brissotins, although they became more commonly known as Girondins.
- Lawyers, intellectuals and journalists, the Girondins attracted a following of businessmen, merchants, industrialists, and financiers. Historians have disagreed about whether they truly constituted an organized group, and the term “Girondins” was rarely used prior to 1793.
- Many historians have attributed the rivalry of the Jacobins and Girondins to class differences, labeling the Jacobins the poorer, less prestigious of the two groups. However, a number of other factors were involved, as the two groups came from vastly different geographic and ideological backgrounds. The Jacobins were modern urban idealists: they wanted change and independence from any semblance of the ancien régime. Deemed radicals, they were students of the enlightened, progressive thought of the time. But the Girondins, though wanting independence and equality, were more conservative and loyal and harbored less contempt for the monarchy. These fundamental differences would cause a schism that future revolutionary governments in France could not overcome.
- Meanwhile, in cities throughout France, a group called the sansculottes began to wield significant and unpredictable influence. The group’s name—literally, “without culottes,” the knee breeches that the privileged wore—indicated their disdain for the upper classes. The sans-culottes consisted mainly of urban laborers, peasants, and other French poor who disdained the nobility and wanted to see an end to privilege. Over the summer of 1792, the sansculottes became increasingly violent and difficult to control.
War Against Austria and Prussia
- Although the Girondin leader, Brissot, wanted Louis XVI to remain in power, he felt threatened by the Declaration of Pillnitz and rallied the Legislative Assembly to declare war against Austria on April 20, 1792. Austria and Prussia had anticipated this kind of reaction and already had their troops massed along the French border. The French army, unprepared as it was for the battle, was trounced and fled, leaving the country vulnerable to counterattack. In the wake of the embarrassing French defeat, Louis XVI saw to it that Brissot was removed from command. In response, a mob of Girondins marched on Tuileries on June 20 and demanded that Brissot be reinstated. The demand was ignored.
The Storming of Tuileries
- Just weeks later, on August 10, anti-monarchy Jacobins rallied together a loyal crew of sans-culottes that stormed Tuileries outright, trashing the palace and capturing Louis XVI and his family as they tried to escape. The mob then arrested the king for treason. A month after that, beginning on September 2, 1792, the hysterical sans-culottes, having heard rumors of counterrevolutionary talk, raided Paris’s prisons and murdered more than 1,000 prisoners.
The Danger of the Sansculottes
- If there was any indication throughout the Revolution that no governing body truly had control, it could be found with the sans-culottes. Members of this group were easily swayed and often fell into bouts of mob hysteria, which made them extraordinarily difficult to manage. The bourgeoisie groups “in charge” of the Revolution originally hoped to harness the power of the masses for their own bidding, but it soon became apparent that the sans-culottes were uncontrollable.
- The Girondins, who had originally rallied the sans-culottes to their cause, quickly found that the rabble was more radical than they had expected. The massacres that began on September 2 revealed the true power of the sans-culottes and showed the chaos they were capable of creating. The group, after all, consisted of poor workers and peasants who wanted privilege outright eliminated. Despite all their contributions to the revolutionary cause, they still found themselves with little input into the government, which was dominated by bourgeoisie far richer than they. Having gained their freedom from monarchial oppression, the sans-culottes switched their cry from “Liberty!” to “Equality!”
Failures of the Legislative Assembly
- Arguably, the Legislative Assembly’s complacency in 1792 opened the door to the violence that followed. The assembly did have some cause to rest on its laurels: the Revolution had accomplished everything that had been desired, and the new government had a binder full of legislation to back it up. But the confidence bred by this success was misleading: the assembly had not organized an army that was capable of taking on the combined forces of Austria and Prussia, nor had it sufficiently calmed its own internal feuds. The new government was still far too unsteady even to consider going to war—yet it did, and was soundly defeated.
- Even more peculiar was the fact that Brissot and his Girondin associates were radical enough to want to go to war, yet conservative enough to do so only under the rule of a constitutional monarch—the same monarch over whom the war was being fought. It was a baffling decision and left little question as to why the Jacobins and other more radical elements wanted to take control.
Go through the following question only after reading next part of French Revolution
Q. Who were Jacobins and Girondins? Explain with special references to their rivalries.
- Girondin, also called Brissotin, a label applied to a loose grouping of republican politicians, some of them originally from the département of the Gironde, who played a leading role in the Legislative Assembly from October 1791 to September 1792 during the French Revolution. Lawyers, intellectuals and journalists, the Girondins attracted a following of businessmen, merchants, industrialists, and financiers. Their opponents often called them Brissotins, after their most prominent spokesman, Jacques-Pierre Brissot.
- The Girondins first emerged as harsh critics of the court. Through the oratory of Brissot, the Girondins inspired the measures taken against the émigrés and anti-Revolutionary priests in October and November of 1791. From the end of 1791, under the leadership of Brissot, they supported foreign war as a means to unite the people behind the cause of the Revolution.
- The Girondins reached the height of their power and popularity in the spring of 1792. On April 20, 1792, the war that they urged was declared against Austria. Roland’s wife, Mme Jeanne-Marie Roland, held a salon that was an important meeting place for the Girondins. But throughout the summer they vacillated in their position toward the existing constitutional monarchy, which was coming under serious attack. The storming of the Tuileries Palace on August 10, 1792, which overthrew the monarchy, took place without their participation and marks the beginning of their decline, as more radical groups (the Paris Commune, the Parisian working class, and the Jacobins under Robespierre) came to direct the course of the Revolution.
- From the opening of the National Convention in September 1792, the Girondins united in opposition to the Montagnards (deputies of the left, mainly newly elected from Paris, who headed the Jacobin dictatorship of 1793–94). The antagonism between the two groups was partly caused by bitter personal hatreds but also by opposing social interests. The Girondins had strong support in provincial cities and among local government officials, while the Montagnards had the backing of the Paris sansculottes (extreme radical revolutionaries). In the ensuing struggles the Girondins were characterized by political views that stopped short of economic and social equality, by economic liberalism that rejected government control of trade or prices, and, most clearly, by their reliance on the départements as a counterbalance to Paris. Their efforts to reduce the influence of the capital led the Montagnards to brand them as advocates of “federalism” who sought to destroy the unity of the newly formed republic. The trial of Louis XVI (December 1792–January 1793) left the Girondins, some of whom opposed the king’s execution, open to the charge of royalism.
- The Girondins were held responsible for defeats suffered by the army in the spring of 1793 and were made more unpopular by their refusal to respond to the economic demands of the Parisian workers. A popular rising against them in Paris, beginning on May 31, ended when the Convention, surrounded by armed insurgents, ordered the arrest of 29 Girondin deputies on June 2. The fall of the Girondins was caused by their reluctance to adopt emergency measures for the defense of the Revolution and to provide for the economic demands of the Parisian workers, policies that the Montagnards carried out.
- Many of the Girondins escaped to the provinces in the summer of 1793 to organize “federalist” uprisings against the Convention. These failed largely for lack of popular support. When the ruling Montagnards instituted the Reign of Terror, 21 of the arrested Girondins were tried, beginning on October 24, 1793, and were guillotined on October 31. After the fall of the Montagnards in 1794, a number of deputies imprisoned for protesting the purge of the Girondins returned to the Convention and were rehabilitated.
- Jacobin Club or Society of the Jacobins, Friends of Liberty and Equality was the most famous political group of the French Revolution, which became identified with extreme egalitarianism and violence and which led the Revolutionary government from mid-1793 to mid-1794.
- The group was constituted in 1789, after the National Assembly moved to Paris, under the name of Society of the Friends of the Constitution, but it was commonly called the Jacobin Club because its sessions were held in a former convent of the Dominicans, who were known in Paris as Jacobins. Its purpose was to protect the gains of the Revolution against a possible aristocratic reaction. The club soon admitted nondeputies—usually prosperous bourgeois and men of letters—and acquired affiliates throughout France. By July 1790 there were about 1,200 members in the Parisian club and 152 affiliate clubs.
- In July 1791 the Jacobin Club split over a petition calling for the removal of Louis XVI after his unsuccessful attempt to flee France; many of the moderate deputies left to join the rival club. Maximilien Robespierre was one of the few deputies who remained, and he assumed a position of prominence in the club.
- After the overthrow of the monarchy, in August 1792 (in which the Jacobin Club, still reluctant to declare itself republican, did not have a direct role), the club entered a new phase as one of the major groups directing the Revolution. With the proclamation of the republic in September, the club changed its name to Society of the Jacobins, Friends of Liberty and Equality. It acquired a democratic character with the admission of the leftist Montagnard deputies in the National Convention (the new legislature) and also a more popular one as it responded to the demands of the Parisian working and artisan class. Through the early phase of the Convention, the club was a meeting place for the Montagnards, and it agitated for the execution of the king (January 1793) and for the overthrow of the moderate Girondins (June 1793).
- With the establishment of the Revolutionary dictatorship, beginning in the summer of 1793, the local Jacobin clubs became instruments of the Reign of Terror. (In 1793 there were probably 5,000 to 8,000 clubs throughout France, with a nominal membership of 500,000.) The clubs, as part of the administrative machinery of government, had certain duties: they raised supplies for the army and policed local markets. Often local government officials were replaced with members of clubs. As centres of public virtue, the clubs watched over people whose opinions were suspect.
- The Parisian club was increasingly associated with Robespierre, who dominated the Revolutionary government through his position on the Committee of Public Safety. It supported Robespierre in his attacks on the enemies of the Revolution and helped him resist the growing demands of the discontented workers for a controlled economy. After the fall of Robespierre on 9 Thermidor, year II (July 27, 1794), the Parisian club, now a symbol of dictatorship and terror, was temporarily closed. It reopened as a centre of opposition to the Thermidorian government, but it was permanently closed on November 11, 1794).