Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Do you dare to dream?

This is a video I have found I think you may like. It´s about making decisions about the future (if we still have one): 

Napoleon in some cartoons

Napoleon Bonaparte´s image was reproduced many times. He was also the main figure in many cartoons in different countries. Here you have a small sample with cartoons from different periods and countries: 

On this cartoon, Napoleon plays the music, while the other countries dance after the signature of the Treaty of Amiens in 1802: 

Piercy Roberts, 'Spotprent op de Vrede van Amiens, 1802', Rijksmuseum

The following cartoon dates from 1805, after the battles of Trafalgar and Austerlitz. William Pitt, the British prime minister,  and Napoleon are dividing the world between them: Pitt takes the ocean and Napoleon takes all Europe except Great Britain. This cartoon represents the difficulties each side had to defeat the other one. The British had a strong navy, but couldn´t defeat Napoleon in the continent. Napoleon had a Great Army, but the couldn´t defeat the British at sea.  

On the following one, Napoleon blinds his soldiers with the smoke of military victories and makes them believe that war is the only way. His hand lies on a book with the revolutionary ideas, but he covers them from people´s view with his body: 

Napoleonic political cartoons

The next cartoon dates from 1806, when almost all Europe was submitted to Napoleon´s armies. Napoleon is presented as shaver to most of the sovereigns of the continent. His "customers" are bleeding, due to Napoleon´s ruthlesness. Only John Bull, the personification of Great Britain, keeps out of the barber shop and refuses the Austrian Emperor´s invitation to join them. 

A Spanish cartoon of the Spanish Peninsular War: Napoleon is working for the modernization of Spain and one Spanish patriot thanks his efforts "as he deserves":  

The following three cartoons depict Napoleon´s fate. He is represented trapped in a bottle, in a cage and destined to die at the gallows ("at his post of honour"): 

'European royals and martial heroes marvel at the sight of the defeated Napoleon Bonaparte standing in a glass bottle in their midst', Wellcome Library, London

Esser Wijnand, 'Napoleon in de rattenval', Rijksmuseum

«Napoleon Bonaparte. Chef de Brigands ; at his Post of Honor», c'est-à-dire à la potence : [estampe] - 1

Napoleon´s exile to the island of Elba: his sword is broken and he holds on to the donkey´s tail. The drummers mark the solemn momen.t 

Napoleon watching Europe from his exile in Elba: 

 Napoleon´s rise and fall on a Prussian caricature: 

File:Napoleons Lebenslauf - Aufstieg und Fall.jpg

Some more caricatures: 

Comparison between French and British cartoons: 

Russian caricatures: 

19th December 2012

First today in Social Sciences Paqui has said the marks of the quarter. My mark it's a 6, but Paqui has said that all the people can improve the marks of the term. (Everyone except Salvador, because he has a 10 in the mark).

After this, Paqui has started the lesson. She has explained the Napoleonic Era (1799-1815).

  • In the Consulate:
From 1800 to 1802 Napoleon was appointed Only Consul: public order was restored, administration was reorganized, concordat with the Pope was signed.

From1802 to 1804 Chily Consul for life and this increased popularity due to his military success.

  • In the Empire:
The Napoleon Empire extended to: Low Countries, Luxemburg, , present Slovenia, Belgium, and Croatie. States submitted: Spain, Confederation of the Rhine, part of Italy...

Continental Blockade: after the Hispano-French disaster at Trafalgar Battle, Napoleon ordered had to buy or sell products to G.Britain.

But there were some problems: 

-Invasion of Spain to control Portugal's disobedience. Spanish Peninsular War (1808-1813) where the Napoleonic army suffered its first defeat in Bailén and had a lot of problems

- Invasion of Russia in 1812.

End of the Napoleonic Empire: Battle of Leipzg (1814): Battle of the Nations. Napoleon was deposed and confined to the Island of Elba.

Hundred Days Empire: Napoleon came back, another coalition was formed against him and he was definitely defeated at WATERLOO and sent to the island of St Helena.

For holidays, we have to do a summary of the point 2 of the unit and exercises 14, 15, 16 and 17. 

Happy Christmas!

The Napolean Empire

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Napoleonic wars in some maps

This is a collection of interactive maps related to the Napoleonic wars and the Napoleonic Empire. If you want to play them, click on the images. 

- This map comes from the BBC history website and it reproduces the Battle of Trafalgar, the sea battle that confronted the Hispano-French fleet with the British fleet commanded by Admiral Nelson: 

- This maps shows the extension of the Napoleonic Empire, including the allied States and its main enemies. It includes an animation of the Russian Campaign as well: 

- The following website explains all the details of the Russian Campaign (1812): 

- The last two links are two games about the Battle of Waterloo from the BBC and PBS websites. You can learn what happened, playing as Napoleon or the Duke of Wellington.

Yesterday I played the Battle of Waterloo as Napoleon and I won ;)

Napoleonic quotes

Portrait of Napoleon I in his office, Hyppolite Delaroche

Last year I wrote a post including some of Napoleon Bonaparte´s best quotes. If you want to read them and give your opinion about the one you prefer, click on the following link: 

You can add your comments to the ones the students of the last year chose or you can leave them on this post. Here you have my choice: 

The only victories which leave no regret are those which are gained over ignorance

You can have an idea about why I prefer this quote ;)

Monday, December 17, 2012

JOURNAL. Monday 17th of December 2012

Hello classmates!
Today in the class of Social Sciences Paqui has explained us the Reign of Terror and some cartoons of this time, Paqui has shown us the post on the blog about the guillotine (Madame Guillotine), then we have started to discuss about the public execution. The majority of the class says that the people who commit a big crime have to be executed, but Paqui has said that this is really sad because she thinks that the people that have been educated on human principles don’t have to think like this, Paqui has said that some classmates have violence ideas, but I agree with Paqui, if you kill this people you will be equal as they are.

After the discuss Paqui has explained us the Thermidorian Reaction (when the danger of invasion disappeared and the internal revolts were controlled the terror policy continued).
Then we have corrected the summary about the directory.

v  Executive power: five members
  •      Le Tourneur.
  •      Carnot.
  •      La Reveillère.
  •      Barras.
  •      Rebwell.

v  Two legislative chambers:
  •      Council of the five hundred.
  •      Councils of the ancients.

v  Problems:
  •      Attacks from the absolutists.
  •      Popular protests.
  •      War against the European monarchies.
  •      Serious economic crisis.
  •      Corruption and loss of prestige of the Directory.

After check the summary we have seen on the blackboard the slide of 18th Brumaire1799 Bonaparte’s Coup d’État and Paqui has explained us that Napoleon was a very intelligent man, the deputies try to manipulate him but, he manipulated them.
And for finish the class Paqui has shown us the post of Make your choice, which summarized some of the quotes of Napoleon.

The homework for the next day is:
Summarize the information about the Napoleonic Era.

- Animated cartoons: dibujos animados.
- Cartoons: viñeta, chiste gráfico.
- Witty: agudo.
- Guilty: culpable.
- Dreadful: horrible, espantoso.
- The gallows: la horca.
- To deserve: merecer.
- Sect: secta.
- Loss: perdida.
- To resign: dimitir.
- Triumvirate: triumvirato.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Law of the Maximum

Poster announcing decrees of the National Convention

In September 1793 the National Convention, controlled by the Jacobins, passed a law to try to stop inflation, hoarding and shortage of basic products. The pressure put by the sans culottes and the Jacobin will of guaranting the right to survive of the population inspired the decision of intervening economy.  The products considered essential were the following: fresh meat, salt meat and bacon, butter, sweet oil, cattle, salt fish, wine, brandy, vinegar, cider, beer, firewood, charcoal, coal, candles, lamp oil, salt, soda, sugar, honey, white paper, hides, iron, cast iron, lead, steel, copper, hemp, linens, woolens, stuffs, canvases, the raw materials which were used for fabrics, wooden shoes, shoes, turnips and rape, soap, potash and tobacco. The National Convention also established the maximum wages that had to be paid in the production of these goods and forbade exporting these goods as long as the war continued. 

This law was an example of a well-intentioned idea which had bad results: many peasants hid their harvests to avoid selling them at lower prices and the same did merchants. Black market developed. The supply of products at low prices wasn´t assured and law could only be enforced with the threat of the guillotine. The effects of theis law could be compared to the ones the war communism policy had in Russia during the 1918-1921 Civil War. 

15th December

At first, Paqui has said that the exams were very good and that we write very badly in English. Later, it has distributed them.
I pass my exam with 6’85 points.
After that, Paqui has remembered what we study another day and then we have copied the notes that were written in the blackboard.
She has explained it, and she said that:
-Girondist Convention provoked a trial and execution of king Louis XIV, The international coalition against France (the situation was so serious that the Committee of Public Safety ordered mass conscription àLevée in masse. This provoked a counter- revolutionary revolt in the Vendé Region) and in June 1793 the sans culottes stormed the National Convention, arrested many Girondists and gave power to the Jacobins.
Paqui drew a map to explain where were Vendée Region.

-Jacobin Convention provoked:
·        Extraordinary measures to end with the threat of invasion and counter- revolution. Suspension of liberties and decisions in favour of the people:
             -Law of suspects: quick trials of the suspected counter- revolutionary and execution by guillotine à Reign of Terror.
             -Law of the maximum: maximum prices for staples.
             -New Constitution (1793): democratic content, but not in force until danger disappeared.
             -Dechristianization and cult of Reason first and the Supreme Being later.
             -Sale of properties of the counter- revolutionary in small shares.
·        Threats were controlled, but the conservative members of the Convention lead a coup d’Etat against the Jacobins and executed their main leaders à THERMIDORIAN REACTION.
Paqui has written glossary too:
        -to stay firm: mantenerse firme
        -Fog: nieble
        -Mass conscription: reclutamiento forzoso. In this all the available men were obliged to go to war to stop the enemies.
        -Censorship: censured
        -scarcity: escasez
        -To come in force: entrar en vigor
        -Reign of Terror: el terror
        -Serious: grave (in this context)

For homework, Paqui has said that we have to do a summary of point C of page 15.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Maximilien Robespierre: a vindication


Maximilien Robespierre, called The Incorruptible, was the main figure of the Jacobins and has gone down in history as the personification of the Reign of Terror. His name has always been linked to the period of extraordinary measures which included executions by guillotine of the suspected counter-revolutionaries. He was presented as a bloodthisrty dictator, responsible for uncountable atrocities. This image dates back to the Thermidorian Reaction: those who deposed the Jacobins and presented themselves as moderates and claiming for order spread a very negative vision of the Jacobins and found the perfect scapegoat in Robespierre. The winners of the French Revolution, the respectable bourgeois who got the rights they were looking for, used the Jacobin period as a threat and a symbol of chaos and injustice. But what part of this is true? Who was Robespierre and what were his main ideas?

Robespierre was born in Arras, in North Western France. His family belonged to the low bourgeoisie: his father was a lawyer and his maternal grandfather owned a brewery. When he was 11 years old, he received a grant to study in Paris, where he became a lawyer too. Back in Arras, he started working and soon became very popular, because he participated in some very famous trials, defending workers against the abuses of the privileged. He also used the trials to criticize injustice and the bad running of the structures of the Ancien Régime. When Louis XVI called the Estates General in 1788 Robespierre wrote the book of grievances of Arras shoemakers´ guild and was elected deputy of the Third Estate. Once in Versailles, he joined the Club Bréton and later the Jacobin Club in Paris. In the National Constituent Assembly and also in the Jacobin Club he participated in a lot of debates, where he exposed his ideas and expectations: 

- He opposed to the death penalty and explained that forgiving a hundred guilty people was preferable to sacrificing one innocent person.

- He defended the abolition of slavery and equal rights fot the inhabitants of the colonies

- He defended the participation of women in political clubs

- He supported universal suffrage, was against the division into active and passive citizens and believed in democracy

- He fought for the equality of rights for Jews and Protestants, defended religious tolerance and clerical marriage. He believed in God and thought that the decisions against the Church (like dechristianization) could be very negative to the Revolution. In fact, during the Jacobin Convention, he rejected the cult of Reason and proposed the alternative cult of the Supreme Being, as a way of reconciling religious beliefs with the revolutionary ideas. 

- He was against press censorship and martial law and defended freedom of speech, freedom of press,  protection of communications and freedom of association for workers.

- He considered that the right to survive was above other rights and was against punishing people who had committed crimes due to famine or because they wanted to live better. 

- He considered that people were good by nature, defended social justice, education and the fight for improving the living conditions of the poorest. 

- He was against wars of conquest and considered that the only wars worth fighting were the ones against tyrants, not against other peoples. 

- His definition of nation included all the people who had expressed their will of living together under common laws, no matter where they were born.

Could a person with these ideas be considered the monster most books of history have depicted? Why did he change his mind about some of his principles? The answer can be found in circumstances. Many revolutionaries had to make important decisions when they were confronted with the dilemma of  defending the achievements of the revolution and going on with changes or surrendering to counter-revolution. There were two opposed alternatives and they had to decide which one they preferred and what sacrifices were worth being done.  

Robespierre was not obsessed with the idea of founding a Republic, because he was aware of the risk of eliminating monarchy, but when Louis XVI tried to flee from France and his conspiracy against the Revolution was discovered, Robespierre supported the supression of the monarchy and the execution of the king (he said "It is with regret that I pronounce the fatal truth. The king must die so that the country can live"). He became one of the most important figures of the National Convention and when the Jacobins took the control, he was elected member of the Committee of Public Safety. His responsibility in the extraordinary measures the Committee took was shared with the other members of this organ. He detested violence, but also knew that revolutions had always been violent. Violence was very present in the 18th century and the urgency of the situation in France demanded quick and extraordinary actions. Deciding against his principles had an extraordinary cost to Robespierre´s health and during the last month of his life he was constantly sick and felt very weak, but the responsibilty of building a new and fairer society made him come back to the Convention. A conservative reaction against the policy the Jacobins were following deposed them and on the 28th July 1794 he was executed by guillotine without previous trial, together with other Jacobin leaders. The memory of their efforts was hidden by the bloody stories the winners told about them. They invented the expression Reign of Terror to define the Jacobin period and spread the ideas everybody links to Robespierre. But the Jacobin Convention and especially the Incorruptible deserve a fairer study. 

Here you have one paragraph of one of Robespierre´s most important speeches, on political morality: 

In our land we want to substitute morality for egotism, integrity for formal codes of honor, principles for customs, a sense of duty for one of mere propriety, the rule of reason for the tyranny of fashion, scorn of vice for scorn of the unlucky; self-respect for insolence, grandeur of soul for vanity, love of glory for the love of money, good people in place of good society. We wish to substitute merit for intrigue, genius for wit, truth for glamor, the charm of happiness for sensuous boredom, the greatness of man for the pettiness of the great, a people who are magnanimous, powerful, and happy, in place of a kindly, frivolous, and miserable people—which is to say all the virtues and all the miracles of the republic in place of all the vices of the monarchy. . . .
On Political Morality, 5th February 1794 

File:Robespierre exécutant le bourreau.jpg

Satirical drawing of Robespierre executing the executioner after having guillotined everyone in France

Most of the content of this post comes from two books in Spanish I´ve read recently: 

- McPHEE, Peter, Robespierre: una vida revolucionaria, Ed. Península, Barcelona 2012. This is an extraordinary and documented biography, written by an Australian historian. Here you have some links about this book in English and Spanish: 

- GARCÍA SÁNCHEZ, Javier, Robespierre, Galaxia Gutenberg, Círculo de Lectores, Barcelona, 2012. This is a very long historical novel (more than 1,000 pages) that I still haven´t finished, but it has a very interesting post scriptum about how historians have treated Robespierre and the Jacobins and the reasons for this bad treatment. Here you have a review of this novel in Spanish: 

And finally, here you have some Robespierre´s quotes: 

- The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant. 

- To punish the opressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is cruelty.

- Any law which violates the inalienable rights of man is essentially unjust; it is not a law at all. 

- We must smother the internal and external enemies of the Republic or perish with it; now in this situation, the first maxim of your policy ought to be to lead the people by reason and the people's enemies by terror.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday 12/12/2012


Today has been the day of the exam, so we have come before, at eight o´clock.
Then, Paqui has given us one exam and one sheet of paper for each.
The exam consisted of five questions and some people have been surprised because THE EXAM DIDN´T HAVE ANY EXERCISE OF TRUE OR FALSE!

The first question consisted of join with arrows some important characters of the 18th century, with some actions they did.
For example: George Washington-------------- was  the first president of the United States of America.
The second question was about Ancien Regime and its main features.
The third question was about Enlightenment. We had to define what Enlightenment was, to explain its main features and to talk about two enlightened philosophers and to say their main ideas.
In question number 4, we had to chose between four themes and to say all we know about them. Some of the themes were "the independence of the 13 colonies of North America"; "the War of Spanish Succession"; the reforms made by Charles III and the Constitution of the United States of America.
In the fifth question we also had to chose between some themes. We had to chose four of the themes, to define them and to say where and when did they developed.
Finally the bell rang at 9:05 and in theory the time of the exam was over, but Paqui has given us a little more time and I think everybody has finished the exam well.
That´s all, GOOD LUCK TO EVERYBODY, I think you´ll have a good mark.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

18th century: True or false? (2)


Here you have the second set of true-false sentences to review for tomorrow´s exam. They refer to the independence of the 13 colonies, the War of Spanish Succession, the first Bourbons and art in the 18th century. Anyone wants to correct them?

  1. Trade monopoly was one of the reasons for the North American colonists´ discontent against Great Britain. 
  2. "No taxation without representation" was one of the slogans of the independentists in North America.
  3. The Boston Tea Party took place in 1770, when the British soldiers killed five colonists who protested against tax increase.
  4. The ideas of Enlightenment had an important influence in the beginning of the independence process of the 13 North American colonies. 
  5. The Declaration of Independence of the USA was signed on the 4th July 1783.
  6. Thomas Jefferson was the commander in chief of the North American colonists in the American War of Independence. 
  7. Spain and France supported Great Britain in the war against the 13 North American colonies, because they wanted to defend their own colonial empires. 
  8. The American War of Independence ended with the signature of the Treaty of Versailles. 
  9. George Washington was the first president of the USA
  10. The USA are a Federal Republic. 
  11. The checks and balances system was created to prevent abuse of power. 
  12. The Constitution of the USA included equal rights for all the inhabitants of the country. 
  13. Philip of Anjou was designated heir by Charles II in his last testament. 
  14. The War of Spanish Succession was both an internal and an international conflict. 
  15. Great Britain, Portugal, the Low Countries, Austria and Castile supported Archduke Charles as candidate to the throne. 
  16. The War of Spanish Succession ended with the signature of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.
  17. The Nueva Planta Decrees meant the elimination of all the particular laws and institutions of the Crown of Aragón. 
  18. Philip V and Ferdinand VI imposed Absolute Monarchy in Spain. 
  19. With the Bourbons, Castilian institutions such as the corregidores extended to all the territory. 
  20. Ensenada´s project of unique contribution extended to Castile during Ferdinand VI´s reign. 
  21. Charles III is an example of Enlightened Despotism. 
  22. Some of the reforms made during Charles III´s reign were the creation of the cabinet and the intendants. 
  23. Charles III worked with enlightened ministers, such as the counts of Aranda and Floridablanca. 
  24. Charles III decreed the honesty of all professions, the liberalization of trade with the Indies and  the price of wheat. 
  25. Baroque continued to be the predominant art style at the beginning of the 18th century. 
  26. Salzillo was an important scultpor who made several processional floats in Baroque style. 
  27. Rococo was a frivolous, playful and mainly decorative art style.
  28. Some of the most important Rococo works of art were El Prado Museum, the British Museum and the Church of Sainte Geneviève in Paris. 
  29. New Classicism drew inspiration from Ancient Greece and Rome. 
  30. Jacques-Louis David was the most important New Classicist painter. 
See you tomorrow at eight!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Interactive activities to review Unit 2

I´ve added some more activities about Spain and art and culture. Click on the picture to do the review activities. Carlos and Pilar, you´re very impatient!

The 18th century: true or false? (I)

True or False

This is a "training" exercise about part of the content of Unit 2. As you already know, you have to read the sentences carefully to decide if they are true or false. If there are false sentences, you have to write them in the correct way. You can do it in the Comments´ section. Try to do the exercise without looking on your notes, to make sure what you know and what you have to study more. I´ll give an extra point to the person who gives the complete correct answer first. These are the sentences: 

  1. Ancien Régime was an expression invented by the French revolutionaries to define all they wanted to preserve from the Modern Era. 
  2. During the Ancien Régime most of the land belonged to kings. 
  3. The Ancien Régime predominant political system was Absolute Monarchy. 
  4. Kings´ power was supposed to come from God. This way, kings were untouchable and above the law.
  5. The society of the Ancien Régime was a class-based society. 
  6. The low clergy belonged to the underprivileged estate. 
  7. There were big differences of wealth between the members of the Third Estate. 
  8. Most of the members of the Third Estate were bourgeois. 
  9. Bourgeois discontent was related to their exclusion from power. 
  10. Not paying taxes was the main right the underprivileged had. 
  11. In the 18th century there were less wars than in the 17th century. 
  12. The introduction of some new crops, such as barley and oat, improved the diet of the European population.
  13. The European population trippled in the 18th century and this created a demand for all type of products.
  14. Triangular trade linked Europe, Africa and Asia. 
  15. The Europeans sold manufactured products in Africa and bought raw materials. From Africa to America they sent black slaves and brought colonial products from America to Europe.
  16. Enlightenment was an intellectual movement which culminated the secularization process started in the 15th century. 
  17. The enlightened philosophers considered treason as the best way of knowing and transforming the world.
  18. John Locke and Isaac Newton were enlightened thinkers. 
  19. The 18th century was also called the Age of Reason. 
  20. Some of the features of Enlightenment were: rejection of superstition, revelations and the authority principle, optimism and trust in the future, trust in education and religious intolerance. 
  21. The enlightened philosophers rejected absolutism and the estate-based society. 
  22. Although Enlightenment defended equality and freedom, it was an elitist movement. 
  23. The main enlightened thinkers were Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
  24. Voltaire´s main ideas were the social contract, the general will and universal suffrage. 
  25. The general will refers to the fact that the government has to be elected by the citizens by universal suffrage.
  26. Montesquieu drew inspiration from John Locke for his idea of division of powers.
  27. Physiocracy was an economic ideology which defended free trade, free industry and considered agriculture as the most important economic activity. 
  28. The slogan of Enlightened Despotism was "One can´t expect to make an omelet without breaking  eggs"
  29. Enlightened despots made economic, educational, social and administrative reforms. 
  30. The reforms made by the enlightened despots were limited, because they didn´t change the political and social structure of the Ancien Régime

Tomorrow, some more sentences to review the rest of the unit!



Hello everybody!

Today, Paqui has put some delays to some classmates, including me, because we have been late. At first, Paqui has been so angry with us because we have talked a lot and we haven't prepared the notes and the book when we have arrived to the class.

Then, Paqui has explained a scheme that she has prepared on the blackboard during the break time. It has been about the political groups that existed in the French Revolution.

She has told us that in this event people interested in politics met at the Jacobin Club, and were mostly monarchists, but reformists. This was like this until the king Louis XVI's attempt to flee to Austria. Due to that, there was a schism in the club, it was divided into Republicans (people who wanted the deposition of the King) and the Feuillants. The Feuillants wanted a Constitutional Monarchy as reflected in 1791 Constitution. Then, the Republicans divided into two groups: the Jacobins and the Girondists. The Jacobins were led by Robespierre  and other important Jacobins were Couthon and Saint-Just. Some important Girondists were Brissot, Vergniaud and Ducos, and they controlled the National Convention between September 1792 and June 1793. Finally, the Jacobins and the Cordeliers joined together in a new political group known as the Montagnards who controlled the National Convention between June 1793 and July 1794.

Robespierre and the National Convention

Paqui has explained that the groups placed on the left of the scheme were groups more revolutionary, progressive, secular and reformist who wanted to eliminate the Ancien Régime (left), like the Jacobins and the Cordeliers. The groups placed on the right were conservative and they wanted to preserve some things of the Ancien Régime such as the Monarchy (right), like the Feuillants. The Girondists were moderate and represented the bourgeoisie.

Political spectrum

She has also explained that the groups from center to right (Girondists and Feuillants) ended governing and the revolutionary groups were accused of being bloody and the bad ones, so most of them were guillotined. She has said that history is always written by the winners.

Now, I'm going to write about the Montagnards, the people who were accused of being bad people. I have found in Internet that after the defeat of the Girondists in the National Convention, the Jacobins joined the Committee of Public Safety. Consequently, it became the executive power in 1793. Then Robespierre eliminated their enemies and he imposed a dictatorship, he recruited a very big army and to repress domestic opposition, he instituted the Reign of Terror, in which the enemies of the revolution were executed by guillotine. Then, the National Convention ordered to kill the members of the Terror, including Robespierre in 1794; this is called the Thermidorian Reaction and it ended with the most radical phase of the revolution.

Here I have put the source of the last paragraph:

This is the official version, the one that has been repeated since the Thermidorian reaction, the winners' version. But this is not completely true:

-The Committee of Public Safety was appointed by the National Convention. They assumed the executive power in extraordinary circumstances, but their decisions were approved by the National Convention.

-Robespierre was only one among other members of the Committee and he couldn't decide anything on his own. He was the most popular member of the Committee and the Jacobin Convention, but he didn't impose a dictatorship: there was no press censorship and the suspected counter-revolutionaries were sent to the Revolutionary Tribunal, who decided on sentences, not Robespierre. In fact, Robespierre saved a group of Girondists who had been arrested and were sentenced to death.

-The Reign of Terror (executions of counter-revolutionary people) started before the Jacobins controlled the National Convention and the Committee of Public Safety.

Most of the history books that talk about the French Revolution have depicted the Montagnards and the Jacobins as monsters and responsible for all the excesses one could imagine. but this wasn't really true. This was the most convenient story to stop popular reforms and demand the return of order.

Execution of Roberspierre

Carmen has asked Paqui that if we can go to the class at eight o'clock on Wednesday, and Paqui has answered yes. 
After that, we have reviewed for the exam which is on Wednesday. Paqui has showed us some  exercises in the computer made by herself. They have consisted in writing a, b, c or d, filling the gaps.etc. The exercises were about kings, characteristics of some estates .etc. We have answered the questions together and we have made a lot of noise, so Paqui has tried to avoid it saying that we had to answer the questions one by one. Then, the bell has rung.

We have also included some words in our glossary:
  • Treason: traición.
  • Traitor: traidor.
  • Schism: cisma.
  • To go further: ir más lejos.
  • Bloody: sangriento.

The exam is next class! Study! 

See you guys!

P.D. If you want to know more about the most important politicians of this period, I have included some links to wikipedia over their names. I have also included the links in the different political ideologies, political groups, institutions. etc.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Madame Guillotine

The guillotine at the Revolution Square, Paris


Guillotine comes from Joseph Ignace Guillotin, a French surgeon who was a deputy of the National Constituent Assembly. As the French revolutionaries decided not to abolish death penalty, Guillotin recommended a more “humanitarian” way of executing people. Since that moment, the nobles were executed with an ax or a sword and the poor people were hung at the gallows or tortured to death at the wheel. Guillotin proposed decapitating people with a device with a cross-cutting blade, which would make death faster. But Guillotin didn´t invent this device. Similar machines had been used in other places since the 12th century. 

The designers of the French device known as guillotine were three people: Laquiante, an officer of the Strasbourg criminal court, Tobias Schmidt, a German engineer, and Antoine Louis, Louis XVI´s physician and Secretary to the Academy of Surgery. They designed the guillotine drawing inspiration from other devices used in different places: the Mannaia (used in Italy), the Scottish Maiden (used in Edinburg) and the Halifax Gibbet (used in England). 

The Legislative Assembly decided to adopt the guillotine as execution method on the 23th April 1792. People called it The National Razor or Madame Guillotine. The first executed by guillotine in France was a highwayman called Nicolas Jacques Pelletier, accused from robbery and murder. He was beheaded on the 25th April 1792 at 3:30 in the afternoon at the Hôtel the Ville Square, the traditional place for public executions. A large crowd attended to his beheading to see the new method of execution and they were deceived by his quick death and shouted “Bring back our wooden gallows!” 

On August 1792 the guillotine was moved to the Tuileries Palace and executions took place at the Carrousel Square.  The first executed were people who had committed violent crimes, but during the Reign of Terror many suspects of being counter-revolutionary were sentenced to die on the guillotine. That´s why this device has been always related to this historical period. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were among the most illustrious sentenced to death. But also Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry, and most of the leaders of the revolution, such as Danton, Desmoulins, Robespierre or Saint-Just died guillotined. The amount of people executed in Paris until July 1794 was 2,639 (1,515 of them between June and July 1794). Other regions in France were more severe: for example the Revolutionary Tribunal in Nantes (in the Vendée Region) ordered the execution of 8,000 people in three months. In France there were around 17,000 executed (16, 594). Eight per cent of them were nobles, 6% were members of the clergy, 14% belonged to the bourgeoisie and around 70% were workers or peasants, accused of escaping conscription, hoarding, desertion from the army or rebellion. 

The guillotine continued to be the execution method in France until 1981, when death penalty was abolished. The last public execution took place in 1939 and the last person executed by guillotine died in 1977. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Hello !!

        Today in the class of Social Sciences, when I have come into the class Paqui has said to me that was my turn to do the journal. At first, Paqui has shown us a post that she has put on the blog. It was about France, that it was divided in departments and she has also explained what Salle du Manège was.
        Then, she has started to talk about Louis XVI and she has explained the reasons why Louis XVI wanted to flee to Austria but he was caught at Varennes and sent back to Paris. Later, Paqui has shown us another new post that se has put on the blog. This post was about the different political groups that there were during the French Revolution. She has explained us that the origin of be of right or left came from the French Revolution, people who wanted to conserve Ancien Règime was in the right and people who didn't want to conserve it was in the left. When the king die, the 10 of August of 1792, the monarchy ended.
         After she explained all of this, she has written a scheme on the blackboard sumarizing what she has said. When we have finished to copy, Paqui has explained the concept of "sans culottes". It means a group of workers who supported the most radical reforms. They didn't wear the fashionable culottes, but pantalons.

 After she explained this concept she has talked about Condorcet, he was a revolutionaire that was in favor of equal rights for the woman, but he was sent to the guillotine.

 Then Paqui has started the point two of the unit. It was about the Democratic Republic. In the Democratic Republic there were different groups:
            -Constitutional monarchists: they defended the monarchy. Some important constitutional monarchists were Barnave, Lameth and La Fayette.

                         -Girondists: were the representatives of the comercial bourgueoise. Some important Girondists were Vergnaud, Brissot and Ducos.

                         -Montagnards: some important Montagnards were Robespierre, Danton and Saint Just.  

Paqui has said that Louis XVI died executed in the guillotine and she has also explained that the guillotine was invented by Joseph Guillotin.

In this class we have also learned some new vocabulary:

Guilds: gremios
Customs: aduanas
Riding shool: escuela de equitación
To ride a horse: montar a caballo              
To obstruct: obstruir
Brother-in-law: cuñado
Traitor: traidor
Demonstratrion: manifestación
Trial: juicio


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Political groups during the French Revolution

Meeting at the Jacobin Club, 1789

Political parties didn´t exist when the French Revolution started, but the need for solving practical problems while the National Assembly was trying to transform France gave birth to different political groups. Political discussions also went on in political clubs, where deputies met after the sessions in the Assembly. At the beginning of the Revolution most of the revolutionaries where monarchists and expected that the reforms could establish a constitutional monarchy in France. Differences appeared when the debates focused on the idea of citizenship and limitation of some rights. 

The first political club created after the beginning of the Revolution was the Club Breton. (Breton Club). When the National Constituent Assembly moved to Paris, this club changed  its name to Society of the Friends of the Constitution, also known as the Jacobin Club, because its members rented part of the old monastery of the Jacobins to celebrate their meetings. Most of the deputies of the Assembly joined it. Other moderate deputies created the Club de 1789, which met at the Royal Palace. 

The members of the Jacobin Club belonged mainly to the bourgeoisie: they were lawyers, doctors, teachers, merchants, writers, artists... and most of them were monarchists. After Louis XVI´s failed attemp of flight from France, there was a schism in the Jacobin Club: 

- the most moderate members left the Jacobin Club and created the Club des Feuillants. They met at the former monastery of the Feuillants and they continued to support monarchy. 

- most of the members of the Jacobin Club opted for removing monarchy and proclaiming a republic. The name of the club changed to Club of the Jacobins, the Friends of Liberty and Equality. This club became more popular and most of its members defended a democratic system. 

There was another political club founded in 1790: the Society of the Friends of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, also called the Cordeliers Club, because they met in a former Franciscan convent. They were more radical than the Jacobin Club, accepted working men and women and some of their most prominent members were Danton, Marat, Desmoulins and Hébert.

When Louis XVI was deposed, the Jacobin Club divided into two branches: the Girondists and the Jacobins. Both branches belonged to the same club, but they defended different opinions in the National Convention:

- The Girondists controlled the Convention until July 1793. They received this name because some of their most relevant deputies came from the region around Bordeaux, the Gironde. They represented the commercial bourgeoisie, defended freedom and private property and wanted to export the revolution. Some of their leaders were Brissot, Vergniaud and Ducos. 

- The Jacobins and the members of the Club of the Cordeliers formed a group called the Montagnards (the Mountain: they were called in this way because they sat at the top seats of the Convention).  They defended equality over freedom and wanted to consolidate the revolution in France. They got the support of the sans culottes and controlled the National Convention from July 1793 to July 1794. Their main leaders were Danton, Marat, Couthon, Robespierre and Saint Just. During the Reign of Terror many of the members of the Cordeliers were guillotined. The same happened with the Jacobins after the Thermidorian reaction

Here you have a very interesting scheme in French I´ve just found about this topic: 

The political division between right and left also comes from the French Revolution. In the National Assembly the defenders of the Ancien Régime sat to the right of the king and the supporters of the revolution to his left. In the opening session of the Legislative Assembly in October 1791, the innovators sat on the left,  the moderates in the centre and the defenders of the Constitution (Feuillants or monarchists) on the right. 

Main decisions and debates of the National Constituent Assembly

Fichier:Salle du Manège 1.jpg

Salle du Manège, building where the National Constituent Assembly met since October 1789

Yesterday we studied some of the decisions made by the National Constituent Assembly and how they ended with the Ancien Régime. The deputies of the National Assembly made many other important decisions and they also discussed a lot of topics. They wanted to change France´s society and many of them were influenced by the ideas of Enlightenment. Discussions continued outside the Assembly, in political clubs, where different opinions were expressed and defined the positions in the debates. Most of the deputies were monarchists, but Louis XVI´s attitude made them change their mind and become republicans in 1791. 

Here you have some other decisions made by the National Constituent Assembly: 

- Equality of rights for Jews and Protestants. 

- Freedom of press 

- Issue of the assignat, a sort of paper money supported by the nationalized properties of the clergy.

- New administrative division of France: departments (provinces), districts, cantons and communes (municipalities). 

- All the civil servants had to be elected, including judges. The king could only appoint the heads of the Army. 

- Freedom of trade and industry: elimination of guilds, interior customs and tolls

- Prohibition of workers´associations (Le Chapelier Law, which was in force in France until 1884). 

- Suppression of contemplative religious orders: only the ones dedicated to education and charity could continue to exist

- Abolition of the titles of nobility. 

- Civil marriage and divorce

- Abolition of birthright in heritage

- Equality of rights for the sons of the slaves in the colonies. But they didn´t abolish slavery. 

- Equality of punishments for all the citizens, including death penalty for the most serious crimes. The guillotine, invented by Doctor Louis Guillotin, was established as a more "humanitarian" way of executing criminals. There were deputies who opposed death penalty, but they were a minority.

But there were other discusions in the Assembly, such as the right to hunt or allowing the members of the clergy to get married (not approved), censorship and control of the post... Some of the most intense debates were the following: 

- Who had to have the right to vote? This was a very important debate, because it gave the definition of citizen: only those men who were more than 25 years old and paid taxes equal to three days of work were considered active citizens. Around two thirds of the adult men in France got the right to vote. This decision deceived the poorest 

- Should the people who protested for their hard living conditions be punished? Some deputies defended that the right to surivive was above other rights and, as long as people couldn´t afford surviving with dignity, they shouldn´t be punished for trying to get a better life. 

- What to do with the king when he was caught trying to flee from France and join the counter-revolutionaries?

These discusions made the differences of opinion among the revolutionaries evident and led to the appearance of the first political groups in France. 

There is not good information about the National Constituent Assembly in English on the Internet. If you want to learn more about this topic, here you have some links in French:

I´ve also extracted information to write this post from the following book:

McPHEE, Peter, Robespierre. Una vida revolucionaria, Ed. Península, Barcelona, 2012