War with Austria

Background and context.
The declaration of Pillnitz in August 1791, was the first threat of war against the new regime, although it was essentially baseless and did not cause much concern within France.
War was declared with Austria on the 20th of April, 1792.
There were several reasons for this declaration of war - there were increasing numbers of émigrés (aristocrats) leaving France between 1792-1792, gathering private armies outside of France and petitioning European leaders to intervene and help to protect the Monarchy. They also produced propaganda pamphlets against the revolution.
Lafayette wanted war, as he believed that it would increase his prestige and strengthen the position of the King, who he believed, should rule the constitutional Monarchy.
Even the King himself wanted to declare war against Austria, as he was confident that if France lost, he would reclaim the thrown and the Monarchy would be restored.
These groups were all confident that the Austrians would attack the revolution, as the Emperor, Joseph II, was Marie Antoinette’s brother.
Aside from these groups of people, there were also more radical revolutionaries who favoured the war, as they believed that it would ‘export’ the idea of revolution to other nations.

Nature Of The Event.
The push for war escalated mainly due to people such as Lafayette, Brissot and the Girondins.
Most of the deputies within the Legislative Assembly were convinced with the arguments that had been put forward for war, however, Robespierre argued that “The only way to save the state and to safeguard freedom is to wage war in the right way, on our enemies at home, instead of marching under their orders...”
The French armies lacked organisation and discipline and many of their noble officers had emigrated.
In turn, the ensuing French military defeats raised the hopes and fears of radicals back in France.
At the same time, war brought inflation as he value of the assignat plummeted.
The first months of battle were disastrous for France until the generals Dumouriez and Kellermann turned the tide, when they forced back the invaders at Valmy on the 20th of September.
Significance To The Revolution.
The thought of defeat against Austria, caused panic, paranoia and eventually radicalised the revolution.
Due to the amount of emigrated nobles, the Assembly invented Government by Terror, using laws to intimidate the revolution’s enemies.
On the 10th of August, 1792, the King and Queen were made prisoners by insurgents supported by a new revolutionary Paris Commune.
The Legislative Assembly suspended the Monarchy, although only around one third of the deputies were present and the majority of these were Jacobins.
On the 20th of September 1792, the National Convention met and became the new de facto Government. The next day, they abolished the Monarchy and declared a Republic.
Response Of Revolutionary Government and Society.
After the Duke of Brunswick crossed the frontier and began to march on Paris, he issued a manifesto, threatening to destroy Paris if the royal family were harmed.
Instead of frightening the people of Paris as was expected, his plan backfired and instead, enraged them, radicalising them further and intensifying demands for the Kings deposition.
Reports that France was being defeated created panic, then accusations.
The Brissotins and Girondins were now being condemned for starting the war.
Political discussions focused on betrayal by the King or by his commanders. All foreigners in Paris were placed under police surveillance.
The reign of terror allowed the revolutionary government to avoid military defeat.
The size of the French army was expanded by the Jacobins and many aristocratic officers were replaced with younger soldiers.
Ben Reidy


Background and Context:
In 1791, the idea of international war was discussed as a solution for the revolutions problems with many different reasons from people/groups. For example Brissot wanted to use war to prevent foreign governments from harbouring emigrated nobles, but a broad group of left-wing deputies also that it would carry revolutionary freedoms to oppressed peoples in Europe. This would also ‘force’ the King, Clergy and Nobility to declare their loyalty. The idea of a patriotic unite of the people was a hope to rid of political differences between the people as well as the radicals hoping to ‘win over’ the independents with the idea of war.
The King encouraged war, believing that it was hopeless that would allow foreign forces to invade France and crush the revolution and bring back the monarchy, but also in the case the French did win, his popularity would increase.
Lafayette wanted war as he would be able to gain back his popularity with the people, by showing off his high qualities in war. The only significant opposes of going to war was Robespierre and some Jacobins who saw the real danger in losing the war – which was Louis XVI exact intentions, that the revolution would simply be crushed.
France declared war on Austria on 20 April 1792. But Prussia and other powers had allied themselves with Austria in the expectation of conflict, and thus France faced a coalition and not a single power at the moment when the "emigration", the ferment of the Revolution, and want of material and of funds had thoroughly disorganized the army.


Nature of the event:
The war that was originally only meant to be fought against Austria, the French faced multiple opposing nations – and before battle had even begun Louis’ hopeful outcome looked real. With Prussia having declared war on France, this panic lead to the dismissal of the Girondins.
In July, the invasion commenced, with Brunswick's army easily taking the fortresses of Longwy and Verdun.
On July 25th The Austrian Duke of Brunswick issued a manifesto which threatens Paris if King Louis XVI is harmed. This created suspicion of the King.
The battle of Valmy on September 20th 1792 against the Prussian forces was a stalemate, but this boosted the morale of the French soldiers. Furthermore the Prussians decided that there was too much at risk if they continued to battle due to costs and gone for longer than predicted, and retreated from France.
1793 saw the execution of King Louis which sparked the uniting of Europe including Great Britain against the Revolution. France’s response to this was conscription of hundreds of thousands of men so that they would remain on the offence.
By the end of the year, new large armies and a fierce policy of internal repression including mass executions had repelled the invasions and suppressed revolts. The year ended with French forces in the ascendant, but still close to France's pre-war borders.
1794 showed increased success to the revolution with the armies occupying Belgium and some areas of Spain.
1795 saw Prussia and Spain both deciding to make peace in the ‘Peace of Basel’ freeing the French armies from the Pyrenees. This ended a main crisis period of the Revolution, and France would not be invaded for years to come. There were attempts by British to reinforce rebels of the Vendee, but failed. Attempts to overthrow the government in Paris also failed due to the lead of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Significance to Revolution:
The War with Austria had quite a large significance on the Revolution, even causing the execution of the King. The war is said to be a major point of the radicalisation of the revolution. The war itself caused many problems in France such as the food crisis, by January 1793 created riots. February 25-26 the crowds responded to the use of ‘popular taxation’.
Civil war was also breaking out in France which caused strain on International War as well as the Revolution itself. The civil war in the Vendee was a main civil war event. There was political challenges such as the Federalist revolts which once again turned the French against itself, with over 2000 Federalists being killed.
The revolution itself seemed to be at a stand-still as there was no real progression, only fighting and war.
The war was also a large contribution to the decision to bring in ‘the terror’ which is very significant to the revolution itself.


Response of Revolutionary government and society:
There were many varied responses’ in terms of the revolutionary government and the society in terms of the war with Austria. The war itself caused many problems with the people such as panic, paranoia and repressive measure.
The war radicalised the way the revolutionary government was ran, with Robespierre being at the top with the Jacobin’s.

Joe Harris