During the French Revolution, what were the major turning points from 1789 -1794?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first major turning point was June 17, 1789. On that day the representatives of the Third Estate left the Estates-General and formed their own body, which they called the National Assembly. While different historians would name different events as the beginning of the Revolution, the National Assembly was the body that created France as a constitutional monarchy.

July 14, 1789 is another important turning point. On that day, Parisian crowds stormed the Bastille, a decrepit old fortress in Paris that had been used to house political prisoners. This action, undertaken for a number of reasons, frightened the monarchy and the nobility into recognizing the National Assembly. 

On September 3, 1791, France adopted its first constitution, which placed limits on the king while continuing to allow him to rule, even though he had attempted to flee the country just months before. This event marked the culmination of what is sometimes known as the "liberal" phase of the Revolution.

One of the most important turning points of the Revolution was when the Assembly declared war on Austria and Prussia on April 20, 1792. This decision was a preemptive one, and the war with the other powers of Europe contributed to a demand for radical measures, such as establishing the Committee of Public Safety to administer the war effort and root out "traitors" to the Revolution.

In September of 1793, the Reign of Terror began. This massive purge of alleged enemies to the Revolution consumed tens of thousands of lives, many of whom were beheaded on the guillotine. The Terror was coordinated by the Committee of Public Safety, which undertook this in the name of the war effort. 

On August 22, 1795, the National Convention created the Directory, a moderate government that rolled back some of the more radical reforms of the Convention. This marked a period known as the "Thermidorean Reaction" in which more conservative forces took control of the Revolution. The Directory was unpopular, and was overthrown on a final turning point, the coup d'état carried out by Napoleon Bonaparte, the popular general who established himself as a consul in November of 1799. 


larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major turning points of the Revolution are the following:

  • July 14, 1789 - The Storming of the Bastille, considered the beginning of the Revolution.
  • August 27, 1789 - the issuance of the Declaration of the Rights of Man by the newly formed National Assembly, and an attempt to establish a limited monarchy.
  • January, 1793 - The conviction and condemnation of Louis XVI for Treason.
  • Spring, 1793 - the ideological dispute between the Jacobins and Gerondins divided the entire country, and the revolution was in danger. In response to this threat, Maximilien Robespierre and the Committee on Public Safety instituted the Reign of Terror in which thousands were guillotined with the intent of preserving the Revolution. If finally ended with the execution of Robespierre himself.
  • October 5, 1795, when the Directory, the latest ruling body, called in Napoleon Bonaparte to put down a royalist uprising. This was the famous "whiff of buckshot."

There were other events along the way, of course, many of great importance; however these were the events which marked the major turning points in the Revolution. It began with the storming of the Bastille and ended with the advent of Napoleon Bonaparte.


kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here are some of the turning points of the French Revolution, from 1789 - 1794:

  • The Storming of the Bastille: this occurred July 14, 1789, when an angry stormed a Parisian prison called the Bastille. This expression of popular discontent is so important that it is still celebrated annually by French people.
  • The September Massacres: between September 2 and September 6, 1792, over one thousand prisoners were murdered amid fears that they would rise up against the state. Historians often refer to this bloody period as the "First Terror" of the French Revolution.
  • The First French Republic is declared: on September 21, 1792, the National Convention declared France a republic. This, combined with the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, on January 21 and October 16, 1793, made a strong political statement. Specifically, that the old political order was dead and that France was truly a Republic. 
charles-de | Student

I would add, as a main turning point against monarchy the 10th of August 1792, when the royal family was emprisoned and later judged and executed in 1793 (21st of January for the king and 16th of October for the queen).