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Timeline of the French Revolution

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Timeline of the French Revolution

The following is a chronology of the French Revolution.

Events preceding but pertinent to the French Revolution

Throughout the era

Ascension of Louis XVI amid Financial Crisis


  • May 10: Louis XVI, age nineteen, ascends to the throne as the state nears bankruptcy.
  • Summer: Poor grain harvests for the second year in a row raise the price of bread by winter.
  • August 24: Louis dismisses his minister Maupeou who tried to reform the provincial parlements which were the spearheads of the aristocracy's resistance to the Crown's absolutism and centralization efforts.
  • August 24: Louis appoints Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot as controller-general of the finances. He notably liberalized grain commerce which resulted in an increase in bread prices.



  • January: Turgot presents his Six Edicts calling for the abolition of privilege and the taxation of all social classes.
  • May 11: Turgot is dismissed after having made powerful enemies with his edicts and other policies.
  • October: Jacques Necker is appointed director-general of the finances. He opposes the deregulation of the grain market implemented by Turgot and stabilizes the social and financial situation in France.





  • October: Calonne, failing to end the financial crisis with credit and loans, attempts monetary reforms.

Assembly of Notables


  • May 31: The Diamond Necklace Affair concludes with the acquittal of Cardinal Rohan and the discrediting of Marie Antoinette.
  • August 20: Calonne informs Louis that the royal finances are insolvent and proposes a new tax code.
  • December 29: The Assembly of Notables, organized by Calonne to endorse his proposals, is convoked.


  • February 22: First Assembly of Notables meets against a background of state financial instability and general resistance by the nobility to an imposition of taxes and fiscal reforms.
  • March: Calonne's publication of his proposals and the intransigence of the Notables leads to a public clash and impasse.
  • April 8: Louis dismisses both Calonne and the keeper of the seals, or minister of justice, Miromesnil, in an attempt to break the impasse.
  • April 13: Louis appoints Lamoignon keeper of the seals
  • April 30: The Archbishop of Toulouse and vocal leader of the higher clergy, Loménie de Brienne is appointed chief minister of state.
  • May 25: The first Assembly of Notables is dissolved.
  • June: Brienne sends edicts for tax reform legislation to the parlements for registration.
  • July 2: Parlement of Paris overwhelmingly rejects the royal legislation.
  • August 6: Legislation is passed at a lit de justice. Subsequently the parlement declares the registration illegal. Supported by public opinion, it initiates criminal proceedings against the disgraced Calonne.
  • August 15: Louis dismisses the Parisian parlement and orders the parlementaires to remove themselves to Troyes.
  • August 19: Louis orders the closure of all political clubs in Paris.
  • September: Civil unrest in the Dutch republic leads to its invasion by the Prussian army, and increases tensions in Paris. Brienne backs down with his legislative demands, settling for an extension of the vingtième tax, and the parlementaires are allowed to return to Paris.
  • November 19: A royal session of the Paris parlements for registration of new loans turns into an informal lit de justice when Louis doesn't allow a vote to be taken.
  • November 20: The vocal opposition of the duc d'Orléans leads to his temporary exile by lettres de cachet, and the arrest and imprisonment of two magistrates.


  • May 6: Orders for the arrest of two Parisian parlementaires, d'Eprémesnil and Goislard, who are most implacably opposed to the government reforms, are issued; the parlement declares its solidarity with the two magistrates
  • May 7: d'Eprémesnil and Goislard are imprisoned
  • May 8: Judicial reforms partly abolishing the power of parlements to review legislation are forced through the parlements by Lamoignon in a lit de justice timed to coincide with military sessions
  • June 7: Day of the Tiles in Grenoble - a meeting called to assemble a parlement in defiance of government order put down by soldiers.
  • June: Outcry over the enforced reforms ensues, and courts across France refuse to sit
  • July 5: Brienne begins to consider calling an Estates-General
  • July 21: Meeting of the Estates of Dauphiné, known as the Assembly of Vizille and led by Jean Joseph Mounier, to elect deputies to the Estates-General, adopts measures to increase the influence of the Third Estate.
  • August 8: After being informed that the royal treasury is empty, Brienne sets May 1, 1789 as the date for the Estates-General in an attempt to restore confidence with his creditors
  • August 16: Repayments on government loans stop, and the French government effectively declares bankruptcy
  • August 25: Brienne resigns as Minister of Finance, and is replaced by the favored choice among the Third Estate, Jacques Necker
  • September: Necker releases those arrested for criticising Brienne's ministry, leading to a proliferation of political pamphlets
  • September 14: Malesherbes resigns
  • November 6: Necker convenes a second Assembly of Notables to discuss the Estates-General
  • December 12: The second Assembly of Notables is dismissed, having firmly refused to consider doubling the representation of the Third Estate
  • December 27: Prompted by public controversy, Necker announces that the representation of the Third Estate will be doubled, and that nobles and clergymen will be able to stand for the same cause.


Estates-General and Constituent Assembly

  • May 5: Meeting of the Estates-General - voting to be by Estate, not by head
  • May 28: The Third Estate (Tiers Etat) begins to meet on its own, calling themselves "communes" (commons)
  • June 4: The Dauphin of France dies
  • June 9: The Third Estate votes for the common verification of credentials, in opposition to the First Estate (the clergy) and the Second Estate (the nobility)
  • June 13: Some priests from the First Estate choose to join the Third Estate
  • June 17: The Third Estate (commons) declares itself to be the National Assembly
  • June 20: Third Estate/National Assembly are locked out of meeting houses; the Third Estate chooses to continue thinking King Louis XVI has locked them out and decides upon a declarative vow, known as the "serment au Jeu de Paume" (The Tennis Court Oath), not to dissolve until the constitution has been established
  • June 22: National Assembly meets in church of St Louis, joined by a majority of clergy
  • June 23: Two companies of French guards mutiny in the face of public unrest. Louis XVI holds a Séance Royale, puts forward his 35-point program aimed at allowing the continuation of the three estates.
  • June 24: 48 nobles, headed by the Duke of Orléans, side with the Third Estate. A significant number of the clergy follow their example.
  • June 27: Louis recognises the validity of the National Assembly, and orders the First and Second Estates to join the Third.
  • June 30: Large crowd storms left bank prison and frees mutinous French Guards
  • July 1: Louis recruits more troops, among them many foreign mercenaries
  • July 9: National Assembly reconstitutes itself as National Constituent Assembly
  • July 11: Necker dismissed by Louis; populace sack the monasteries, ransack aristocrats' homes in search of food and weapons
  • July 12: Camille Desmoulins announces the dismissal of Necker to the Paris crowd. The Karl Eugen, Prince von Lothringen-Lambesc appears at the Tuilleries with an armed guard - a soldier and civilian are killed.
  • July 13: National Guard formed in Paris, of middle class men.
  • July 14: Storming of the Bastille; de Launay, (the governor), Foulon (the Secretary of State) and de Flesselles (the then equivalent of the mayor of Paris), amongst others, are massacred.
  • July 15: Lafayette appointed Commandante of the National Guard.
  • July 16: Necker recalled, troops pulled out of Paris
  • July 17: The beginning of the Great Fear, the peasantry revolt against feudalism and a number of urban disturbances and revolts. Many members of the aristocracy flee Paris to become émigrés. Louis XVI accepts the tricolor cockade.
  • July 18: Publication of Desmoulins' La France libre favouring a republic and arguing that revolutionary violence is justified.
  • August 4: Surrender of feudal rights:The August Decrees.
  • August 26: The Assembly adopts the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
  • September 11: The National Assembly grants suspensive veto to Louis XVI; Louis fails to ratify the August acts of the National Assembly.
  • October 5–6: Outbreak of the Paris mob; Liberal monarchical constitution; the Women's March on Versailles
  • October 6: Louis XVI agrees to ratify the August Decrees, Palace of Versailles stormed.

King Louis and the National Assembly removed to Paris.

  • November 2: Church property nationalised and otherwise expropriated
  • November: First publication of Desmoulins' weekly Histoire des Révolutions ...
  • December: National Assembly distinguishes between 'active' (monied) and 'passive' (property-less) citizens - only the active could vote
  • December 12: Assignats are used as legal tender



Legislative Assembly

  • October 1: Legislative Assembly meets - many young, inexperienced, radical deputies.
  • November 9 All émigrés are ordered by the Assembly to return under threat of death
  • November 11 Louis vetoes the ruling of the Assembly on émigrés and priests.


National Convention

  • September 20:National Convention. French Army stops advance of Coalition troops at Valmy.
  • September 21: Abolition of royalty and proclamation of the First French Republic.
  • September 22: First day of the French Revolutionary Calendar (N.B.: calendar introduced in 1793).
  • December 3: Louis XVI brought to trial, appears before the National Convention (11 & 23 December). Robespierre argues that "Louis must die, so that the country may live".
  • December 4 : A Belgian delegation is received at the National Convention to claim independence from Austria.


  • January 21: Citizen Louis Capet (formerly known as Louis XVI) guillotined.
  • March 7: Outbreak of rebellion against the Revolution: War in the Vendée.
  • March 11: Revolutionary Tribunal established in Paris.
  • April 6: Committee of Public Safety established.
  • May 30: A revolt breaks out in Lyon.
  • June 2: Arrest of Girondist deputies to National Convention by Jacobins.
  • June 10: Jacobins gain control of the Committee of Public Safety.
  • June 24: Ratification of new Constitution by National Convention, but not yet proclaimed. Slavery is abolished in France until 1802 (Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte).
  • July 3: Louis XVII of France was carried away from Marie Antoinette and was given to the treatment of a cobbler named Antoine Simon as a demand from the National Convention
  • July 13: Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat by Charlotte Corday.
  • July 17: Charlotte Corday is guillotined after her trial for murdering Marat
  • July 27: Robespierre elected to Committee of Public Safety.
  • July 28: Convention proscribes 21 Girondist deputies as enemies of France.
  • August 23: Levée en masse (conscription) order.
  • September 5: Start of Reign of Terror.
  • September 9: Establishment of sans-culottes paramilitary forces - revolutionary armies.
  • September 17: Law of Suspects passed.
  • September 22: A new calendar is introduced, denoting September 22, 1792 as being the start of year I.
  • September 29: Convention passes the General Maximum, fixing the prices of many goods and services.
  • October 10: 1793 Constitution put on hold; decree that the government must be "revolutionary until the peace".
  • October 15: Queen Marie Antoinette is impeached and convicted for treachery against the country, and for treason, originally they claimed that Marie had intercourse with her child, it was at this remark she stood up before the jury and told them no mother would do such a thing, and at that the people agreed they had gone too far on accusations. (so satisfied with treason)

The Dauphin (Louis XVII) is condemned to be executed in the Place de la Revolution.

  • October 16: Marie Antoinette guillotined.
  • October 21: An anti-clerical law passed, priests and supporters liable to death on sight.
  • October 24: Trial of the 21 Girondist deputies by the Revolutionary Tribunal.
  • October 31: The 21 Girondist deputies guillotined.
  • November 3: Olympe de Gouges, champion of rights for women, guillotined for Girondist sympathies.
  • November 8: Madame Roland guillotined as part of purge of Girondists.
  • November 10: The Cathedral of Notre Dame is re-dedicated to the civic religion of the Cult of Reason.
  • December: First issue of Desmoulins' Le Vieux Cordelier.
  • December 4: Law of 14 Frimaire (Law of Revolutionary Government) passed; power becomes centralised on the Committee of Public Safety.
  • December 23: Anti-Republican forces in the Vendée finally defeated and 6000 prisoners executed.


  • February: Final 'pacification' of the Vendée - mass killings, scorched earth policy.
  • March 13: Last edition of Jacques Hébert's Le Père Duchesne produced.
  • March 19: Hébert and his supporters arrested.
  • March 24: Hébert and leaders of the Cordeliers guillotined.
  • March 28: Death of philosopher and mathematician Marquis de Condorcet in prison.
  • March 30: Danton, Desmoulins and their supporters arrested.
  • April 5: Danton and Desmoulins guillotined.
  • May 7: National Convention, led by Robespierre, passes decree to establish the Cult of the Supreme Being.
  • May 8: Antoine Lavoisier, chemist, guillotined as traitor.
  • June 8: Festival of the Supreme Being.
  • June 10: Law of 22 Prairial - the Revolutionary Tribunal became a court of condemnation without the need for witnesses.
  • June 26: French forces defeat Austrians at the Battle of Fleurus.
  • July 25: André Chenier, poet, guillotined for conspiring against the Revolution.
  • July 27–28: Night of 9-10 Thermidor - Robespierre arrested, guillotined without trial, along with other members of the Committee of Public Safety. Commune of Paris abolished. End of the Reign of Terror. Also called The Thermidorian Reaction.
  • Latter half of 1794: The White Terror - reaction against remaining Jacobins.
  • November 11: Closure of Jacobin Club.


  • May 31: Suppression of the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal.
  • July 14: Marseillaise accepted as the French National Anthem.
  • August 22: 1795 Constitution ratified - bicameral system, executive Directory of five.
  • October 5: 13 Vendémiaire - Napoleon's "whiff of grapeshot" quells Paris insurrection.
  • October 26: National Convention dissolved.

The Directory





See also


  • Adcock, M. (2004). Analysing the French Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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