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Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Successor (1792–5) to the Legislative Assembly and the third of the elected bodies which governed following the french revolution of 1789. For most of its existence, the Convention sat in the old riding hall of the Tuileries palace. Its first act, voted on September 21, 1792, was to abolish the monarchy and establish a republic. It then tried louis xvi , who was executed in January 1793. On February 1, the Assembly declared war on Britain and Holland -France was already at war with Austria and Prussia – and extended this to include Spain in March 1793 (see french revolutionary wars ). Faced with external enemies, internal counter-revolution (especially the vendée revolt ), and with the threat from the “federalists” (see federalism [2]), the Convention responded by putting into place the mechanisms of the terror . The workings of the Convention were initially hampered by the existence of two rival factions: the girondins who numbered around 200 supporters with a hard core of 35–60; and the Montagnards, so-called because they sat on the upper tier of benches, who numbered around 135 deputies. The majority of uncommitted deputies were referred to as the Plain or, more dismissively, the Swamp. The Girondins initially dominated the Assembly, but opened themselves to charges of monarchism by urging that the king's fate be decided by a nationwide vote (interpreted as a delaying ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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