The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook

By Philip G. Dwyer; Peter McPhee | Go to book overview

7

THE REVOLUTION AT WAR

The renunciation of foreign conquests, 22 May 1790

In its decree of 22 May 1790 placing the power to declare war and make peace in the hands of the Assembly rather than the king, the Assembly declared that in its view the era of wars fought by crowned heads over territory was ended. The king, however, remained at the head of the armed forces and responsible for the conduct of foreign policy.

The National Assembly decrees to be constitutional articles:

The right of declaring peace and war belong to the nation. War may only be decided upon through a decree from the National Assembly….

The care of looking after the external safety of the kingdom, of maintaining its rights and its possessions, is delegated, through the Constitution, to the king; only he may maintain foreign political relationships, direct negotiations, choose the agents for the former, undertake preparations for war proportionate to those of neighbouring states, distribute the forces of land and sea, as he will judge proper, and determine their direction in the case of war.

In the case of hostilities that are imminent or that have already commenced, regarding an ally to be supported, or regarding a right to be preserved by force of arms, the king will be obliged to give due notification to the legislative body without any delay, and to make known its causes and its motives; and if the legislative body is not in session, it will meet immediately.

On such notification, if the legislative body judges that the hostilities that have already commenced are culpable aggression on the part of ministers, or of certain other agents of the executive authorities, the author of this aggression will be prosecuted for lèse-nation; the National Assembly declaring to this effect that the French nation renounces the undertaking of any war with a view to making conquests, and that it will never use its forces against the freedom of any people.

On the same notification, if the legislative body decides that war must not be waged, the executive authorities will be obliged to take immediate measures to have any hostility halted or prevented, the responsibility for time limits being

-60-

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The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • A Note on the Revolutionary Calendar xv
  • Chronology xvi
  • 1 - The Ancien Régime Challenged 1
  • 2 - Revolutionary Action 16
  • 3 - Creating a Regenerated France 24
  • 4 - Exclusions and Inclusions 35
  • 5 - The Church and the Revolutionary State 43
  • 6 - Monarchy and Revolution 51
  • 7 - The Revolution at War 60
  • 8 - The End of the Monarchy 68
  • 9 - The Peasantry and the Rural Environment 80
  • 10 - A New Civic Culture 84
  • 11 - The Republic at War 90
  • 12 - Revolt in the Vendée 97
  • 13 - The Terror at Work 103
  • 14 - The Thermidorian Reaction 115
  • 15 - The Directory 121
  • 16 - Bonaparte 128
  • 17 - Law and Order 140
  • 18 - Rule by Plebiscite 149
  • 19 - Governing the Empire 155
  • 20 - Resistance and Repression 169
  • 21 - The Russian Catastrophe 175
  • 22 - Collapse 187
  • 23 - The Hundred Days 193
  • 24 - French Men and Women Reflect 202
  • Index 209
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