French Revolutionary Wars

The Origins of the Wars

The French Revolution aroused the hostility of foreign monarchs, nobles, and clergy, who feared the spread of republican ideas abroad. Émigré intrigues led the Austrian and Prussian rulers to make the declaration of Pillnitz (Aug., 1791), stating that, if all the powers would join them, they were willing to restore Louis XVI to his rightful authority. French public opinion was aroused. When the Girondists obtained control of the ministry (Mar., 1792) and Emperor Francis II acceded in Austria, war became almost inevitable. It was desired by many of the revolutionists—with the notable exception of Robespierre—who believed that war would insure the permanence of the new order and propagate revolution abroad, and by the royalists, who hoped that victory would restore the powers of Louis XVI.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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