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France - The Economic History

Chronology of Economic Events


Riots over prices in Le Havre and Nantes.
Riots in Rheims.
Government efforts to deal with shortages lead to popular rumors of a 'famine pact' among the nobility to starve the people.
May 10 - Louis XVI ascends to throne of France.
Poor harvest in the fall.
April 27-May - "Flour War"
Bread prices in Paris increase by over 50%.
Rioting starts at Beaumont-sur-Oise, spreads to Paris.
Hundreds arrested, two executed, before order is restored.
June 11 - Coronation of Louis XVI.
October 22 - Necker appointed Director of the Treasury.
Necker begins financing money for American War of Independence through governmental loans, rather than taxes. System will raise 520 million livres by May 1781. 1781
May 19 - Necker resigns.
Successor Joly de Fleury implements tax increases. By December 1782 will raise 252 million livres.
February 22 - Assembly of Notables convenes.
March - Notables balk at overhauling tax and administrative systems.
May 1 - Brienne appointed Chief of the Royal Council of Finances.
Government floats new loan.
May 25 - Assembly of Notables dissolved.
June - Government tries to implement overhaul of judicial system.
June 7 - Day of Tiles (Grenoble); Mob bombards troops with tiles; 4 people killed in rioting, 40 injured.
July 13 - Severe hailstorm destroys crops in northern France.
August 8 - Announcement of convocation of Estates General.
Will formally meet on May 1, 1789.
August 16 - Government suspends treasury payments on loans due to lack of funds, causing panic in French stock market, as well as a bank run.
August 24 - Necker reappointed.
Reimposes price controls, in anticipation of shortages from poor harvest.
September - Restoration of Parlements.
Oct 5 - Dec 12 - Second Assembly of Notables meets.
Oct 24 - 26 - Necker reappointed Minister of Finance.
January 24 - Summoning of the Estates General.
January 26-29 - Crowd demanding lower bread prices is attacked by bands of students. Several killed in the fighting.
Winter-spring - Shortages lead to higher prices and rising unemployment.
April 27-28 - Reveillon riots. Acting on rumors of wage cuts, rioters destroy factory of wallpaper manufacturer; 25 killed when troops open fire.
May 5 - Estates General convene.
May - Bread riots occur throughout Flanders, Artois, Picardy, and Normandy.
June 17 - National Assembly proclaimed.
June 20 - Tennis Court Oath.
June 28-30 - Rioters protesting high prices destroy city's toll-gates.
Early July - Troops assigned to protect convoys of grain and flour.
July 11 - Necker dismissed.
July 14 - Rising grain prices and food shortages finally peak.
Fall of the Bastille.
July 22 - Foulon and Bertier, rumored to have been part of a plot to starve Paris, are murdered and decapitated by a mob.
July 20 - 31 - "Great Fear" - Fear that nobility intends to use force to reverse gains causes panic among peasantry throughout France.
Castles and abbeys sacked.
August 26 - Declaration of Rights of Man and the Citizen.
August - Government attempt to float two loans fails.
September - Grain prices increase. Grain riots occur around Paris and groups of women stop grain convoys. Guards placed around bakers' shops.
October 5-6 - Fueled by rumors of another starvation plot, crowd marches to Versailles. Lafayette escorts king back to Paris, followed by a procession of 60,000.
October 21 - Martial Law against Tumults passed. Allows local authorities to declare martial law to deal with disturbances.
January - 22 chateaus destroyed by peasants in northern Brittany.
June 13-17 - Fighting between Catholics and Protestants leaves 300 dead in Nimes.
August 31 - Mutiny by troops at Nancy put down. 23 mutineers executed.
September 3 - Necker resigns.
February - Emigration of nobility and closure of church organizations leads to rising unemployment.
March 2 - Trade guilds abolished by National Assembly.
June 14 - Le Chapelier Law bans worker organizations and collective actions, effectively preventing strikes and collective bargaining.
June 20 - Louis XVI tries to flee. Stopped at Varennes.
July 17 - Champ de Mars massacre - 50 people killed when National Guard troops open fire on crowd of 50,000.
September - December - Paris authorities increase grain reserves in anticipation of shortages. Leads to depletion of stocks in outlying regions.
September 14 - Louis XVI accepts constitution.
September 30 - National Assembly dissolved.
October 1 - Legislative Assembly meets for first time.
January - Slave rebellion in West Indies causes sugar shortage in Paris. Sugar prices triple.
January-February - Grain riots in northeastern France due to depleted stocks.
February - Mayor of Etampes lynched for failing to lower grain price reduction.
Dunkirk's warehouses destroyed in three days of rioting provoked by attempts to export grain.
April 20 - France declares war on Austria.
August 10 - Tuileries stormed and monarchy overthrown.
September 2 - 6 - September Massacres. An estimated 1,200 to 1,400 prisoners murdered by mobs and tribunals.
September 21 - National Convention meets.
September 22 - Republic proclaimed.
December - Trial of Louis XVI.
January 21 - Execution of Louis XVI.
February - Sugar and coffee price increases lead to petitions for the passage of a maximum price law.
February 26 - Grocery riots in Paris. Grocery shops and warehouses attacked and sales forced at fixed prices.
March 10 - Revolutionary Tribunal created.
April 6 - Committee of Public Safety created. May 1 - 8,000 demonstrators mob Convention demanding the introduction of price controls on bread. Girondins resist maximum.
May 20 - Forced loan on the rich.
May 24 - Crowds in Lyons invade warehouse and sell army provisions.
May 31 - Anti-Girondin uprising in Paris.
June 2 - Crowd of around 80,000 surrounds Convention and forces it to purge Girondins. (21 would be executed in October.)
June 24 - Constitution of 1793 accepted.
June 25 - Crowds of women attack soap suppliers and force sales.
July 26 - Death penalty for hoarding law passed.
September 4 - Workers in Paris march on the Convention, demanding end to shortages.
September 5 - "Reign of Terror" begins when Convention votes to implement terror.
September 23 - Forced loan on the rich.
September 29 - General Maximum Law imposes price controls on goods.
October 16 - Marie Antoinette beheaded.
Oct. 24-30 - Trial of Girondins.
October 31 - Execution of Girondins.
February 21 - Nationwide schedule of maximum prices promulgated.
March - Hebertists arrested and executed.
April 5 - Danton and Desmoulins executed.
April - Le Chapelier law against price increases used to punish ringleaders of tobacco workers who had asked for a wage increase.
July 5 - Wage controls introduced in Paris.
July 27-28 - Robespierre loses support among Parisian laborers following implementation of wage controls, is ousted from power and guillotined.
August 1 - Law of 22 Prairial repealed. Terror begins to collapse with governmental reorganization.
August 9 - Wage controls abandoned.
August 11 - Committee of Public Safety deprived of major role in government.
September 7 - Maximum Law extended by Convention for another year.
December 24 - Maximum abolished.
Frozen rivers disrupt transport system for winter.
January-February - Winter shortages lead to bread rationing and government- subsidized purchases by spring.
March 22 - Women petition Convention for better bread supplies.
March 24 - Convention orders requisition of two-thirds of available grain supplies from suppliers.
March 27-28 - Bread riots in sections of Paris.
April 1-2 - Uprising of Germinal. Crowd (10,000) marches on Convention.
April 10 - Convention authorizes disarming of "terrorists."
May 4 - Former terrorists massacred by mob in Lyons.
May 20-23 - Uprising of Prairial. Mob invades Convention hall. Slogan "Bread and the Constitution of 1793" is heard. Deputy Feraud killed.
Convention restores order and executes mob leaders in retaliation.
May 31 - Revolutionary Tribunal abolished.
Summer - Paris endures shortages of basic commodities and inflation.
July 21 - Royalist invasion at Quiberon repulsed.
November 2 - Directory constituted.
December 10 - Forced loan.
February - Bread and meat rations reduced as supplies dwindle.
March 2 - Napoleon Bonaparte appointed commander in Italy.
July 1 - Napoleon lands in Egypt.
August 1 - Battle of the Nile. Lord Nelson destroys French fleet, stranding Napoleon.
June 18 - Coup of Prairial. Directory purged by Councils.
June 27 - Forced loan.
December 9-10 - Directory overthrown by Napoleon.
December 24 - Bomb explodes in Paris in assassination attempt on Napoleon.
July 16 - Concordat signed, partially restoring Catholic Church.
April 1 - Purge of Tribunate.
April 18 - Concordat promulgated.