By late 1792, the rule of monarchy was overthrown and replaced by the first French Republic. The vision of an ideal society in which the government worked for the good of the nation and not for individual interests was the driving force behind the political ideas of the French revolutionaries (Hanson, 2004: 4).
This paper proposes to account for the failure of the experiment in constitutional monarchy between 1789-1792 during the French Revolution. Further, the extent to which the attitude and behaviour of the king were damaging to the monarchy, and the significance of the development of a more radical strand of politics will be determined.
Until 1789, hereditary monarchy which is also known as absolute monarchy was the norm in France, as in other parts of Europe. Though there were no constitutional restraints, every ruler operated within certain constraints. However, several difficulties were commonly experienced by thr rulers such as poor communications, lack of information, absence of a trained civil service which made reforms difficult to implement, resistance to change by vested interests, etc (Simpson, 2000: 11). The representatives of the third estate who took the new title of National Assembly, demanded that France should have a constitution, a set of rules by which it would be governed, and which even the monarch would have to obey. A large part of the first National Assembly’s legislation became incorporated in the Constitution of 1791. It was agreed that the monarchy should remain, which was to be a new constitutional monarchy, stripped of former absolute control over government, legislation, army and justice. Actual power would lie in the hands of the National Assembly itself, with unlimited powers over taxation, authority in all legislative matters, limited only by the requirement to hold elections every two years. The new constitutional