06-066 Bonaparte at Toulon I
Saturday Mar 08, 2014
Lead: In the fall of 1793 at the southern French port of Toulon, a Corsican Captain of Artillery, Napoleon Bonaparte, began his climb to power.
Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: East of Marseilles, on the Mediterranean coast of France, lies the historic naval port of Toulon. Since before the Roman era, the two nearly land-locked anchorages of Toulon have provided superb protection for commercial and military shipping. By the 1790s the city had been heavily fortified and was the headquarters of the southern fleet of Revolutionary France, yet by 1793 serious cracks had begun to appear in French political unity and Toulon became the center of great conflict.
After the takeover of national affairs in 1792 by the Committee of Safety, which was dominated by the Jacobin faction led by Maximilian Robespierre, the rule of terror with its busy guillotines alienated many of the middle-class professionals that had supported the Revolution in its early stages. By the summer of 1793 there was serious division in Republican ranks and with the defection of the National Guard unit in the area, in Toulon the moderates prevailed. Orders from Paris began to be ignored. The Committee of Safety dispatched an army to clean out the rebels.
To prevent a Jacobin re-conquest the defecting revolutionaries of Toulon entered negotiations with Admiral Lord Hood, the British fleet commander in the Mediterranean. After hesitating before what would surely be seen as a treasonous act, they reluctantly did so and the British fleet, without firing a shot, sailed into Toulon. If the Jacobins permitted Toulon to remain in foreign hands the future of the revolution itself was in doubt.
Next time: Bonaparte begins his climb.
The Producer of A Moment in Time is Steve Clark. At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.
Chandler, D.G. "Bonaparte at Toulon," History Today 49 (6, June, 1999).
Chandler, D.G. Campaigns of Napoleon. London: Wiedefeld and Nicolson, 1969.
Crook, M.H. "Federalism...The Revolt of Toulon," History 65 (215, 1980).
Hutt, H. Chouannerie and Counter-Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
Copyright 2014 by Dan Roberts Enterprises, Inc.
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