National Convention (French: Convention nationale) was the first
government of the French Revolution, following the two-year National
Constituent Assembly and the one-year Legislative Assembly. Created
after the great insurrection of 10 August 1792, it was the first
French government organized as a republic, abandoning the monarchy
altogether. The Convention sat as a single-chamber assembly from 20
September 1792 to 26 October 1795 (4 Brumaire IV under the
Convention's adopted calendar).
The Convention came about when the Legislative Assembly, which had
found it impossible to work with the king, decreed the provisional
King Louis XVI
King Louis XVI and the convocation of a National
Convention to draw up a new constitution with no monarchy. The other
major innovation was to decree that deputies to that Convention should
be elected by all Frenchmen twenty-five years old or more, domiciled
for a year and living by the product of their labor. The National
Convention was, therefore, the first French assembly elected by a
suffrage without distinctions of class.
Although the Convention lasted until 1795, power was effectively
stripped from the elected deputies and concentrated in the small
Committee of Public Safety
Committee of Public Safety from April 1793. The eight months from Fall
1793 to Spring 1794, when
Maximilien Robespierre and his allies
dominated the Committee of Public Safety, represent the most radical
and bloodiest phase of the French Revolution, known as the Reign of
Terror. After the fall of Robespierre, the Convention lasted for
another year until a new constitution was written, ushering in the
2 Girondin Convention
Girondins and the Montagnards
2.2 The Plain
2.3 The Trial and Execution of the King
2.4 The Crisis and Fall of the Girondins
3 Montagnard Convention
3.1 Constitution 1793
3.2 Federalist revolt, war and counter-revolution
3.3 Revolutionary government
3.3.1 The economy
3.3.2 The Army of the Year II
3.4 Fall of the factions
3.5 The Terror
4 Thermidorian Convention
4.1 Thermidorian Reaction
4.2 Crushing of the popular movement
4.3 Constitution of the Year III
6 See also
10 External links
The election took place from 2 to 6 September 1792 after the election
of the electoral colleges by primary assemblies on 26 August. Owing to
the abstention of aristocrats[clarification needed], the
anti-republicans, and the fear of victimization the voter turnout in
the departments was low – 11.9% of the electorate came, compared to
10.2% in the 1791 elections - in spite of the fact that the number of
those eligible to vote had doubled.[clarification needed] Therefore,
the increased suffrage had very little impact. The electorate returned
the same sort of men that the active citizens had chosen in 1791.
In the whole of France, only eleven primary assemblies wanted to
retain the monarchy. Of the electoral assemblies, all tacitly voted
for a republic – though only
Paris used the word. None of the
deputies stood as a royalist for elections. Out of the five million
Frenchmen able to vote, only a million showed up at the polls.
[clarification needed][note 1]
The Convention held its first sessions in a hall of the Tuileries
Palace, then it sat in the Salle du Manège, and finally from 10 May
1793 it met in the Salle des Machines, an immense hall in which the
deputies were loosely scattered. The Salle des Machines had galleries
for the public who often influenced the debates with interruptions or
applause. [note 2]
The members of the Convention came from all classes of society, but
the most numerous were lawyers. 75 members had sat in the National
Constituent Assembly, 183 in the Legislative Assembly. The full number
of deputies was 749, not counting 33 from the French colonies, of whom
only some arrived in
Paris in time. Besides these, however, the newly
formed départements annexed to
France from 1782 to 1789 were allowed
to send deputations.
According to its own ruling, the Convention elected its President
every fortnight, and the outgoing President was eligible for
re-election after the lapse of a fortnight. Ordinarily the sessions
were held in the morning, but evening sessions also occurred
frequently, often extending late into the night. Sometimes in
exceptional circumstances, the Convention declared itself in permanent
session and sat for several days without interruption. For both
legislative and administrative the Convention used committees, with
powers more or less widely extended and regulated by successive laws.
The most famous of these committees included the Committee of Public
Safety and the Committee of General Security.
The Convention held legislative and executive powers during the first
years of the
French First Republic
French First Republic and had three distinct periods:
Girondin, Montagnard or Jacobin, and Thermidorian.
The first session was held on 20 September 1792. The following day,
the assembly agreed the proposition "That royalty be abolished in
France" and was carried with cheers. On the 22nd came the news of the
Battle of Valmy. On the same day it was decreed that "in future the
acts of the assembly shall be dated First Year of the French
Republic". Three days later the corollary that "the French republic is
one and indivisible" was added to guard against federalism. A republic
had been proclaimed, but it remained to enact a republican government.
The country was little more republican in feeling or practice than it
had been before at any time since Varennes. But now it had to become a
republic, because it no longer had a king.
When the Convention met the military situation was undergoing an
extraordinary transformation that seemed to confirm the Girondin
prophecies of easy victory. After Valmy the Prussians withdrew to the
frontier, and in November French troops occupied the left bank of the
Rhine. The Austrians, who had besieged
Lille in October, were defeated
by Dumouriez at the
Battle of Jemappes
Battle of Jemappes on 6 November and evacuated the
Nice was occupied and
Savoy proclaimed its union
with France. These successes made it safe to quarrel at home.
Girondins and the Montagnards
Most historians divide the
National Convention into two main factions:
Girondins and the Montagnards. The
the more moderate conservatives at Convention. They protested the vast
influences held at the Convention by Parisians. They drew their name
from the Gironde, a region of
France from which many of the deputies
of this faction originated. They were also known as the Brissotins
after their most prominent speaker, Jaques Pierre Brissot.
The Montagnards represented a considerably larger, more democratic,
portion of the deputies. They were much more radical than the
Girondins and held strong connections to the
Jacobin Club of Paris.
They drew their name from the high bleachers that they sat on while
the Convention was in session. The Montagnards dominated the
Three questions dominated the first months of the Convention:
revolutionary violence; the trial of the king; and Parisian dominance
Paris and the provinces created friction among the
people that served as a propaganda tool and combat weapon for the two
groups. The departments resisted the idea of centralization. They saw
this idea being symbolized by the desire to reduce the capital of the
Revolution to its one-eighty-third share of influence. Much of the
Gironde wished to remove the Assembly from a city dominated by
"agitators and flatterers of the people": it did not at the time
encourage an aggressive federalism that would have run counter to its
The Plain was a third faction during the Convention. Though some
historians consider these men to be closely associated with the
Girondins, the Plain was much more centrist in their ideals.[citation
The Plain held the largest group of deputies and derived their
name from their place on the floor of the Convention. During the start
of the Convention, they sided with the Girondins, however, as it
progressed and the Montagnards began to push for the execution of
Louis, the Plain began to side with them.
The Trial and Execution of the King
Main article: Trial of Louis XVI
Main article: Execution of Louis XVI
The trial of Louis XVI
From the opening of the Convention the
Girondins showed no inclination
to bring the king to trial. They were more interested in discrediting
Paris and its deputies. Their decision to hound the Jacobins was not
merely a choice of priorities; they genuinely wanted to spare the
king. But in reality the Convention had to declare him guilty if
it wanted to avoid damning 10 August 1792, its own existence, and the
proclamation of the Republic. "If the king is not guilty, then those
who have dethroned him are", as
Robespierre remarked on 2 December.
Once the Convention recognized Louis's guilt it could hardly refuse to
pronounce the death penalty against a person who had summoned the aid
of foreign powers and whom the sans-culottes considered responsible
for the ambush at the Tuileries.
The discovery of the iron chest in the Tuileries 20 November 1792 made
the trial inevitable. Documents found in this secret chest proved
without any doubt the treachery of Louis XVI.
The trial began on 10 December. The Montagnards put the debate on the
ideological level. Louis XVI was classified as an enemy, alien to the
body of the nation and as a "usurper". Balloting began on 14 January
1793. Each deputy explained his vote at the rostrum. The vote against
the king was unanimous. There was to be no popular referendum as
Girondins hoped. The fatal vote started on 16 January and continued
until the next day. Of the 721 deputies present, 387 declared
themselves for the death penalty, while 334 were opposed. 26 deputies
voted for death on condition that he was reprieved. On 18 January the
question of reprieve was put to a vote: 380 votes were cast against;
310 for. Each time the
Girondins had split.
On the morning of 21 January the Convention ordered the entire
National Guard to line both sides of the route to the scaffold. Louis
was beheaded at the Place de la Revolution. Within the nation,
"voters" and "appellants", those that were against the execution of
Louis,[clarification needed] swore undying hatred of each other. The
rest of Europe, fearing the outcome of the
French Revolution in their
own countries, decreed a war of extermination against
The Crisis and Fall of the Girondins
The Assembly began harmoniously, but within a few days the Girondins
launched a bitter attack on their Montagnard opponents. Conflict
continued without interruption until the expulsion of the Girondin
leaders from the Convention on 2 June 1793. The
Girondins had relied
on votes from the majority of the deputies, many of whom were alarmed
as well as scandalized by the September massacres, but their
insistence on monopolizing all positions of authority during the
Convention, and their attacks on the Montagnard leaders, soon
irritated them, causing them to regard the party as a faction. One by
one, able deputies such as Couthon, Cambon, Carnot,
Lindet and Barere
began to gravitate towards the Montagnards, while the majority – the
Plain, as it was called – held itself aloof from both sides.
Girondins were convinced that their opponents aspired to a bloody
dictatorship, while the Montagnards believed that the
ready for any compromise with conservatives, and even royalists, that
would guarantee their remaining in power. The bitter enmity soon
reduced the Convention to a state of limbo. Debate after debate
degenerated into verbal brawling from which no decision could emerged.
The political deadlock, which had repercussions all over France,
eventually drove men to accept dangerous allies, royalists in the case
of Girondins, Jacobins in that of the Montagnards.
Thus the struggle within the Convention continued without results. The
decision was to come from outside.
Journées des 31 Mai 1er et 2 Juin 1793
Since the king's trial, the sans-culottes had been constantly
assailing the "appealers" (appelants), and quickly came to desire
their expulsion from the Convention. If this were achieved, the
government could recover the energy to enable it to deal with the
aristocratic plot by arresting suspects and establishing a
revolutionary tribunal. Military setbacks from the First
Coalition, Dumouriez's treason and the war in the Vendée, which began
in March 1793, were all used as arguments by Montagnards and
sans-culottes to portray
Girondins as soft. They demanded that the
Girondins take measures to change thing, but the
reluctant to adopt the proposed measures. The
Girondins were forced to
accept the Montagnards creation of the
Committee of Public Safety
Committee of Public Safety and
Revolutionary Tribunal. Social and economic difficulties exacerbated
the tensions between the groups. The final showdown was precipitated
by Jean-Paul Marat's trial and the arrest of sectional activists.
On 25 May the
Paris Commune demanded that arrested patriots be
released. In reply, Isnard, who was presiding over the Convention,
launched into a diatribe against
Paris which was reminiscent of the
Brunswick Manifesto: "If any attack made on the persons of the
representatives of the nation, then I declare to you in the name of
the whole country that
Paris would be destroyed". On the next day the
Jacobins declared themselves in a state of insurrection. On 28 May the
Cité section called the other sections to a meeting in order to
organize the insurrection. On 29 May the delegates representing 33 of
the sections formed an insurrectionary committee of nine members.
Main article: Insurrection of 31 May – 2 June 1793
On 2 June, 80,000 armed sans-culottes surrounded the Convention. After
an attempt of deputies to leave collided with guns, the deputies
resigned themselves to declare the arrest of 29 leading Girondins. In
this way the
Gironde ceased to be a political force. It had declared
war without knowing how to conduct it; it had denounced the King but
had shrunk from condemning him; it had contributed to the worsening of
the economic crisis but had swept aside all the claims made by the
Scarcely had the
Gironde been eliminated when the Convention, now
under Montagnard leadership, found itself caught between two threats.
While forces of counter-revolution were gaining new impetus from the
federalist revolt, the popular movement, roused to fury by high
prices, was increasing the pressure it exercised on the government.
Meanwhile, the Government was proving incapable of controlling the
situation. In July 1793 the nation appeared to be on the point of
Main article: French Constitution of 1793
Constitution du Peuple Française du 6 Messidor l'an I (24 June 1793)
During the month of June the Montagnards played for time. Yet the
Convention did not overlook the peasants. It was to these latter that
the revolution of 31 May (like those of 14 July and 10 August) brought
a substantial and permanent profit. On 3 June the sale of the property
of emigrants, in small parcels and payable in ten years, was decreed;
on the 10th, the optional division of common lands by head; and on 17
July, the abolition, without compensation, of all that remained of
The Montagnards attempted to reassure the middle classes by rejecting
any idea of terror, by protecting property rights, and by restricting
the popular movement to very narrowly circumscribed limits. It was a
delicate balance to achieve, a balance that was destroyed in July by
the worsening of the crisis. The Convention rapidly approved the new
constitution, hoping to clear itself of the charge of dictatorship and
calm the anxieties of the departments.
The Declaration of Rights which precedes the text of the Constitution
solemnly reaffirmed the nation's indivisibility and the great
principles of freedom of the press, equality and resistance to
oppression. It went far beyond the Declaration of 1789, adding to it
the right to public assistance, work, education and insurrection. No
man could impose his will on others. All political and social tyranny
was abolished. Although the montagnards had refused to be led further
down the road to democracy, the Constitution became the bible of all
The chief aim of the Constitution was to ensure the major role of the
deputies in the Convention, which was seen as being the essential
basis for political democracy. The Legislative Assembly was to be
elected by direct vote cast for a single member; deputies were elected
on receiving a simple majority of the votes cast, and the assembly
would sit for one year. The executive council of 24 members was chosen
by the Legislative Assembly from among the 83 candidates chosen by the
departments on the basis of universal male suffrage, and in this way
ministers were made responsible to the representatives of the nation.
The exercise of national sovereignty was widened through the
institution of the referendum – the Constitution was to be ratified
by the people, as were laws in certain precisely defined
The Constitution was submitted for popular ratification and adopted by
a huge margin of more than 1,801,918 in favour to some 17,610 against.
The results of the plebiscite were made public on 10 August 1793, but
the application of the Constitution, the text of which was placed in
the sacred ark and laid in the debating-chamber of the Convention, was
postponed until peace had been made.
Federalist revolt, war and counter-revolution
La Mort de Marat
Jacques-Louis David, 1793, Brussels
Indeed, the Montagnards faced dramatic circumstances – federalist
insurrection, war in the Vendée, military failures, and a worsening
economic situation. Despite everything, a new civil war could not be
avoided. By the middle of June, about sixty departments were in
more or less open rebellion. Fortunately the frontier departments had
remained faithful to the Convention. The rising was widespread rather
than deep. It was essentially the work of the departmental and
district administrations. The communes, which were more popular in
composition, showed themselves in general lukewarm or hostile; and
federalist leaders soon became divided among themselves. Sincere
republicans among them could not fail to be uneasy about the foreign
invasion and the Vendée. Those who were seeing themselves rejected by
the people, sought support from the moderates, the Feuillants and even
from the aristocrats.
July and August were bad months on the frontiers. Within three weeks
Mainz, the symbol of previous successes, capitulated to the Prussians,
and the Austrians captured the fortresses of Condé and Valenciennes
and invaded northern France. Spanish troops crossed the
began advancing on Perpignan. The Piedmontese took advantage of the
diversion of republican forces at
Lyons in order to invade
the East. In Corsica, Paoli's revolt expelled the French from the
island with British support. British troops opened the siege of
Dunkirk in August and in October the Allies invaded Alsace. The
military situation had become desperate.
In addition there were other incidents which compounded the fury of
the revolutionaries and convinced them that their opponents had
abandoned all restraint of civilized behavior. On 13 July, Charlotte
Corday murdered sans-culotte idol Jean-Paul Marat. She had been in
touch with Girondin rebels in
Normandy and they were believed to have
used her as their agent.
The lack of forethought displayed by the Convention during the first
few days was redeemed by its vigor and skill in organizing measures of
repression. Warrants were issued for the arrest of the rebellious
Girondin leaders; the members of the revolting departmental
administration were deprived of their office.
The regions in which the revolt was dangerous were precisely those in
which a large number of royalists had remained. There was no room for
a third party between the Mountain, which was identified with the
Republic, and royalism, which was the ally of the enemy. The royalist
insurrection in the Vendée had already led the Convention to take a
long step in the direction of the Terror – that is to say, the
dictatorship of central power and the suppression of liberties. The
Girondin insurrection now prompted it to take a decisive step in the
La Marseillaise par François Rude
The Constituent Assembly had legislated through its commissions. The
Convention governed by means of its committees. Two of them were of
essential importance: Public Safety and General Security. The second,
which had formidable powers, is less well known than the first, which
was the true executive authority and was armed with immense
prerogatives. It dated from April, but its composition was thoroughly
reshuffled during the summer of 1793.
The summer of 1793 saw sans-culotte disturbances reach a peak under a
double banner: price-fixing and terror. On top of this came the news
of unprecedented treason:
Toulon and its squadron had been handed over
to the enemy. In the name of the wretched poverty of the people,
the leaders of the Enragés, with
Jacques Roux at their head, called
for a planned economy from a Convention which had no liking for the
idea. But the revolutionary logic of the mobilization of resources by
national dictatorship was infinitely more powerful than economic
doctrine. In August, a series of decrees gave the authorities
discretionary powers over the production and circulation of grain, as
well as ferocious punishments for fraud. "Granaries of plenty" were
prepared, to stock corn requisitioned by authorities in each district.
On 23 August the decree on the levée en masse turned able-bodied
civilians into soldiers.
On 5 September, Parisians tried to repeat the revolt of 2 June. Armed
sections again encircled the Convention to demand the setting up of an
internal revolutionary army, the arrest of suspects and a purge of the
committees. It was probably the key day in the formation of the
revolutionary government: the convention yielded, but kept control of
events. It put Terror on the agenda on 5 September, on 6th elected
Collot d'Herbois and
Billaud-Varenne to the Committee of Public
Safety, on the 9th created the revolutionary army, on the 11th decreed
the Maximum for grain and fodder (general controls for prices, and
wages on the 29th), on the 14th reorganized the Revolutionary
Tribunal, on the 17th voted in the law on suspects, and on the 20th
gave the local revolutionary committees the task of drawing up lists
The dictatorship of the Convention and the committees, simultaneously
supported and controlled by the Parisian sections, representing the
sovereign people in permanent session, lasted from June to September.
It governed through a network of institutions set up haphazardly since
spring in March, the
Revolutionary Tribunal and representatives on
missions in the departments; was followed the next month by the
Convention's representatives to the armies, also armed with unlimited
powers; and enforced acceptance of assignat as the sole legal tender,
price controls for grain and the forced loan of a billion livres from
France saw a government take shape. Danton resigned from it on
10 July. Couthon, Saint-Just, Jeanbon Saint-Andre, and Prieur of the
Marne formed a nucleus of resolute Montagnards who rallied
Lindet, then successfully added
Robespierre on 27 July, Carnot and
Prieur of Cote-d'Ore on 14 August, and
Collot d'Herbois and
Billaud-Varenne on 6 September. They had a few clear ideas to which
they clung: to command, to fight, and to conquer. Their work in
common, the danger, the taste of and pride in power created solidarity
that made the Committee an autonomous organism.
The committee was always managed collegially, despite the specific
nature of the tasks of each director: the division into "politicians"
and "technicians" was a Thermidorian invention, intended to lay the
corpses of the Terror at the door of the Robespierrists alone. Many
things, however, set the twelve committee members at loggerheads;
Barrere was more a man of the Convention than of the committee and was
a link with the Plaine. Robert
Lindet had qualms about the Terror
which, by contrast, was the outstanding theme of
Collot d'Herbois and
Billaud-Varenne, latecomers to the committee, forced on it by the
sans-culottes in September; unlike
Robespierre and his friends, Lazare
Carnot had given his support only provisionally and for reasons of
state to a policy concession to the people. But the situation which
united them in the summer of 1793 was stronger than those differences
of opinion. The Committee had to set itself above all, and choose
those popular demands which were most suitable for achieving the
Assembly's aims: to crush the enemies of the Republic and dash the
last hopes of the aristocracy. To govern in the name of the
Convention, at the same time controlling it, and to restrain the
people without quenching their enthusiasm — this was a gamble.
The ensemble of institutions, measures and procedures which
constituted it was codified in a decree of 14 Frimaire (4 December)
which set the seal on what had been the gradual development of
centralized dictatorship founded on the Terror. In the center was the
Convention, whose secular arm was the Committee of Public Safety,
vested with immense powers: it interpreted the Convention's decrees
and settled their methods of application; under its immediate
authority it had all state bodies and all civil servants (even
ministers would disappear in April 1794); it directed military and
diplomatic activity, appointed generals and members of other
committees, subject to ratification by the Convention. It held
responsibility for conducting war, public order and the provisioning
of the population. The Commune of Paris, a famous sans-culotte
bastion, was neutralized by coming under its control.
Administrative and economic centralization went hand in hand. The
state of siege forced
France into autarky; to save the Republic the
government mobilized all the nation's productive forces and
reluctantly accepted the need for a controlled economy, which it
introduced extemporaneously, as the emergency required. It was
necessary to develop war production, revive foreign trade, and find
new resources in
France itself; and time was short. Circumstances
gradually compelled it to assume the economic government of the
country. Along with organization of the army, this was the most
original feature of its work.
All material resources were subjected to requisitioning. Farmers
surrendered their grain, fodder, wool, flax, and hemp. Artisans and
merchants gave up their manufactured products. Raw materials were
carefully sought out – metal of all kinds, church bells, old paper,
rags and parchments, grasses, brushwood, and even household ashes for
manufacturing of potassium salts, and chestnuts for distilling. All
businesses were placed at the disposal of the nation – forests,
mines, quarries, furnaces, forges, tanneries, paper mills, large cloth
factories and shoe making workshops. The labor of men and the value of
things were subject to price controls. No one had a right to speculate
at the cost of Patrie while it was in danger. Armaments caused more
concern. As early as September 1793 efforts were made to create a
large factory in
Paris for rifles and sidearms. A special appeal
was made to scientists. Monge, Vandermonde, Berthollet, Darcet,
Fourcroy perfected metallurgy and manufacture of arms.
Only to the wage earners did the Maximum seem thoroughly advantageous.
It increased wages by one-half in relation to 1790, and commodities by
only one-third. But since the Committee did not ensure that it was
respected (except for bread), they would have been duped had they not
been benefiting from the favorable conditions that a great war always
offers the labor force. Still
Paris became calmer, because the
sans-culottes were gradually finding ways to subsist; the levée en
masse and the formation of the revolutionary army were thinning their
ranks; many now were working in arms and equipment shops, or in the
offices of the committees and ministries, which were expanded
The Army of the Year II
Main article: French Revolutionary Army
During the summer the requisition of the levy was completed and by
July the total strength of the army reached 650,000. The difficulties
were tremendous. The war production just started in September. The
army was in the middle of the purge. In the spring of 1794 the
amalgamation was undertaken. Two battalions of volunteers joined one
battalion of regulars to constitute a demi-brigade, or regiment. At
the same time the command was reconstituted. The purge ended with most
of the nobles excluded. The new generation reached the highest ranks,
and the War College (Ecole de Mars) received six young men from each
district to improve the staff. Army commanders were to be appointed by
What gradually emerged was a military command unequaled in quality:
Marceau, Hoche, Kleber, Massena, Jourdan, and a host of others, backed
by officers who were sound both in their abilities as soldiers and in
their sense of civic responsibility. [note 4]
For the first time since antiquity a truly national army marched to
war, and for the first time, too, a nation succeeded in arming and
feeding great numbers of soldiers – these are the novel
characteristics of the army of the Year II. The technical innovations
resulted chiefly from its sheer size as well the strategy that
developed from it. The old system of cordons lost its prestige. Moving
between the armies of the Coalition, the French could maneuver along
interior lines, deploy part of their troops along the frontiers, and
take advantage of the inaction of any one of their enemies to beat the
others. Acting en masse, and overwhelming the foe by sheer numbers –
such were Carnot's principles. They were still untried, and not until
Bonaparte appeared did they enjoy any great success.
Fall of the factions
As late as September 1793, there were two distinct wings among the
revolutionaries. Firstly those who were later called
although Hébert himself was never the official leader of a party –
advocated war to the death and adopted the program of the Enragés,
ostensibly because the sans-culottes approved it. The Hebertists
preferred to side with the Montagnards, so long as they could hope to
control the Convention through them. They dominated the Cordeliers
Club, filled Bouchotte's offices, and could generally carry the
Commune with them. The other wing was that of the Dantonists,
which formed in response to the increasing centralization of the
Revolutionary Government and the dictatorship of the Committees. The
Dantonists were led predominately by deputies of the Convention
(rather than the sans-culottes), including Danton, Delacroix, and
Putting the needs of national defense above all other considerations,
Committee of Public Safety
Committee of Public Safety had no intentions of giving in to the
demands of either the popular movement or the moderates. Following the
Hebertists would jeopardize revolutionary unity, while the giving in
to the demands of the moderates would have undermined the both the
Terror and the controlled economy. However, unity, centralization, and
the Terror were all considered essential to the war effort.[according
to whom?] In order to balance the contradictory demands of these two
factions, the Revolutionary Government attempted to maintain a
position halfway between the moderate
Dantonists (citras) and the
But at the end of the winter of 1793-4, the shortage of food took a
sharp turn for the worse. The
Hebertists incited sans-culottes to
demand stringent measures, and at first the Committee did prove
conciliatory. The Convention voted 10 million for
relief,[clarification needed] on 3 Ventose,
Barere presented a new
general Maximum, and on the 8th Saint-Just obtained a decree
confiscating the property of suspects and distributing it to the needy
(Ventose decrees). The
Hebertists felt that if they increased the
pressure, they would triumph once and for all. Although the call
appeared like one for insurrection it was probably just for a new
demonstration, like the one in September. But the Committee of Public
Safety decided on 22 Ventose Year II (12 March 1794) that the
Hebertists posed too serious a threat. The Committee linked Hebert,
Ronsin, Vincent, and Momoro to the emigres Proli, Cloots and Pereira,
so as to present the
Hebertists as parties to the "foreign plot". All
were executed on 4 Germinal (24 March). This move largely silenced
the Hebertists, now without their leadership. Having succeeded in
stifling dissent on the left, the Committee then turned on the
Dantonists, several members of which were implicated in financial
corruption. The Committee forced the Convention to lift the
parliamentary immunity of nine Dantonist deputies, allowing them to be
put on trial. On 5 April Dantonist leaders Danton, Delacroix,
Desmoulins, and Philippeaux were executed.
The execution of the leaderships of both rival factions caused some to
become disillusioned. Many sans-culottes were stunned by the
Hebertists' execution. All the positions of influence traditionally
held by the sans-culottes were eliminated: the Revolutionary Army was
disbanded, the inspectors of food-hoarding were dismissed, Bouchotte
lost the War Office, the
Cordeliers Club was forced to self-censor and
the Government pressure brought about closing 39 popular societies.
Paris Commune, controlled by sans-culottes, was purged and filled
with Committee nominees. With the execution of the Dantonists, many of
the members of the
National Convention lost trust in the Committee,
and even began to fear for their personal safety.
Ultimately, the Committee had undermined its own support by
Dantonists and Hebertists, both of which had backed
the Committee. By compelling the Convention to allow the arrests of
Girondins and Dantonists, the Committee believed it had destroyed
its major opposition. However, the trials demonstrated the Committee's
lack of respect for members of the Convention (several of whom had
been executed). Many Convention members who had sided with the
Committee in the past by mid-1794 no longer supported it. The
Committee had acted as mediator between the Convention and the
sans-culottes from which they both had acquired their strength. By
Hebertists and alienating the sans-culottes, the
Committee became unnecessary to the Assembly.
Main article: Reign of Terror
Though the Terror was organized in September 1793, it was not
introduced until October. It had resulted from a popular movement. A
new chapter of the
Revolutionary Tribunal was opened after 5
September, divided into four sections: the Committees of Public Safety
and General Security were to propose the names of judges and jurymen;
Fouquier-Tinville stayed as public prosecutor, and Herman was
nominated president. The Terror was meant to discourage support
for the enemies of the Revolution by condemning outspoken critics of
The great political trials began in October. The queen was guillotined
on 16 October. A special decree stifled the defense of 21 Girondins,
Vergniaud and Brissot, and they perished on the 31st.
At the summit of the apparatus of the Terror sat the Committee of
General Security, the state's second organization. It consisted of
twelve members elected each month by the Convention, and vested with
security, surveillance and police functions, including over civil and
military authorities. It employed a large staff, headed the gradually
constituted network of local revolutionary committees, and applied the
law on suspects by sifting through the thousands of local
denunciations and arrests which it then had to try.
It struck down the enemies of the Republic whoever and wherever they
were. It was socially indiscriminate and politically perspicacious.
Its victims belonged to the classes which hated the Revolution or
lived in the regions where rebellion was most serious. "The severity
of repressive measures in the provinces," wrote Mathiez, "was in
direct proportion to danger of revolt." Many outspoken members of
the community were tried and executed for claims of treason: Camille
Georges Danton were two of the more notable men
executed for their "threats" against the Revolution.
Deputies sent as "representatives on mission" by the Committee of
Public Safety, armed with full powers, reacted according to both the
local situation and their own temperaments:
Lindet pacified the
Girondin west in July without a single death sentence; in Lyon, some
Collot d'Herbois and
Joseph Fouche relied on frequent
summary executions by shooting because the guillotine was not working
swiftly enough.[note 5]
Jacobin dictatorship could only hope to remain in power so long as
it was dealing successfully with a national emergency. As soon as its
political opponents had been destroyed, and its foreign enemies
defeated, it would lose the chief force that kept it together. The
Jacobin fall happened more rapidly than expected because of issues
within the party.
So long as it remained united, the Committee was virtually
invulnerable, but it had scarcely attained the apogee of its power
before signs of internal conflict appeared. The Committee of
Public Safety had never been a homogeneous body. It was a coalition
cabinet. Its members were kept together less by comradeship or common
ideals than by calculation and routine. The press of business which at
first prevented personal quarrels also produced tired nerves. Trifling
differences were exaggerated into the issues of life and death. Small
disputes estranged them from one another. Carnot, in particular,
was irritated by the criticisms directed at his plans by Robespierre
and Saint-Just, Dispute followed dispute. Bickering broke out on
the Committee of Public Safety, with Carnot describing
Saint-Just as "ridiculous dictators" and Collot making veiled attacks
on the "Incorruptible". From the end of June until 23 July Robespierre
ceased to attend the Committee.
Realizing the danger of fragmentation, they attempted a
reconciliation. Saint-Just and
Couthon favored it, but Robespierre
doubted sincerity of his enemies. It was he who brought about the
fatal intervention of the Convention. On 8 Thermidor, Year II (26 July
1794), he denounced his opponents, and demanded that "unity of
government" be realized. When called upon to name those whom he was
accusing, however, he refused. This failure destroyed him, for it was
assumed that he was demanding a blank cheque. This night an uneasy
alliance was formed from threatened deputies and members of The Plain.
On the next day, 9 Thermidor,
Robespierre and his friends were not
allowed to speak, and their indictment was decreed. The men of the
extreme left played the leading roles: Billaud-Varenne, who attacked,
and Collot d'Herbois, who presided.
On hearing the news the
Paris Commune, loyal to the man who had
inspired it, called for an insurrection and released the arrested
deputies in the evening and mobilized two or three thousand
militants. The night of 9–10 Thermidor was one of great
confusion in Paris, as Commune and Assembly competed for the support
of the sections and their troops. The Convention proclaimed that the
rebels were henceforth outlaws; Barras was given the task of mustering
an armed force, and the moderate sections gave this their support. The
National Guardsmen and artillerymen assembled outside the Hotel de
Ville were left without instructions and little by little they
dispersed and left the square deserted. Around two o'clock in the
morning a column from Gravilliers section led by Léonard Bourdon
burst in the Hotel de Ville and arrested insurgents.
On the evening of 10 Thermidor (28 July 1794), Robespierre,
Couthon and nineteen of their political allies were
executed without trial. On the following day it was the turn of a
large batch of 71 men, the largest mass execution in the entire course
of the Revolution.
Whatever reasons the conspirators had behind 9 Thermidor, the events
afterwards went beyond their intentions. Evidently the remaining
members on the Committees counted on staying in office and currying
the favour of the
Jacobin dictatorship, as though nothing more had
happened than a party purge.
Main article: Thermidorian Reaction
They were speedily disabused of this notion. Robespierrists might go
Dantonists come in; the Convention had recovered its
initiative and would put an end, once and for all, to the dictatorial
committees government which had ousted it from power. It was decreed
that no member of governing committees should hold office for more
than four months. Three days later the Prairial Law was repealed and
Revolutionary Tribunal shorn of its abnormal powers. The Commune
was replaced with a Commission of Civil Administrators (commission des
administrateurs civils) from the ranks of the Conventions. In November
Jacobin club was closed. Not merely anti-Robespierrist but
Jacobin reaction was in full flood. At the beginning of September
Billaud, Collot and
Barere left the Committee of Public Safety; by the
end of the year they were in prison.
The stability of the government was weakening. Next came the
concentration of power, another revolutionary principle. The
identification of the
Committee of Public Safety
Committee of Public Safety with the executive
was ended on 7 Fructidor (24 August), restricting it to its former
domain of war and diplomacy. The
Committee of General Security kept
its control over the police. There was now to be a total of sixteen
committees. Conventionnels, while aware of the dangers of
fragmentation, were even more worried by its experience of monopoly of
powers. In a few weeks the revolutionary government was
These measures affected, finally, the instruments of the Terror and
opened numerous breaches in the apparatus of repression. The law of 22
Prairial was repealed, the prisons were opened and "suspects" were
released: 500 in
Paris in a single week. A few public trials were
staged — including those of Carrier, held responsible for the
mass-drowning at Nantes, and Fouquier-Tinville, notorious as the
public prosecutor of the Great Terror of the late spring and summer of
1794 – after which the
Revolutionary Tribunal was quietly put
The destruction of the system of revolutionary government eventually
brought about the end of the Economic Terror. Maximum was relaxed even
before 9 Thermidor. Now nobody believed in it any longer. Because the
black market was plentifully supplied, the idea took hold that price
control equalled scarcity and that free trade would bring back
abundance. It was generally supposed that prices would rise but that
then they would fall as a result of competition. This illusion was to
be shattered in the winter. Formally the Convention put the end to the
maximum on 4 Nivose Year III (24 December 1794).
The abandonment of the controlled economy provoked a frightful
catastrophe. Prices soared and the rate of exchange fell. The Republic
was condemned to massive inflation and its currency was ruined. In
Thermidor, Year III, assignats were worth less than 3% of their face
value. Neither peasants nor merchants would accept anything but cash.
The debacle was so swift that economic life seemed to come to
The crisis was greatly aggravated by famine. Peasants, finally,
stopped bringing any produce, because they did not wish to accept
assignats. The government continued to provision Paris, but was unable
to supply the promised rations. In provinces local municipalities
resorted to some sort of regulations, provided not direct coercion in
obtaining provisions. The misery of rural day laborers, abandoned by
everyone, was often appalling. Inflation ruined creditors to the
advantage of debtors. It unleashed an unprecedented speculation.
At the beginning of spring, scarcity was such that more unrest
appeared almost everywhere.
Paris was active again.
Crushing of the popular movement
Journée du 1er Prairial de l'an III
Discontent increased along with the shortages. On 17 March a
delegation from faubourgs Saint-Marceau and Saint-Jacques complained
that "We are on the verge of regretting all the sacrifices that we
have made for the Revolution." Police law was passed which lay down
the death penalty for use of seditious language. Arms were distributed
to the "good citizens", the faithful nucleus of the National Guard.
The trial of strength was approaching.
Main article: Insurrection of 12 Germinal, Year III
On 10 Germinal (30 March) all the sections called their general
assemblies. The political geography of
Paris emerged clearly from
this. Convention debate was centered on two issues: the fate of
Billaud and Vadier, and the implementation of the
constitution of 1793. While in the sections of the center and the west
formal addresses called for the punishment of the "Four" and passed
over the food shortages, the sections of the east and the faubourgs
demanded measures to deal with the grain crisis, the implementation of
the constitution of 1793, the reopening of the popular societies and
the release of the imprisoned patriots.
On the morning of 12 Germinal (1 April) crowds gathered on the Ile de
la Cité and, pushing aside the palace guards, burst into the chamber
where the Convention met. Amidst the uproar, spokesmen of the sections
outlined the people's grievances. Reliable battalions of National
Guard were called and demonstrators, lacking arms and leaders, were
forced to withdraw. For the most people it was the constitution of
1793 – seen as a liberating utopia – which represented the
solution to all evils. There were others who openly regretted the
passing of "the reign of Robespierre".
Main article: Insurrection of 1 Prairial
But it was not the end. A new explosion was on the horizon.
Insurrection was being openly prepared. On 1 Prairial (20 May 1795)
the alarm bells sounded in the faubourgs Saint-Antoine and Marceau.
The armed battalions arrived at Place du Carousel and entered the
sitting chamber. After an hour of uproar, "The Insurrection of the
People" (L'Insurection du Peuple) was read. In the chaos, none of the
ringleaders thought of implementing the key item of the program: the
overthrow of the government.
The remainder of the Montagnards, The Crest (la Crête de la
Montagne), managed to obtain the passage of decrees favorable to the
rebels. But at 11:30 p.m. two armed columns entered the chamber
and cleared out the rioters. The next day insurgents repeated the same
mistakes and after receiving promises from the deputies to take speedy
measures against the famine, returned to the sections.
On 3 Prairial the government assembled loyal troops, chasseurs and
dragoons, national guardsmen, selected from those "who had fortune to
preserve" — 20,000 men in all.
Faubourg Saint-Antoine was surrounded
and on 4 Prairial surrendered and was disarmed. Uncertainty about how
to react, hesitancy in action, and lack of revolutionary leadership
had doomed the popular movement to throw away its last chance in
4 Prairial Year III is one of the crucial dates of the revolutionary
period. The people had ceased to be a political force, participants in
history. They were now no more than victims or spectators.
Constitution of the Year III
Main article: Constitution of the Year III
Constitution de la République Française du 5 Fructidor l'an III (22
The victors now could set up a new constitution, the task the National
Convention was originally elected for. The Commission of Eleven (the
most notable members of which were Daunou, Lanjuinais, Boissy
d'Anglas, Thibaudeau and La Révellière) drafted a text which would
reflect the new balance of power. It was presented on 5 Messidor (23
June) and passed on 22 August 1795 (5 Fructidor of the Year III).
The new constitution went back to the constitution of 1791 as to the
dominant ideology of the country. Equality was certainly confirmed,
but within the limits of civil equality. Numerous democratic rights of
the constitution 1793 – the right to work, to relief, to education
– were omitted. The Convention wanted to define rights and
simultaneously reject both the privilege of the old order and social
The constitution went back to the distinction between active and
passive citizens. Only citizens over twenty-five years old, disposing
of an income of two hundred days of work, were eligible to be
electors. This electoral body, which held the real power, included
30,000 people, half as many as in 1791. Guided by recent experience,
institutions were set up to protect the Republic from two dangers: the
omnipotence of an assembly and dictatorship.
Bicameral legislature as a precaution against sudden political
fluctuations was proposed: the
Council of Five Hundred
Council of Five Hundred with rights to
propose laws and Council of the Ancients, 250 deputies, with powers to
accept or reject proposed laws.
Executive power was to be shared
between five Directors chosen by the Ancients from the list drawn by
Five Hundred. One of the Directors would be renewed each year with
re-election after five years. As one of the practical precautions, no
military were allowed within 60 miles of the sitting assembly and it
could relocate in case of danger. The Directory still retained great
power, including emergency powers to curb freedom of the press and
freedom of association.
The Constitution generally was accepted favorably, even by those on
the right, who were hopeful for the upcoming elections and even more
happy to get rid of the legislative body so hated by them.
But how to make sure that the new elected body would not overturn the
constitution as it was before with Legislative Assembly? Thermidorians
attempted this on 5 Fructidor (22 August) by voting for a decree on
"formation of a new legislative body". Article II stipulated: "All
members presently active in the Convention are re-eligible. Election
assemblies may not take fewer than two-thirds of them to form the
legislative body". This was known as the Law of the Two-Thirds.
Main article: 13 Vendémiaire
Napoleon Bonaparte quelling of the Royalist revolt 13 Vendémiaire, in
front of the Église Saint-Roch, rue Saint-Honoré.
On 23 September the results were announced: the constitution was
accepted by 1,057,390 votes, with 49,978 against. The Two-Thirds
decrees obtained only 205,498 votes in favor and 108,754 against.
But the Convention had not taken into account those
Paris sections who
were against Two-Thirds decrees and failed to provide precise vote
figures: 47 Parisian sections had rejected the decrees. Eighteen
Paris sections contested the result. The Lepeletier section
issued a call to insurrection. By 11 Vendemiaire seven sections were
in state of revolt, sections which were the base of the Convention
since 9 Thermidor and now won by the far right if not royalists. The
Convention declared itself permanent. The conventionnels knew the
score. They knew the art of insurrection by heart and to bring down
muscadins was easier than the sans-culottes. Five members
including Barras were appointed to deal with the crisis. A decree of
12 Vendemiaire (4 October) repealed the former disarmament of the
former terrorists and an appeal to sans-culottes was issued.[note 7]
During the nights of Vendemiaire 12-13 (October 4–5), General
Jacques de Menou de Boussay was tasked with putting down the royalist
rebels and keep them from attacking the Convention. He recruited other
generals to help aid in quelling the insurrection such as, Napoleon
Bonaparte. The rebels outnumbered the Army by the thousands, but
because of their preparations the night before, Bonaparte and the
armies were able to line the road into
Paris with cannons from Sablons
Camp. Without a way into Paris, the rebels surrendered to the
Convention on Vendemiaire 13. Barras and the Convention gave the
armies permission to kill. Within 45 minutes over 300 royalist rebels
were dead in front of the Church of Saint Roch. The rest had scattered
Moderate repression ensued and the White Terror in the south was
stopped. On 4 Brumaire Year IV, just before breaking up, the
Convention voted a general amnesty for "deeds exclusively connected
with the Revolution".
The article on the Convention in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
concludes, "The work of the Convention was immense in all branches of
public affairs. To appreciate it without prejudice, one should recall
that this assembly saved
France from a civil war and invasion, that it
founded the system of public education (Museum, École Polytechnique,
École Normale Supérieure, École des langues orientales,
Conservatoire), created institutions of capital importance, like that
of the Grand Livre de la Dette publique, and definitely established
the social and political gains of the Revolution." By a decree of 4
February 1794 (16 pluviôse) it also ratified and expanded to the
French colonial empire
French colonial empire the 1793 abolition of slavery on
Saint-Domingue by civil commissioners Sonthonax and Polverel, though
this did not affect
Guadeloupe and was abolished by the
law of 20 May 1802.
Fall of the French monarchy
Ministers of the French National Convention
^ The Convention had therefore been elected by small minority of the
population, but those who were the most determined. That explains the
ambiguity of the word "popular" when it is applied to this period:
French Revolution was certainly not in the sense of
participation by the people in public affairs. But if the word
"popular" is taken to mean that revolutionary policy was formed under
pressure from the sans-culotte movement and organized minorities, and
received an egalitarian impetus from them, then yes, the Revolution
had well and truly entered its "popular" age.
^ During the early meetings of the Convention the deputies had sat
indiscriminately, where they pleased. But it was noticed that, as the
quarrel between Jacobins and
Girondins developed, they grouped
themselves to the right and left of the President's chair, whiles the
extreme Jacobins found a place of vantage in the higher seats at the
end of the hall, which came to be called the Mountain (La
^ As opposed to the English Revolution, the
French Revolution killed
not only the king of France, but royalty itself. In this sense, even
if the Conventionnels had only transformed into a national tragedy
what the last century of absolutism had already marked out as
inevitable, they had accomplished their aim: to strip royalty from the
nation's future. By executing the king, they had severed France's last
ties with her past, and made the rupture with the ancien régime
^ The revolutionaries turned soldiers did not forget their
attachments. Hoche had been a Maratist, Kleber and Marceau praised the
activity of Carrier, and Bonaparte attached himself to the Robespierre
brothers. So many years later, even men like
moved with emotion by the memory of the shining hours they had known
in the service of the "Indivisible Republic".
^ Based on recent figures of the Terror:
17,000 victims names distributed according to specific geographical
areas: 52% in the Vendee, 19% in the south-east, 10% in the capital
and 13% in the rest of France. Distinction is between zones of turmoil
and an insignificant proportion of quite rural areas. Between
departments, the contrast becomes more striking. Some were hard hit,
the Loire-Inferieure, the Vendee, the Maine-et-Loire, the
Paris. In six departments no executions were recorded; in 31, there
were fewer than 10; in 32, fewer than 100; and only in 18 were there
more than 1,000. Charges of rebellion and treason were by far the most
frequent grounds for execution (78%), followed by federalism (10%),
crimes of opinion (9%) and economic crimes (1.25%). Artisans,
shopkeepers. wage-earners and humble folk made up the largest
contingent (31%), concentrated in Lyons, Marseilles and neighboring
small towns. Because of the peasant rebellion in the Vendée, peasants
are more heavily represented (28%) than the federalist and merchant
bourgeoisie. Nobles (8.25%) and priests (6.5%), who would seem to have
been relatively spared, actually provided a higher proportion of
victims than other social categories. In the most sheltered regions,
they were the only victims. Furthermore, the "Great Terror" is hardly
distinguishable from the rest. In June and July 1794, it accounted for
14% of executions, as against 70% from October 1793 to May 1794, and
3.5% before September 1793. if one adds executions without trial and
deaths in prison, a total of 50,000 seems likely, that is 2 per 1,000
of the population.
^ Yet an unofficial Terror-in-reverse continued. In the provinces the
Terror assumed violent and vicious form. In the Lyonnais, the Company
of Jesus flung the bodies of its victims, men and women, into the
Rhone, and prisoners were massacred wholesale in gaol or on their way
to prison, while in other cities, bands of so-called Companies of Jehu
and the Sun indiscriminately murdered "terrorists", "patriots of '89"
and – most eagerly of all – purchasers of former Church
properties. Such excesses were deplored in Paris, but the Convention
and its Committees were powerless to contain forces that they had
themselves done much to unleash.
^ Barras reference to "Faubourg Saint-Antoin whose attachment to the
cause of liberty is well known" in subsequent report offers curious
commentary to the official evolution since journees of prairial.
^ Dupuy 2005, p. 34-40.
^ Thompson 1959, p. 310.
^ Furet 1996, p. 115.
National Convention 1906
^ Thompson 1959, p. 320.
^ Thompson 1959, p. 315.
^ a b Hampson 1988, p. 157.
^ "Girondin political group, France". Encyclopædia Britannica.
^ Reilly, Benjamin (2004). "Polling the Opinions: A Reexamination of
Mountain, Plain, and
Gironde in the National Convention". Social
Science History. 28: 53–73. doi:10.1215/01455532-28-1-53.
^ Bouloiseau 1983, p. 51.
^ Jordan 1979, p. 59.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 270.
^ Soboul 1974, p. 284.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 272.
^ Furet 1996, p. 122.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 42.
^ Soboul 1974, p. 309.
^ Soboul 1974, p. 311.
^ Soboul 1974, p. 313.
^ a b Lefebvre 1963, p. 55.
^ Soboul 1974, p. 314.
^ Bouloiseau 1983, p. 67.
^ Soboul 1974, p. 316.
^ Mathiez 1929, p. 338.
^ Mathiez 1929, p. 336.
^ Hampson 1988, p. 189.
^ Mathiez 1929, p. 337.
^ Mathiez 1929, p. 340.
^ a b Furet 1996, p. 132.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 68.
"From Mobilization to Revolution"] Check url= value (help) (PDF).
Charles Tilly University of Michigan. March 1977. Retrieved December
^ a b Furet 1996, p. 134.
^ Furet 1996, p. 133.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 62.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 64.
^ Bouloiseau 1983, p. 100.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 100.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 104.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 101.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 109.
^ a b Lefebvre 1963, p. 71.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 96.
^ Soboul 1974, p. 400.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 98.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 99.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 61.
^ Soboul 1974, p. 359.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 88.
^ Hampson 1988, p. 220.
^ Hampson 1988, p. 221.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 90.
^ Soboul 1974, p. 341.
Reign of Terror
Reign of Terror French history". Encyclopædia Britannica.
^ Furet 1996, p. 135.
^ Greer 1935, p. 19.
Reign of Terror
Reign of Terror French history". Encyclopædia Britannica.
^ Furet 1996, p. 138.
^ Bouloiseau 1983, p. 210.
^ Thompson 1959, p. 502.
^ a b Hampson 1988, p. 229.
^ Thompson 1959, p. 508.
^ a b Lefebvre 1963, p. 134.
^ Furet 1996, p. 150.
^ Soboul 1974, p. 411–412.
^ a b Thompson 1959, p. 516.
^ Woronoff 1984, p. 2.
^ a b Rude 1988, p. 115.
^ Woronoff 1984, p. 9–10.
^ Lefebvre 1963, p. 142–143.
^ Woronoff 1984, p. 15.
^ Woronoff 1984, p. 17.
^ Woronoff 1984, p. 20.
^ Furet 1996, p. 166.
^ a b Hampson 1988, p. 247.
^ Woronoff 1984, p. 31.
^ a b Soboul 1974, p. 473.
^ Furet 1996, p. 167.
Napoleon and Counter-Revolutionary Royalists -
13 Vendémiaire Year
Napoleon & Empire". www.napoleon-empire.com. Retrieved
Andress, David (2006). The Terror: the merciless war for freedom in
revolutionary France. Farrar: Straus and Giroux.
Aulard, François-Alphonse (1910). The French Revolution, a Political
History, 1789–1804, in 4 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's
Bouloiseau, Marc (1983). The
Jacobin Republic: 1792–1794. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-28918-1.
Dupuy, Roger (2005). La République jacobine. Terreur, guerre et
gouvernement révolutionnaire (1792—1794). Paris: Le Seuil, coll.
Points. ISBN 2-02-039818-4.
Furet, François (1996). The French Revolution: 1770–1814. Oxford:
Blackwell Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-631-20299-4.
Greer, Donald (1935). Incidence of the Terror During the French
Revolution: A Statistical Interpretation. Peter Smith Pub Inc.
Hampson, Norman (1988). A Social History of the French Revolution.
Routledge: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-7100-6525-6.
Jordan, David (1979). The King's Trial:Luis XVI vs. the French
Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lefebvre, Georges (1962). The French Revolution: from its Origins to
1793. vol. I. New York: Columbia University Press.
Lefebvre, Georges (1963). The French Revolution: from 1793 to 1799.
vol. II. New York: Columbia University Press.
Lefebvre, Georges (1964). The Thermidorians & the Directory. New
York: Random House.
Linton, Marisa, Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship and Authenticity
French Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2013).
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Rude, George (1988). The French Revolution. New York: Grove
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Soboul, Albert (1974). The French Revolution: 1787–1799. New York:
Random House. ISBN 0-394-47392-2.
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Woronoff, Denis (1984). The Thermidorean regime and the directory:
1794–1799. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Convention, The
National". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University
Presidents of the National Convention: 1792–1795
National Convention pamphlets and documents from the Ball State
University Digital Media Repository
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First Empire (1804–1815)
Bourbon Restoration (1815–1830)
July Monarchy (1830–1848)
Louis Philippe I
Second Republic (1848–1852)
Jacques-Charles Dupont de l'Eure
Second Empire (1852–1870)
Government of National Defense (1870–1871)
Third Republic (1871–1940)
Patrice de Mac-Mahon
Jules Armand Dufaure*
Vichy France (1940–1944)
Provisional Government (1944–1947)
Charles de Gaulle
Fourth Republic (1947–1958)
Fifth Republic (1958–present)
Charles de Gaulle
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Debatable or disputed rulers are in italics. Acting heads of state are
denoted by an asterisk*. Millerand held the presidency in an acting
capacity before being fully elected.
First Republic (1792–1804)
Committee of Public Safety
First Empire (1804–1814)
Provisional Government of 1814
Provisional Government of 1815
July Monarchy (1830–1848)
Paris Municipal Commission
First ministry of Louis-Philippe
Transitional cabinet of 1839
Second Republic (1848–1852)
Last cabinet of the French Second Republic
Second Empire (1852–1870)
Third cabinet of
Fourth cabinet of
Significant civil and political events by year
Day of the Tiles
Day of the Tiles (7 Jun 1788)
Assembly of Vizille
Assembly of Vizille (21 Jul 1788)
What Is the Third Estate?
What Is the Third Estate? (Jan 1789)
Réveillon riots (28 Apr 1789)
Convocation of the Estates-General (5 May 1789)
National Assembly (17 Jun – 9 Jul 1790)
Tennis Court Oath
Tennis Court Oath (20 Jun 1789)
National Constituent Assembly (9 Jul – 30 Sep 1791)
Storming of the Bastille
Storming of the Bastille (14 Jul 1789)
Great Fear (20 Jul – 5 Aug 1789)
Abolition of Feudalism (4-11 Aug 1789)
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (27 Aug 1789)
Women's March on Versailles
Women's March on Versailles (5 Oct 1789)
Abolition of the Parlements (Feb–Jul 1790)
Abolition of the Nobility (19 Jun 1790)
Civil Constitution of the Clergy
Civil Constitution of the Clergy (12 Jul 1790)
Flight to Varennes
Flight to Varennes (20–21 Jun 1791)
Champ de Mars Massacre
Champ de Mars Massacre (17 Jul 1791)
Declaration of Pillnitz (27 Aug 1791)
The Constitution of 1791 (3 Sep 1791)
Legislative Assembly (1 Oct 1791 – Sep 1792)
France declares war (20 Apr 1792)
Brunswick Manifesto (25 Jul 1792)
Paris Commune becomes insurrectionary (Jun 1792)
10th of August (10 Aug 1792)
September Massacres (Sep 1792)
National Convention (20 Sep 1792 – 26 Oct 1795)
First republic declared (22 Sep 1792)
Execution of Louis XVI
Execution of Louis XVI (21 Jan 1793)
Revolutionary Tribunal (9 Mar 1793 – 31 May 1795)
Reign of Terror
Reign of Terror (27 Jun 1793 – 27 Jul 1794)
Committee of Public Safety
Committee of General Security
Fall of the Girondists (2 Jun 1793)
Assassination of Marat (13 Jul 1793)
Levée en masse
Levée en masse (23 Aug 1793)
The Death of Marat
The Death of Marat (painting)
Law of Suspects
Law of Suspects (17 Sep 1793)
Marie Antoinette is guillotined (16 Oct 1793)
Anti-clerical laws (throughout the year)
Desmoulins guillotined (5 Apr 1794)
Law of 22 Prairial
Law of 22 Prairial (10 Jun 1794)
Thermidorian Reaction (27 Jul 1794)
Robespierre guillotined (28 Jul 1794)
White Terror (Fall 1794)
Closing of the
Jacobin Club (11 Nov 1794)
Constitution of the Year III
Constitution of the Year III (22 Aug 1795)
Conspiracy of the Equals
Conspiracy of the Equals (Nov 1795)
Council of Five Hundred
Council of Ancients
13 Vendémiaire 5 Oct 1795
Coup of 18 Fructidor
Coup of 18 Fructidor (4 Sep 1797)
Second Congress of Rastatt
Second Congress of Rastatt (Dec 1797)
Coup of 30 Prairial VII (18 Jun 1799)
Coup of 18 Brumaire
Coup of 18 Brumaire (9 Nov 1799)
Constitution of the Year VIII
Constitution of the Year VIII (24 Dec 1799)
Siege of Mainz
Toulon (18 Sep – 18 Dec 1793)
War in the Vendée
Battle of Neerwinden)
Battle of Famars
Battle of Famars (23 May 1793)
Expédition de Sardaigne
Expédition de Sardaigne (21 Dec 1792 - 25 May 1793)
Battle of Kaiserslautern
Siege of Mainz
Battle of Wattignies
Battle of Hondschoote
Siege of Bellegarde
Battle of Peyrestortes
Battle of Peyrestortes (Pyrenees)
First Battle of Wissembourg (13 Oct 1793)
Battle of Truillas
Battle of Truillas (Pyrenees)
Second Battle of Wissembourg (26–27 Dec 1793)
Battle of Villers-en-Cauchies
Battle of Villers-en-Cauchies (24 Apr 1794)
Battle of Boulou
Battle of Boulou (Pyrenees) (30 Apr – 1 May 1794)
Battle of Tournay
Battle of Tournay (22 May 1794)
Battle of Fleurus (26 Jun 1794)
Battle of Tourcoing
Battle of Tourcoing (18 May 1794)
Battle of Aldenhoven (2 Oct 1794)
Peace of Basel
Battle of Lonato
Battle of Lonato (3–4 Aug 1796)
Battle of Castiglione
Battle of Castiglione (5 Aug 1796)
Battle of Theiningen
Battle of Neresheim
Battle of Neresheim (11 Aug 1796)
Battle of Amberg
Battle of Amberg (24 Aug 1796)
Battle of Würzburg
Battle of Würzburg (3 Sep 1796)
Battle of Rovereto
Battle of Rovereto (4 Sep 1796)
Battle of Bassano
Battle of Bassano (8 Sep 1796)
Battle of Emmendingen
Battle of Emmendingen (19 Oct 1796)
Battle of Schliengen
Battle of Schliengen (26 Oct 1796)
Battle of Bassano
Battle of Bassano (6 Nov 1796)
Battle of Calliano (6–7 Nov 1796)
Battle of the Bridge of Arcole
Battle of the Bridge of Arcole (15–17 Nov 1796)
The Ireland Expedition (Dec 1796)
Naval Engagement off Brittany (13 Jan 1797)
Battle of Rivoli
Battle of Rivoli (14–15 Jan 1797)
Battle of the Bay of Cádiz (25 Jan 1797)
Treaty of Leoben
Treaty of Leoben (17 Apr 1797)
Battle of Neuwied (18 Apr 1797)
Treaty of Campo Formio
Treaty of Campo Formio (17 Oct 1797)
French invasion of Switzerland
French invasion of Switzerland (28 January – 17 May 1798)
French Invasion of Egypt (1798–1801)
Irish Rebellion of 1798 (23 May – 23 Sep 1798)
Peasants' War (12 Oct – 5 Dec 1798)
Second Coalition (1798–1802)
Siege of Acre (20 Mar – 21 May 1799)
Battle of Ostrach
Battle of Ostrach (20–21 Mar 1799)
Battle of Stockach (25 Mar 1799)
Battle of Magnano
Battle of Magnano (5 Apr 1799)
Battle of Cassano (27 Apr 1799)
First Battle of Zurich
First Battle of Zurich (4–7 Jun 1799)
Battle of Trebbia (19 Jun 1799)
Battle of Novi (15 Aug 1799)
Second Battle of Zurich
Second Battle of Zurich (25–26 Sep 1799)
Battle of Marengo
Battle of Marengo (14 Jun 1800)
Battle of Hohenlinden
Battle of Hohenlinden (3 Dec 1800)
League of Armed Neutrality (1800–02)
Treaty of Lunéville
Treaty of Lunéville (9 Feb 1801)
Treaty of Florence
Treaty of Florence (18 Mar 1801)
Algeciras Campaign (8 Jul 1801)
Treaty of Amiens
Treaty of Amiens (25 Mar 1802)
Eustache Charles d'Aoust
Alexandre de Beauharnais
Jean François Carteaux
Jean Étienne Championnet
Chapuis de Tourville
Adam Philippe, Comte de Custine
Jacques François Dugommier
Charles François Dumouriez
Pierre Marie Barthélemy Ferino
Louis-Charles de Flers
Emmanuel de Grouchy
Jacques Maurice Hatry
François Christophe de Kellermann
Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
François Joseph Lefebvre
Jean Baptiste de Marbot
François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers
Auguste de Marmont
Bon-Adrien Jeannot de Moncey
Jean Victor Marie Moreau
Édouard Mortier, duc de Trévise
Pierre-Jacques Osten (fr)
Catherine-Dominique de Pérignon
Laurent de Gouvion Saint-Cyr
Barthélemy Louis Joseph Schérer
Belgrand de Vaubois
Claude Victor-Perrin, Duc de Belluno
Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen
Count of Clerfayt (Walloon)
Karl Aloys zu Fürstenberg
Friedrich Freiherr von Hotze
Friedrich Freiherr von Hotze (Swiss)
Friedrich Adolf, Count von Kalckreuth
Pál Kray (Hungarian)
Charles Eugene, Prince of Lambesc
Charles Eugene, Prince of Lambesc (French)
Maximilian Baillet de Latour (Walloon)
Karl Mack von Leiberich
Rudolf Ritter von Otto (Saxon)
Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Peter Vitus von Quosdanovich
Prince Heinrich XV of Reuss-Plauen
Johann Mészáros von Szoboszló
Johann Mészáros von Szoboszló (Hungarian)
Karl Philipp Sebottendorf
Dagobert von Wurmser
Sir Ralph Abercromby
Admiral Sir James Saumarez
Admiral Sir Edward Pellew
Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany
William V, Prince of Orange
Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Frederick Louis, Prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen
Luis Firmin de Carvajal
Other significant figures and factions
Society of 1789
Jean Sylvain Bailly
Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette
François Alexandre Frédéric, duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt
Isaac René Guy le Chapelier
Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau
Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès
Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
Nicolas de Condorcet
Madame de Lamballe
Madame du Barry
Louis de Breteuil
Loménie de Brienne
Charles Alexandre de Calonne
Arnaud de La Porte
François-Marie, marquis de Barthélemy
Alexandre-Théodore-Victor, comte de Lameth
Charles Malo François Lameth
Madame de Staël
Pierre Paul Royer-Collard
Jacques Pierre Brissot
Roland de La Platière
Father Henri Grégoire
Marquis de Condorcet
Marie Jean Hérault
Jean Baptiste Treilhard
Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud
Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac
Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve
Jean-Jacques Duval d'Eprémesnil
Olympe de Gouges
Jean-Baptiste Robert Lindet
Louis Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux
Charles François Lebrun
Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot
Louis Philippe I
Antoine Christophe Merlin
Antoine Christophe Merlin de Thionville
Jean Joseph Mounier
Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours
François de Neufchâteau
Louis Antoine de Saint-Just
Paul Nicolas, vicomte de Barras
Louis Philippe I
Louis Michel le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau
Marquis de Sade
Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois
Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai
Antoine Quentin Fouquier-Tinville
Philippe-François-Joseph Le Bas
Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier
Prieur de la Côte-d'Or
Prieur de la Marne
Jean Bon Saint-André
Pierre Louis Prieur
Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac
Antoine Christophe Saliceti
Jacques Nicolas Billaud-Varenne
Pierre Gaspard Chaumette
Jean Baptiste Noël Bouchotte
Louis Antoine, Duke of Enghien
Louis Henri, Prince of Condé
Louis Joseph, Prince of Condé
Joséphine de Beauharnais
Jean Sylvain Bailly
Jacques-Donatien Le Ray
Guillaume-Chrétien de Malesherbes
List of people associated with the French Revolution
Charles-Augustin de Coulomb
Pierre Claude François Daunou
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
French Republican Calendar
Cult of the Supreme Being
Cult of Reason
Temple of Reason
Women in the French Revolution
Symbolism in the French Revolution
Historiography of the French Revolution
Influence of the French Revolution
Kingdom of the Visigoths
Early modern era
Long nineteenth century
Government of National Defense
France during the Second World War
Provisional Government of the French Republic
Franc (former currency)
French subdivisions by GDP