Constitution of the Year VIII

The Constitution of the Year VIII (French: Constitution de l'an VIII or French: Constitution du 22 frimaire an VIII) was a national constitution of France, adopted on December 24, 1799 (during the Year VIII of the French Revolutionary Calendar), which established the form of government known as the Consulate. The coup of 18 Brumaire (November 9, 1799) had effectively given all power to Napoleon Bonaparte, and in the eyes of some, ended the French Revolution.

After the coup, Napoleon and his allies legitimized his position by crafting the "short and obscure Constitution of the Year VIII" (as Malcolm Crook has called it[1]). The constitution tailor-made the position of First Consul to give Napoleon most of the powers of a dictator. It was the first constitution since the 1789 Revolution without a Declaration of Rights.

The document vested executive power in three Consuls, but all actual power was held by the First Consul, Bonaparte. This differed from Robespierre's republic of c.1792 to 1795 (which was more radical), and from the oligarchic liberal republic of the Directory (1795-1799), but resembled the autocratic Roman Republic of Caesar Augustus, a conservative republic-in-name, which reminded the French of stability, order, and peace. To emphasize this, the authors of the constitutional document used classical Roman terms, such as "Consul", "Senator" and "Tribune".

The Constitution of Year VIII established a legislature of three houses, which was composed of a Conservative Senate of 80 men over the age of 40, a Tribunate of 100 men and a Legislative Body (Corps législatif) of 300 men.

The Constitution also used the term "notables". The word "notables" had been in common usage under the monarchy; every Frenchman understood it, and it was comforting. It referred to prominent, "distinguished" men — landholders, merchants, scholars, professionals, clergymen and officials. The people in each district chose a slate of "notables" by popular vote. The First Consul, the Tribunate, and the Corps Législatif each nominated one Senatorial candidate to the rest of the Senate, which chose one candidate from among the three. Once all of its members were picked, it would then appoint the Tribunate, the Corps Législatif, the judges of cassation, and the commissioners of accounts from the slate of notables.

Napoleon held a plebiscite on the Constitution on 7 February 1800. The vote was not binding, but it allowed Napoleon to maintain a veneer of democracy. Lucien Bonaparte announced results of 3,011,007 in favor and 1,562 against the new dispensation. The true result was probably around 1.55 million for it, with several thousand against it.

This Constitution was amended, firstly, by the Constitution of the Year X, which made Napoleon First Consul for Life. A more extensive alteration, the Constitution of the Year XII, established the Bonaparte dynasty with Napoleon as a hereditary Emperor. The first, brief Bourbon Restoration of 1814 abolished the Napoleonic constitutional system, but the Emperor revived it and at once virtually replaced it with the so-called "Additional Act" of April 1815, promulgated on his return to power. The return of Louis XVIII in July 1815 (following the Hundred Days) saw the definitive abolition of Napoleon's constitutional arrangements. The Napoleonic constitutions were completely replaced by the Bourbon Charter of 1814.

Constitution of the Year VIII
Constitution du 22 frimaire an VIII (13 décembre 1799). Page 3 - Archives Nationales - AE-I-29-4
Constitution of the Year VIII (1799).
Original title(in French) Constitution de l'an VIII


Connelly, Owen (2000). The French Revolution and Napoleonic Era. 3rd Edition. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt. pp. 201–203.


  1. ^ Crook, Malcolm (1999). "The Myth Of The 18 Brumaire". H-France Napoleon Forum. Retrieved 2007-12-12.

External links



was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1799th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 799th year of the 2nd millennium, the 99th year of the 18th century, and the 10th and last year of the 1790s decade. As of the start of 1799, the Gregorian calendar was

11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur

The Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur ("Emperor's Demise Act") is a legislative decision taken by the Sénat conservateur on 2 April 1814, recognising the downfall of Napoléon I of France.

Cabinet of the French Consulate

The Cabinet of the French Consulate was formed following the Coup of 18 Brumaire which replaced the Directory with the Consulate. The new regime was ratified by the adoption of the Constitution of the Year VIII on 24 December 1799 and headed by Napoleon Bonaparte as First Consul, with Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès and Charles-François Lebrun serving as Second and Third Consuls respectively.

Charter of 1815

The Charter of 1815, signed on April 22, 1815, was the French constitution prepared by Benjamin Constant at the request of Napoleon I when he returned from exile on Elba. More correctly known as the "Additional Act to the Constitutions of the Empire" the document extensively amended (in fact virtually replacing) the previous Napoleonic Constitutions (Constitution of the Year VIII, Constitution of the Year X and Constitution of the Year XII). The Additional Act reframed the Napoleonic constitution into something more along the lines of the Bourbon Restoration Charter of 1814 of Louis XVIII, while otherwise ignoring the Bourbon charter's existence. It was very liberal in spirit, and gave the French people rights which had previously been unknown to them, such as the right to elect the mayor in communes of less than 5,000 in population. Napoleon treated it as a mere continuation of the previous constitutions, and it therefore took the form of an ordinary legislative act "additional to the constitutions of the Empire".

Constitution of France

The current Constitution of France was adopted on 4 October 1958. It is typically called the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, and replaced that of the Fourth Republic dating from 1946. Charles de Gaulle was the main driving force in introducing the new constitution and inaugurating the Fifth Republic, while the text was drafted by Michel Debré. Since then the constitution has been amended twenty-four times, most recently in 2008.

Constitution of the Year III

The Constitution of the Year III is the constitution that founded the Directory. Adopted by the Convention on 5 Fructidor Year III (22 August 1795) and approved by plebiscite on September 6. Its preamble is the Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and of the Citizen of 1795.

It remained in effect until the coup of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799) effectively ended the Revolution and began the ascendancy of Napoleon Bonaparte. It was more conservative than the abortive democratic French Constitution of 1793. The Constitution of the Year III established a liberal republic with a franchise based on the payment of taxes, similar to that of the French Constitution of 1791; a bicameral legislature, (Council of Ancients, and a Council of 500) to slow down the legislative process; and a five-man Directory. The central government retained great power, including emergency powers to curb freedom of the press and freedom of association. The Declaration of Rights and Duties of Mankind at the beginning of the constitution included an explicit ban on slavery. It was succeeded by the Constitution of the Year VIII, which established the Consulate.

Constitution of the Year X

The Constitution of the Year X was a national constitution of France adopted during the Year X (10) on 16 Thermidor (4 August) of the French Revolutionary Calendar (1802 in the Gregorian calendar). It amended the Constitution of the Year VIII, revising the Consulate to augment Napoleon Bonaparte's authority by making him First Consul for Life.Both the Constitution of the Year X and the Constitution of the Year VIII were further amended by the Constitution of the Year XII, which established the First French Empire with Napoleon as Emperor.

Constitution of the Year XII

The Constitution of the Year XII was a national constitution of France adopted during the Year XII of the French Revolutionary Calendar (1804 in the Gregorian calendar).

It amended the earlier Constitution of the Year VIII and Constitution of the Year X, establishing the First French Empire with Napoleon Bonaparte — previously First Consul for Life, with wide-ranging powers — as Napoleon I, Emperor of the French. The Constitution established the House of Bonaparte as France's imperial dynasty, making the throne hereditary in Napoleon's family. The Constitution of the Year XII was later itself extensively amended by the Additional Act and definitively abolished with the final return of the Bourbons in 1815.

Corps législatif

The Corps législatif was a part of the French legislature during the French Revolution and beyond. It is also the generic French term used to refer to any legislative body.

Coup of 18 Brumaire

The Coup of 18 Brumaire brought General Napoleon Bonaparte to power as First Consul of France and in the view of most historians ended the French Revolution. This bloodless coup d'état overthrew the Directory, replacing it with the French Consulate. This occurred on 9 November 1799, which was 18 Brumaire, Year VIII under the French Republican Calendar.

French Consulate

The Consulate (French: Le Consulat) was the top level Government of France from the fall of the Directory in the coup of Brumaire on 10 November 1799 until the start of the Napoleonic Empire on 18 May 1804. By extension, the term The Consulate also refers to this period of French history.

During this period, Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul, established himself as the head of a more authoritarian, autocratic, and centralized republican government in France while not declaring himself sole ruler. Due to the long-lasting institutions established during these years, Robert B. Holtman has called the Consulate "one of the most important periods of all French history." Napoleon brought authoritarian personal rule which has been viewed as military dictatorship.

French Parliament

The French Parliament (French: Parlement français) is the bicameral legislature of the French Republic, consisting of the Senate (Sénat) and the National Assembly (Assemblée nationale). Each assembly conducts legislative sessions at a separate location in Paris: the Palais du Luxembourg for the Senate and the Palais Bourbon for the National Assembly.

Each house has its own regulations and rules of procedure. However, they may occasionally meet as a single house, the French Congress (Congrès du Parlement français), convened at the Palace of Versailles, to revise and amend the Constitution of France.

Glossary of the French Revolution

This is a glossary of the French Revolution. It generally does not explicate names of individual people or their political associations; those can be found in List of people associated with the French Revolution.

The terminology routinely used in discussing the French Revolution can be confusing, even daunting. The same political faction may be referred to by different historians (or by the same historian in different contexts) by different names. During much of the revolutionary period, the French used a newly invented calendar that fell into complete disuse after the revolutionary era. Different legislative bodies had rather similar names, not always translated uniformly into English. This article is intended as a central place to clarify these issues. For citations see the articles and also Ballard (2011); Furet (1989) Hanson (2004), Ross (1998) and Scott & Rothaus (1985).

Jean-Pierre Chazal

Jean-Pierre Chazal, (born 1 March 1766 at Pont-Saint-Esprit, died 23 April 1840 at Brussels) was a French politician of the revolutionary era.Chazal was a lawyer at the parlement of Toulouse before the revolution, and was elected as a député to the National Convention for the département of Gard. He voted for the execution of Louis XVI, with a delay. After the Thermidorian Reaction he was a strong opponent of the Jacobins and was particularly hostile to Bertrand Barère. He served briefly on the Committee of Public Safety in 1795 and was a Représentant en mission to the départements of Aveyron, Cantal, Ardèche, Lozère, Haute-Loire and Puy de Dôme where his actions were noted for their moderation.Elected to the Council of Five Hundred, he opposed the Clichy Union and supported the Directory during the Coup of 18 Fructidor. In 1797-8 he worked on a report about adoption and family law, and contributed further to the development of family law through the new Civil Code of 1803. He supported Napoleon during the Coup of 18 Brumaire and joined the commission which drafted the Constitution of the Year VIII. He also strongly opposed the proposal to reintroduce ground rents in 1800.He was appointed to the Tribunat when it was set up, and on 14 September 1802, as préfet for the Hautes-Pyrénées where he remained until March 1813. Napoleon awarded him the Légion d'honneur on 23 July 1808 and made him Baron of the Empire on 13 August 1810.He served as préfet for Hautes-Alpes from 12 March 1813 to 13 January 1814. During the Hundred Days he was also préfet of Finistère from 6 April to 14 July 1815. After the Bourbon restoration, his goods were seized and he was sent into exile. He went first to Vilvoorde and later set himself up in Brussels and went into business.One of his children, Pierre Emmanuel Félix Chazal, took part in the Belgian Revolution, served as a general and became Belgian Minister of Defence.

Laurent Lecointre

Laurent Lecointre was a French politician, born at Versailles on 1 February 1742, and died at Guignes, Seine-et-Marne on 4 August 1805. He is also known under the name of "Lecointre de Versailles".

Unlike almost all his colleagues of the National Convention, Laurent Lecointre was not a lawyer by training, but a merchant of canvases. In 1789, he was second in command ("lieutenant-colonel) of the National Guard of Versailles under the orders of Charles Henri Hector d'Estaing. It was Lecointre, who evacuated the chateau de Versailles, and regulated the crowd on the 6th of October 1789, the day of the Women's March on Versailles. He was a important member of "La Société des amis de la Constitution" de Versailles. On September 15, 1792, he proposed that the dauphin and his sister were separated from their parents. He became the first witness at the trial of Marie-Antoinette in October 1793. Lecointre denounced the crazy nights in the Grand Trianon, and the luxury of the court.

It was Lecointre, who lead Robespierre to the carpenter Maurice Duplay, on 17 July 1791, after the Champ de Mars Massacre. After the defection of Dumouriez in April 1793, Count Louis-Auguste Juvénal des Ursins d'Harville became suspect and was arrested at the request of Lecointre. The day of the ceremony of the Cult of the Supreme Being on 8 June 1794, he and Barras called Maximilien de Robespierre a tyrant and feared for their lifes on 9 Thermidor. According to Lecointre the Law of 22 Prairial was written by Robespierre and not by Couthon. Lecointre, the instigator of the coup, that led to the Fall of Robespierre, contacted Robert Lindet on the 6th, and Vadier on the 7th Thermidor. The other members were: Fréron, Barras, Tallien, Courtois, Thuriot, Rovère, Garnier de l’Aube and Guffroy (Fouché was not involved). They decided that Hanriot, Dumas and the family Duplay had to be arrested first, so Robespierre would be without support, but things went differently.

In april 1795 he was involved in the Insurrection of 12 Germinal, Year III. The Assembly immediately voted the deportation of Collot, Billaud, and Barere to Guiana. Eight prominent Montagnards were arrested including Amar, Leonard Bourdon, Cambon, René Levasseur, Maignet, Lecointre and Thuriot. It was an indication of the extent to which the Assembly was now bent on undoing the past.He benefited from the general amnesty general voted during the separation of the national Convention on the 26th of October 1795. Laurent Lecointre, then adheres to the ideas of Gracchus Babeuf, but denies any link with him?Under the French Consulate Lecointre was the only one who voted against the Constitution of the Year VIII (1799), which established three consuls for life? He was exiled to Guignes, where he owned a property, and ended his days.

List of Presidents of France

Below is a list of Presidents of France. The first President of France is considered to be Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (later Napoleon III), who was elected in the 1848 election, under the French Second Republic. The current president is Emmanuel Macron, from 14 May 2017. He was elected in the 2017 election.

Jean Casimir-Périer spent the shortest time in office, resigning in 1895 only six months and 20 days after taking office. François Mitterrand served the longest, nearly fourteen years.

Of the individuals elected as president, two died in office of natural causes (Félix Faure and Georges Pompidou), and two were assassinated (Marie François Sadi Carnot and Paul Doumer).

Pierre Claude François Daunou

Pierre Claude François Daunou (French: [donu]; 18 August 1761 – 20 June 1840) was a French statesman and historian of the French Revolution and Empire.

Sénat conservateur

The Sénat conservateur ("Conservative Senate") was an advisory body established in France during the Consulate following the French Revolution. It was established in 1799 under the Constitution of the Year VIII following the Napoleon Bonaparte-led Coup of 18 Brumaire. It lasted until 1814 when Napoleon Bonaparte was overthrown and the Bourbon monarchy was restored. The Sénat was a key element in Napoleon's regime.With the Tribunat and the Corps législatif, the Senate formed one of the three legislative assemblies of the Consulate.

The constitutions of Year X (1802) and Year XII (18 May 1804; instituting the First French Empire under Napoleon) reinforced the importance of the Sénat conservateur.


Tribune (Latin: Tribunus) was the title of various elected officials in ancient Rome. The two most important were the tribunes of the plebs and the military tribunes. For most of Roman history, a college of ten tribunes of the plebs acted as a check on the authority of the senate and the annual magistrates, holding the power of ius intercessionis to intervene on behalf of the plebeians, and veto unfavourable legislation. There were also military tribunes, who commanded portions of the Roman army, subordinate to higher magistrates, such as the consuls and praetors, promagistrates, and their legates. Various officers within the Roman army were also known as tribunes. The title was also used for several other positions and classes in the course of Roman history.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.