The Society of the Friends of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (French: Société des Amis des droits de l'homme et du citoyen), mainly known as Cordeliers Club (French: Club des Cordeliers), was a populist club during the French Revolution from 1790 to 1794, when the Reign of Terror ended and the Thermidorian Reaction began.

Cordeliers Club

Club des Cordeliers
PresidentsGeorges Danton
Pierre-François-Joseph Robert
Jacques Hébert
FoundersGeorges Danton
Camille Desmoulins
HeadquartersCordeliers Convent, Paris
NewspaperLe Vieux Cordelier (Dantonists)
Le Père Duchesne (Hébertists)
Left-wing populism
Political positionLeft-wing to far-left
National affiliationThe Mountain (1792–1794)
Colours     Green
SloganLiberté, égalité, fraternité
("Liberty, equality, fraternity")


The Cordeliers Convent in 1793

The club had its origins in the Cordeliers district, a famously radical area of Paris called, by Camille Desmoulins, "the only sanctuary where liberty has not been violated".[1] Under the leadership of Georges Danton, this district had played a significant role in the Storming of the Bastille and was home to several notable figures of the Revolution, including Danton himself, Desmoulins and Jean-Paul Marat—on whose behalf the district placed itself in a state of civil rebellion, when in January 1790 it refused to allow the execution of a warrant for his arrest that had been issued by the Châtelet.

Having issued in November 1789 a declaration affirming its intent to "oppose, as much as we are able, all that the representatives of the Commune may undertake that is harmful to the general rights of our constituents",[2] the Cordeliers district remained in conflict with the Parisian government throughout the winter and spring of 1790. In May and June 1790, the previous division of Paris into sixty districts was by decree of the National Assembly replaced by the creation of forty-eight sections. This restructuring abolished the Cordeliers district.

Anticipating this dissolution, the leaders of the Cordeliers district founded in April 1790 the Société des Amis des droits de l’homme et du citoyen, a popular society which would serve as an alternative means of pursuing the goals and interests of the district. This society held its meetings in the Cordeliers Convent and quickly became known as the Club des Cordeliers. It took as its motto the phrase Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

The membership fees of this society were fixed low and thus affordable to a more diverse range of citizens than those of many other political clubs at the time, including the Jacobin Club. There were no other restrictions on membership. The Cordeliers presented themselves as exceptionally populist and they prided themselves on counting working men and women among their members. A contemporary account describes one meeting:

About three hundred persons of both sexes filled the place; their dress was so unkempt and so filthy that one would have taken them for a gathering of beggars. The Declaration of the Rights of Man was stuck on the wall, crowned by crossed daggers. Plaster busts of Brutus and William Tell were placed on each side, as if expressly to guard the Declaration. Facing, behind the tribune, as supporters, there appeared busts of Mirabeau and Helvétius, with Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the middle.[3]

However, the preponderance of Cordeliers were members of the bourgeoisie and its leadership was largely drawn from the educated middle classes.[4]

On 21 June 1791, following an attempt by the royal family to flee Paris, the Cordeliers moved to draft a petition which offered the National Assembly a choice between the immediate deposition of Louis XVI or a national referendum on the future of the monarchy. The Cordeliers actively moved against the majority interests in this case. Large demonstrations in support of this and similar petitions led to civil unrest, and culminated in the Champ de Mars Massacre on 17 July. The National Guard, led by the Marquis de Lafayette, fired on the protestors, resulting in the deaths of at least dozen of them.[5] Subsequent action taken against the Cordeliers included the closing of the Cordeliers Convent to them and the issuing of arrest warrants for Danton and Desmoulins. Despite these measures, the society remained a highly influential force in Parisian politics.

The Cordeliers participated significantly in the planning and execution of the 10 August 1792 insurrection. Danton, at this time perhaps the most powerful figure within the Cordeliers Club, acted—in Hilaire Belloc's words—as "the organizer and chief of the insurrection"[6] and was appointed Minister of Justice in the government that resulted, with Desmoulins and Fabre d'Églantine—both prominent members of the Cordeliers Club—as his secretaries.

Subsequent to this insurrection and to the September Massacres that followed closely on its heels, the Cordeliers Club became increasingly the province of ultra-revolutionary factions, particularly the Hébertists, who advocated extreme measures to intensify the Terror.

In December 1793, Desmoulins began publishing a journal entitled the Vieux Cordelier or "Old Cordelier", which attempted to reclaim the title of the society from those who had associated it with extremism. In the seven numbers of the journal, Desmoulins attacked the Hébertists and called for an end to the Terror, comparing revolutionary Paris to Rome under the tyrants. The Hébertists were arrested and on 24 March 1794 and executed, but Desmoulins, Danton and the "Old Cordeliers" of the Indulgent Dantonist faction quickly followed them to the guillotine, effectively ending the era of the Cordeliers Club.


The papers emanating from the Cordeliers are enumerated in Jean Maurice Tourneux, Bibliographie de l'histoire de Paris pendant la Révolution (1894), i. (on the trial of the Hébertists) Nos. 4204–4210, ii. Nos. 9795–9834 and 11,813. See also A. Bougeart Les Cordeliers, documents pour servir a l'histoire de la Révolution (Caen, 1891); G. Lenotre, Paris révolutionnaire (Paris, 1895); G. Tridon, Les Hébertistes, plainte contre une calomnie de l'histoire (Paris, 1864). The last-named author was condemned to four months' prison; his work was reprinted in 1871. The inventory of the pictures found in 1790 in the Cordeliers Convent was published by J. Guiffrey in Nouvelles archives de l’art français, viii., 2nd series, iii. (1880).

Factions and members

See also



  1. ^ Hammersley, 19.
  2. ^ Hammersley, 25.
  3. ^ Rose, 97.
  4. ^ Rose, 106.
  5. ^ Woodward, W. E. Lafayette.
  6. ^ Belloc, 167.
1791 French legislative election

French legislative elections were held in September 1791 to elect the Legislative Assembly and was the first ever French election. However, only citizens paying taxes were allowed to vote. A plurality of the elected candidates were independents, but almost all were affiliated with the three political factions emerging in the new legislative assembly; the Marais, the Feuillants and the Jacobins (Montagnards, since they occupied the most elevated in the assembly). The factions were only vaguely affiliated to an organized program. The Feuillants did, however, support a constitutional monarchy, the Girondists a moderate republican policy and the Cordeliers a radical democratic constitution, supported by the lower classes. These factions preceded the later dominant factions: the Jacobin, the Girondists and the Marais party, consisting mainly of moderates.

Antoine-François Momoro

Antoine-François Momoro (1756 – 24 March 1794) was a French printer, bookseller and politician during the French Revolution. An important figure in the Cordeliers club and in Hébertisme, he is the originator of the phrase ″Unité, Indivisibilité de la République; Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité ou la mort″, one of the mottoes of the French Republic.

Arthur II, Duke of Brittany

Arthur II (25 July 1261 – 27 August 1312), of the House of Dreux, was Duke of Brittany from 1305 to his death. He was the first son of John II and Beatrice, daughter of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence.

After he inherited the ducal throne, his brother John became Earl of Richmond.As duke, Arthur was independent of the French crown. He divided his duchy into eight "battles": Léon, Kernev, Landreger, Penteur, Gwened, Naoned, Roazhon, and Sant Malou. In 1309, he convoked the first Estates of Brittany. It was the first time in French history that the third estate was represented.

Arthur died at Château de l'Isle in Saint Denis en Val and was interred in a marble tomb of the cordeliers of Vannes. The tomb was vandalised during the French Revolution, but later repaired and is on display today.

Charles-Philippe Ronsin

Charles-Philippe Ronsin (1 December 1751 – 24 March 1794) was a French general of the Revolutionary Army of the First French Republic, commanding the large Parisian division of l'Armée Révolutionnaire. He was an extreme radical leader of the French Revolution, and one of the many followers of Jacques-René Hébert, known as the Hébertists.

Church of Saint-François-des-Cordeliers

The Church of Saint-François-des-Cordeliers (French: Église des Cordeliers de Nancy) is a Roman Catholic church located in Nancy, France, capital city of Lorraine.

Cordeliers Cloister (Saint-Emilion)

The Cordeliers cloister is situated in France, at the heart of the medieval town of Saint-Emilion in the Gironde area. It is one of the town’s most emblematic and picturesque sites, containing a monolithic church. A listed Historical Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it also has underground cellars where sparkling wines are produced.

Cordeliers Convent

There were several Cordeliers Convents in France. This article is about the one in Paris.

The Cordeliers Convent (French: Couvent des Cordeliers) was a convent in Paris, France.

It gave its name to the Club of the Cordeliers, which held its first meetings there during the French Revolution.

Cordeliers was the name given in France to the Observant Franciscans.

The building later housed the Dupuytren Museum of anatomy in connection with the school of medicine. This was moved in 2016.


The Hébertists (French: Hébertistes), or Exaggerators (French: Exagérés) were a radical revolutionary political group associated with the populist journalist Jacques Hébert, a member of the Cordeliers club. They came to power during the Reign of Terror and played a significant role in the French Revolution.

The Hébertists were ardent supporters of the dechristianization of France and of extreme measures in service of the Terror, including the Law of Suspects enacted in 1793. They favoured the direct intervention of the state in economic matters in order to ensure the adequate supply of commodities, advocating the national requisition of wine and grain.The leaders went to the guillotine on 24 March 1794.

Jardin botanique des Cordeliers

The Jardin botanique des Cordeliers is a botanical garden located at the Place des Cordeliers, Digne-les-Bains, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France. It is open weekdays in the warmer months; admission is free.

The garden was created in 1986 within the cour d'honneur of Collège Maria Borelly, and named after its former 13th century convent site. It began as small conservatory of regional plants but in 1996 was extended to contain more than 350 plant species arranged in geometric groupings that include a collection of wild herbs, aromatic plants of the region and abroad, vegetables, and a sensory garden (created in 2005). The garden also contains a small labyrinth, sculpture, fruit trees and ornamental bushes, and flowers including dahlias and roses.

Les Cordeliers

Les Cordeliers is one of the central quarters in the 2nd arrondissement of Lyon, France. It is mainly known for the Place des Cordeliers in its centre. Around the square, there are many notable monuments, including the Église Saint-Bonaventure and the Palais de la Bourse.

Musée Dupuytren

The Musée Dupuytren was a museum of wax anatomical items and specimens illustrating diseases and malformations. It was located at the Cordeliers Convent building, 15, rue de l'Ecole de Médecine, Les Cordeliers, Paris, France, and is part of the Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC) School of Medicine. In 2016 the museum was closed and moved to the Jussieu Campus, joining 8 scientific collections of UPMC. The collections will be open to students and researchers, and will be open to the public for events.

Palais de la Bourse, Lyon

The Palais de la Bourse or Palais du Commerce is a building located in the quarter Les Cordeliers, in 2nd arrondissement of Lyon. It currently houses the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Lyon. It is served by the metro station Cordeliers, and by bus lines C3, 18, 23, 25, 28, 58, 71, 91 and 99.

It is bordered by the place des Cordeliers to the south, the place de la Bourse to the north, the Rue de la République to the west and Rue de la Bourse to the east.

In 1994, the building was classified as monument historique.

Place des Cordeliers à Lyon

Place des Cordeliers à Lyon (also known as Cordeliers' Square in Lyon) is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Louis Lumière.

The film formed part of the first commercial presentation of the Lumière Cinématographe on 28 December 1895 at the Salon Indien, Grand Café, 14 Boulevard des Capuchins, Paris.

Rue Mercière

Rue Mercière is a street of Les Cordeliers quarter in the 2nd arrondissement of Lyon. From north to south, it connects the Place des Jacobins to the Place d'Albon. This street is served by metro stations Bellecour and Cordeliers of the line A and by the bus station Jacobins of the lines 91 and 99. It belongs to the zone classified as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Rue de la Bourse

The Rue de la Bourse is a street located mainly in the 2nd arrondissement of Lyon, and also in the 1st arrondissement. It starts on the Place des Cordeliers, in the 2nd arrondissement, in front of the Église Saint-Bonaventure, and ends at right angles to the Rue du Bât-d'Argent, beyond which it is extended by the Rue du Garet.

Rue de la République

Rue de la République is a street located in the 1st and 2nd arrondissements of Lyon. This is the main shopping street of the city. This zone is served by the metro stations Bellecour, Hôtel de Ville - Louis Pradel and Cordeliers. The street belongs to the zone classified as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Rue des Archers

The Rue des Archers is a street located in the 2nd arrondissement of Lyon, in the Cordeliers quarter. It is near the Place Bellecour. The traffic goes from the rue Édouard-Herriot to the place des Célestins, and is regulated on the part leading to the rue de la République. The zone is served by the metro station Bellecour of the line A and the buses 91 and 99.

Salon Indien du Grand Café

Le Salon Indien du Grand Café was a room in the basement of the Grand Café, on the Boulevard des Capucines near the Place de l'Opéra in the center of Paris. It is notable for being the place that hosted the very first public moviescreening, on December 28, 1895, consisting in ten short clips presented by the Lumière brothers. These short films clips (in order of presentation), were:

La Sortie de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon (literally, "the exit from the Lumière factory in Lyon", or, under its more common English title, Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory), 46 seconds

Le Jardinier (l'Arroseur Arrosé) ("The Gardener", or "The Sprinkler Sprinkled"), 49 seconds

Le Débarquement du Congrès de Photographie à Lyon ("the disembarkment of the Congress of Photographers in Lyon"), 48 seconds

La Voltige ("Horse Trick Riders"), 46 seconds

La Pêche aux poissons rouges ("fishing for goldfish"), 42 seconds

Les Forgerons ("Blacksmiths"), 49 seconds

Repas de bébé ("Baby's Breakfast" (lit. "baby's meal")), 41 seconds

Le Saut à la couverture ("Jumping Onto the Blanket"), 41 seconds

La Places des Cordeliers à Lyon ("Cordeliers Square in Lyon"—a street scene), 44 seconds

La Mer (Baignade en mer) ("the sea [bathing in the sea]"), 38 secondsCurrently, the building standing at No. 14 Boulevard des Capucines is the Hotel Scribe, which opened a restaurant called 'Café Lumière', in memory of its history. The Grand Cafe Capucines located at No. 4 is a successor to the original further along the boulevard.

Église Saint-Bonaventure

The Église Saint-Bonaventure is one of the churches of the quarter Presqu'île, located on the Place des Cordeliers, in the 2nd arrondissement of Lyon. This is the only medieval building not demolished after the creation of the rue Impériale (now rue de la République), under the Second Empire by the prefect Claude-Marius Vaïsse.

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