Council of Ancients

The Council of Ancients or Council of Elders (French: Conseil des Anciens) was the upper house of French legislature under the Constitution of the Year III, during the period commonly known as the Directory (French: Directoire), from 22 August 1795 until 9 November 1799, roughly the second half of the period generally referred to as the French Revolution.

The Council of Ancients was the senior of the two halves of the republican legislative system. The Ancients were 250 members who could accept or reject laws put forward by the lower house of the Directory, the Council of Five Hundred (Conseil des Cinq-Cents). Each member had to be at least forty years of age, and a third of them would be replaced annually. They had no authority to draft laws, but any bills that they renounced could not be reintroduced for at least a year.[1]

Besides functioning as a legislative body, the Ancients chose five Directors, who jointly held executive power, from the list of names put forward by the Council of Five Hundred. The Council of Ancients had their own distinctive official uniform, with robes, cape and hat, just as did the Council of Five Hundred and the Directors.[2][3] Under the Thermidorean constitution, as Boissy d'Anglas put it, the Council of Five Hundred was to be the imagination of the Republic, and the Council of Ancients its reason.[4][5]

The name adopted for the body was based on the French translation/adaptation of the term Senate [6].

Council of Anciens

Conseil des Anciens
French First Republic
Coat of arms or logo
Emblem of the Council of Anciens
Established2 November 1795
Disbanded10 November 1799
Preceded byNational Convention (unicameral)
Succeeded byImperial Senate
Meeting place
Salle du Manège, rue de Rivoli, Paris
Thomas Andre Marie Bouquerot de Voligny 1755-1841 depute de la Nievre au Conseil des Anciens p1400556
Bouquerot de Voligny (1755-1841) in his uniform as a member of the Council of Ancients
Conseil des Anciens
The Council of Ancients in session

Presidents of the Council of Ancients

  • 28 October 1795 : Claude Antoine Rudel Du Miral (due to age)
  • 28 October 1795 – 2 November 1795 : Louis-Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux
  • 2 November 1795 – 23 November 1795 : Pierre-Charles-Louis Baudin, known as Baudin des Ardennes
  • 23 November 1795 – 22 December 1795 : François Denis Tronchet
  • 22 December 1795 – 22 January 1796 : Théodore Vernier
  • 22 January 1796 – 20 February 1796 : Guillaume François Charles Goupil de Préfelne
  • 20 February 1796 – 21 March 1796 : Claude Ambroise Régnier
  • 21 March 1796 – 20 April 1796 : Jacques Antoine Creuzé-Latouche
  • 20 April 1796 – 20 May 1796 : Jean-Barthélemy Lecouteulx de Canteleu
  • 20 May 1796 – 19 June 1796 : Charles-François Lebrun
  • 19 June 1796 – 19 July 1796 : Jean Étienne Marie Portalis
  • 19 July 1796 – 18 August 1796 : Jean Dussaulx
  • 18 August 1796 – 23 September 1796 : Honoré Muraire
  • 23 September 1796 – 22 October 1796 : Roger Ducos
  • 22 October 1796 – 21 November 1796 : Jean-Girard Lacuée
  • 21 November 1796 – 21 December 1796 : Jean-Jacques Bréard, known as Bréard-Duplessis
  • 21 December 1796 – 20 January 1797 : Boniface Paradis
  • 20 January 1797 – 19 February 1797 : Sébastien Ligeret de Beauvais
  • 19 February 1797 – 21 March 1797 : Joseph Clément Poullain de Grandprey
  • 21 March 1797 – 20 April 1797 : Jean François Bertrand Delmas
  • 20 April 1797 – 20 May 1797 : Edme-Bonaventure Courtois
  • 20 May 1797 – 19 June 1797 : François Barbé-Marbois
  • 19 June 1797 – 19 July 1797 : Louis Bernard de Saint-Affrique
  • 19 July 1797 – 18 August 1797 : Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours
  • 18 August 1797 – 4 September 1797 : André-Daniel Laffon de Ladebat, known as Laffon-Ladébat
  • 6 September 1797 – 23 September 1797 : Jean-Antoine Marbot
  • 23 September 1797 – 22 October 1797 : Emmanuel Crétet
  • 22 October 1797 – 21 November 1797 : Jean-Pierre Lacombe-Saint-Michel
  • 21 November 1797 – 21 December 1797 : Jean François Philibert Rossée
  • 21 December 1797 – 20 January 1798 : Jean-Baptiste Marragon
  • 20 January 1798 – 19 February 1798 : Jean Rousseau
  • 19 February 1798 – 21 March 1798 : Pardoux Bordas
  • 21 March 1798 – 20 April 1798 : Étienne Mollevaut
  • 20 April 1798 – 20 May 1798 : Jacques Poisson de Coudreville
  • 20 May 1798 – 19 June 1798 : Claude Ambroise Régnier
  • 19 June 1798 – 19 July 1798 : Jean-Antoine Marbot
  • 19 July 1798 – 18 August 1798 : Étienne Maynaud Bizefranc de Lavaux
  • 18 August 1798 – 23 September 1798 : Pierre Antoine Laloy
  • 23 September 1798 – 22 October 1798 : Benoît Michel Decomberousse
  • 22 October 1798 – 21 November 1798 : Emmanuel Pérès de Lagesse
  • 21 November 1798 – 21 December 1798 : Jean-Augustin Moreau de Vormes
  • 21 December 1798 – 20 January 1799 : Jean-Baptiste Perrin des Vosges
  • 20 January 1799 – 19 February 1799 : Dominique Joseph Garat
  • 19 February 1799 – 21 March 1799 : Jean-Aimé Delacoste
  • 21 March 1799 – 20 April 1799 : Mathieu Depère
  • 20 April 1799 – 20 May 1799 : Claude-Pierre Dellay d'Agier
  • 20 May 1799 – 19 June 1799 : Charles Claude Christophe Gourdan
  • 19 June 1799 – 19 July 1799 : Pierre-Charles-Louis Baudin, known as Baudin des Ardennes
  • 19 July 1799 – 18 August 1799 : Louis-Thibaut Dubois-Dubais
  • 18 August 1799 – 24 September 1799 : Mathieu-Augustin Cornet
  • 24 September 1799 – 23 October 1799 : Joseph Cornudet des Chaumettes
  • 23 October 1799 – 10 November 1799 : Louis-Nicolas Lemercier


  1. ^ Paul R. Hanson, Contesting the French Revolution, John Wiley & Sons 2009 p.131
  2. ^ accessed 30/4/2017
  3. ^ accessed 30/4/2017
  4. ^ accessed 30/4/2017
  5. ^ accessed 30/4/2017
  6. ^ senate (n.) c. 1200, "legal and administrative body of ancient Rome," from Old French senat or Latin senatus "highest council of the state in ancient Rome," literally "council of elders," from senex (genitive senis) "old man, old" (from PIE root *sen- "old"). Attested from late 14c. in reference to governing bodies of free cities in Europe; of national governing bodies from 1550s; specific sense of upper house of U.S. legislature is recorded from 1775. Online Etymology Dictionary accessed 1/11/2017


Charles-Jean-Marie Alquier

Charles-Jean-Marie Alquier (13 October 1752 – February 1826) was a French diplomat. He served as French minister in several European capitals.

Charles Claude Christophe Gourdan

Charles Claude Christophe Gourdan (1 November 1744, Champlitte - 2 August 1804, Champlitte) was a politician during the time of the French Revolution. He was one of the founders of the Jacobin Club.The son of a lawyer, Claude Christophe Gourdan, and his wife Claire Raillard, he attended the University of Besançon also became a lawyer, and deputy criminal assessor of the bailiwick of Gray. At the convocation of the Estates General, he was elected deputy of the Third Estate of the fr:Bailliage d'Amont. He consistently voted for radical initiatives, including the abolition of privileges, the creation of assignats, for the establishment of the new départements, for the sequestration of clerical property, the sale of national property, and the suppression of noble titles.Under the Constituent Assembly, he served as President of the Champlitte District Court. Elected president of the National Convention from February 21 to March 7, 1793, he voted the death of the king. He then entered the Council of Five Hundred, and was a member of the Committee of Public Safety from October 7 to November 4, 1795. He entered the Council of Ancients of which he was also president. At the end of 1795, he was appointed judge of the Court of Cassation.He argued against proposed restrictions on the re-establishment of banned political clubs, maintaining that the right of assembly could not be abrogated. He was also a strong advocate of a free and uncensored press. Having opposed the Coup of 18 Brumaire he was ordered by Fouché to retired to the countryside. On 28 floréal year VIII (under the Consulate) he was appointed to the position of judge in the civil court of Vesoul, but declined to take up his post as he did not recognise a government established by force. He also resigned from his other judicial posts for the same reason.He is buried in the cemetery of Rethel.

Claude-Alexandre Ysabeau

Claude-Alexandre Ysabeau was born in Gien on 14 July 1754 and died in Paris on 18 March 1831.He was first an Oratorian priest and later a constitutional priest in St-Martin-de-Tours, eventually serving as Vicar-General to the Bishop of Tours in 1791. He was a teacher at the École Militaire de Vendôme and at the Collège de Tours.

He as elected as a deputy to the National Convention for the departement of Indre-et-Loire. He voted for the death of Louis XVI.

The Convention sent him to Pyrénées-Orientales to organise the army there. Then, together with Jean-Lambert Tallien, he was sent by the Convention as a Commissioner to Bordeaux in August 1793 to restore order following an attempted revolt. Robespierre urged them to 'punish the traitors and royalists promptly and severely'. However, by the end of 1793 Ysabeau and Tallien had only executed 104 Federalist leaders. Along with Tallien, Ysabeau was later denounced by Robespierre for moderation, and returned to Paris to clear his name. Together with Tallien, Ysabeau was one of the Convention members who instigated the Thermidorean Reaction which overthrew Robespierre.

In March 1795 he became a member of the Committee of General Security and in October of the same year he was elected to the Council of Ancients. Under the Consulate and Empire he served as an inspector of the post.

He is buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery (37th division).

Claude Ambroise Régnier

Claude Ambroise Régnier, Duke of Massa (6 April 1746 – 24 June 1814) was a French lawyer and politician.

He was a deputy in 1789, a member of the Council of Ancients, a member of the Senate and a Minister.

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.

Council of Elders

Council of Elders may refer to:

Council of Elders of the Bundestag (Germany), a joint deliberative body

Council of Five Elders, a form of government in feudal Japan

Council of Ancients, the upper house of the French Directory, a.k.a. Council of Elders

Teip Council of Elders, a council within the Chechen tribal organization Teip

Roman Senate, from the Latin "senatus" meaning "council of elders"

Council of Elders (A Series of Unfortunate Events), a fictional organization

The ruling counsel of the planet Krypton in the Superman comic book and film series

Council of Elders (Malaysia), a group of eminent Malaysians advising the current Malaysian government

Council of Five Hundred

The Council of Five Hundred (Conseil des Cinq-Cents), or simply the Five Hundred, was the lower house of the legislature of France under the Constitution of the Year III. It existed during the period commonly known (from the name of the executive branch during this time) as the Directory (Directoire), from 26 October 1795 until 9 November 1799: roughly the second half of the period generally referred to as the French Revolution.

Coup of 30 Prairial VII

The Coup of 30 Prairial Year VII (Coup d'État du 30 prairial an VII), also known as the Revenge of the Councils (revanche des conseils) was a bloodless coup in France that occurred on 18 June 1799—30 Prairial Year VII by the French Republican Calendar. It left Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès as the dominant figure of the French government, and prefigured the coup of 18 Brumaire that brought Napoleon Bonaparte to power.

Dominique Joseph Garat

Dominique Joseph Garat (8 September 1749 – 9 December 1833) was a French Basque writer and politician.

François Barbé-Marbois

François Barbé-Marbois, marquis de Barbé-Marbois (31 January 1745 – 12 February 1837) was a French politician.

François Sébastien Letourneux

François Sébastien Letourneux (1752–1814) was a French lawyer and politician who was Minister of the Interior under the Directory.

Georges Antoine Chabot

Georges Antoine Chabot (13 April 1758 – 18 April 1819), known as Chabot de Lallier, was a French jurist and statesman.

Honoré Muraire

Honoré Muraire, (5 November 1750 - 20 November 1837) was a French statesman of the French Revolution. Under the Ancien Régime he held the title of seigneur of Favas; later under the French Empire he held a title of comte de l'Empire.

Jean-Antoine Marbot

Jean-Antoine Marbot (7 December 1754 - 19 April 1800) was a French general and politician.

Jean-François-Bertrand Delmas

Jean-François-Bertrand Delmas (3 January 1751 – after 6 October 1798) was a French Revolutionary politician. He was député for Haute-Garonne in the Legislative Assembly of 1791–1792, then a member of the French National Convention, the Committee of Public Safety and the Council of Ancients, briefly presiding the Council of Ancients in 1797. Le Moniteur Universel of 2 fructidor VI (19 August 1798) reported that he had gone mad, and it is considered unlikely that he survived beyond the end of 1798.

Joseph Niou

Joseph Niou (6 January 1749 at Rochefort – 30 May 1823 in Paris) was a marine engineer and politician of the French Revolution, serving as the director of shipbuilding.

List of Presidents of the Senate of France

The Senate of France is the upper house of the French Parliament. It is presided over by a president. Although there had been Senates in both the First and Second Empires, these had not technically been legislative bodies, but rather advisory bodies on the model of the Roman Senate. France's first experience with an upper house was under the Directory from 1795 to 1799, when the Council of Ancients was the upper chamber. With the Restoration in 1814, a new Chamber of Peers was created, on the model of the British House of Lords. At first it contained hereditary peers, but following the July Revolution of 1830, it became a body to which one was appointed for life. The Second Republic returned to a unicameral system after 1848, but soon after the establishment of the Second French Empire in 1852, a Senate was established as the upper chamber. In the Fourth Republic, the Senate was renamed the Council of the Republic, but its function was largely the same. With the new constitution of the Fifth Republic in 1959, the older name of Senate was restored.

The President of the Senate, in addition to his duties as presiding officer of the Upper House of parliament, is also, according to the constitution of the Fifth Republic, first in line of succession in case of death or resignation of the president, thus becoming Acting President of the Republic until a new election can be held. This has already occurred twice. Alain Poher, the President of the French Senate, served as Acting President of France from 28 April until 20 June 1969 (between the resignation of President Charles de Gaulle and the installation of his elected successor President Georges Pompidou) and again from 3 April until 27 May 1974 (between the death of President Georges Pompidou and the installation of his elected successor President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing).

Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai

Philippe-Antoine Merlin, known as Merlin de Douai (30 October 1754 – 26 December 1838) was a French politician and lawyer.

Pierre-Charles-Louis Baudin

Pierre-Charles-Louis Baudin, born 18 December 1748 in Sedan, Ardennes and died 14 October 1799 in Paris, was a French revolutionary and politician. He is the father of the admiral and explorer Charles Baudin and brother-in-law of the chemist Jean Henri Hassenfratz. He was noted as a moderate; he opposed the execution of Louis XVI.

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