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.
Council of Five Hundred
Conseil des Cinq-Cents
|French First Republic|
|Established||2 November 1795|
|Disbanded||10 November 1799|
|Preceded by||National Convention (unicameral)|
|Succeeded by||Corps législatif|
|Salle du Manège, rue de Rivoli, Paris|
The Council of Five Hundred was established under the Constitution of Year III which was adopted by a referendum on 24 September 1795, and constituted after the first elections which were held from 12–21 October 1795. Voting rights were restricted to citizens owning property bringing in income equal to 150 days of work. Each member elected had to be at least 30 years old, meet residency qualifications and pay taxes. To prevent them coming under the pressure of the sans-culottes and the Paris mob, the constitution allowed the Council of the Five Hundred to meet in closed session. A third of them would be replaced annually.
Besides functioning as a legislative body, the Council of Five Hundred proposed the list out of which the Ancients chose five Directors, who jointly held executive power. The Council of Five Hundred had their own distinctive official uniform, with robes, cape and hat, just as did the Council of Ancients and the Directors. 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.
In the elections of April 1797, there were a number of voting irregularities a very low turnout, resulting in a strong showing for Royalist tendencies. A number of the newly elected deputies formed the Club de Clichy in the Council. Jean-Charles Pichegru, widely assumed to be a monarchist, was elected President of the Council of Five Hundred. After documentation of Pichegru's treasonous activities was supplied by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Directors accused the entire body of plotting against the Revolution and moved quickly to annul the elections and arrest the royalists in what was known as the Coup of 18 Fructidor.
To support the coup, General Lazare Hoche, then commander of the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse, arrived in the capital with his troops, while Napoleon sent an army under Pierre Augereau. Deputies were arrested and 53 were exiled to Cayenne in French Guiana. Since death from tropical disease was likely, it was referred to as the "dry guillotine". The 42 opposition newspapers were closed. The chambers were purged, and elections were partly cancelled.
The elections of April 1798 were heavily manipulated. The Council of the Five Hundred passed a law on 8 May barring 106 recently elected deputies from taking their seats, all of whom were of a left-wing persuasion. Elections in 48 departments were annulled. Nevertheless, left-wing opinion grew in strength in the Council in 1799, and on 18 June 1799, the Council of Five Hundred and the Council of Ancients forced the resignations of the most anti-Jacobin Directors, Merlin de Douai, La Révellière-Lépeaux and Treilhard in the co-called 'Coup of 30 Prairial VII'.
In October 1799 Napoleon's brother Lucien Bonaparte was appointed President of the Council of Five Hundred. Soon afterwards, in the coup of 18 Brumaire, Napoleon led a group of grenadiers who drove the Council from its chambers and installed him as leader of France as its First Consul. This ended the Council of Five Hundred, the Council of Ancients and the Directory.
The French elections of 1795 were held from 12 October to 4 November 1795 (20 Vendémiaire to 13 Brumaire Year IV) Constitution of the Year III. The elections elected the fifth member of French Directory, new collective government of France, and renewed 150 deputies (one-third) of the French Council of Five Hundred. The rest of the Corps législatif ("Legislative Body") remained unelected, as express by Constitution.
There was a census suffrage, so only 30,000 citizens expressed their votes.The election, that assigned to the Thermidorians the directorial and parliamentary majority, was anyway an alarm signal for the Republic, like the monarchists obtained totally 161 seats inside the Legislative Body, as well a sympathizer Director: General Lazare Carnot, formerly Jacobin and revolutionary chief.
The threat of a return to Monarchy, and possibly to the Ancien Régime, finally led to the republican Coup of 18 Fructidor in 1797, who expelled the monarchist opposition from the Legislative Body and banned the royalist circles.1798 French Directory election
The French Directory election, 1798 renewed 150 deputies (one-third) of the French Council of Five Hundred.
The election was held in April and May and only citizens paying taxes were eligible to voteCamille Jordan (politician)
Camille Jordan (11 January 1771 in Lyon – 19 May 1821) was a French politician born in Lyon of a well-to-do mercantile family.
Jordan was educated in Lyon, and from an early age was imbued with royalist principles. He actively supported by voice, pen and musket his native town in its resistance to the Convention; and when Lyon fell, in October 1793, Jordan fled. From Switzerland he passed in six months to England, where he formed acquaintances with other French exiles and with prominent British statesmen, and imbibed a lasting admiration for the English Constitution.
In 1796 he returned to France, and next year he was sent by Lyon as a deputy to the Council of the Five Hundred. There his eloquence won him consideration. He earnestly supported what he felt to be true freedom, especially in matters of religious worship, though the energetic appeal on behalf of church bells in his Rapport sur la liberté des cultes procured him the sobriquet of "Jordan-Cloche". Proscribed at the coup d'état of the 18th Fructidor (4 September 1797) he escaped to Basel. Thence he went to Germany, where he met Goethe.
Back again in France by 1800, he boldly published in 1802 his Vrai sens du vote national pour le consulat à vie, in which he exposed the ambitious schemes of Bonaparte. He was unmolested, however, and during the First Empire lived in literary retirement at Lyon with his wife and family, producing for the Lyon academy occasional papers on the Influence réciproque de l'éloquence sur la Révolution et de la Révolution sur l'éloquence; Etudes sur Klopstock, etc.
At the restoration in 1814 he again emerged into public life. By Louis XVIII he was ennobled and named a councillor of state; and from 1816 he sat in the chamber of deputies as representative of Am. At first he supported the ministry, but when they began to show signs of reaction he separated from them, and gradually came to be at the head of the constitutional opposition. His speeches in the chamber were always eloquent and powerful. Though warned by failing health to resign, Camille Jordan remained at his post till his death at Paris, on 19 May 1821.
To his pen we owe Lettre à M. Laniourette (1791); Histoire de la conversion d'une dame parisienne (1792); La Loi et la religion vengées (1792); Adresse à ses commettants sur la Révolution du 4 Septembre 1797 (I797); Sur les troubles de Lyon (1818); La Session de 1817 (1818). His Discours were collected in 1818. The "Fragments choisis," and translations from the German, were published in L'Abeille française. Besides the histories of the time, see further details vol. x. of the Revue encyclopédique; a paper on Jordan and Madame de Staël, by Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, in the Revue des deux mondes for March 1868 and R Boubbe, "Camille Jordan à Weimar," in the Correspondance (1901), ccv. 718–738 and 948–970.Catherine-Dominique de Pérignon
Catherine-Dominique de Pérignon, 1st Marquis de Grenade (31 May 1754 – 25 December 1818) was Marshal of France.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.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. 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.The name adopted for the body was based on the French translation/adaptation of the term Senate .François Antoine de Boissy d'Anglas
François-Antoine, Count of the Empire (1756–1826) was a French writer, lawyer and politician during the Revolution and the Empire.Jacques-Charles Dupont de l'Eure
Jacques-Charles Dupont de l'Eure (French pronunciation: [ʒak ʃaʁl dypɔ̃ də lœʁ]; 27 February 1767 – 3 March 1855) was a French lawyer and statesman.
He is best known as the first head of state of the Second Republic, after the collapse of the July Monarchy.Jean-Baptiste Jourdan
Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, 1st Comte Jourdan (29 April 1762 – 23 November 1833), enlisted as a private in the French royal army and rose to command armies during the French Revolutionary Wars. Emperor Napoleon I of France named him a Marshal of France in 1804 and he also fought in the Napoleonic Wars. After 1815, he became reconciled to the Bourbon Restoration. He was one of the most successful commanders of the French Revolutionary Army.Jean-Baptiste Robert Lindet
Jean-Baptiste Robert Lindet (2 May 1746 in Bernay, Eure – 17 February 1825) was a French politician of the Revolutionary period. His brother, Robert Thomas Lindet, became a constitutional bishop and member of the National Convention. Although his role may not have been spectacular, Jean-Baptiste Lindet came to be the embodiment of the growing middle class that came to dominate French politics during the Revolution.Jean-Lambert Tallien
Jean-Lambert Tallien (23 January 1767 – 16 November 1820) was a French political figure of the revolutionary period.Jean Baptiste Treilhard
Jean-Baptiste Treilhard (3 January 1742 – 1 December 1810) was an important French statesman of the revolutionary period. He passed through the troubled times of the Republic and Empire with great political savvy, playing a decisive role at important times.
Without achieving the notoriety of some of his more famous revolutionary colleagues, he held a number of key positions - President of the National Constituent Assembly (20 July - 1 August 1790), President of the National Convention (27 December 1792 - 10 January 1793, coinciding with the trial of Louis XVI, three-time member of the Committee of Public Safety (7 April 1793 - 12 June 1793; 31 July 1794 - 5 November 1794; 4 May 1795 - 2 August 1795), chairman of the Council of Five Hundred, member of the French Directory.
Eugene Marbeau describes Jean-Baptiste Treilhard as "a man honest and right, who is content to do his duty in the situation... but who does not seek... to dominate events". He is buried at the Panthéon.Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès
Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès, duc de Parme (18 October 1753 – 8 March 1824), was a French nobleman, lawyer and statesman during the French Revolution and the First Empire. He is best remembered as one of the authors of the Napoleonic Code, which still forms the basis of French civil law and French-inspired civil law in many countries.Joseph Bonaparte
Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte, born Giuseppe di Buonaparte (Italian: [dʒuˈzɛppe di ˌbwɔnaˈparte], Spanish: José Bonaparte; 7 January 1768 – 28 July 1844) was a French diplomat and nobleman, the elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who made him King of Naples and Sicily (1806–1808, as Giuseppe I), and later King of Spain (1808–1813, as José I). After the fall of Napoleon, Joseph styled himself Comte de Survilliers.Louis Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux
Louis Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux (24 August 1753 – 24 March 1824) was a deputy to the National Convention during the French Revolution. He later served as a prominent leader of the French Directory.Lucien Bonaparte
Lucien Bonaparte, Prince Français, 1st Prince of Canino and Musignano (born Luciano Buonaparte; 21 May 1775 – 29 June 1840), the third surviving son of Carlo Bonaparte and his wife Letizia Ramolino, was a French statesman, who served as the final President of the Council of Five Hundred at the end of the French Revolution.
Lucien was a younger brother of Joseph and Napoleon Bonaparte, and an older brother of Elisa, Louis, Pauline, Caroline and Jérôme Bonaparte. Lucien held genuinely revolutionary views, which led to an often abrasive relationship with his brother Napoleon, who seized control of the French government in 1799, when Lucien was 24.Nicolas Marie Quinette
Nicolas Marie Quinette, Baron de Rochemont (September 16, 1762, Paris – June 14, 1821, Brussels) was a French politician.
He was a notary in Soissons. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1791, a member of the Convention, and Member of the Council of Five Hundred, and Interior Minister.
He was a commissioner in the inquiry of Charles François Dumouriez, was captured by the Austrians, and exchanged for Madame Royale, Marie Thérèse of France, daughter of Louis XVI.In 1796, he presided from 21 November 1796 to 20 December. During the Hundred Days, on June 2, 1815, he sat in the Imperial House of Peers.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.Pierre Paul Royer-Collard
Pierre Paul Royer-Collard (21 June 1763 – 2 September 1845) was a French statesman and philosopher, leader of the Doctrinaires group during the Bourbon Restoration (1814–1830).Roger Ducos
Pierre Roger Ducos (25 July 1747 – 16 March 1816), better known as Roger Ducos, was a French political figure during the Revolution and First Empire, a member of the National Convention, and of the Directory.