Coup of 18 Fructidor

The Coup of 18 Fructidor, Year V, was a seizure of power by members of the French Directory on 4 September 1797 when their opponents, the Royalists, were gaining strength. Howard G. Brown, Professor of History at Binghamton University, stresses the turn toward dictatorship and the failure of liberal democracy under the Directory, blaming it on "chronic violence, ambivalent forms of justice, and repeated recourse to heavy-handed repression."[1]

Coup of 18 Fructidor
Part of the French Revolution
Augereau Coup d etat 18 Fructidor in Tuileries

Acting for the coup's leaders, General Pierre Augereau stormed the Tuileries Palace to arrest Charles Pichegru and others accused of plotting a counter-revolution.
Date4 September 1797

Republican victory:

French Directory: Council of Ancients
Council of Five Hundred
Commanders and leaders
  • François-Marie, marquis de Barthélemy
  • Lazare Carnot
  • Boissy d'Anglas
  • Strength
    80,000 216 royalist deputies
    Casualties and losses


    Three Directors, Paul Barras, Jean-François Rewbell and Louis Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux, staged the coup d'état with support from the military.[2] Royalist candidates had gained the great majority of seats in the recent elections, where a third of the seats were at stake. They were poised to win the next round of elections and assume control of the Directory.

    Jean-Charles Pichegru, a figure widely assumed to be acting in sympathy to the monarchy and its restoration, was elected President of the Council of Five Hundred.[2] 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.[2]

    To support the coup, General Lazare Hoche, then commander of the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse, arrived in the capital with his troops, while Bonaparte sent troops 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.

    Among those deported to Cayenne were Pichegru, François Barbé-Marbois, François-Marie, marquis de Barthélemy and Amédée Willot. Lazare Carnot made good his escape. The two vacant places in the Directory were filled by Philippe Merlin de Douai and Nicolas-Louis François de Neufchâteau.

    The 80-gun ship of the line Foudroyant was briefly named Dix-huit fructidor in honour of the event.


    1. ^ Brown (2007). Ending the French Revolution: Violence, Justice, and Repression from the Terror to Napoleon. p. 1.
    2. ^ a b c Doyle, William (2002). The Oxford History of the French Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 330. ISBN 978-0-19-925298-5.


    1795 French Directory election

    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.

    Amédée Willot

    Amédée Willot (31 August 1755 – 17 December 1823) held several military commands during the French Revolutionary Wars but his association with Jean-Charles Pichegru led to his exile from France in 1797. He joined the French Royal Army as a volunteer in 1771 and was a captain by 1787. He was elected commander of a volunteer battalion in 1792 and served in the War of the Pyrenees. Shortly after being promoted commander of a light infantry regiment Willot was appointed general of brigade in June 1793. A few months later he was denounced as a Royalist and jailed. In the light of later events, this may have been an accurate assessment of Willot's sentiments. After release from prison in January 1795, he led troops in Spain during the summer campaign. He was promoted to general of division in July 1795.

    Willot transferred to the War in the Vendée where he served until spring 1796. During this period he was temporarily in command of the Army of the West. He was in charge of the 8th Military Division at Marseilles until his election to the Council of Five Hundred in April 1797. He aligned himself with the Royalists who were regarded as a threat by powerful men in the French Directory. After the Coup of 18 Fructidor he was deported to French Guiana with others belonging to Pichegru's faction, but later escaped. Willot overtly embraced the Royalist cause and worked with France's enemies to overthrow the First French Republic. After drifting to several nations, he spent the years of the First French Empire in the United States. Returning to France with King Louis XVIII he was ennobled as a count and given awards for his loyalty. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 34.

    Antoine Balthazar Joachim d'André

    Antoine Balthazar Joachim, baron d'André (2 July 1759 – 16 July 1825) was a French royalist politician.

    Auguste-Louis Bertin d'Antilly

    Auguste-Louis Bertin d'Antilly (1763–1804) was a French dramatist and journalist whose patriotic songs and topical libretti were prominent during the French Revolution, but who emigrated from France under Napoleon.

    Bertin d'Antilly possessed the sinecure of premier Commis des Finances au département des revenus casuels du Roi, and thus was a pensioner of Louis XVI of France. In 1783 his one-act L'Anglais à Paris was a comedy without overt political content, and his two-act comedy L'école de l'adolescence was played in June 1789; but that same year, as "Citoyen B. Dantilly" he wrote the libretto for Pierre-David-Augustin Chapelle's opéra comique, that is, with spoken rather than sung dialogue, La Vieillesse d’Annette et Lubin based on a story by Jean-François Marmontel: at the third act finale, peasants armed with their tools face the seigneurial regime in defiance.His "Ode à l'Être Suprême" (Paris, 1794) reflects the Revolutionary Cult of the Supreme Being. Patriotic sentiments were to the fore in his libretto for La prise de Toulon par les français : opéra en trois actes, mêlés de prose, de vers et de chants, which celebrated the Siege of Toulon, an early Republican victory over a Royalist rebellion in the southern French port of Toulon, 18 December 1793. After the revenge assassination in January 1793 of Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau, who had cast the deciding vote for the execution of Louis XVI, Bertin d'Antilly provided the libretto to a two-act trait historique, Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, ou Le premier martyr de la République française, with music by Frédéric Blasius.

    Under the Directoire Bertin d'Antilly abandoned his Jacobin views and moved to the political right. In 1797 he began to publish a daily journal of social and political commentary, Le Thé, ou Le journal des dixhuit, which ran from 16 April, under the epigraph "Je vois de loin; j'atteins de même"; it dropped its subtitle, ostensibly referring to eighteen editors, in favor of the subtitle Le contrôleur général. It was suppressed 18 fructidor An V (5 September 1797) in connection with the counter-revolutionary Coup of 18 Fructidor; earlier that year the Imprimerie du The that printed the journal had printed his "Disgrâce des triumvirs: chanson constitutionnelle", a commentary on disunion among the members of the French Directory. Some years later, a journal under the same title appeared, but Bertin d'Antilly had no part in its redaction. Firmly opposed to Napoleon, he had taken up residence at Hamburg, where he published the journal Le Censeur in collaboration with the émigré M. de Romance, chevalier de Mesmont; when Napoleon put diplomatic pressure on the Hamburg Senate, they were arrested, then released when the Comte d'Artois convinced the Russians to intervene on their behalf.


    Carpentras (French pronunciation: ​[kaʁpɑ̃tʁa, kaʁpɑ̃tʁas]; Provençal Occitan: Carpentràs in classical norm or Carpentras in Mistralian norm) is a commune in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France.

    It stands on the banks of the Auzon. As capital of the Comtat Venaissin, it was frequently the residence of the Avignon popes; the Papal States retained possession of the Venaissin until the French Revolution. Nowadays, Carpentras is a commercial center for Comtat Venaissin and is famous for the black truffle markets held from winter to early spring.

    Cisrhenian Republic

    The Cisrhenian Republic (German: Cisrhenanische Republik) was a client state (sister republic) of the French Revolutionary Wars. It was proclaimed in 1797 on the Left Bank of the Rhine under French occupation.

    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.

    French ship Foudroyant (1800)

    The Foudroyant ("Lightning") was a Tonnant class 80-gun ship of the line of the French Navy.

    She was started in Rochefort from 1793, and renamed to Dix-huit fructidor in 1798 in honour of the Coup of 18 fructidor an V, as she was still on keel. She was eventually launched as Foudroyant.

    She took part in cruises in the Caribbean under Villaret de Joyeuse.

    On 15 September 1806, while under jury rig some 15 miles off Havana, she encountered HMS Anson, under Captain Charles Lydiard. Anson, mistakenly believing Foudroyant distressed, attacked, and was driven off.

    She took part in the Battle of the Basque Roads.

    She was eventually broken up in 1834.


    Fructidor (French pronunciation: ​[fʁyktidɔʁ]) is the twelfth month in the French Republican Calendar. The month was named after the Latin word fructus, which means "fruit".

    Fructidor is the third month of the summer quarter (mois d'été). By the Gregorian calendar, Fructidor starts on either August 18 or August 19 and ends exactly thirty days later, on September 16 or September 17. Fructidor follows the month of Thermidor and precedes the Sansculottides.

    The month is often used as a shorthand term for the Coup of 18 Fructidor.

    Hilarion Paul Puget de Barbantane

    Hilarion-Paul-François-Bienvenu du Puget de Barbantane (8 March 1754 – 27 March 1828) disgraced himself during the French Revolutionary Wars by abandoning the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees during a crisis. A nobleman, he was made colonel of the Aunis infantry regiment in 1788. He was promoted general of brigade in 1791 and general of division the following year. He intrigued to obtain command of the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees and got his wish when Louis-Charles de Flers was dismissed in August 1793. When the Spanish commander Antonio Ricardos surrounded Perpignan with a chain of fortified camps, Barbantane panicked and fled the city, going absent without leave.

    Two subordinates, Eustache Charles d'Aoust and Jacques Gilles Henri Goguet saved the day by beating the Spanish in the Battle of Peyrestortes. Meanwhile, Barbantane was arrested and put in prison, but remarkably he avoided the guillotine. He was reinstated in rank in 1795 after the Reign of Terror ended. He reappeared during the Coup of 18 Fructidor as one of the unemployed generals surrounding Pierre Augereau who harassed the politicians and generals of the losing faction. Napoleon Bonaparte called him useless and instructed that he remain at home. Considering his unmilitary behavior, is it astonishing that BARBANTANE is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 34. Neither d'Aoust nor Goguet is so honored.

    Jean-Baptiste Mailhe

    Jean-Baptiste Mailhe (2 June 1750, Guizerix - 1 June 1834, Paris) was a politician during the French Revolution. He gave his name to ""the Mailhe amendment", which sought to delay the execution of Louis XVI.

    Jean-Charles Pichegru

    Jean-Charles Pichegru (16 February 1761 – 5 April 1804) was a distinguished French general of the Revolutionary Wars. Under his command, French troops overran Belgium and the Netherlands before fighting on the Rhine front. His royalist positions led to his loss of power and imprisonment in Cayenne, French Guiana during the Coup of 18 Fructidor in 1797. After escaping into exile in London and joining the staff of Alexander Korsakov, he returned to France and planned the Pichegru Conspiracy to remove Napoleon from power, which led to his arrest and death. Despite his defection, his surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 3.

    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.

    Louis Thomas Villaret de Joyeuse

    Louis-Thomas Villaret de Joyeuse (Auch, 29 May 1747 – Venice, 24 July 1812) was a French admiral.

    After serving in the Indies under Suffren, Villaret rose in rank during the early stages of the French Revolution. He was in command of the French fleet during the Glorious First of June, where, at great costs for his forces, he successfully drew the British away from a vital convoy. He led the French fleet during the disastrous Croisière du Grand Hiver, and commanded at the Battle of Groix, where he faced an inferior British force but failed to prevent Cornwallis's Retreat. He was relieved when he refused to serve for the disastrous Expédition d'Irlande.

    Villaret was then elected at the Council of Five Hundred. He joined the Club de Clichy, a party promoting colonies and slavery, and harbouring Royalist sympathies. After the Coup of 18 Fructidor, Villaret was to be deported to Cayenne, but went into hiding long enough for his sentence to be commuted to exile to Oléron, where he went willingly.

    Reinstated in 1801, Villaret took command of the naval component of the Saint-Domingue expedition, and was appointed captain general of Martinique and Sainte-Lucie alongside the colonial prefect, Charles-Henri Bertin. He served in this capacity until the British Invasion of Martinique in 1809.

    Returned to France, Villaret fell in disfavour for his perceived weak resistance against the British. After two years, Napoléon pardonned him and appointed him governor of Venice. Villaret died there of edema on 24 July 1812.

    Marie Jean François Philibert Lecarlier d'Ardon

    Marie Jean François Philibert Lecarlier d'Ardon (20 November 1752 – 22 August 1799) was a wealthy French landowner who entered politics during the French Revolution and was Minister of Police for a few months.

    Mathieu de Lesseps

    Mathieu Maximilien Prosper Comte de Lesseps (4 March 1771—28 December 1832) was a French diplomat and high ranking public official who served, from 1797 until his death, in numerous foreign and domestic posts. One of his sons, Ferdinand de Lesseps, was the developer and guiding spirit in charge of the construction of the Suez Canal.

    Born in the German city of Hamburg, then part of the Holy Roman Empire, young Mathieu, the son of diplomat Martin de Lesseps (1730–1807) and his wife Anna Caysergues (1730–1823), spent his childhood there, and then in the capital of the Russian Empire, St. Petersburg, where his father was the French Consul General. The third of three children, Mathieu had a brother, Barthélemy de Lesseps (1766–1834), who became a renowned diplomat, writer and participant in the famous, though ultimately ill-fated, 1785–88 scientific expedition of Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse. Their sister, Lise (1769–1840), was married in 1788 to Louis Maurice Taupin de Magnitot (1757–1823).Mathieu de Lesseps entered government service in late 1797 at the start of the Second Directory, following the Coup of 18 Fructidor. On 21 May 1801, during the early period of his career, two years after Napoleon's ascent as First Consul, he married, in the Spanish port city of Málaga, Catherine de Grevigné y Gallegos (1730–1823), grandaunt of Eugénie de Montijo who, in 1853, would become Empress, as the wife of French Emperor Napoleon III.

    They had the following children:

    a son, Théodore, born in Cádiz on 25 September 1802, married in 1828 to Antonia Denois (27 September 1802 – 29 December 1878), who died in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on 20 May 1874

    a daughter, Adélaïde (1803–1879), who married Jules Tallien de Cabarrus (1801–1870).

    their third child, Ferdinand (1805–1894), was born in Versailles,

    A fourth child, Jules, who, like his father, became a diplomat, was born in Pisa, on 16 February 1809, married Hyacinthe Delarue on 11 March 1874, and died in Paris on 10 October 1887.Following his first major assignment, as French consul to Morocco, de Lesseps was posted, in 1800, as liaison to the Egyptian Army and as superintendent of trade relations. He served as inspector general in Livorno and as imperial commissioner, under General François-Xavier Donzelot, in Corfu from May 1810 until June 1814, during the Napoleonic Wars, as the British blockaded Corfu in the midst of the Adriatic campaign of 1807–1814.

    in 1815, during the Hundred Days of Napoleon, he was Prefect of Cantal from 6 to 15 April and on 16 May was appointed special temporary inspector of the 19th Military Division, until relieved of duty on 14 July, following the second restoration of King Louis XVIII.

    In subsequent years, he was sent as Consul General to the United States, with stationing in Philadelphia on 16 September 1819, then to Syria, serving in Aleppo as of 1 May 1821 and, finally, on 3 August 1827, to the Tunisian capital, Tunis, where he performed diplomatic duties during his final five-and-a-half years and where he died, nine weeks before his 62nd birthday. In the nearby historic city of Carthage, which in modern times has become a suburb of Tunis, Mathieu de Lesseps' tomb bears a lengthy graven inscription detailing the accomplishments of his public service.

    Méhée de La Touche

    Jean-Claude-Hippolyte Méhée de La Touche (1762-1826) was the son of a surgeon in Meaux. Destined to succeed his father, he nevertheless left his home for Paris when he was 12, and ended up in the Bicêtre Prison. He was released at the coronation of Louis XVI of France in 1774, but in 1776, after the death of his parents, Méhée was again imprisoned in the Bicêtre. He escaped when he was sent to Brest to serve on the French fleet. He returned to Paris after the French Revolution, and was sent to Saint Petersburg as a spy under the name Chevalier de La Touche by Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau and Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette. He was soon uncovered and was sent out of Russia in March 1791. His next appointment as a spy was in Poland, where he established the Gazette de Varsovie, a French newspaper in Warsaw. Again his role as a spy was discovered, and he was banished from Poland as well.He returned to Paris, and became a member of the Cordeliers and the Jacobin Club in 1792. He took part in the attack on the Tuileries Palace on 10 August 1792. That same evening, he was pronounced Secretary of the Paris Commune, and organised the September Massacres at the start of the next month, together with Sulpice Huguenin and Jean-Lambert Tallien. La Touche then became the secretary of Jean-Lambert Tallien, and in November 1795 was appointed First Secretary to the Minister of the War Department of the French Directory. Soon afterwards he held the same function in the Foreign Department under Charles-François Delacroix. He resigned in April 1796, and became editor of the Journal des Hommes Libres. In 1797, after the Coup of 18 Fructidor, he was convicted to be transported to Cayenne, together with Charles Pichegru, François-Marie, marquis de Barthélemy and thirteen others.He ran from justice, and after a few months was pardoned. In 1799, Bonaparte sent him to the Temple Prison, but he was again released in 1801. He started the philosophical and atheist weekly magazine L'Antidote in 1802. He was again arrested, and banished to Dijon and then to Oléron. He escaped from there, and became a French spy in England to report on French emigrants opposed against Napoleon. He posed as a counter-revolutionary, and convinced the royalists in England that France was waiting to overthrow Bonaparte. In 1804 de La Touche revealed the plot, and the support it received from Francis Drake, the minister to the Perpetual Diet of Regensburg.

    After the fall of Napoleon in 1815, he was no longer welcome in France and fled first to Switzerland and then to Brussels, where in 1817 he worked as the editor of Le Vrai Liberal. He was apprehended there, but escaped again the next day. He then moved to Königsberg, until he was allowed to return to France in 1819. In 1823 he was living in Paris, where he died in poverty in 1826.

    Pichegru Conspiracy

    The Pichegru Conspiracy, otherwise known as the Cadoudal Affair was a conspiracy involving royalists Jean-Charles Pichegru and Georges Cadoudal who wished to overthrow Napoleon Bonaparte's military regime. They were apprehended and sentenced to death, but not before the rumors of their plot reached Napoleon. Bonaparte believed Louis Antoine, Duke of Enghien was in contact with the conspirators and his fear of the loss of his power prompted the execution of the innocent Duke. The affair provoked the old aristocracy to oppose the regime as well as strengthening the influence of the Minister of Police, Joseph Fouché.

    Étienne-Laurent-Pierre Burnel

    Étienne Laurent Pierre Burnel (22 May 1762 in Rennes – 12 July 1835 in Rennes) was a French colonial administrator.

    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.