In the history of France, the First Republic (French: Première République), officially the French Republic (République française), was founded on 22 September 1792 during the French Revolution. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First Empire in 1804 under Napoleon, although the form of the government changed several times. This period was characterized by the fall of the monarchy, the establishment of the National Convention and the Reign of Terror, the Thermidorian Reaction and the founding of the Directory, and, finally, the creation of the Consulate and Napoleon's rise to power.
French Republic (1801)
|Government||Authoritarian directorial republic|
|President of the National Convention|
|Philippe Rühl (first)|
|Jean Joseph Victor Génissieu (last)|
|President of the Directory|
|By rotation: 3 months duration|
|Council of Ancients (1795–1799)|
|Historical era||French Revolutionary Wars|
|14 July 1789|
|21 September 1792|
|5 September 1793 to|
28 July 1794
|4 February 1794|
|24 July 1794|
|9 November 1799|
|18 May 1804|
|Currency||livre (to 1794), franc, assignat|
Under the Legislative Assembly, which was in power before the proclamation of the First Republic, France was engaged in war with Prussia and Austria. In July 1792, the Duke of Brunswick, commanding general of the Austro–Prussian Army, issued his Brunswick Manifesto, in which he threatened the destruction of Paris should any harm come to King Louis XVI of France. The foreign threat exacerbated France's political turmoil amid the French Revolution and deepened the passion and sense of urgency among the various factions. In the violence of 10 August 1792, citizens stormed the Tuileries Palace, killing six hundred of the King's Swiss guards and insisting on the removal of the king. A renewed fear of anti-revolutionary action prompted further violence, and in the first week of September 1792, mobs of Parisians broke into the city's prisons, killing over half of the prisoners. This included nobles, clergymen, and political prisoners, but also numerous common criminals, such as prostitutes and petty thieves, many murdered in their cells—raped, stabbed, and slashed to death. This became known as the September Massacres.
As a result of the spike in public violence and the political instability of the constitutional monarchy, a party of six members of France's Legislative Assembly was assigned the task of overseeing elections. The resulting Convention was founded with the dual purpose of abolishing the monarchy and drafting a new constitution. The Convention's first act, on 10 August 1792, was to establish the French First Republic and officially strip the king of all political powers. Citizen Louis Capet, by then a private citizen bearing his family name of Capet, was subsequently put on trial for crimes of high treason starting in December 1792. On 16 January 1793 he was convicted, and on 21 January, he was executed by guillotine.
Throughout the winter of 1792 and spring of 1793, Paris was plagued by food riots and mass hunger. The new Convention did little to remedy the problem until late spring of 1793, occupied instead with matters of war. Finally, on 6 April 1793, the Convention created the Committee of Public Safety, and was given a monumental task: "To deal with the radical movements of the Enragés, food shortages and riots, the revolt in the Vendée and in Brittany, recent defeats of its armies, and the desertion of its commanding general." Most notably, the Committee of Public Safety instated a policy of terror, and the guillotine began to fall on perceived enemies of the republic at an ever-increasing rate, beginning the period known today as the Reign of Terror.
Despite growing discontent with the National Convention as a ruling body, in June the Convention drafted the Constitution of 1793, which was ratified by popular vote in early August. However, the Committee of Public Safety was seen as an "emergency" government, and the rights guaranteed by the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and the new constitution were suspended under its control. The Committee's laws and policies took the revolution to unprecedented heights.
After the arrest and execution of Robespierre in July 28, 1794, the Jacobin club was closed, and the surviving Girondins were reinstated. A year later, the National Convention adopted the Constitution of the Year III. They reestablished freedom of worship, began releasing large numbers of prisoners, and most importantly, initiated elections for a new legislative body. On 3 November 1795, the Directory was established. Under this system, France was led by a bicameral Parliament, consisting of an upper chamber called the Council of Elders (with 250 members) and a lower chamber called the Council of Five Hundred (with, accordingly, 500 members), and a collective Executive of five members called the Directory (from which the historical period gets its name). Due to internal instability, caused by hyperinflation of the paper monies called Assignats, and French military disasters in 1798 and 1799, the Directory lasted only four years, until overthrown in 1799.
The period known as the French Consulate began with the coup of 18 Brumaire in 1799. Members of the Directory itself planned the coup, indicating clearly the failing power of the Directory. Napoleon Bonaparte was a co-conspirator in the coup, and became head of the government as the First Consul. He would later proclaim himself Emperor of the French, ending the First French Republic and ushering in the French First Empire.
Events from the year 1795 in the French First Republic.Act of Mediation
The Act of Mediation was issued by Napoleon Bonaparte on 19 February 1803 establishing the Swiss Confederation. The act also abolished the previous Helvetic Republic, which had existed since the invasion of Switzerland by French troops in 1798. After the withdrawal of French troops in July 1802, the Republic collapsed (in the Stecklikrieg civil war). The Act of Mediation was Napoleon's attempt at a compromise between the Ancien Régime and a republic. This intermediary stage of Swiss history lasted until the Restoration of 1815.Army of Italy (France)
The Army of Italy (French: Armée d'Italie) was a field army of the French Army stationed on the Italian border and used for operations in Italy itself. Though it existed in some form in the 16th century through to the present, it is best known for its role during the French Revolutionary Wars (in which it was one of the early commands of Napoleon Bonaparte, during his Italian campaign) and Napoleonic Wars.Concordat of 1801
The Concordat of 1801 was an agreement between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII, signed on 15 July 1801 in Paris. It remained in effect until 1905. It sought national reconciliation between revolutionaries and Catholics and solidified the Roman Catholic Church as the majority church of France, with most of its civil status restored. The hostility of devout Catholics against the state had then largely been resolved. It did not restore the vast church lands and endowments that had been seized upon during the revolution and sold off. Catholic clergy returned from exile, or from hiding, and resumed their traditional positions in their traditional churches. Very few parishes continued to employ the priests who had accepted the Civil Constitution of the Clergy of the Revolutionary regime. While the Concordat restored much power to the papacy, the balance of church-state relations tilted firmly in Napoleon's favour. He selected the bishops and supervised church finances.Napoleon and the pope both found the Concordat useful. Similar arrangements were made with the Church in territories controlled by Napoleon, especially Italy and Germany.Convention of Artlenburg
The Convention of Artlenburg or Elbkonvention was the surrender of the Electorate of Hanover to Napoleon's army, signed at Artlenburg on 5 July 1803 by Oberbefehlshaber Johann Ludwig von Wallmoden-Gimborn. It disbanded the Electorate of Hanover and instigated its occupation by French troops.Habsburg Netherlands
Habsburg Netherlands is the collective name of Holy Roman Empire fiefs in the Low Countries held by the House of Habsburg and later by the Spanish Empire, also known as the Spanish Netherlands. The rule began in 1482, when after the death of the Valois-Burgundy duke Charles the Bold the Burgundian Netherlands fell to the Habsburg dynasty by the marriage of Charles's daughter Mary of Burgundy to Archduke Maximilian I of Austria.Then known as Seventeen Provinces, they were held by the Spanish Empire from 1556, and are therefore also known as the Spanish Netherlands from that time on. In 1581, the Seven United Provinces seceded to form the Dutch Republic; the remaining Spanish Southern Netherlands eventually passed on to Habsburg Austria. Finally, the Austrian Netherlands were annexed by the French First Republic in 1795.Louis Antoine, Duke of Enghien
Louis Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Enghien (duc d'Enghien pronounced [dɑ̃ɡɛ̃]) (Louis Antoine Henri; 2 August 1772 – 21 March 1804) was a relative of the Bourbon monarchs of France. More famous for his death than for his life, he was executed on charges of aiding Britain and plotting against France. Royalty across Europe were shocked and dismayed at his execution. Tsar Alexander I of Russia was especially alarmed, and decided to curb Napoleon's power.Lys (department)
Lys [lis] was a department of the First French Empire in present-day Belgium. It was named after the river Lys (Leie). It was created on 1 October 1795, when the Southern Netherlands were annexed by France. Before its occupation, its territory was part of the county of Flanders. Its capital was Bruges.
The department was subdivided into the following arrondissements and cantons (situation in 1812):
Bruges, cantons: Ardooie, Bruges (5 cantons), Gistel, Ostend, Ruiselede, Tielt and Torhout (2 cantons).
Kortrijk, cantons: Avelgem, Harelbeke, Ingelmunster, Kortrijk (4 cantons), Menen, Meulebeke, Moorsele, Oostrozebeke and Roeselare.
Veurne, cantons: Diksmuide, Haringe, Nieuwpoort and Veurne.
Ypres, cantons: Elverdinge, Hooglede, Mesen, Passendale, Poperinge, Wervik and Ypres (2 cantons).Its population in 1812 was 491,143, and its area was 366,911 hectares.After Napoleon was defeated in 1814, the department became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its territory corresponded more or less with the present-day Belgian province of West Flanders.Peace of Basel
The Peace of Basel of 1795 consists of three peace treaties involving France during the French Revolution (represented by François de Barthélemy).
The first was with Prussia (represented by Karl August von Hardenberg) on 5 April;
The second was with Spain (represented by Domingo d'Yriarte) on 22 July, ending the War of the Pyrenees; and
The third was with the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel (represented by Friedrich Sigismund Waitz von Eschen) on 28 August, concluding the stage of the French Revolutionary Wars against the First Coalition.Piedmontese Republic
The Piedmontese Republic (Italian: Repubblica Piemontese) was a short-lived Sister Republic that existed between 1798 and 1799 on the territory of Piedmont during its military rule by the French First Republic.Reign of Terror
The Reign of Terror, or The Terror (French: la Terreur), is the label given by most historians to a period during the French Revolution after the First French Republic was established.
Several historians consider the "reign of terror" to have begun in 1793, placing the starting date at either 5 September, June or March (birth of the Revolutionary Tribunal), while some consider it to have begun in September 1792 (September Massacres), or even July 1789 (when the first lynchings took place), but there is a consensus that it ended with the fall of Maximilien Robespierre in July 1794.Between June 1793 and the end of July 1794, there were 16,594 official death sentences in France, of which 2,639 were in Paris.Sans-culottes
The sans-culottes (French: [sɑ̃kylɔt], literally "without breeches") were the common people of the lower classes in late 18th century France, a great many of whom became radical and militant partisans of the French Revolution in response to their poor quality of life under the Ancien Régime. The name sans-culottes refers to their clothing, and through that to their lower-class status: culottes were the fashionable silk knee-breeches of the 18th-century nobility and bourgeoisie, and the working class sans-culottes wore pantaloons, or trousers, instead. The sans-culottes, most of them urban labourers, served as the driving popular force behind the revolution. Though ill-clad and ill-equipped, they made up the bulk of the Revolutionary army during the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars.The most fundamental political ideals of the sans-culottes were social equality, economic equality, and popular democracy. They supported the abolition of all the authority and privileges of the monarchy, nobility, and Roman Catholic clergy, the establishment of fixed wages, the implementation of price controls to ensure affordable food and other essentials, and vigilance against counter-revolutionaries. The height of their influence spanned roughly from the original overthrow of the monarchy in 1792 to the Thermidorian Reaction in 1794. Throughout the revolution, the sans-culottes provided the principal support behind the more radical and anti-bourgeoisie factions of the Paris Commune, such as the Enragés and the Hébertists, and were led by populist revolutionaries such as Jacques Roux and Jacques Hébert. The sans-culottes also populated the ranks of paramilitary forces charged with physically enforcing the policies and legislation of the revolutionary government, a task that commonly included violence and the carrying out of executions against perceived enemies of the revolution.
During the peak of their influence, the sans-culottes were seen as the truest and most authentic sons of the French Revolution, held up as living representations of the revolutionary spirit. During the height of revolutionary fervor, such as during the Reign of Terror when it was dangerous to be associated with anything counter-revolutionary, even public functionaries and officials actually from middle or upper-class backgrounds adopted the clothing and label of the sans-culottes as a demonstration of solidarity with the working class and patriotism for the new French Republic.But by early 1794, as the bourgeois and middle class elements of the revolution began to gain more political influence, the fervent working class radicalism of the sans-culottes rapidly began falling out of favor within the National Convention. It wasn't long before Maximilien de Robespierre and his now dominant Jacobin Club turned against the radical factions of the National Convention, including the sans-culottes, despite their having previously been the strongest supporters of the revolution and its government. Several important leaders of the Enragés and Hébertists were imprisoned and executed by the very revolutionary tribunals they had supported. The execution of radical leader Jacques Hébert spelled the decline of the sans-culottes, and with the successive rise of even more conservative governments, the Thermidorian Convention and the French Directory, they were definitively silenced as a political force. After the defeat of the 1795 popular revolt in Paris, the sans-culottes ceased to play any effective political role in France until the July Revolution of 1830.Second Treaty of San Ildefonso
The Second Treaty of San Ildefonso was signed on 19 August 1796 between the 1469-1812 Kingdom of Spain and the 1792-1804 First French Republic. Based on the terms of the agreement, France and Spain would become allies and combine their forces against the British Empire.Thermidorian Reaction
On 9 Thermidor Year II (27 July 1794), the French politician Maximilien Robespierre was denounced by members of the National Convention as "a tyrant", leading to Robespierre and twenty-one associates including Louis Antoine de Saint-Just being arrested that night and beheaded on the following day.Third Treaty of San Ildefonso
The Third Treaty of San Ildefonso was a secret agreement signed on 1 October 1800 between the Spanish Empire and the First French Republic by which Spain agreed in principle to exchange their North American colony of Louisiana for territories in Tuscany. The terms were later confirmed by the March 1801 Treaty of Aranjuez.Treaty of Campo Formio
The Treaty of Campo Formio (today Campoformido) was signed on 18 October 1797 (27 Vendémiaire VI) by Napoleon Bonaparte and Count Philipp von Cobenzl as representatives of the French Republic and the Austrian monarchy, respectively. The treaty followed the armistice of Leoben (18 April 1797), which had been forced on the Habsburgs by Napoleon's victorious campaign in Italy. It ended the War of the First Coalition and left Great Britain fighting alone against revolutionary France.
The treaty, in its public articles, only concerned France and Austria. It called for a Congress of Rastatt to be held to negotiate a final peace for the Holy Roman Empire. In its secret articles, Austria, as the personal state of the Emperor, promised to work with France to certain ends at the congress. Among other provisions, the treaty meant the definitive end to the ancient Republic of Venice, which was disbanded and partitioned among the French and Austrians.
The congress failed to achieve peace and by early 1799 on 12 March France declared war on Austria again. This new war, the War of the Second Coalition, ended with the Peace of Lunéville, a peace for the whole Empire, in 1801.Treaty of Florence
The Treaty of Florence (28 March 1801), which followed the Armistice of Foligno (9 February 1801), brought to an end the war between the French Republic and the Kingdom of Naples, one of the Wars of the French Revolution. Forced by the French military presence, Naples ceded some territories in the Tyrrhenian sea and accepted French garrisons to their ports on the Adriatic sea. All Neapolitan harbours were closed to British and Ottoman vessels.
Napoleon was relatively lenient to the defenseless kingdom of Naples thanks to his need to appease Tsar Paul I of Russia and its allies of the League of Neutrals. The Tsar, who was assassinated less than a week before the signing of the treaty, was concerned with the French advance in Italy and had decided to support the King of Naples. The First Consul, wanting to attract the Tsar to his side in the strife in Europe, was forced to allow Ferdinand IV remaining on the throne, albeit now a vassal of Napoleonic France.Treaty of Leoben
The Treaty of Leoben was a general armistice and preliminary peace agreement between the Holy Roman Empire and the First French Republic that ended the War of the First Coalition. It was signed at Eggenwaldsches Gartenhaus, near Leoben, on 18 April 1797 (29 germinal V in the French revolutionary calendar) by General Maximilian von Merveldt and the Marquis of Gallo on behalf of the Emperor Francis II and by General Napoléon Bonaparte on behalf of the French Directory. Ratifications were exchanged in Montebello on 24 May, and the treaty came into effect immediately.
On 30 March, Bonaparte had made his headquarters at Klagenfurt and from there, on 31 March, he sent a letter to the Austrian commander-in-chief, the Archduke Charles, requesting an armistice to prevent the further loss of life. Receiving no response, the French advanced as far as Judenburg by the evening of 7 April. That night, Charles proffered a truce for five days, which was accepted. On 13 April, Merveldt went to the French headquarters at Leoben and requested the armistice be extended so that a preliminary peace could be signed. That was granted and three proposals were drawn up. The final one was accepted by both sides, and, on 18 April, at Leoben, the preliminary peace was signed.The treaty contained nine public articles and eleven secret ones. In the public articles, the Emperor ceded his "Belgian Provinces" (the Austrian Netherlands), and in the secret articles, he ceded his Italian states (Lombardy) in exchange for the Italian mainland possessions of the Republic of Venice, which had not yet been conquered. Except for these personal losses to the ruling Habsburgs, the treaty preserved the integrity of the Holy Roman Empire unlike in the amplified Treaty of Campo Formio of 17 October 1797.
No final peace between the Holy Roman Empire and France was reached before the outbreak of the War of the Second Coalition in 1799.Treaty of Lunéville
The Treaty of Lunéville was signed in the Treaty House of Lunéville on 9 February 1801. The signatory parties were the French Republic and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II. The latter was negotiating both on his own behalf as ruler of the hereditary domains of the Habsburg Monarchy and on behalf of other rulers who controlled territories in the Holy Roman Empire. The signatories were Joseph Bonaparte and Count Ludwig von Cobenzl, the Austrian foreign minister.
The Austrian army had been defeated by Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Marengo on 14 June 1800 and then by Jean Victor Moreau at the Battle of Hohenlinden on 3 December. Forced to sue for peace, the Austrians signed another in a series of treaties. The treaty, along with the Treaty of Amiens of 1802), marked the end of the Second Coalition against the French First Republic. The United Kingdom was the sole nation still at war with France for another year.