Directory 1795-1799

Directory 1795-1799

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  • Created on: 12-05-12 16:25

The Thermidor Reaction

The Thermidor Reaction

  • Robespierre (R) faded- last speech attcked members of CPS- accused of conspiracy and Saint-Just provided list of accused
  • Convention voted to arrest R- commune unable to protect, not enough power- R taken to prison controlled by Commune- soon released- commune tried to get NG support but lacked control- convention controlled NG- R arrested 28 July 1794 and executed with 100 supporters
  • Thermidorians- those who helped overthrow R- CPS, CGS, Terrorists, plain
  • End of Terror- suspects released, Law of Prairial repeeled, Jacobin club closed, power divided (August 1795- 16 committees established to take over work of CPS/CGS), commune closed
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  • caused- law of maximum abolished 1794- reduction in assignats, poor harvest
  • 10,000 unarmed entered convention demanding bread, constitution of 1793 and release of patriots- dealt with by national guard.

Prairial (May 1795)

  • Hunger riots- housewives (+ some NGs) invaded convention, presented petition- surrounded by army and forced to disarm
  • Marked end of sans culottes as political and military force

White Terror

  • Caused- Germinal/Prairial risings, reaction to Terror and those who gained from revolution, vengence on societies, opposition conscription and royalist
  • Government sent troops to help wipe out rebellion
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Constitution of Year III (1795)

Reasons for- Thermidorians wanted to protect gains of revolution, ensure another CPS dictatorship didnt happen, secure no return of monarchy, create republic governed by reason and property ownership

Included- supremacy of the law, citizens duties (e.g. obedience to law), limited soverignty (2 assemblies)

Voted on 22nd August 1795

Two assemblies- 

  • five hundred- innitiated legislation
  • ancients- approved or rejected bills
  • Directory- five chosen by anients from names selected by 500

Weaknesses- yearly ellections (instability), conflicts between ancients and 500, changes to constiution could take 9yrs, Two-thirds decree (2/3 had to be convention)

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Problems directory faced

Rising of Vendémaire, 5th October 1795

Reasons- Louis XVIII had appeared and issued Verona Declaration, inflation

Events- Parisians marched on convention, Napoleon controlled canon, 300 killed

Effects- Napoleon in control of NG

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The Directory in Action

Problems they faced

  • endless wars (cost)
  • empty treasury
  • unpaid tax
  • low value of assignats
  • growing support of monarcists

Why they survived

  • committed to rule of law and few people wanted another Terror
  • Discredited opponants
  • Public apathy
  • Army support- led to downfall
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Reforms of Directory

Financial reforms

  • New paper currency- February 1796- failure- lost value/inflation- ended feb 1797
  • Conversion of debt into bonds- Ramel- September 1797- 2/3 of debt converted- short term success but bonds became worthless
  • Tax reform- new taxes (e.g land tax) and commissioner for collection


  • Treatment of refractory priests and émigrés- initially positive- feared royalist support (after coup de fructidor)- deportation or execution. 
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Attempted Coups

Babeuf Conspiracy (1796) (Conspiracy of Equals)

Causes- economy, poor harvest, dislike of constitution of year 3 as power to wealthy

Aims- equality, common happiness etc

Organisation- attempted to gain support of organisations through propaganda, failed as directory found out and had informers

Coup d'état of Fructidor (1797) 

Causes- elections of 97 had increased royalist support, Carnot seen to support

events- General Hoche sent troops towards paris (Supposedly for Ireland), occupied city and arrested directors, poster informed anyone that anyone wishing to restore monarchy would be shot without trial.

effects- Deportation of deputies, new elections, end of constitution of year 3, period of Terror to destroy royalists, short term success, LT made more opponants

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The coup de Brumaire 1799 and the directory at war

The coup de Brumaire 1799

Napoleon greeted as Hero in Paris (after Italy)- joined Sieyes on condition that provisional government of three consuls would be established - councils moved to st Cloud- speech to 500- napoleon attacked- president of 500 (brother) clears hall- ancients pass decree ending directory/ creating consulate (Sieyes, Napoleon, Ducas)

The directory at war

  • battle of Fleurus in june 1794- first of successes which continued until end of 1st coalition (except Britain)
  • Treaty of Baste (April 1795) France gained left bank of rhine
  • Dutch allied with France and Prussia
  • July 1795- Spain made peace
  • Only GB and Austria left fighting
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Italian and Egyptian campaigns


aimed to establish frech control over mediterranean- lauched army march 1796

Early 1797- napoleon entered Mantua, now dominated italy, sent treasures to Paris

Passed into austrian empire- dictated Treaty of Campo formio- returned triumphant


Believed had to go to egypt to maintian current possessions and gain advantage

Britain destroyed french fleet in Aboukir bay- returned to Cairo with only half men

Abandonned men and returned to paris

Historian's Views:- Townson- People bored of war, wanted stability

Rudé- Eygptian campaign was imperialistic

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