The rise and impact of Napoleon: 1795-1815
Part 1 – The Directory and Napoleon’s rise to power, 1795-1799
· The aftermath of the Terror: the Thermidorian reaction and White Terror; the 1795 Parisian risings:
· This event was named so as it occurred in the month of Thermidor in the revolutionary calendar – July 19 - August 17 – in the Year II (1794).
· It was initiated 9 Thermidor – the death of Robespierre.
· It was a coup against the leaders of the Jacobin club who had dominated the CPS, and was largely in response to the 1793-1794 reign of terror. It marked the end of the terror.
· The Thermidorian reaction was triggered by the execution of Robespierre, among other leaders of the revolutionary government, which itself was triggered by a vote in the National Convention.
· Following Robespierre’s death, the reactionaries sought to create a republic that was conservative and free of centralised power (as it had been during the reign of terror), rigid economic controls, forced religion and state terror. They wished to bring about stability and control, without restoring Jacobinism or the monarchy.
· How was the machinery of the terror abolished?:
o The Revolutionary Tribunal was abolished
o All suspects of counter-revolutionary behaviour were released from prisons
o The Jacobin club was closed in November 1794 (Year II)
o The CPS’s power was first watered down, with them being left in charge of the war effort while other responsibilities were delegated to new committees. However, to stop these new committees from gaining power like CPS did, the Convention decreed that every month, one quarter of committee members would be replaced.
o The Law of Suspects, Law of 22 Prairial and Law of Maximum were all repealed.
o Deputies were dispatched to provinces across the country to ensure these changes occurred, and that the Jacobins were removed from positions of authority.
· The White Terror:
o This was a period during the first year of the Thermidorian Convention, where Jacobins (or those connected to them) were purged out of government and society through a series of harassment, attacks and exile.
o As aforementioned, the Jacobin club was also closed in November
o Those targeted during the Terror, such as Chouans (royalists) in north-western provinces, peasants in Vendée and counter-revolutionaries, formed gangs and militias to attack local Jacobins. Some of these groups were unequivocally royalist, such as ‘Companies of Jesus’ in Lyons and ‘Companies of the Sun’ in Nimes – however, most had no interest in monarchism and simply wished to eradicated Jacobinism.
o The violence of the White Terror was very spontaneous and anarchic: several Jacobin prisoners were hauled out of prison and slaughtered.
o Some of the violence was done with legal approval, as the Revolutionary Tribunal was kept until the end of May 1795.
o A few Jacobins…