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TitleLiving the French Revolution, 1789–99
Author
LanguageEnglish
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Table of Contents
                            Cover
Contents
List of Figures and Maps
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
Introduction
1 Describing the Old Regime
2 Elation and Anxiety: The Revolutionary Year
3 Reimagining Space and Power,1789–91
4 Without Christ or King, 1791
5 Deadly Divisions, 1791–92
6 In the Fires of War, 1792–93
7 The Experience of Terror, 1793–94
8 Settling Scores: The Thermidorian Reaction, 1794–95
9A New Régime and Its Discontents, 1795–99
Conclusion – A Revolution for the People?
Notes
Bibliography
Index
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Living the French
Revolution, 1789-99

Peter McPhee

Page 2

Living the French Revolution, 1789–99

Page 165

Bouquier’s law in December 1793 defined ‘a truly republican education’ as
characterized by ‘bearing arms, taking part in the exercises of the National
Guard, by becoming accustomed to work in the exercise of an art or craft’.
This law proclaimed that all primary schools were to be free and that atten-
dance should be compulsory from the age of five or six.82 Between January
and July 1794 five issues were published of Recueil des actions héröiques et
civiques des républicains français, and 150,000 copies were printed of the sec-
ond of them. In these children could read of edifying examples to emulate,
such as that of seven-year-old Émilien Fréville who, before expiring from a
fall, had said to his mother, ‘What pains me most is to leave you, mother,
and not to be able to be of use to the Republic’.83 School texts such as these
poured off the presses during the Terror, but the Jacobins never had the time
or money to implement their education policy, let alone train lay teachers to
replace priests.

Except in those regions where partible inheritance between all children had
been the norm, children now faced a very different future in terms of what
they might expect to inherit. On 5 Brumaire Year II/26 October 1793, the
Convention strengthened the June decree extending equal succession to col-
lateral heirs: brothers and sisters born outside wedlock. But on 12 Brumaire/
2 November it was stipulated that this did not apply to offspring ‘which were
the fruit of debauchery and prostitution’.84 The decree of 4 June 1793 extend-
ing inheritance rights to children born outside marriage, and with it the
principle of the right of women and children to initiate paternity suits had
been unnerving for men until the law of 12 Brumaire, which was to limit the
rights of single mothers to initiate paternity suits until 1912.

According to a decree of 17–21 Nivôse Year II/6–10 January 1794 only a
small portion of the estate (10 per cent if there were heirs), known as the
portion disponible, was left free to be assigned by will, and it could be left only
to non-heirs such as a charity. Further, this law made equal inheritance
retroactive to 14 July 1789, the date on which the new regime was supposed
to have commenced, resulting in thousands of court cases as siblings sought
redress. Equal inheritance was now the law of the land.85 The laws enabled
children who had been cajoled into accepting unequal arrangements to con-
test wills. Pierre Lassalt of Montory (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) complained on 16
Floréal Year II/6 May 1794 that his older brother ‘had exploited the domi-
nance that he had always had over his spirit’. It took 15 legal sessions to
reach a conclusion, but Pierre ended with 8,342 livres instead of 460. Just as
commonly, however, children agreed to keep contested property in joint
ownership: in the districts of Oloron (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) and Rieux
(Haute-Garonne) there were respectively only 78 and 40 retrospective judi-
cial cases across the next year.86

The Convention made a series of changes to the divorce law passed in
September 1792. On 28 Vendémiaire Year II/19 October 1793 a new law was
passed which encouraged women with émigré husbands to sue for divorce on

154 Living the French Revolution, 1789–99

Page 166

The Experience of Terror 155

the grounds of their husband’s absence by enabling them to resume his prop-
erty: ‘any French woman who divorces an émigré must be treated like other
citizens in the application of the law of 17 September’ on suspects. On 8
Nivôse Year II/28 December 1793 an amendment to the 1792 law permitted a
man to remarry immediately after his divorce. With respect to women the
delay was reduced from 12 to 10 months. Finally, on 4 Floréal Year II/23 April
1794, divorce was allowed on the basis of de facto separation for 6 months or
longer, and where the de facto separation had been longer than 10 months
the woman could remarry immediately.

Certainly, women continued to use the divorce law. The civil registers of
most communities, particularly of towns, are studded with occasional exam-
ples such as that in Bourg Régenérée on 4 Nivôse Year II/24 December 1793,
when Hélène Alexis Noyel obtained hers from Antoine Marie Victor Villette
on the grounds of ‘the incompatibility of character and opinions which has
been continual and notorious between her and her husband; and his emi-
gration, which has left her in grave difficulty in her affairs and the education
of her children’. On 3 Prairial Year II/22 May 1794, however, the court
decided not to hear the claims by the carter Claude Girary against his wife,
the cotton-spinner Françoise Genaud, that she had had two children by
other men on the grounds that he had been seen in his village only three
times in the past 5 years.87

There was, however, mounting hostility to women’s political clubs in con-
trast to the more easy-going acceptance in 1791–92. Citizen Boileau of
Avallon (Yonne), where there was an active Jacobin women’s club, warned
that the presence of women in mixed popular societies and assemblies was
corrupting men: ‘the podium is becoming a musk-scented area; the women
are seated in the front, the speakers aim only to win them over’. While it was
the politics of the capital which gave Robespierre and others the pretext to
move against the Société des Citoyennes Républicaines Révolutionnaires in
Paris, the decree of 8 Brumaire Year II/30 October 1793 closed all women’s
clubs – including up to 60 in the provinces.88

For women across the country, the Terror was a time of penury and heav-
ier work covering for the labour of men now in the armies. In frontier and
counter-revolutionary areas, they were not only vulnerable to requisitioning
and privation, but also exposed to deadly risks though military occupation
and the temptations of collaboration, and possible recapture and revenge.
The measures taken by deputies on mission were often draconian. Although
the Terror was aimed at individuals, when there was mass desertion from the
army in the Basque country in early 1794, the inhabitants of the border
villages of Ascain, Itxassou, Sare and elsewhere – perhaps 4,000 people in all –
were deported 100 km or more from the border.89

The devout inhabitants of the Mediterranean village of Canet were out-
raged when the deputy on mission Milhaud (a leader of the 1792 ‘guerre aux
châteaux’ in the Cantal) and an army officer mocked ‘superstition’ by sitting

Page 329

318 Index

Tribunal Civil 193
Tribunal de District 193
Triel 177
Trouvé, Charles-Joseph 216, 221
Troyes 16, 20, 21, 23, 27, 85, 99,

101, 215
Tuchan 129
Tulle 50, 143
Turbilly, marquis de 26
Turreau, Louis-Marie 127
Two-thirds Decree 177

United Kingdom See Britain
United States See America, North
Uzès 75, 79

Vacants See Wasteland
Vadencourt 112
Vagney 98
Val de Dagne (region) 63
Valframbert (Capucin) 111
Vallée-Foulon, La 11, 13–14
Vallespir (region) 128
Valmy, battle 113, 164, 197
Vannes 20, 36, 52, 83
Var (department) 58, 109, 147–148
Varaize 63
Vardi, Liana 7
Varennes 87, 88, 143, 210
Vassy 225
Vatimesnil 29
Vaucelles, Louis Pierre André de 138
Vauclair 11
Vaunage (region) 79
Vaxelaire, Jean-Claude 98
Vence 58
Vendée (region) 127, 153, 163, 201
Vendée insurrection 2, 127, 129, 148,

153, 157–162, 158, 187, 205–207
Vennecy 23
Verdouble (river) 35
Verdun 39, 110, 111, 124
Vermenton 134
Verneil-Puyraseau, Jean-Joseph de 221
Vernière, Xavier 97–98
Versailles 12, 32, 38–39, 45, 47, 65,

102, 111, 137
Vervins 69
Vesoul 16, 22
Vexin (region) 16–17

Vic 22
Vic-le-Comte 167
Vienne (department) 69, 74, 102,

108, 136
Vienne (river) 210
Vierzon 22
Vigée Lebrun, Élisabeth 51
Viguier, Antoine 124–125
Villardebelle 114
Villasavary 53
Villebaudon 25
Villedieu 149
Villefloure 51
Villefranche 73
Villefranche-en-Beaujolais 152
Villepreux 65
Villers-Cotterêts 103
Villesèque-des-Corbières 92–93, 134
Villetaneuse 147
Villette, Antoine Marie Victor 46, 155
Villiers-en-Bois 21
Vin-Bon 149
Vinchon, Rémi 85
Vineyards See Wine
Vingrau 32
Violence, Domestic See Domestic

Violence
Vire 116, 224
Viry 118
Visitandines 18, 118
Vitré 37
Vivarais (region) 101
Volognat 67
Volunteers See Army
Vonnas 40
Vosges (department) 86, 98, 109, 114,

117, 118, 123
Vote, Voting See Elections
Vovelle, Michel 4, 8, 105, 108, 204

Wages 30, 67, 92, 139, 142, 169, 193,
211–212, 222

Wanchy 26
Washington, George 55
Wasteland 25–27, 64–66, 72, 97, 115,

138–139, 192, 218
Weavers, Weaving See Textile Industry
Weber, Eugen 4
Weights and measures 18, 174,

204, 216

Page 330

Index 319

West Indies 99
Wet-nurses 217
White Terror 167
Widows 130, 135, 141, 225 See also

Women
Williams, Helen-Maria 216
Wine, Wine-growing 6, 21, 24, 37, 41,

49, 74, 99, 116, 119, 145, 146, 156,
211, 212–214, 217, 228

Wissembourg 153
Wolves 50, 220
Woloch, Isser 8
Women 21, 28–32, 37–39, 46–47,

56–57, 69, 75, 79, 82, 84, 90, 94,

108–111, 118–121, 130–133, 137,
140, 147, 154–155, 168–171, 176,
182–186, 194, 202, 215–217,
223–226 See also Feminism and
Widows

Woods See Deforestation

Xantes 149
Xinxet Lanquine, Jacques 186–187

Ygrande 198
Yonne (department) 108–109, 134,

140, 145, 155, 170, 171, 184, 185
Young, Arthur 39–40, 48, 221

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