French Revolutionary Materials

The French Collection includes scores of pamphlets covering the period of the Revolution from 1789-1799, ranging from decrees of the Assemblée Nationale through the Convention Nationale and the Reign of Terror (1793-1794). Dominated by Robespierre, this latter period was characterized by bloody executions of suspected enemies of the revolutionary government. A spectacular two-volume set of important pamphlets from the Convention Nationale contains the Discours de Maximilien Robespierre (1793), in which he proclaims his revolutionary views of property and the right of all citizens to enjoy it. 

Many pamphlets concern the continuing unsettled church-state relations. As the Revolution erupted, church and state clashed yet again when the government adopted the Constitution Civile du Clergé in 1790, which empowered the state to confiscate the immense holdings of the church and exacted pledges of loyalty by the clergy to the state. This legislation is the subject of many of the Library's pamphlets which defend or condemn its result. 

The Library's copy of Code National, ou Recueil de Tous les Décrets de l'Assemblée Nationale (1790-1791), a 26-volume set in wrappers, contains a grand mix of revolutionary documents from 1789 to 1791, including the Constitution de l'Assemblée, letters from the King to the Assemblee Nationale, ordonnances of the King, and excerpts of the minutes of sessions of the Assemblee Nationale. This set, the "nouvelle édition," is not in the recorded holdings of any other library in the world. 


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