Timeline of the French
Go here for the
French Revolution in a
January 15, 1790
Administrative change in France — provinces are
replaced by 83 departments.
February 13, 1790
Monastic vows are suppressed by decree. Monks and nuns are to
re-enter civil life. A pension is provided.
March 8, 1790
The Constituent Assembly ponders
the organization of French colonies and decrees the creation
of Colonial Assemblies.
And here is a world map of the
World Map Colonies
March 28, 1790
Regarding the colonies, the Constituent Assembly decides that free
men older than 25 years have the right to vote. This law will ruffle
some feathers in the French colony of Saint Domingue, see
April 2, 1790
Marquis de Sade is released
from Charenton, an asylum for the insane.
April 17, 1790
Benjamin Franklin dies
April 27, 1790
of the Cordeliers, in French Club des Cordeliers,
is created. Those who had more time also called this club the
Society of the Friends of the Rights of Man
and of the Citizen, in French Société des Amis des
Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen.
What's with the name? The Franciscan
were also called cordeliers, from cordelle, the
knotted cord which they wear around the waist. One of their
convents, located at today's 15 Rue de l'École-de-Médecine, Paris,
had been confiscated by the revolutionaries who henceforth used it
as a meeting place.
The revolutionary club of the
Cordeliers will be of significance until March 1794 (execution of
May 10, 1790
Mirabeau accepts the post of secret adviser to
Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI. Nobody will find out until November
1792. By then, Mirabeau will be conveniently dead.
May 21, 1790
The National Assembly issues a decree that divides Paris from
formerly 60 districts into now
48 sections (Municipal Law). Behind this decree was the
desire to reorganize the electoral districts of Paris. This, in
turn, was meant to support the new municipal government of Paris,
The Commune de Paris was the
municipal government of Paris from July 1789 until October 1795.
May 22, 1790
Decree as to the Right of War and Peace
(Décret de Déclaration de paix au monde): Sparked by the
Nootka crisis, the National Constituent Assembly issues a decree
concerning the lawful procedure in case France was to declare war.
War can only be declared by the National Assembly, and it needs to
be sanctioned by the king.
The First Article reads:
"Le droit de la paix et de la guerre
appartient à la nation. La guerre ne pourra
être décidée que par un décret du Corps
législatif, qui sera rendu sur la
proposition formelle et nécessaire du Roi,
et ensuite sanctionné par Sa Majesté."
In other words:
"The right of peace and war belongs to the
Nation. War cannot be determined upon but by
the decree of the Legislative Body, which
shall be passed upon the formal and
necessary proposition of the King, and
afterwards sanctioned by his Majesty."
The very interesting Article IV
"... l'Assemblée nationale déclarant à cet
effet que la nation française renonce à
entreprendre aucune guerre dans la vue de
faire des conquêtes, et qu'elle n'emploiera
jamais ses forces contre la liberté d'aucun
In other words:
"... the National Assembly hereby declaring
that the French Nation renounces the
undertaking of any war with the view of
making conquests, and will never employ its
forces against the liberty of any people."
The Nootka Sound controversy, by the way, was a dispute between
Spain and Great Britain, with both nations claiming sovereignty. And
here is Nootka Sound on a map:
Nootka Sound Map
Map: Seattle Times
June 3, 1790
French Revolution has spread to
Martinique and results in slave uprisings and the killing of
June 12, 1790
Again riots in Avignon against its owner, the Pope. After more than
500 years under Catholic control, Avignon will
become part of France again on September 14, 1791.
June 13-16, 1790
Bagarre de Nimes: The
Brawl at Nimes breaks out between Catholics and Protestants. The
former ignore that the Constituent Assembly doesn't recognize the
Catholic Church as state religion any longer. The latter try to make them
understand by force.
The "brawl" turned carnage and at
least 300 people were slaughtered, most of them Catholics.
Here is Nimes on a map:
Map Location of Nimes,
Gard département, France
July 12, 1790
The National Constituent Assembly enacts the
Civil Constitution of the Clergy
(Constitution Civile Du Clergé), in order to nationalize the
Catholic church in France.
The clergy was now paid by the state.
Furthermore, members of the clergy were now to be elected by the
people. This implied that by means of his vote, a Protestant could
have a say in the appointment of leading Catholics.
July 14, 1790
Festival of the Federation (Fête de la Fédération)
August 18, 1790
Attempt to launch a counterrevolution by the National Guard:
In response to the
Bagarre de Nimes, a massive crowd of
around 20,000 members of the National
Guard and many Catholics gather at the Camp de Jalès, with the
collective desire to re-install the absolute monarchy and the
Catholic Church as the only religious option.
Jales is located in the
province of Vivarais (today's Ardèche département), approx. one and
a half car hours north of Nimes.
This is the first meeting at the Camp de Jalès.
The second and third meeting at Jales will take place in June 1791 and in July 1792,
Although this movement will receive the support of the Comte
d'Artois (Louis XVI's brother), in the end, this counterrevolution will fail.
August 24, 1790
Louis XVI authorizes the Civil Constitution of the Clergy
that had been decided upon by the National Constituent Assembly on
July 12, 1790.
September 18, 1790
Jacques Necker retires.
This time for good.
A rebellion, led by Vincent Ogé,
a free mulatto, himself financially comfortable,
breaks out in Saint Domingue (today's Haiti), which is the
French (left) part of Hispaniola. A big part of the reason for this
revolt is the unwillingness with which French officials implement
the new French law by which all free men age 25 and older are
eligible to vote.
This law had passed in March 28, 1790.
Actually, there is a high reluctance
by the European whites on this island to grant anything to anyone
who isn't completely white. They reasoned, Give them a finger,
and they will take your whole hand. And that would be devastating
because they were the minority.
According to EB, in 1789, Saint
Domingue had an estimated population of 556,000, including roughly
500,000 African slaves, 32,000 European colonists, and 24,000 free
This revolt, also called the
Mulatto Revolt, will be crushed
in November 1790. Vincent Ogé himself will be brutally executed on
February 25, 1791. But although put down for now, this is not over.
In fact, this riot will raise the curtains for the
Haitian Revolution, see
August 22, 1791.
October 28, 1790
The politician Philippe-Antoine, Count Merlin, aka Merlin de
Douai, delivers an interesting speech today in which he argues the
fundamental right to self-government.
Issue of the day was the demand for
compensation by German princes in Alsace.
Merlin de Douai explains,
"Le peuple alsacien s'est uni au peuple
français, parce qu'il l'a voulu ; c'est donc
sa volonté seule, et non pas le traité de
Münster qui a légitimé l'union, et comme il
n'a mis à cette volonté aucune condition
relative aux fiefs régaliens, nul ne peut
In other words,
"The people of Alsace are united with the
French people because they wanted to, so it
is by their will alone, and not because of
the Treaty of Münster, that the union was
legitimized. And as they have no desire to
live under sovereign fiefs, no one can claim
November 16, 1790
New Defense Minister is Louis Le
Begue de Presle Duportail. He succeeds
Jean-Frederic de La Tour du Pin-Gouvernet.
November 27, 1790
The reluctance, and in part open enmity, of the Catholic
church to accept the new Civil Constitution of the Clergy
(see July 12, 1790) prompts the National Constituent Assembly to demand from the clergy
an oath of obedience to this decree.
This will give cause to a major
earthquake within the Church. See