Timeline of the French Revolution: 1790

Go here for the French Revolution in a Nutshell.

If these timelines of the French Revolution are too detailed, check the  French Revolution - Key Events, which are a summary of the years 1789-1799.

Go here for the French Revolutionary Wars 1792-1802.

And go here for the  Napoleonic Wars 1803-1815.


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 colonies

World Map 1700 - 1763
1700-1763 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
October 1790.

April 2, 1790

Marquis de Sade is released from Charenton, an asylum for the insane.


April 17, 1790
Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia.


April 27, 1790
The Club 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 friars 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 Jacques-René Hébert).


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.

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 reads:

"... 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 peuple."

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 Location
Nootka Sound Map Location
Map: Seattle Times

June 3, 1790

French Revolution has spread to Martinique and results in slave uprisings and the killing of several slaves.


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
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, respectively. 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
Finance minister Jacques Necker retires. This time for good.


October 1790
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 mulattoes.

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 prétendre d'indemnité."

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 compensation."


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  March 10, 1791.




More History


French Revolution 1789–1799

Timelines of the French Revolution

French Revolution: Year 1789

French Revolution: Year 1790

French Revolution: Year 1791


French Revolutionary Wars 1792-1802

Timelines of the French Revolutionary Wars

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1792

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1793

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1794

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1795

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1796

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1797

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French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1800

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1801

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1802


Napoleonic Wars 1803-1815

Timelines of the Napoleonic Wars

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1803

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1804

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1805

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1806

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1807

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1808

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1809

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1810

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1811

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1812

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1813

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1814

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1815



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