CHAPTER XVII: The French Army During the Reign of Terror; the Federalists and La Vendée. - Germaine de Staël, Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution (LF ed.) 
Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution, newly revised translation of the 1818 English edition, edited, with an introduction and notes by Aurelian Craiutu (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
- A Thinker For Our Times: Madame De Staël, Her Life and Works
- Life of Madame De Staël
- Works of Madame De Staël
- Madame De Staël and Napoléon
- The Ideas of Considerations
- The Reception of Considerations
- Madame De Staël and America
- Note On the Present Edition
- Considerations On the Principal Events of the French Revolution
- Notice By the Editors 1
- Advertisement of the Author
- Part I
- Chapter I: General Reflections.
- Chapter II: Considerations On the History of France.
- Chapter III: On the State of Public Opinion In France At the Accession of Louis XVI.
- Chapter IV: Of the Character of M. Necker As a Public Man.
- Chapter V: M. Necker’s Plans of Finance.
- Chapter VI: M. Necker’s Plans of Administration.
- Chapter VII: Of the American War.
- Chapter VIII: M. Necker’s Retirement From Office In 1781.
- Chapter IX: The Circumstances That Led to the Assembling of the Estates General.—ministry of M. De Calonne.
- Chapter X: Sequel of the Preceding.—ministry of the Archbishop of Toulouse.
- Chapter XI: Did France Possess a Constitution Before the Revolution? 1
- Chapter XII: On the Recall of M. Necker In 1788.
- Chapter XIII: Conduct of the Last Estates General, Held At Paris In 1614.
- Chapter XIV: The Division of the Estates General Into Orders.
- Chapter XV: What Was the Public Feeling of Europe At the Time of Convening the Estates General?
- Chapter XVI: Opening of the Estates General On the 5th of May, 1789.
- Chapter XVII: Of the Resistance of the Privileged Orders to the Demands of the Third Estate In 1789.
- Chapter XVIII: Conduct of the Third Estate During the First Two Months of the Session of the Estates General.
- Chapter XIX: Means Possessed By the Crown In 1789 of Opposing the Revolution.
- Chapter XX: The Royal Session of 23d June, 1789.
- Chapter XXI: Events Caused By the Royal Session of 23d June, 1789.
- Chapter XXII: Revolution of the 14th of July (1789).
- Chapter XXIII: Return of M. Necker.
- Part Ii
- Chapter I: Mirabeau.
- Chapter II: Of the Constituent Assembly After the 14th of July.
- Chapter III: General La Fayette.
- Chapter IV: Of the Good Effected By the Constituent Assembly.
- Chapter V: Liberty of the Press, and State of the Police, During the Time of the Constituent Assembly.
- Chapter VI: Of the Different Parties Conspicuous In the Constituent Assembly.
- Chapter VII: Of the Errors of the Constituent Assembly In Matters of Administration.
- Chapter VIII: Of the Errors of the National Assembly In Regard to the Constitution.
- Chapter IX: Efforts Made By M. Necker With the Popular Party In the Constituent Assembly to Induce It to Establish the English Constitution In France.
- Chapter X: Did the English Government Give Money to Foment Troubles In France?
- Chapter XI: Events of the 5th and 6th of October, 1789.
- Chapter XII: The Constituent Assembly At Paris.
- Chapter XIII: Of the Decrees of the Constituent Assembly In Regard to the Clergy.
- Chapter XIV: Of the Suppression of Titles of Nobility.
- Chapter XV: Of the Royal Authority As It Was Established By the Constituent Assembly.
- Chapter XVI: Federation of 14th July, 1790.
- Chapter XVII: Of the State of Society In Paris During the Time of the Constituent Assembly.
- Chapter XVIII: The Introduction of Assignats, and Retirement of M. Necker.
- Chapter XIX: State of Affairs and of Political Parties In the Winter of 1790–91.
- Chapter XX: Death of Mirabeau.
- Chapter XXI: Departure of the King On the 21st of June, 1791.
- Chapter XXII: Revision of the Constitution.
- Chapter XXIII: Acceptance of the Constitution, Called the Constitution of 1791.
- Part Iii
- Chapter I: On the Emigration.
- Chapter II: Prediction of M. Necker On the Fate of the Constitution of 1791.
- Chapter III: Of the Different Parties Which Composed the Legislative Assembly.
- Chapter IV: Spirit of the Decrees of the Legislative Assembly.
- Chapter V: Of the First War Between France and Europe.
- Chapter VI: Of the Means Employed In 1792 to Establish the Republic.
- Chapter VII: Anniversary of 14th July Celebrated In 1792.
- Chapter VIII: Manifesto of the Duke of Brunswick.
- Chapter IX: Revolution of the 10th of August, 1792—overthrow of the Monarchy.
- Chapter X: Private Anecdotes.
- Chapter XI: The Foreign Troops Driven From France In 1792.
- Chapter XII: Trial of Louis XVI.
- Chapter XIII: Charles I and Louis XVI.
- Chapter XIV: War Between France and England. Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox.
- Chapter XV: Of Political Fanaticism.
- Chapter XVI: Of the Government Called the Reign of Terror.
- Chapter XVII: The French Army During the Reign of Terror; the Federalists and La Vendée.
- Chapter XVIII: Of the Situation of the Friends of Liberty Out of France During the Reign of Terror.
- Chapter XIX: Fall of Robespierre, and Change of System In the Government.
- Chapter XX: Of the State of Minds At the Moment When the Directorial Republic Was Established In France.
- Chapter XXI: Of the Twenty Months During Which the Republic Existed In France, From November 1795 to the 18th of Fructidor (4th of September) 1797.
- Chapter XXII: Two Singular Predictions Drawn From the History of the Revolution, By M. Necker.
- Chapter XXIII: Of the Army of Italy.
- Chapter XXIV: Of the Introduction of Military Government Into France By the Occurrences of the 18th of Fructidor.
- Chapter XXV: Private Anecdotes.
- Chapter XXVI: Treaty of Campo Formio In 1797. Arrival of General Bonaparte At Paris.
- Chapter XXVII: Preparations of General Bonaparte For Proceeding to Egypt. His Opinion On the Invasion of Switzerland.
- Chapter XXVIII: The Invasion of Switzerland.
- Chapter XXIX: Of the Termination of the Directory.
- Part Iv
- Chapter I: News From Egypt: Return of Bonaparte.
- Chapter II: Revolution of the 18th of Brumaire.
- Chapter III: Of the Establishment of the Consular Constitution.
- Chapter IV: Progress of Bonaparte to Absolute Power.
- Chapter V: Should England Have Made Peace With Bonaparte At His Accession to the Consulate?
- Chapter VI: Of the Solemn Celebration of the Concordat At Nôtre-dame.
- Chapter VII: M. Necker’s Last Work Under the Consulship of Bonaparte.
- Chapter VIII: Of Exile.
- Chapter IX: Of the Last Days of M. Necker.
- Chapter X: Abstract of M. Necker’s Principles On Government.
- Chapter XI: Bonaparte Emperor. the Counter-revolution Effected By Him.
- Chapter XII: Of the Conduct of Napoléon Toward the Continent of Europe.
- Chapter XIII: Of the Means Employed By Bonaparte to Attack England.
- Chapter XIV: On the Spirit of the French Army.
- Chapter XV: Of the Legislation and Administration Under Bonaparte.
- Chapter XVI: Of Literature Under Bonaparte.
- Chapter XVII: A Saying of Bonaparte Printed In the Moniteur.
- Chapter XVIII: On the Political Doctrine of Bonaparte.
- Chapter XIX: Intoxication of Power; Reverses and Abdication of Bonaparte.
- Part V *
- Chapter I: Of What Constitutes Legitimate Royalty.
- Chapter II: Of the Political Doctrine of Some French Emigrants and Their Adherents.
- Chapter III: Of the Circumstances That Render the Representative Government At This Time More Necessary In France Than In Any Other Country.
- Chapter IV: Of the Entry of the Allies Into Paris, and the Different Parties Which Then Existed In France.
- Chapter V: Of the Circumstances Which Accompanied the First Return of the House of Bourbon In 1814.
- Chapter VI: Of the Aspect of France and of Paris During Its First Occupation By the Allies.
- Chapter VII: Of the Constitutional Charter Granted By the King In 1814.
- Chapter VIII: Of the Conduct of the Ministry During the First Year of the Restoration.
- Chapter IX: Of the Obstacles Which Government Encountered During the First Year of the Restoration.
- Chapter X: Of the Influence of Society On Political Affairs In France.
- Chapter XI: Of the System Which Ought to Have Been Followed In 1814, to Maintain the House of Bourbon On the Throne of France.
- Chapter XII: What Should Have Been the Conduct of the Friends of Liberty In 1814?
- Chapter XIII: Return of Bonaparte.
- Chapter XIV: Of the Conduct of Bonaparte On His Return.
- Chapter XV: Of the Fall of Bonaparte.
- Chapter XVI: Of the Declaration of Rights Proclaimed By the Chamber of Representatives, 5th of July, 1815.
- Part Vi
- Chapter I: Are Frenchmen Made to Be Free?
- Chapter II: Cursory View of the History of England.
- Chapter III: Of the Prosperity of England, and the Causes By Which It Has Been Hitherto Promoted.
- Chapter IV: Of Liberty and Public Spirit Among the English.
- Chapter V: Of Knowledge, Religion, and Morals Among the English.
- Chapter VI: Of Society In England, and of Its Connection With Social Order.
- Chapter VII: Of the Conduct of the English Government Outside of England.
- Chapter VIII: Will Not the English Hereafter Lose Their Liberty?
- Chapter IX: Can a Limited Monarchy Have Other Foundations Than That of the English Constitution?
- Chapter X: Of the Influence of Arbitrary Power On the Spirit and Character of a Nation.
- Chapter XI: Of the Mixture of Religion With Politics.
- Chapter XII: Of the Love of Liberty.
The French Army During the Reign of Terror; the Federalists and La Vendée.
The conduct of the French army during the period of terror was truly patriotic. No generals were seen violating their oath to the state; they repulsed foreigners while they were themselves threatened with death upon the scaffold, at the slightest suspicion that might be excited against their conduct. The soldiers belonged not to any particular chief, but to France. France no longer existed but in the armies; there, however, at least, she was still beautiful: and her triumphant banners served, if we may so say, as a veil to the crimes committed in the interior. Foreigners were compelled to respect the rampart of iron which was opposed to their invasion; and, although they advanced within thirty leagues of Paris, a national feeling, still in full strength, did not permit them to arrive there. The same enthusiasm displayed itself in the navy. The crew of a man of war, Le Vengeur, struck by the English, repeated, as with one voice, the cry of Vive la république while they were sinking in the ocean; and the songs of a funereal joy seemed still to re-echo from the bottom of the deep.
The French army was then unacquainted with pillage, and its chiefs sometimes marched like private soldiers at the head of their troops because they did not have money to purchase the horses which they needed. Dugommier, commander in chief of the army of the Pyrénées, at the age of sixty, set out from Paris on foot to rejoin his troops on the frontiers of Spain. The men, on whom military glory has since conferred so much renown, distinguished themselves also by their disinterestedness. They wore, without blushing, uniforms which had become threadbare in the service, a hundred times more honorable than the embroidery and decorations of every kind with which, at a later period, we have seen them bedizened.
Honest republicans, mingled with royalists, courageously resisted the Conventional Government at Toulon, at Lyons, and in some other departments. This party was known by the name of Federalists; but I do not believe that the Girondists, or their partisans, ever conceived the project of establishing a federative government in France. Nothing would be less suitable to the character of the nation, which loves splendor and bustle; for both of these require a city, which may be the focus of the talents and the riches of the empire. We may with reason complain of the corruption of a capital, and of all great assemblages of men in general; such is the condition of mankind: but in France we could scarcely bring back men’s minds to virtue, but by the diffusion of knowledge and the need to obtain the votes of the public. The love of consideration or glory, in its different degrees, is the only thing that is able to raise us gradually from egoism to conscientiousness. Besides, the political and military state of the great monarchies which surround France would endanger her independence if the strength of her union were weakened. The Girondists never thought of any such plan; but, as they had many adherents in the provinces, where, by the simple effect of a national representation, political knowledge was beginning to be acquired, it was in the provinces that opposition to the factious tyrants of Paris displayed itself.
It was about this time, also, that the war of LaVendée began, and nothing does more honor to the royalist party than the attempts at civil war which were then made. The people of these departments were able to resist the Convention and its successors for nearly six years, being headed by some gentlemen who drew their principal resources from their own minds. The republicans, as well as the royalists, felt a profound respect for these warrior citizens. Lescure, La Roche Jacquelin, Charette, etc., whatever their opinions might be, fulfilled a duty to which all the French at that time might have thought themselves equally bound. The country which was the theater of the Vendean war was intersected by hedges intended to enclose the different estates. These peaceful hedges served for bulwarks to the peasants become soldiers, who sustained one by one the most dangerous and most daring struggle. The inhabitants of these parts of the country had much veneration for the priests, whose influence at that time did good. But in a state where liberty has long subsisted, the public mind would not need to be excited except by public institutions. The Vendeans, it is true, demanded in their distress some succours from England; but it was only auxiliaries, not masters, whom they accepted; for their own forces were much superior to those which they borrowed from abroad. They did not therefore compromise the independence of their country. Accordingly the chiefs of la Vendée were held in consideration even by the opposite party, and they expressed themselves upon the Revolution with more moderation than the emigrants beyond the Rhine. The Vendeans having fought, so to say, man to man with the French, were not easily persuaded that their adversaries were but a handful of rebels, whom a single battalion could have brought back to their duty; and as they themselves had recourse to the power of opinions, they knew what they were, and acknowledged the necessity of compromising with them.
One problem remains still to be solved: it is, How was it possible for the government of 1793 and 1794 to triumph over so many enemies? The coalition of Austria, Prussia, Spain, and England, the civil war in the interior, the hatred with which the Convention inspired every man of consideration that remained out of prison—none of these circumstances diminished the resistance, against which foreigners saw their efforts crushed to nothing. This prodigy can be explained only by the devotion of the nation to its own cause. A million men took arms to repel the forces of the coalition; the people were animated with a frenzy, as fatal in the interior as invincible without. Besides, the factitious but inexhaustible abundance of paper money, the low price of provisions, the degradation of the landholders, who were reduced to doom themselves eternally to misery, all tended to make the working classes believe that the yoke of inequality of fortune was at last on the point of ceasing to oppress them; this extravagant hope doubled the force which nature gave them: and social order, the secret of which consists in the endurance of the many, appeared suddenly threatened. But the military spirit, which then had no other end than the defense of the country, gave tranquillity to France by covering her with its shield. This spirit followed the same noble direction till the moment when, as we shall see later, one man turned against liberty herself the very legions that had sprung from the earth to defend her.
The incident occurred not far from Brest on June 1, 1794, and was reported by Barère in the Convention.
Dugommier (1738–94), a French marshal who served in Guadeloupe and the Pyrénées.
The revolt began on March 10, 1793, as a refusal to submit to conscription and ended nine months later. On the Vendée rebellion, see Furet’s entry in A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution, 165–76; and Tilly, The Vendée.
Louis-Marie de Salgues, Marquis de Lescure (1766–93), La Rochejacquelin (1772–94), and François de Charette de la Contrie (1763–96), fought on the Vendeans’ side.