Coup of 18 Fructidor
The Coup of 18 Fructidor, Year V, was a seizure of power by members of the French Directory on 4 September 1797 when their opponents, the Royalists, were gaining strength. Howard G. Brown, Professor of History at Binghamton University, stresses the turn toward dictatorship and the failure of liberal democracy under the Directory, blaming it on "chronic violence, ambivalent forms of justice, and repeated recourse to heavy-handed repression."
|Coup of 18 Fructidor|
|Part of the French Revolution|
Acting for the coup's leaders, General Pierre Augereau stormed the Tuileries Palace to arrest Charles Pichegru and others accused of plotting a counter-revolution.
Council of Ancients|
Council of Five Hundred
|Commanders and leaders|
|80,000||216 royalist deputies|
|Casualties and losses|
Three Directors, Paul Barras, Jean-François Rewbell and Louis Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux, staged the coup d'état with support from the military. Royalist candidates had gained the great majority of seats in the recent elections, where a third of the seats were at stake. They were poised to win the next round of elections and assume control of the Directory.
Jean-Charles Pichegru, a figure widely assumed to be acting in sympathy to the monarchy and its restoration, was elected President of the Council of Five Hundred. After documentation of Pichegru's treasonous activities was supplied by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Directors accused the entire body of plotting against the Revolution and moved quickly to annul the elections and arrest the royalists.
To support the coup, General Lazare Hoche, then commander of the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse, arrived in the capital with his troops, while Bonaparte sent troops under Pierre Augereau. Deputies were arrested and 53 were exiled to Cayenne in French Guiana. Since death from tropical disease was likely, it was referred to as the "dry guillotine". The 42 opposition newspapers were closed. The chambers were purged, and elections were partly cancelled.
Among those deported to Cayenne were Pichegru, François Barbé-Marbois, François-Marie, marquis de Barthélemy and Amédée Willot. Lazare Carnot made good his escape. The two vacant places in the Directory were filled by Philippe Merlin de Douai and Nicolas-Louis François de Neufchâteau.
- Brown (2007). Ending the French Revolution: Violence, Justice, and Repression from the Terror to Napoleon. p. 1.
- Doyle, William (2002). The Oxford History of the French Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 330. ISBN 978-0-19-925298-5.