Armand de Kersaint

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Armand-Guy-Simon de Coetnempren
AduC 109 Kersaint (A.G.S. de Koetnempren, comte de, 1742-1793).JPG
Comte de Koetnempren
Born (1742-07-29)29 July 1742
Paris, France
Died 4 December 1793(1793-12-04) (aged 51)
Allegiance  Kingdom of France
Service/branch  French Navy
Years of service 1755-1791
Rank Vice Admiral
Battles/wars American Revolution
French Revolutionary Wars
Other work Legislative Assembly
National Assembly

Armand-Guy-Simon de Coetnempren, comte de Kersaint, in short Armand de Kersaint (29 July 1742—4 December 1793), was a French sailor and politician. A Girondin, Kersaint held important naval posts during the early stages of the French Revolution. His brother, Guy-Pierre (1747–1822), also served in the navy and took part in the American War of Independence.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Paris, Kersaint came from a noble family; his father, Guy François de Coetnempren, comte de Kersaint, was a distinguished naval officer. Armand de Kersaint entered the French Navy in 1755, and in 1757, while serving on his father's ship, was promoted to the rank of ensign for his bravery in action. In July 1778, as captain of the 32-gun Iphigénie, he captured the 20-gun British post-ship HMS Lively. In 1782 Kersaint led an expedition to capture the British-held Dutch colonies of Demerara and Essequibo. At that time the officers of the French navy were divided into two parties —the reds or nobles, and the blues or roturiers.

At the outbreak of the Revolution, Kersaint, despite of his origin, took the side of the blues. He adopted the new ideas, and in a pamphlet entitled Le Bon Sens (a title inspired by Thomas Paine's Common Sense) attacked traditional privileges; he also submitted to the National Constituent Assembly a scheme for the reorganization of the navy, but it was not accepted.

In the Legislative Assembly[edit]

On 4 January 1791 Kersaint was appointed administrator of the département of the Seine by the electoral assembly of Paris. He was also elected as a deputé suppléant to the Legislative Assembly, and was called upon to sit in it in place of a deputy who had resigned.

His main objective became the realization of the navy scheme which he had previously submitted to the Constituent Assembly. He understood this to be made possible only through a general reform of all institutions, and subsequently gave his support to the policies of The Mountain, denouncing the conduct of King Louis XVI, and, on 10 August 1792 (after the storming of the Tuileries Palace, voting in favor of his deposition.

Shortly after, he was sent on a mission to the Armée du Centre, inspecting Soissons, Reims, Sedan and the Ardennes. While on assignment, Kersaint was arrested by the municipality of Sedan, but was set free after a few days' detention. Back in Paris, he took an active part in one of the last debates of the Legislative Assembly, in which it was decided to publish a Bulletin officiel, a report continued by the National Convention, and known by the name of the Bulletin de la Convention Nationale.

In the National Convention[edit]

Kersaint was sent as a deputy to the Convention by the département of Seine-et-Oise in September 1792, and, on 1 January 1793, was appointed vice-admiral. He continued to devote himself to questions concerning the navy and national defense, prepared a report on the British political system and the navy, and caused a decree to be passed for the formation of a committee of general defense, which after many modifications was to become the Committee of Public Safety. In January 1793, he had also had a decree passed concerning the navy. He had, however, entered the ranks of the Girondins, and had voted in the trial of the Louis XVI against the death penalty and in favor of the appeal to the people. He resigned his seat in the Convention on 20 January.

Arrest and execution[edit]

After the death of the king, his opposition became more marked; he denounced the September Massacres, but, when called upon to justify his attitude, confined himself to attacking Jean-Paul Marat, who had risen to immense popularity. Kersaint's friends attempted to obtain his appointment as Minister of the Marine - he failed to obtain even a post as officer.

He was arrested on 23 September at Ville d'Avray, near Paris, and taken before the Revolutionary Tribunal, where he was accused of having conspired for the restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy, and of having insulted national representation by resigning his position in the Convention. Kersaint was sentenced to death, and guillotined.

References[edit]

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.