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This article is about the term. For the type foundry, see Emigre (type foundry).

An émigré is a person who has "migrated out", often with a connotation of political or social self-exile. The word is the past participle of the French émigrer 'to emigrate'.

Whereas emigrants have likely chosen to leave one place and become immigrants in a different clime, not usually expecting to return, émigrés see exile as a temporary expedient forced on them by political circumstances. Émigré circles often arouse suspicion as breeding-grounds for plots and counter-revolution.

French Huguenots[edit]

French Huguenots were forced to leave France following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

The American Revolution[edit]

Many loyalists that made up large portions of Colonial America, particularly in the South, fled America during and after the American revolution. Common destinations were other parts of the British Empire such as Upper Canada, Nova Scotia, Great Britain, Jamaica, and the British West Indies. The lands left by the fleeing Tories were often awarded by the new government to Patriot soldiers by way of land grants.[1][2]

The French revolution[edit]

French refugees, former members of the nobility, Catholic royalist sympathizers, or anti-republicans, who were expelled by the Decree of 17 December 1791 and the Law of Suspects of 1793, following the French Revolution.

Some of the nobility who left France during the Revolution settled in bordering countries, which they sought to use as a base for counterrevolution. After the Storming of the Bastille, King Louis XVI of France directed several of the most conservative members of his court to leave the country for fear that they might be assassinated. Among this first group of émigrés were the king’s youngest brother, the Comte d'Artois, and Queen Marie Antoinette's best friend, the Duchesse de Polignac. Later, in coordination with the king's failed attempt to escape Paris, the king's other brother, the Comte de Provence, also emigrated.

The Russian revolution[edit]

White Russian émigrés or other opponents of the regime, who fled the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and its aftermath.[3]

Marx and Engels, in setting out the strategy for future revolutions in The Communist Manifesto, included the provision that the property of émigrés should be confiscated and used to finance the revolution — a recommendation followed by the Bolsheviks 70 years later.

The October Revolution caused more than 20,000 Russian emigrants to go to Finland, as well as to Yugoslavia (such as Pyotr Wrangel). Many of these however moved on to France, Paris being the favourite destination for Russian émigrés.

Twentieth century émigrés[edit]

European aristocrats were forced to leave their native countries due to political upheavals from the beginning of the 20th century to the end of World War II.


Unlike émigré, the term exile remains politically neutral and includes people from whatever side of the political spectrum who had to leave their homeland, often for political reasons, and who wish to return.


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