French Republican Calendar

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French Republican Calendar of 1794, drawn by Philibert-Louis Debucourt.

The French Republican Calendar (French: calendrier républicain français) or French Revolutionary Calendar (calendrier révolutionnaire français) was a calendar created and implemented during the French Revolution, and used by the French government for about 12 years from late 1793 to 1805, and for 18 days by the Paris Commune in 1871. The revolutionary system was designed in part to remove all religious and royalist influences from the calendar, and was part of a larger attempt at decimalisation in France (which also included decimal time of day, decimalisation of currency, and metrication).

Overview and origins[edit]

Precursor[edit]

Sylvain Maréchal, prominent anticlerical atheist, published the first edition of his Almanach des Honnêtes-gens in 1788.[1] On pages 14–15 appears a calendar, consisting of twelve months. The first month is "Mars, ou Princeps" (March, or First), the last month is "Février, ou Duodécembre" (February, or Twelfth). (Months September through December are already numeric names.) The lengths of the months are the same, however, the 10th, 20th, and 30th are singled out of each month as the end of a décade. Individual days were assigned, instead of to the traditional saints, to people noteworthy for mostly secular achievements; December 25th is assigned both Jesus and Newton.

Later editions of the almanac would switch to the Republican Calendar.

History[edit]

A copy of the French Republican Calendar in the Historical Museum of Lausanne.

The days of the French Revolution and Republic saw many efforts to sweep away various trappings of the ancien régime; some of these were more successful than others. The new Republican government sought to institute, among other reforms, a new social and legal system, a new system of weights and measures (which became the metric system), and a new calendar. Amid nostalgia for the ancient Roman Republic, the theories of the Enlightenment were at their peak, and the devisers of the new systems looked to nature for their inspiration. Natural constants, multiples of ten, and Latin derivations formed the fundamental blocks from which the new systems were built.

The new calendar was created by a commission under the direction of the politician Charles-Gilbert Romme seconded by Claude Joseph Ferry and Charles-François Dupuis. They associated with their work the chemist Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau, the mathematician and astronomer Joseph-Louis Lagrange, the astronomer Joseph Jérôme Lefrançois de Lalande, the mathematician Gaspard Monge, the astronomer and naval geographer Alexandre Guy Pingré, and the poet, actor and playwright Fabre d'Églantine, who invented the names of the months, with the help of André Thouin, gardener at the Jardin des Plantes of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. As the rapporteur of the commission, Charles-Gilbert Romme presented the new calendar to the Jacobin-controlled National Convention on 23 September 1793, which adopted it on 24 October 1793 and also extended it proleptically to its epoch of 22 September 1792. It is because of his position as rapporteur of the commission that the creation of the republican calendar is attributed to Romme.[2]

The calendar is often called the "French Revolutionary Calendar" because it was created during the Revolution, but this is somewhat of a misnomer. Indeed, there was initially a debate as to whether the calendar should celebrate the Revolution, which began in 1789, or the Republic, which was established in 1792.[3] Immediately following 14 July 1789, papers and pamphlets started calling 1789 year I of Liberty and the following years II and III. It was in 1792, with the practical problem of dating financial transactions, that the legislative assembly was confronted with the problem of the calendar. Originally, the choice of epoch was either 1 January 1789 or 14 July 1789. After some hesitation the assembly decided on 2 January 1792 that all official documents would use the "era of Liberty" and that the year IV of Liberty started on 1 January 1792. This usage was modified on 22 September 1792 when the Republic was proclaimed and the Convention decided that all public documents would be dated Year I of the French Republic. The decree of 2 January 1793 stipulated that the year II of the Republic began on 1 January 1793; this was revoked with the introduction of the new calendar, which set 22 September 1793 as the beginning of year II. The establishment of the Republic was used as the epochal date for the calendar; therefore, the calendar commemorates the Republic, not the Revolution. In France, it is known as the calendrier républicain as well as the calendrier révolutionnaire. The Revolution is usually considered to have ended with the coup of 18 Brumaire in Year VIII (9 November 1799). The French Republic ended with the coronation of Napoleon I on 11 Frimaire, Year XIII (2 December 1804), a little more than a year before the calendar did.

The Concordat of 1801 re-established the Roman Catholic Church in France with effect from Easter Sunday, 18 April 1802, restoring the names of the days of the week with the ones they had in the Gregorian Calendar, while keeping the rest of the Republican Calendar, and fixing Sunday as the official day of rest and religious celebration.[4]

French coins of the period naturally used this calendar. Many show the year ("An") in Arabic numbers, although Roman numerals were used on some issues. Year 11 coins typically have a "XI" date to avoid confusion with the Roman "II".

Napoléon finally abolished the calendar with effect from 1 January 1806 (the day after 10 Nivôse an XIV), a little over twelve years after its introduction. However, it was used again during the brief Paris Commune, 6–23 May 1871 (16 Floréal–3 Prairial An LXXIX).

Many conversion tables and programs exist, largely created by genealogists. Some enthusiasts in France still use the calendar, more out of historical re-enactment than practicality.[citation needed]

Some legal texts that were adopted when the Republican Calendar was official are still in force in France and even Belgium and Luxembourg (which were at the time incorporated into France), and have kept their original dates for citation purposes.

Calendar design[edit]

L AN 2 DE LA REPUBLIQUE FR. (Year 2 of the French Republic) on a barn near Geneva

Years appear in writing as Roman numerals (usually), with epoch 22 September 1792, the beginning of the "Republican Era" (the day the French First Republic was proclaimed, one day after the Convention abolished the monarchy). As a result, Roman Numeral I indicates the first year of the republic, that is, the year before the calendar actually came into use. The first day of each year was that of the Southward equinox.

There were twelve months, each divided into three ten-day weeks called décades. The tenth day, décadi, replaced Sunday as the day of rest and festivity. The five or six extra days needed to approximate the solar or tropical year were placed after the months at the end of each year.

A period of four years ending on a leap day was to be called a "Franciade". The name "Olympique" was originally proposed[5] but changed to Franciade to commemorate the fact that it had taken the revolution four years to establish a republican government in France.[6]

The leap year was called Sextile, an allusion to the "bissextile" leap years of the Julian and Gregorian calendars, because it contained a sixth complementary day.

Decimal time[edit]

Main article: Decimal time

Each day in the Republican Calendar was divided into ten hours, each hour into 100 decimal minutes, and each decimal minute into 100 decimal seconds. Thus an hour was 144 conventional minutes (more than twice as long as a conventional hour), a minute was 86.4 conventional seconds (44% longer than a conventional minute), and a second was 0.864 conventional seconds (13.6% shorter than a conventional second).

Clocks were manufactured to display this decimal time, but it did not catch on. Mandatory use of decimal time was officially suspended 7 April 1795, although some cities continued to use decimal time as late as 1801.[7]

Months[edit]

The Republican calendar year began at the Southward equinox and had twelve months of 30 days each, which were given new names based on nature, principally having to do with the prevailing weather in and around Paris.

  • Autumn:
    • Vendémiaire in French (from Latin vindemia, "grape harvest"), starting 22, 23 or 24 September
    • Brumaire (from French brume, "fog"), starting 22, 23 or 24 October
    • Frimaire (From French frimas, "frost"), starting 21, 22 or 23 November
  • Winter:
    • Nivôse (from Latin nivosus, "snowy"), starting 21, 22 or 23 December
    • Pluviôse (from Latin pluvius, "rainy"), starting 20, 21 or 22 January
    • Ventôse (from Latin ventosus, "windy"), starting 19, 20 or 21 February
  • Spring:
    • Germinal (from Latin germen, "germination"), starting 20 or 21 March
    • Floréal (from Latin flos, "flower"), starting 20 or 21 April
    • Prairial (from French prairie, "pasture"), starting 20 or 21 May
  • Summer:
    • Messidor (from Latin messis, "harvest"), starting 19 or 20 June
    • Thermidor (or Fervidor) (from Greek thermon, "summer heat"), starting 19 or 20 July
    • Fructidor (from Latin fructus, "fruit"), starting 18 or 19 August

Note: On many printed calendars of Year II (1793–94), the month of Thermidor was named Fervidor.

Most of the month names were new words coined from French, Latin or Greek. The endings of the names are grouped by season. "Dor" means "giving" in Greek.[8]

In Britain, a contemporary wit mocked the Republican Calendar by calling the months: Wheezy, Sneezy and Freezy; Slippy, Drippy and Nippy; Showery, Flowery and Bowery; Wheaty, Heaty and Sweety.[9] The Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle suggested somewhat more serious English names in his 1837 work The French Revolution: A History,[8] namely Vintagearious, Fogarious, Frostarious, Snowous, Rainous, Windous, Buddal, Floweral, Meadowal, Reapidor, Heatidor, and Fruitidor. Like the French originals, they suggest a meaning related to the season but are neologisms, rather than preexisting words.

Ten days of the week[edit]

Pocket watch with duodecimal-based hours, and days of the month and of the week in French Republican Calendar. On display at Neuchâtel Beaux-Arts museum.

The month is divided into three décades or 'weeks' of ten days each, named simply:

  • primidi (first day)
  • duodi (second day)
  • tridi (third day)
  • quartidi (fourth day)
  • quintidi (fifth day)
  • sextidi (sixth day)
  • septidi (seventh day)
  • octidi (eighth day)
  • nonidi (ninth day)
  • décadi (tenth day)

Décades were abandoned in Floréal an X (April 1802).[10]

Rural Calendar[edit]

The Catholic Church used a calendar of saints, which named each day of the year after an associated saint. To reduce the influence of the Church, Fabre d'Eglantine introduced a Rural Calendar in which each day of the year had a unique name associated with the rural economy, stated to correspond to the time of year. Every decadi (ending in 0) was named after an agricultural tool. Each quintidi (ending in 5) was named for a domesticated animal. The rest of the days were named for "grain, pasture, trees, roots, flowers, fruits" and other plants, except for the first month of winter, Nivôse, during which the rest of the days were named after minerals.[11][12]

Autumn[edit]

Vendémiaire (22 September ~ 21 October) Brumaire (22 October ~ 20 November) Frimaire (21 November ~ 20 December)
  1. Raisin (Grape)
  2. Safran (Saffron)
  3. Châtaigne (Chestnut)
  4. Colchique (Crocus)
  5. Cheval (Horse)
  6. Balsamine (Impatiens)
  7. Carotte (Carrot)
  8. Amaranthe (Amaranth)
  9. Panais (Parsnip)
  10. Cuve (Vat)
  11. Pomme de terre (Potato)
  12. Immortelle (Strawflower)
  13. Potiron (Butter Squash)
  14. Réséda (Mignonette)
  15. Âne (Donkey)
  16. Belle de nuit (The four o'clock flower)
  17. Citrouille (Pumpkin)
  18. Sarrasin (Buckwheat)
  19. Tournesol (Sunflower)
  20. Pressoir (Wine-Press)
  21. Chanvre (Hemp)
  22. Pêche (Peach)
  23. Navet (Turnip)
  24. Amaryllis (Amaryllis)
  25. Bœuf (Ox)
  26. Aubergine (Eggplant)
  27. Piment (Chili Pepper)
  28. Tomate (Tomato)
  29. Orge (Barley)
  30. Tonneau (Barrel)
  1. Pomme (Apple)
  2. Céleri (Celery)
  3. Poire (Pear)
  4. Betterave (Beet root)
  5. Oie (Goose)
  6. Héliotrope (Heliotrope)
  7. Figue (Common Fig)
  8. Scorsonère (Black Salsify)
  9. Alisier (Chequer Tree)
  10. Charrue (Plough)
  11. Salsifis (Salsify)
  12. Mâcre (Water chestnut)
  13. Topinambour (Jerusalem Artichoke)
  14. Endive (Endive)
  15. Dindon (Turkey)
  16. Chervis (Skirret)
  17. Cresson (Watercress)
  18. Dentelaire (Leadworts)
  19. Grenade (Pomegranate)
  20. Herse (Harrow)
  21. Bacchante (Asarum baccharis)
  22. Azerole (Azarole)
  23. Garance (Madder)
  24. Orange (Orange)
  25. Faisan (Pheasant)
  26. Pistache (Pistachio)
  27. Macjonc (Tuberous pea)
  28. Coing (Quince)
  29. Cormier (Service tree)
  30. Rouleau (Roller)
  1. Raiponce (Rampion)
  2. Turneps (Turnip)
  3. Chicorée (Chicory)
  4. Nèfle (Medlar)
  5. Cochon (Pig)
  6. Mâche (Corn Salad)
  7. Chou-fleur (Cauliflower)
  8. Miel (Honey)
  9. Genièvre (Juniper)
  10. Pioche (Pickaxe)
  11. Cire (Wax)
  12. Raifort (Horseradish)
  13. Cèdre (Cedar tree)
  14. Sapin (Fir tree)
  15. Chevreuil (Roe Deer)
  16. Ajonc (Gorse)
  17. Cyprès (Cypress Tree)
  18. Lierre (Ivy)
  19. Sabine (Savin Juniper)
  20. Hoyau (Grub-hoe)
  21. Érable à sucre (Sugar Maple)
  22. Bruyère (Heather)
  23. Roseau (Reed plant)
  24. Oseille (Sorrel)
  25. Grillon (Cricket)
  26. Pignon (Pinenut)
  27. Liège (Cork)
  28. Truffe (Truffle)
  29. Olive (Olive)
  30. Pelle (Shovel)

Winter[edit]

Nivôse (21 December ~ 19 January) Pluviôse (20 January ~ 18 February) Ventôse (19 February ~ 20 March)
  1. Tourbe (Peat)
  2. Houille (Coal)
  3. Bitume (Bitumen)
  4. Soufre (Sulphur)
  5. Chien (Dog)
  6. Lave (Lava)
  7. Terre végétale (Topsoil)
  8. Fumier (Manure)
  9. Salpêtre (Saltpeter)
  10. Fléau (Flail)
  11. Granit (Granite stone)
  12. Argile (Clay)
  13. Ardoise (Slate)
  14. Grès (Sandstone)
  15. Lapin (Rabbit)
  16. Silex (Flint)
  17. Marne (Marl)
  18. Pierre à chaux (Limestone)
  19. Marbre (Marble)
  20. Van (Winnowing basket)
  21. Pierre à plâtre (Gypsum)
  22. Sel (Salt)
  23. Fer (Iron)
  24. Cuivre (Copper)
  25. Chat (Cat)
  26. Étain (Tin)
  27. Plomb (Lead)
  28. Zinc (Zinc)
  29. Mercure (Mercury (metal))
  30. Crible (Sieve)
  1. Lauréole (Spurge-laurel)
  2. Mousse (Moss)
  3. Fragon (Butcher's Broom)
  4. Perce-neige (Snowdrop)
  5. Taureau (Bull)
  6. Laurier-thym (Laurustinus)
  7. Amadouvier (Tinder polypore)
  8. Mézéréon (Daphne mezereum)
  9. Peuplier (Poplar Tree)
  10. Coignée (Axe)
  11. Ellébore (Hellebore)
  12. Brocoli (Broccoli)
  13. Laurier (Laurel)
  14. Avelinier (Filbert)
  15. Vache (Cow)
  16. Buis (Box Tree)
  17. Lichen (Lichen)
  18. If (Yew tree)
  19. Pulmonaire (Lungwort)
  20. Serpette (Billhook)
  21. Thlaspi (Pennycress)
  22. Thimelé (Rose Daphne)
  23. Chiendent (Couch Grass)
  24. Trainasse (Common Knotgrass)
  25. Lièvre (Hare)
  26. Guède (Woad)
  27. Noisetier (Hazel)
  28. Cyclamen (Cyclamen)
  29. Chélidoine (Celandine)
  30. Traîneau (Sleigh)
  1. Tussilage (Coltsfoot)
  2. Cornouiller (Dogwood)
  3. Violier (Matthiola)
  4. Troène (Privet)
  5. Bouc (Billygoat)
  6. Asaret (Wild Ginger)
  7. Alaterne (Italian Buckthorn)
  8. Violette (Violet)
  9. Marceau (Goat Willow)
  10. Bêche (Spade)
  11. Narcisse (Narcissus)
  12. Orme (Elm Tree)
  13. Fumeterre (Common fumitory)
  14. Vélar (Hedge Mustard)
  15. Chèvre (Goat)
  16. Épinard (Spinach)
  17. Doronic (Large-flowered Leopard's Bane)
  18. Mouron (Pimpernel)
  19. Cerfeuil (Chervil)
  20. Cordeau (Twine)
  21. Mandragore (Mandrake)
  22. Persil (Parsley)
  23. Cochléaria (Scurvy-grass)
  24. Pâquerette (Daisy)
  25. Thon (Tuna)
  26. Pissenlit (Dandelion)
  27. Sylvie (Wood Anemone)
  28. Capillaire (Maidenhair fern)
  29. Frêne (Ash Tree)
  30. Plantoir (Dibber)

Spring[edit]

Germinal (21 March ~ 19 April) Floréal (20 April ~ 19 May) Prairial (20 May ~ 18 June)
  1. Primevère (Primrose)
  2. Platane (Plane Tree)
  3. Asperge (Asparagus)
  4. Tulipe (Tulip)
  5. Poule (Hen)
  6. Bette (Chard Plant)
  7. Bouleau (Birch Tree)
  8. Jonquille (Daffodil)
  9. Aulne (Alder)
  10. Couvoir (Hatchery)
  11. Pervenche (Periwinkle)
  12. Charme (Hornbeam)
  13. Morille (Morel)
  14. Hêtre (European Beech Tree)
  15. Abeille (Bee)
  16. Laitue (Lettuce)
  17. Mélèze (Larch)
  18. Ciguë (Hemlock)
  19. Radis (Radish)
  20. Ruche (Hive)
  21. Gainier (Judas tree)
  22. Romaine (Lettuce)
  23. Marronnier (Horse chestnut)
  24. Roquette (Arugula or Rocket)
  25. Pigeon (Pigeon)
  26. Lilas (Lilac)
  27. Anémone (Anemone)
  28. Pensée (Pansy)
  29. Myrtille (Blueberry)
  30. Greffoir (Knife)
  1. Rose (Rose)
  2. Chêne (Oak Tree)
  3. Fougère (Fern)
  4. Aubépine (Hawthorn)
  5. Rossignol (Nightingale)
  6. Ancolie (Common Columbine)
  7. Muguet (Lily of the Valley)
  8. Champignon (Button mushroom)
  9. Hyacinthe (Hyacinth)
  10. Râteau (Rake)
  11. Rhubarbe (Rhubarb)
  12. Sainfoin (Sainfoin)
  13. Bâton d'or (Wallflower)
  14. Chamerisier (Fan Palm tree)
  15. Ver à soie (Silkworm)
  16. Consoude (Comfrey)
  17. Pimprenelle (Salad Burnet)
  18. Corbeille d'or (Basket of Gold)
  19. Arroche (Orache)
  20. Sarcloir (Garden hoe)
  21. Statice (Thrift)
  22. Fritillaire (Fritillary)
  23. Bourrache (Borage)
  24. Valériane (Valerian)
  25. Carpe (Carp)
  26. Fusain (Spindle (shrub))
  27. Civette (Chive)
  28. Buglosse (Bugloss)
  29. Sénevé (Wild mustard)
  30. Houlette (Shepherd's crook)
  1. Luzerne (Alfalfa)
  2. Hémérocalle (Daylily)
  3. Trèfle (Clover)
  4. Angélique (Angelica)
  5. Canard (Duck)
  6. Mélisse (Lemon Balm)
  7. Fromental (Oat grass)
  8. Martagon (Martagon lily)
  9. Serpolet (Wild Thyme )
  10. Faux (Scythe)
  11. Fraise (Strawberry)
  12. Bétoine (Woundwort)
  13. Pois (Pea)
  14. Acacia (Acacia)
  15. Caille (Quail)
  16. Œillet (Carnation)
  17. Sureau (Elderberry)
  18. Pavot (Poppy plant)
  19. Tilleul (Linden or Lime tree)
  20. Fourche (Pitchfork)
  21. Barbeau (Cornflower)
  22. Camomille (Camomile)
  23. Chèvrefeuille (Honeysuckle)
  24. Caille-lait (Bedstraw)
  25. Tanche (Tench)
  26. Jasmin (Jasmine Plant)
  27. Verveine (Verbena)
  28. Thym (Thyme Plant)
  29. Pivoine (Peony Plant)
  30. Chariot (Hand Cart)

Summer[edit]

Messidor (19 June ~ 18 July) Thermidor (19 July ~ 17 August) Fructidor (18 August ~ 16 September)
  1. Seigle (Rye)
  2. Avoine (Oats)
  3. Oignon (Onion)
  4. Véronique (Speedwell)
  5. Mulet (Mule)
  6. Romarin (Rosemary)
  7. Concombre (Cucumber)
  8. Échalote (Shallot)
  9. Absinthe (Wormwood)
  10. Faucille (Sickle)
  11. Coriandre (Coriander)
  12. Artichaut (Artichoke)
  13. Girofle (Clove)
  14. Lavande (Lavender)
  15. Chamois (Chamois)
  16. Tabac (Tobacco)
  17. Groseille (Currant)
  18. Gesse (Hairy Vetchling)
  19. Cerise (Cherry)
  20. Parc (Park)
  21. Menthe (Mint)
  22. Cumin (Cumin)
  23. Haricot (Bean)
  24. Orcanète (Alkanet)
  25. Pintade (Guinea fowl)
  26. Sauge (Sage Plant)
  27. Ail (Garlic)
  28. Vesce (Tare)
  29. Blé (Wheat)
  30. Chalémie (Shawm)
  1. Épeautre (Spelt)
  2. Bouillon blanc (Common Mullein)
  3. Melon (Melon)
  4. Ivraie (Ryegrass)
  5. Bélier (Ram)
  6. Prêle (Horsetail)
  7. Armoise (Mugwort)
  8. Carthame (Safflower)
  9. Mûre (Blackberry)
  10. Arrosoir (Watering Can)
  11. Panic (Switchgrass)
  12. Salicorne (Common Glasswort)
  13. Abricot (Apricot)
  14. Basilic (Basil)
  15. Brebis (Ewe)
  16. Guimauve (Marshmallow)
  17. Lin (Flax)
  18. Amande (Almond)
  19. Gentiane (Gentian)
  20. Écluse (Lock)
  21. Carline (Carline thistle)
  22. Câprier (Caper)
  23. Lentille (Lentil)
  24. Aunée (Inula)
  25. Loutre (Otter)
  26. Myrte (Myrtle)
  27. Colza (Rapeseed)
  28. Lupin (Lupin)
  29. Coton (Cotton)
  30. Moulin (Mill)
  1. Prune (Plum)
  2. Millet (Millet)
  3. Lycoperdon (Puffball)
  4. Escourgeon (Six-row Barley)
  5. Saumon (Salmon)
  6. Tubéreuse (Tuberose)
  7. Sucrion (Winter Barley)
  8. Apocyn (Apocynum)
  9. Réglisse (Liquorice)
  10. Échelle (Ladder)
  11. Pastèque (Watermelon)
  12. Fenouil (Fennel)
  13. Épine vinette (Barberry)
  14. Noix (Walnut)
  15. Truite (Trout)
  16. Citron (Lemon)
  17. Cardère (Teasel)
  18. Nerprun (Buckthorn)
  19. Tagette (Mexican Marigold)
  20. Hotte (Harvesting basket)
  21. Églantier (Wild Rose)
  22. Noisette (Hazelnut)
  23. Houblon (Hops)
  24. Sorgho (Sorghum)
  25. Écrevisse (Crayfish)
  26. Bigarade (Bitter Orange)
  27. Verge d'or (Goldenrod)
  28. Maïs (Maize or Corn)
  29. Marron (Sweet Chestnut)
  30. Panier (Pack Basket)

Complementary days[edit]

Main article: Sansculottides

Five extra days – six in leap years – were national holidays at the end of every year. These were originally known as les sans-culottides (after sans-culottes), but after year III (1795) as les jours complémentaires:

Converting from the Gregorian Calendar[edit]

Fountain in Octon, Hérault with date 5 Ventôse an 109 (24 February 1901)

Below are the Gregorian dates each Republican year (an in French) began while the calendar was in effect.

An AD/CE Gregorian An AD/CE Gregorian

I (1)

1792

22 September

VIII (8)

1799

23 September

II (2)

1793

22 September

IX (9)

1800

23 September

III (3)

1794

22 September*

X (10)

1801

23 September

IV (4)

1795

23 September

XI (11)

1802

23 September*

V (5)

1796

22 September

XII (12)

1803

24 September

VI (6)

1797

22 September

XIII (13)

1804

23 September

VII (7)

1798

22 September*

XIV (14)

1805

23 September

* Leap year, extra day added at end of year

The calendar was abolished in the year XIV (1805). After this date, opinions seem to differ on the method by which the leap years would have been determined if the calendar were still in force. There are at least four hypotheses used to convert dates from the Gregorian calendar:

  • The leap years would continue to vary in order to ensure that each year the Southward equinox falls on 1 Vendémiaire, as was the case from year I to year XIV. This is the only method that was ever in legal effect, although it means that sometimes five years pass between leap years, such as the years 15 and 20.[13]
  • Leap years would have fallen on each year divisible by four (thus in 20, 24, 28…), except most century years, according to Romme's proposed fixed rules. This would have simplified conversions between the Republican and Gregorian calendars since the Republican leap day would usually follow a few months after 29 February, at the end of each year divisible by four, so that the date of the Republican New Year remains the same (22 September) in the Gregorian calendar for the entire third century of the Republican Era (AD 1992–2091).[14]
  • The leap years would have continued in a fixed rule every four years from the last one (thus years 15, 19, 23, 27…) with the leap day added before, rather than after, each year divisible by four, except most century years. This rule has the advantage that it is both simple to calculate and is continuous with every year in which the calendar was in official use during the First Republic. Some concordances were printed in France, after the Republican Calendar was abandoned, using this rule to determine dates for long-term contracts.[15][16]
  • Beginning with year 20, years divisible by four would be leap years, except for years divisible by 128. Note that this rule was first proposed by von Mädler, and not until the late 19th century. The date of the Republican New Year remains the same (23 September) in the Gregorian calendar every year from 129 to 256 (AD 1920–2047).[17][18][19]

The following table shows when several years of the Republican Era begin on the Gregorian calendar, according to each of the four above methods:

An AD/CE Equinox Romme Continuous 128-Year

XV (15)

1806

23 September*

23 September

23 September*

23 September*

XVI (16)

1807

24 September

23 September*

24 September

24 September

XVII (17)

1808

23 September

23 September

23 September

23 September

XVIII (18)

1809

23 September

23 September

23 September

23 September

XIX (19)

1810

23 September

23 September

23 September*

23 September

XX (20)

1811

23 September*

23 September*

24 September

23 September*

CCXXII (222)

2013

22 September*

22 September

22 September

23 September

CCXXIII (223)

2014

23 September

22 September

22 September*

23 September

CCXXIV (224)

2015

23 September

22 September*

23 September

23 September*

CCXXV (225)

2016

22 September

22 September

22 September

23 September

* Leap year, extra day added at end of year

Current date and time[edit]

222 Thermidor CCXXII
 
Primidi
Duodi
Tridi
Quartidi
Quintidi
Sextidi
Septidi
Octidi
Nonidi
Décadi
décade 31
1 Saturday
19 July 2014
2 Sunday
20 July 2014
3 Monday
21 July 2014
4 Tuesday
22 July 2014
5 Wednesday
23 July 2014
6 Thursday
24 July 2014
7 Friday
25 July 2014
8 Saturday
26 July 2014
9 Sunday
27 July 2014
10 Monday
28 July 2014
décade 32
11 Tuesday
29 July 2014
12 Wednesday
30 July 2014
13 Thursday
31 July 2014
14 Friday
1 August 2014
15 Saturday
2 August 2014
16 Sunday
3 August 2014
17 Monday
4 August 2014
18 Tuesday
5 August 2014
19 Wednesday
6 August 2014
20 Thursday
7 August 2014
décade 33
21 Friday
8 August 2014
22 Saturday
9 August 2014
23 Sunday
10 August 2014
24 Monday
11 August 2014
25 Tuesday
12 August 2014
26 Wednesday
13 August 2014
27 Thursday
14 August 2014
28 Friday
15 August 2014
29 Saturday
16 August 2014
30 Sunday
17 August 2014
10 h
5:04:49
Thermidor
12:06:28
24 h

Criticism and shortcomings[edit]

Clock dial.

Leap years in the calendar are a point of great dispute, due to the contradicting statements in the establishing decree[20] stating:

Each year starts at midnight, with the day when the true autumnal equinox falls for the observatory of Paris.

and:

The period of four years, at the end of which this addition of one day is usually necessary, is called the Franciade...The fourth year of the Franciade is called Sextile.

These two specifications are incompatible, as leap years defined by the Southward equinox do not recur on a regular four year schedule. Thus, the years III, VII, and XI were observed as leap years, and the years XV and XX were also planned as such, even though they were five years apart.

Clock dial.

A fixed arithmetic rule for determining leap years was proposed in the name of the Committee of Public Education by Gilbert Romme on 19 Floréal An III (8 May 1795). The proposed rule was to determine leap years by applying the rules of the Gregorian calendar to the years of the French Republic (years IV, VIII, XII, etc. were to be leap years) except that year 4000 (the last year of ten 400-year periods) should be a common year instead of a leap year. Because he was shortly after sentenced to the guillotine, this proposal was never adopted and the original astronomical rule continued, which excluded any other fixed arithmetic rule. The proposal was intended to avoid uncertain future leap years caused by the inaccurate astronomical knowledge of the 1790s (even today, this statement is still valid due to the uncertainty in ΔT). In particular, the committee noted that the true Southward equinox of year 144 was predicted to occur at "11:59:40 pm", which was closer to midnight than its inherent 3 to 4 minute uncertainty.

The calendar was abolished by an act dated 22 Fructidor an XIII (9 September, 1805) and signed by Napoleon, which referred to a report by Michel-Louis-Étienne Regnaud de Saint-Jean d'Angély and Jean Joseph Mounier, listing two fundamental flaws.

  1. The rule for leap years depended upon the uneven course of the sun, rather than fixed intervals, so that one must consult astronomers to determine when each year started, especially when the equinox happened close to midnight, as the exact moment could not be predicted with certainty.
  2. Both the era and the beginning of the year were chosen to commemorate an historical event which occurred on the first day of autumn in France, whereas the other European nations began the year near the beginning of winter or spring, thus being impediments to the calendar's adoption in Europe and America, and even a part of the French nation, where the Gregorian calendar continued to be used, as it was required for religious purposes.

The report also noted that the 10-day décade was unpopular and had already been suppressed three years earlier in favor of the 7-day week, removing one of the calendar's main benefits.[21]

Another criticism of the calendar was that despite the poetic names of its months, they are tied to the climate and agriculture of France and therefore not applicable to France's overseas territories.[citation needed]

Famous dates in the Republican Calendar and other cultural references[edit]

Décret de la Convention 9 Brumaire An III above the entrance to the ENS.

The "18 Brumaire" or "Brumaire" was the coup d'état of Napoleon Bonaparte on 18 Brumaire An VIII (9 November 1799), which many historians consider as the end of the French Revolution. Karl Marx' 1852 essay The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoléon compares the 1851 coup of Louis Napoléon to his uncle's earlier coup.

Another famous revolutionary date is 9 Thermidor An II (27 July 1794), the date the Convention turned against Robespierre, who, along with others associated with the Mountain, was guillotined the following day. Based on this event, the term "Thermidorian" entered the Marxist vocabulary as referring to revolutionaries who destroy the revolution from the inside and turn against its true aims. For example, Leon Trotsky and his followers used this term about Joseph Stalin.

Émile Zola's novel Germinal takes its name from the calendar.

The seafood dish lobster thermidor was probably named after the 1891 play Thermidor, set during the Revolution.[22][23]

The French frigates of the Floréal class all bear names of Republican months.

The Convention of 9 Brumaire An III, 30 October 1794, established the École Normale Supérieure. The date appears prominently on the entrance to the school.

The French composer Fromental Halévy was named after the feast day of 'Fromental' in the Revolutionary Calendar, which occurred on his birthday in year VIII (27 May 1799).

Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series, included a story called Thermidor which takes place on that month during the French Revolution. [24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sylvain, Maréchal. "Almanach des Honnêtes-gens". gallica.bnf.fr. Gallica. pp. 14–5. 
  2. ^ James Guillaume, Procès-verbaux du Comité d'instruction publique de la Convention nationale, t. I, pp. 227–228 et t. II, pp. 440–448 ; Michel Froechlé, « Le calendrier républicain correspondait-il à une nécessité scientifique ? », Congrès national des sociétés savantes : scientifiques et sociétés, Paris, 1989, pp. 453–465.
  3. ^ Le calendrier républicain: de sa création à sa disparition. Bureau des longitudes. 1994. p. 19. ISBN 978-2-910015-09-1. 
  4. ^ "Concordat de 1801 Napoleon Bonaparte religion en france Concordat de 1801". Roi-president.com. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2009. 
  5. ^ Le calendrier républicain: de sa création à sa disparition. Bureau des longitudes. 1994. p. 26. ISBN 978-2-910015-09-1. 
  6. ^ Le calendrier républicain: de sa création à sa disparition. Bureau des longitudes. 1994. p. 36. ISBN 978-2-910015-09-1. 
  7. ^ Richard A. Carrigan, Jr. "Decimal Time". American Scientist, (May–June 1978), 66(3): 305–313.
  8. ^ a b Thomas Carlyle (1867). The French revolution: a history. Harper. 
  9. ^ "The French Republican Calendar". BBC. Retrieved 30 January 2009. 
  10. ^ Antoine Augustin Renouard (1822). Manuel pour la concordance des calendriers républicain et grégorien (2 ed.). A. A. Renouard. Retrieved 14 September 2009. 
  11. ^ Ed. Terwecoren (1870). Collection de Précis historiques. J. Vandereydt. p. 31. 
  12. ^ Philippe-Joseph-Benjamin Buchez, Prosper Charles Roux (1837). Histoire parlementaire de la révolution française. Paulin. p. 415. 
  13. ^ Sébastien Louis Rosaz (1810). Concordance de l'Annuaire de la République française avec le calendrier grégorien. 
  14. ^ "Brumaire – Calendrier Républicain". Prairial.free.fr. Retrieved 30 January 2009. 
  15. ^ Antoine Augustin Renouard (1822). Manuel pour la concordance des calendriers républicain et grégorien: ou, Recueil complet de tous les annuaires depuis la première année républicaine (2 ed.). A. A. Renouard. 
  16. ^ "Brumaire – Calendrier Républicain". Prairial.free.fr. Retrieved 30 January 2009. 
  17. ^ The French Revolution Calendar
  18. ^ "Calendars". Projectpluto.com. Retrieved 30 January 2009. 
  19. ^ "The French Revolutionary Calendar , Calendars". Webexhibits.org. Retrieved 30 January 2009. 
  20. ^ "Le Calendrier Republicain". Gefrance.com. Retrieved 30 January 2009. 
  21. ^ Antoine Augustin Renouard (1822). Manuel pour la concordance des calendriers républicain et grégorien: ou, Recueil complet de tous les annuaires depuis la première année républicaine (2 ed.). A. A. Renouard. p. 217. 
  22. ^ James, Kenneth (15 November 2006). Escoffier: The King of Chefs. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-85285-526-0. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  23. ^ "Lobster thermidor". Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  24. ^ {cite web |url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fables_%26_Reflections#.22Thermidor.22}

Further reading[edit]

  • Ozouf, Mona, 'Revolutionary Calendar' in Furet, François and Mona Ozouf, eds., Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution (1989)
  • Shaw, Matthew, Time and the French Revolution: a history of the French Republican Calendar, 1789-Year XIV (2011)

External links[edit]