Paul Barras, the only Director to serve during the entire term of the Directory
|Established||2 November 1795|
|Disbanded||10 November 1799|
|Preceded by||Committee of Public Safety|
|Succeeded by||French Consulate
with Napoleon Bonaparte as First Consul
|Palais Bourbon, Paris|
Part of a series on the
|History of France|
The Directory was a five-member committee which governed France during the last four years of the French Revolution. It succeeded the Committee of Public Safety in November 1795 under the Constitution of the Year III, and it lasted until it was overthrown by Napoleon in November 1799 and replaced by the Consulate. This period is commonly known as the "Directory era."
The Directory at first had some success in foreign policy, especially right after Napoleon's conquests in Italy. It annexed Belgium and the left (western) bank of the Rhine River, and set up satellite regimes in Switzerland, the Netherlands, and most of Italy. The conquered lands were forced to provide huge subsidies to the French treasury, which otherwise was bankrupt. On the domestic front however, conditions went from bad to worse and the Directory responded with repression.
The period was a time of economic depression in France, with famines and widespread distress following the crop failure of 1795. Inflation was raging as the paper money was worth less than 1% of its face value. There was a resurgence of the civil war in the Vendée region, which was suppressed by the French Army. The government suppressed its critics, their clubs and their newspapers. It executed Gracchus Babeuf, the chief spokesman for the poor. The War of the First Coalition against Britain and its allies dragged on at great expense, and with an unpopular conscription (draft) of young men. In 1799 the enemies of France scored a series of major victories, pushing the French back to their borders. The bright spot seemingly was Napoleon's highly successful campaigns, but when he invaded Egypt, the British sank his fleet and his army became trapped, while the armies still in Europe suffered a series of defeats in 1799. The Directory had very little popular or elite support left. Napoleon returned to Paris and overthrew the Directory on November 9, 1799.
- 1 The downfall of Robespierre, and the drafting of a new Constitution
- 2 The Interim between the Convention and the Directory
- 3 The Directory Takes Charge
- 4 Finance and the Economy
- 5 Babeuf's conspiracy
- 6 Military successes
- 7 Art and culture during the Directory - the Salon and the Louvre
- 8 18 Fructidor
- 9 1798
- 10 1799
- 11 End of the Directory
- 12 The Directory judged by historians
- 13 List of Directors
- 14 Ministers
- 15 See also
- 16 References
- 17 Bibliography
The downfall of Robespierre, and the drafting of a new Constitution
On July 27, 1794, members of the French Convention, the revolutionary parliament of France, rose up against its leader, Maximilien Robespierre, who was in the midst of carrying out the Reign of Terror, executing thousands of suspected enemies of the Revolution. Robespierre and his leading followers were declared outside the law, and on July 28 were arrested and guillotined the same day. The Terror quickly came to a halt. The Revolutionary Tribunal, which had sent thousands to the guillotine, ceased meeting and its head, Fouquier-Tinville, was arrested and imprisoned, and after trial was later himself guillotined. More than five hundred suspected counter-revolutionaries awaiting trial and execution were immediately released.
In the wake of these events, the members of the Convention began planning an entirely new form of government. They wished to continue the Revolution, but without its excesses, and without allowing so much power to be concentrated in the hands of one man. They began drafting a new Constitution, which provided for a a two-house legislature, a Council of Five Hundred and a Council of Ancients, and a unique kind of executive, a five-man directory chosen by the legislature.
One of the authors of the new Constitution, François Antoine de Boissy d'Anglas, who had himself once supported Robespierre against the more moderate Girondins in the Convention, explained the new system in his report to the Convention: “We propose to you to compose an executive power of five members, renewed with one new member each year, called the Directory. This executive will have a force concentrated enough that it will be swift and firm, but divided enough to make it impossible for any member to even consider becoming a tyrant. A single chief would be dangerous. Each member will preside for three months; he will have during this time the signature and seal of the head of state. By the slow and gradual replacement of members of the Directory, you will preserve the advantages of order and continuity and will have the advantages of unity without the inconveniences.” To assure that the Directors would have some independence, each would be elected by one portion of the legislature, and they could not be removed by the Legislature unless they violated the law. 
Under the new Constitution of 1795, to be eligible to vote in the elections for the Councils, voters were required to certain minimum property and residency standards. In towns with over six thousand population, they had to own or rent a property with a revenue equal to the standard income for at least one hundred fifty or two hundred days of work, and to have lived in their residence for at least a year. This ruled out a large part of the French population.
Electoral assemblies in each Canton of France, which brought together a total of thirty thousand qualified electors. chose representatives to an electoral assembly in each Department, which then elected the members of the Council of Five Hundred and the two hundred fifty members of the Council of Ancients. The members of this legislature had a term of three years, with one-third of the members renewed every year. The Ancients could not initiate new laws, but could veto those proposed by the Council of Five Hundred.
The new Constitution required the Council of 500 to prepare, by secret ballot, a list of candidates for the Directory. The Council of the Ancients then chose, again by secret ballot, the Directors. The Constitution required that directors be at last forty years old. (This article became one justification for the Coup d’Etat by Bonaparte in 1799; he was then only thirty-nine years old.  To assure gradual but continual change, one Director, chosen by lot, was replaced each year. Ministers for the various departments of State aided the directors. These ministers did not form a council or cabinet and had no general powers of government.
The new constitution sought to create a separation of powers; the directors had no voice in legislation or taxation, nor could directors or ministers sit in either house. It also guaranteed basic freedoms, and began with the Declaration of Rights of Man. The judicial system was also reformed, and judges were given short terms of office; two years for justices of the peace, five for judges of department tribunals. They were elected, and could be re-elected, to assure their independence from the other branches of government. In its preamble it declared that "the Rights of Man in society are liberty, equality, security, and property".. It guaranteed freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of labour, but forbade armed assemblies and even public meetings of political societies. Only individuals or public authorities could tender petitions.
The big loser under the new system was the City of Paris, which had dominated events in the first part of the Revolution. On August 24, 1794, less than a month after the execution of Robespierre, the Committees of each sections of Paris, the bastions of the Jacobins, which had provided most of the manpower for demonstrations and invasions of the Convention, were abolished, replaced by twelve committees, in in each arrondissement. Shortly afterwards, on August 31, the municipality of Paris, which had been the domain of Danton and Robespierre, was abolished, and the city placed under direct control of the national government. On October 11, 1795, the city was divided into twelve separate municipalities, within a new Department, the Department of the Seine.
The new Constitution was presented to the Convention and debated between July 4 and August 17, 1795, and was formally adopted on August 22, 1795. It was a long document, with 377 articles, compared with 124 in the first French Constitution of 1793. Even before it took effect, however, the members of the Convention took measures to assure they would still have dominance in the legislature; over the government. They required that in the first elections, two hundred and fifty new deputies would be elected, while five hundred members of the old Convention would remain in place until the next elections. A national referendum of eligible voters with was then held. The total number of voters was low; of five million eligible voters, 1,057,390 electors approved the Constitution, and 49,978 opposed it. A much smaller number, 205,498 voters approved the proposal that two thirds of members of the old Convention should remain in place. 
The Interim between the Convention and the Directory
Paul Barras organized the defense of the government against attacks from the left and right
General Lazare Hoche defeated a royalist army that landed in Brittany (July 1795)
Napoleon Bonaparte as a new General in the Army of the Interior (1795)
In the long months between the downfall of Robespierre and the adoption of the new Constitution and the debut of the Directory, the leaders of the Convention tried to continue the Revolution without the terror, and to meet challenges from both neo-Jacobins on the left and royalists on the right. On September 21, 1794, the remains of Jean-Paul Marat, whose furious articles had promoted the Reign of Terror. were placed with great ceremony in the Pantheon, while on the same day, the moderate Convention member Merlin de Thionville described the Jacobins as "A hangout of outlaws" and the "knights of the guillotine". Young men known as Muscadins, largely from middle-class families, attacked the Jacobon and radical clubs. The new freedom of the press saw the the appearance of a host of new newspapers and pamphlets from the left and right. The royalist L'Orateur du peuple edited by Stanislas Freron, an extreme Jacobin who had moved to the extreme right; and at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Tribun du peuple, edited by Gracchus Babeuf, a former priest who advocated an early version of socialism. On February 5, 1795 the semi-official newspaper Moniteur attacked Marat for encouraging the bloody extremes of the Reign of Terror. Marat's remains were removed the Pantheon two days later.  The surviving Girondin deputies, whose eaters had been executed during the Reign of Terror, were brought back into the Convention on March 8, 1795.
France had been at war continually since 1791, facing a coalition of England, Austria, Holland, and Spain, as well as a bloody uprising in the west of France. In the interim between the fall of Robespierre and the election of the new legislature and Directory, the government took advantage of French successes to obtain peace treaties and secure French gains. In January 1795 General Pichegru took advantage of an extremely cold winter and invaded Holland. He captured Utrecht on January 18, and on February 14 units of French cavalry captured the Dutch fleet, which was trapped in the ice at Helder. The Dutch government asked for peace, conceding Dutch Flanders Maestricht and Venlo to France. On February 9, after a French offensive in the Alps, the Duke of Tuscany signed a treaty with France. Soon afterwards, on April 5, France signed a peace treaty with Prussia, where the Emperor was tired of the war; Prussia recognized the French occupation of the western bank of the Rhine. On July 22, 1795, a peace agreement was signed with Spain, where the French army had marched as far as Bilbao. By the time the Directory was chosen, the coalition against France was reduced to Britain and Austria, which hoped that Russia might be brought in on its side.
In its last months, the Convention also tried to bring a peaceful end to the long catholic and royalist uprising in the west, in the Vendée. The Convention signed an amnesty agreement, promising to recognize the freedom of religion and allowing territorial guards to keep their weapons, if the Vendéens would end their revolt. On a proposal from Boissy d'Anglas, on February 21, 1795 the Convention formally proclaimed the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. 
The efforts of the government to bring a peaceful settlement in the west were unsuccessful; the royalist and catholic rebels in Brittany and Vendée saw an opportunity to strike the government anew. On June 23, the Chouans in Brittany formed an army of fourteen thousand men near Quiberon. With the assistance of the British navy, a force of two thousand royalists was landed at Quiberon. However, the French army under General Hoche reacted swiftly, forcing the royalists to take refuge on the peninsula and then to withdraw. They surrendered on July 21; 748 of the rebels were shot. 
The Jacobin uprising in Paris (May 20–22, 1795)
On May 20, the Jacobins launched a new attempt to seize power Paris. Following the model of Danton's seizure of the National Assembly in June, 1792, a mob of sans-culottes invaded the meeting hall of the Convention at the Tuileries, killed one deputy, and demanded that a new government be formed. This time the army moved swiftly to clear the hall. Several deputies who had taken the side of the invaders were arrested. The uprising continued the following day, as the sans-culottes seized the Hotel de Ville, as they had done in earlier uprisings, but with little effect; crowds did not move to support them. On the third day, May 20, the army moved into and occupied the working-class neighborhood of the faubourg Saint-Antoine. The sans-culottes were disarmed and their leaders were arrested. In the following days the surviving members of the Committee of Public Safety, the committee that had been led by Robespierre, were arrested, with the exception of Carnot and two others. Six of the deputies who had participated in the uprising and had been sentenced to death committed suicide before they were taken to the guillotine.
A last uprising in Paris - A "whiff of grapeshot" (October 6, 1795)
The new Constitution was officially proclaimed in force on September 23, 1795, but the new Councils had not yet been elected, and the Directors had not yet been chosen. The leaders of the royalists and constitutional monarchists chose this moment to try to seize power themselves. They saw that the vote in favor of the new Constitution was hardly overwhelming; Paris voters were particularly hostile to the idea of keeping two-thirds of the old members of the Convention in the new Councils. A central committee was formed, with members from the wealthier neighborhoods of Paris, and they began planning a march on the center of Paris and on the Tuileries, where the Convention still met.
The members of the Convention, very much experienced with conspiracies, were well aware that the planning was underway. A group of five republican deputies, lead by Paul Barras, had already formed an unofficial directory, in anticipation of the creation of the real one. They were concerned about the national guard members from western Paris, and were unsure about the military commander of Paris, General Menou. Barras decided to turn to military commanders who were known republicans, particularly Napoleon Bonaparte, whom he had known when Bonaparte was successfully fighting the British in Toulon. Barras designated a member of his entourage, Napoleon Bonaparte, a general of second rank in the Army of the Interior, to defend the government buildings on the right bank.
The armed royalist insurgents planned a march in two columns along both the right bank and left bank of the Seine toward the Tuileries. They were met by the artillery of General Joachim Murat at the Sablons and by Bonaparte's soldiers and artillery in front of the Church of Saint-Roche. They "whiff of grapeshot" of Bonaparte's cannons and gunfire of his soldiers brutally mowed down advancing columns, killing some four hundred insurgents, and ended the rebellion. Bonaparte was promoted to General of Division on October 16, and General in Chief of the Army of the Interior on October 26. It was the last uprising to take place in Paris during the French Revolution. 
The Directory Takes Charge
Paul Barras in the ceremonial dress of a Director, was a master of political intrigue
Lazare Carnot, a brilliant organizer and mathematician but poor intriguer, was the enemy of Barras
Between October 12 and 21, 1795, immediately after the suppression of royalist uprising in Paris, the elections for the new Councils decreed by the new Constitution took place. Three-hundred seventy nine members of the old Convention, for the most part moderate republicans, were elected to the new legislature. To assure that the Directory did not abandon the revolution entirely, the Council required that all of the members of the Directory be former members of the Convention and regicides, those who had voted for the execution of Louis XVI.
Due to the rules established by the Convention, a majority of members of the new legislature, 381 of 741 deputies, had served in the Convention and were ardent republicans, but a large part of the new deputies elected were royalists; 118 versus eleven from the left. The members of the upper house, the Council of Ancients, were chosen by lot from among all of the deputies.
On October 31, 1795, The members of the new Council of 500 submitted a list of candidates to the Council of Ancients, which chose the first Directory on October 31. One person elected, the Abbé Sieyès, refused to take the position, saying it didn't suit his interests or personality. A new member, Lazare Carnot, was elected in his place. 
The members elected to the Directory were:
- Paul François Jean Nicolas, vicomte de Barras. A member of a minor noble family from Provence, Barras had been a revolutionary envoy to Toulon, where he met the young Bonaparte, and arranged his promotion to captain. Barras had been removed from the Committee of Public Safety by Robespierre. Fearing for his life, Barras had helped organize the downfall of Robespierre. An expert at political intrigue, Barras became the dominant figure in the Directory. His leading opponent in the Directory, Carnot, described as a "man without faith and without morals; in politics, without character and without resolution...having all the tastes of an opulent prince, magnificent and dissipated." 
- Louis Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux was a fierce republican and anti-Catholic, who had proposed to execute the King after his flight to Varennes. He promoted the establishment of a new religion, theophilanthropy, to replace Christianity.
- Jean-François Rewbell, who had an expertise in foreign relations, and was a close ally of Paul Barras. He was a firm moderate republican who had voted for the death of the King but had also opposed Robespierre and the extreme Jacobins. He was an opponent of the Catholic church and a proponent of individual liberties.
- Étienne-François Le Tourneur was a former captain of engineers, and a specialist in military and naval affairs. He was a close ally within the Directory of Carnot.
- Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot; When the Abbé Sieyés was elected by the Ancients, but refused the position, his place was taken by Carnot. Carnot was an army captain at the beginning of the Revolution, and when elected to the Convention became a member of the commission of military affairs, as well as a vocal opponent of Robespierre. He was an energetic and efficient manager, who restructured the French military and helped it achieve its first successes, earning him the title of "The Organizer of the Victory." Napoleon, who later made Carnot his Minister of War, described him as "a hard worker, sincere in everything, but without intrigues, and easy to fool." 
The following day, the government occupied its new offices in the Luxembourg Palace, which had previously been occupied by the Committee of Public Safety. They found nothing had been prepared, and the rooms had no furniture. They managed to find a table and firewood to heat the room, and began meeting. Each member took charge of a particular sector; Rewbell oversaw diplomacy; Carnot and Le Tourneur managed military affairs, La Revolliere-Lépaux managed religion and public instruction, and Barras was in charge of internal affairs.
The Council of Ancients, in the meanwhile occupied the building at the Tuileries Palace formerly occupied by Convention, while the Council of Five Hundred occupied the Manage, or old riding school, of the Palace. One of the early decisions of the new parliament was to designate uniforms for both houses; The Five Hundred wore long white robes with a blue belt, a scarlet cloak and a hat of blue velour, while members of the Ancients wore a robe of blue-violet, a scarlet sash, a white mantle, and a violet hat. 
Finance and the Economy
The new Director overseeing financial affairs, La Reveillière-Lépaux, gave a succinct description of the financial state of France when the Directory took power: "The national Treasury was completely empty; not a single sou remained, The assignats were almost worthless; the the little value which remained drained away each day with accelerated speed. One could not print enough money in one night to meet the most pressing needs of th next day....The public revenues were nonexistent; citizens had lost the habit of paying taxes. All public credit was dead and all confidence lost. The depreciation of the assignats, the frightening speed of the fall, reduced the salary of all public employees to a value which was purely nominal." .
The drop in value in the money was accompanied by extraordinary inflation. A gold Louis coin, which was worth 2000 livres in paper money at the beginning of the Directory, increased to 3000 and then 5000 livres. The prince of a liter of wine increased from 50 sous in October 1795 to ten francs and then thirty francs. A measure of flour worth two livres in 1790 was worth 225 livres in October 1794. .
The new government continued to print assignats, which were based on the value of property confiscated from the church and aristocracy, but it could not print them fast enough; even when it printed one hundred million assignats in a day, it covered only one-third of the government's needs. To fill the treasury, the Directory resorted in December 1795 to a forced loan from of 600 million livres; wealthy citizens were required to pay between 50 and 6000 livres each.
To fight inflation, the government began minting more coins of gold and silver, which had real value; the government had little gold but large silver reserves, largely in the form of silverware, candlesticks and other objects confiscated from the churches and nobility. They minted 72 million ecus, and when this silver supply ran low and obtained much more gold silver through military campaigns outside of France, particularly from Bonaparte's army in Italy. Bonaparte demanded gold or silver from each city he conquered, threatening to destroy their cities if they did not pay.
These measures reduced the rate of inflation. on February 19, 1796, the government held a ceremony in the Place de Vendome to destroy the printing presses which had been used to produce huge quantities of assignats. This success produced a new problem; the country was still flooded with with more than two billion four hundred million assignats, claims on confiscated properties, which now had some value. Those who held assignats were able to exchange them for state mandates, which they could use to buy chateaux, church buildings and other state property at extremely reduced prices. Speculation became rampant, and property in Paris and other cities sometimes changed hands several times a day.
Another major problem faced by the Directory was the enormous public debt, the same problem that had led to the Revolution in the first place. In September-December 1797 the Directory attacked this problem by declaring bankruptcy on two -thirds of the debt, but assured payment on the other third. This resulted in the ruin of those who held large quanities of government bonds, but stabilized the currency. To keep the treasury full, the Directory also imposed new taxes on property owners, based on the number of fireplaces and chimneys and later on the number of windows, of their residences. They refrained from adding more taxes on wine or salt, which had helped cause the 1789 revolution, but added new taxes on gold and silver objects, playing cards, tobacco, and other luxury products. Through these means, the Directory brought about a relative stability of finances which continued through the Directory and Consulate. 
As the economy worsened and unrest grew, Babeuf organized his Conspiracy of the Equals. Babeuf had, since 1789, been drawn to the Agrarian law, or sharing goods in common, as means of achieving economic equality. By the time of Robespierre's fall he had abandoned this as an impractical scheme and was moving towards a more complex plan of collective ownership and production. This, in essence, was still his ultimate aim when, in winter of 1795–96, he conspired with a group of former Jacobins, club-men and terrorists to overthrow the Directory by force. The movement was organised in a series of concentric circles: there was an inner insurrectionary committee, composed of a small body of intimates who alone were fully informed of the conspiracy's aims; beyond it, a group of sympathizers, ex-Jacobins and others, including Robespierre's old opponents, Amar and Lindet; and finally, on the fringe, the Paris militants who had been won over, reckoned by Babeuf at some 17,000 men. The plan was original and grievance was rife, but the sans-culottes, cowed and silenced since Prairial, failed to respond.
The conspirators were betrayed by a police spy to Carnot, a Director who was moving to the right. On the night of 23-24 Fructidor (9–10 September 1796) their partisans attempted to win over the soldiers of the camp of Grenelle. Carnot was aware of their plan and they were surprised by the cavalry. One hundred and thirty-one were arrested and thirty shot out of hand; the principal Babeuf associates were brought to trial; Babeuf and Darthé were guillotined.
The Directory was sustained by the military successes of 1796. Hoche again suppressed the Revolt in the Vendée. Bonaparte's victories in Italy more than compensated for the reverses of Jourdan and Moreau in Germany. The king of Sardinia made peace in May 1796, ceding Nice and Savoy to the French Republic and consenting to receive French garrisons in his Piedmontese fortresses. By the Treaty of San Ildefonso, concluded in August, Spain became the ally of France. In October 1796, the Kingdom of Naples made peace.
Bonaparte finished the conquest of northern Italy and forced Austria to make the Treaty of Campo Formio (October 1797), whereby the emperor ceded Lombardy and the Austrian Netherlands to the French Republic in exchange for Venice and urged the Diet to surrender the lands beyond the Rhine. Notwithstanding the victory of Cape St Vincent, the United Kingdom was brought into such extreme peril by the mutinies in its fleet that it offered to acknowledge the French conquest of the Netherlands and to restore the French colonies.
The selfishness of the three Directors threw away this golden opportunity. In March and April, the election of a new third of the Councils had been held. It gave a majority to the constitutional party. Among the directors, the lot fell on Le Tourneur to retire, and he was succeeded by Barthélemy, an eminent diplomatist, who allied himself with Carnot. The political disabilities imposed upon the relatives of émigrés were repealed. Priests who would declare their submission to the Republic were restored to their rights as citizens. It seemed likely that peace would be made and that moderate men would gain power.
Art and culture during the Directory - the Salon and the Louvre
The artists of Paris were in a difficult situation during the Directory; their most important patrons, the aristocracy, had been executed or sent into exile, and a new wealthy class was just being formed. Before the Revolution a half-figure portrait could be commissioned from a less-known artist for three hundred livres. During the Directory the price fell to forty-eight livres. Nonetheless, the Salon took place in the Louvre in 1795 as it had in the years before the Revolution, and each year thereafter. The most prominent artist of the revolutionary period, David, closely connected with the Jacobins, was in seclusion in his studio inside the Louvre, but a new generation of artists showed their works; François Gérard; Anne-Louis Girodet, a pupil of David, famous for his romantic paintings, particularly a 1797 painting of the prominent actress and courtesan Mademoiselle Lange as Venus; Carle Vernet, the son and father of famous painters; The portrait painter Jean-Baptiste Isabey, who painted all the rulers of France from Marie-Antoinette through Napoleon III; the genre painter Louis-Léopold Boilly; Antoine-Jean Gros, a young history and landscape painter, who soon achieved fame and a government position in 1796 with a heroic portrait of Napoleon at the battle of Arcole; the romantic landscapes of Hubert Robert; Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, whose work combined classicism and romanticism; and a major neoclassical sculptor from the earlier generation, the sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon, famous for his busts of George Washington and Voltaire.
Imaginary view of the gallery of the Louvre as a ruin, by Hubert Robert (1796)
Psyche et l'Amour by François Gerard (1797)
Mademoiselle Lange as Venus, by Anne-Louis Girodet (1798)
The idea of making the Louvre into an art museum had first been proposed in 1747 by Lafont de Saint-Yenne and supported by Diderot in 1765 in the article on the Louvre in the Encylopedie. The idea was accepted by Louis XVI, who in 1789 began work on the Grand Gallery of the Louvre. The Revolution intervened, and on 27 July 1793 the Convention decreed the creation of a Museum of the Republic, which opened on 10 August 1793, the anniversary of the storming of the Tuileries.
In 1797, at the end of Napoleon's triumphant first Italian campaign, convoys of wagons began arriving in Paris, carrying bronze horses, Greek antiquities, tapestries, marble statues, paintings and other works of art taken from Italian cities under the terms of peace agreed by the Austrians. They included works by Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, Titian, Paolo Veronese and other masters. Other convoys arrived from the Netherlands and Flanders with more art from the Spanish provinces. The more famous works were displayed on wagons in a festive victory parade through the center of Paris. The rest was crammed, unwrapped, into the corridors, galleries and stairways of the Louvre. Work began to rebuild the Gallery of Apollo and other galleries to provide a home for the new art.
When the Directory held its first elections in Germinal (March–April 1797) in order to find replacement for the first third of the deputies, including the so-called "perpetuals" members, the Directorials were crushed in all but a dozen departments. Only eleven former deputies from the Convention were reelected, several of whom were royalists. Republican majority maintained by the Two-Thirds law disappeared. Royalists took control of the assemblies, General Pichegru presided over the Five Hundred and Barbé-Marbois over the Ancients. They voted for the abolition of the law of 3 Brumaire Year IV repressing refractory priests; emigres had started to return, taking advantage of being struck off the lists which made them liable to the death penalty under Convention's laws.
Meanwhile, emboldened by Directorial passivity the Right resolved to emasculate it by depriving it of all its financial powers. The conflict between the Directory and the Councils entered a crucial phase when majority of the directors made their mind and abandoned their stance of watchful caution. Number of resolute appointments were made including Hoche to War Ministry. It was especially revealing since for ten days the Sambre-et-Meuse Army under Hoche's command had been marching on Paris.
Barras, Rewbell, and La Révellière-Lépeaux then sought help from the army. They accused the royalists of seeking to restore monarchy and to undo the work of the Revolution. Hoche, then in command of the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse, visited Paris and sent troops. Bonaparte sent General Augereau, who designed the coup d'état. On 18 Fructidor Year V (4 September 1797), Paris was placed under a military occupation. There was no resistance, and a decree stated that all those who wished to bring about the reestablishment of the monarchy would be shot on the spot. The elections were annulled in 49 departments, 177 deputies were removed and 65 were sentenced to "dry guillotine" — deportation to Guiana, 42 newspapers were suppressed and repressive measures against emigres and priests were re-implemented. The councils were purged, the elections in forty-nine departments were cancelled, and many deputies and other men of note were arrested. Some of them, including Barthélemy, Pichegru, Barbé-Marbois and Laffon de Ladebat were deported to Cayenne]. Carnot made good his escape. The two vacant places in the Directory were filled by Merlin de Douai and Nicolas-Louis François de Neufchâteau. Then the government frankly returned to Jacobin methods. The law against the relatives of émigrés was reenacted, and military tribunals were established to condemn any émigrés caught in France.
The nonjuring priests were again persecuted. Many hundreds were either sent to Cayenne or imprisoned in the hulks of old ships. La Révellière Lépeaux seized the opportunity to propagate his religion. Many churches were turned into Theophilanthropic temples. The government strained its power to secure the recognition of the décadi as the day of public worship and the non-observance of Sunday. Liberty of the press ceased. Newspapers were confiscated and journalists were deported wholesale. It was proposed to banish from France all members of the old aristocracy. Although the proposal was dropped, they were all declared to be foreigners and were forced to obtain naturalisation if they would enjoy the rights of other citizens. A formal bankruptcy of the state, the cancelling of two-thirds of the interest on the public debt, crowned the misgovernment of this disastrous time.
In the spring of 1798, not only a new third of the legislature had to be chosen, but the places of the members expelled by the revolution of Fructidor had to be filled. The constitutional party had been rendered helpless, and the mass of the electors were indifferent. However, among the Jacobins themselves, there had arisen an extreme party hostile to the directors. With the support of many who were not Jacobins but detested the government, it bade fair to gain a majority. Before the new deputies could take their seats, the directors forced through the councils the Law of 22 Floréal Year VI, annulling or adjusting the elections in thirty departments and excluding forty-eight deputies by name. Even this coup d'état did not secure harmony between the executive and the legislature. In the councils, the directors were loudly charged with corruption and misgovernment. The retirement of François de Neufchâteau and the choice of Treilhard as his successor (15 May 1798) made no difference in the position of the Directory.
While France was thus inwardly convulsed, its rulers were doubly bound to husband the national strength and practise moderation towards other states. Since December 1797, a congress had been sitting at Rastatt to regulate the future of Germany. That it should be brought to a successful conclusion was of the utmost importance for France. However, the directors were driven by self-interest to new adventures abroad. Bonaparte was resolved not to sink into obscurity, and the directors were anxious to keep him as far as possible from Paris. They, therefore, sanctioned the expedition to Egypt which deprived the Republic of its best army and most renowned captain. Coveting the treasures of Bern, the Directors sent Brune to invade Switzerland and remodel its constitution. In revenge for the murder of General Duphot (28 December 1797), they sent Berthier to invade the Papal States and erect the Roman Republic. They also occupied and virtually annexed Piedmont. In all these countries, they organised such an effective pillage that the French became universally hated.
As the armies were far below the strength required by the policy of unbounded conquest and rapine, the first permanent law of conscription was passed in the summer of 1798. The attempt to enforce it caused a revolt of the peasants in the Belgian departments. The priests were held responsible and some eight thousand were condemned to deportation en masse, although the much greater part escaped by the goodwill of the people. Few soldiers were obtained by the conscription, for the government was as weak as it was tyrannical.
Under these circumstances, Horatio Nelson's victory of Aboukir (1 August 1798), which gave the British full command of the Mediterranean and isolated Bonaparte in Egypt, was the signal for a second coalition. Naples, Austria, Russia and Turkey joined Great Britain against France. Ferdinand IV of Naples, rashly taking the offensive before his allies were ready, was defeated and forced to seek a refuge in Sicily.
Quasi-War with the United States, 1798-1799
Tensions between the U.S. and France developed into the Quasi-War, an undeclared naval war. France complained the U.S. was ignoring the Treaty of Alliance (1778) that had brought the French into the Revolutionary War. The United States insisted on taking a neutral stance in the war between France and Britain. After the Jay Treaty with Britain went into effect in 1796, France began to side against the United States and by 1797 they had seized over 300 American merchant ships. Federalists favored Britain, while Jeffersonian Republicans favored France. Federalist President John Adams built up the U.S. Navy, finishing three frigates, approving funds to build three more, and sending diplomats to Paris to negotiate. They were insulted by Foreign Minister Talleyrand (who demanded bribes before talking). The XYZ Affair told Americans about the negotiations and angered American public opinion. The war was fought almost entirely at sea, mostly between privateers and merchant ships. In 1800 the Convention of 1800 (Treaty of Mortefontaine) ended the conflict.
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In January 1799, the French occupied Naples along with Togar and set up the Parthenopaean Republic. But the consequent dispersion of their weak forces only exposed them to greater peril. At home, the Directory was in a most critical position. In the elections of April 1799, a large number of Jacobins gained seats. A little later Rewbell retired. It was imperative to fill his place with a man of ability and influence. The choice fell upon Sieyès, who had kept aloof from office and retained not only his immeasurable self-conceit but the respect of the public.
Sieyès felt that the Directory had bankrupted its own reputation, and he intended to do far more than merely serve as a member of a board. He hoped to concentrate power in his own hands, to bridle the Jacobins, and to remodel the constitution. With the help of Barras, he proceeded to rid himself of the other directors. An irregularity having emerged in Treilhard's election, he retired, and Gohier took his place (30 Prairial, 18 June 1799). Merlin de Douai and La Révellière Lépeaux were driven to resign in June 1799; Moulin and Ducos replaced them. The three new directors so lacked significance that they could give no trouble, but for the same reason they could give little service.
Such a government proved ill-fitted to cope with the dangers then gathering round France. The directors resolved on a French offensive in Germany. The French crossed the Rhine early in March, but Archduke Charles of Austria defeated them, first at Ostrach on 23 March and then at Stockach on 25 March 1799. Jourdan's Army of the Danube withdrew to the Rhine under the command of Lecourbe, while Jourdan himself returned to Paris to plea for more and better soldiers. The congress at Rastatt, which had sat for fifteen months without actually accomplishing anything, broke in April, and Austrian hussars murdered the French envoys. In Italy, the allies took the offensive with an army partly Austrian, partly Russian, under the command of the Russian field marshal (future generalissimo) Suvorov. After defeating Moreau at Cassano d'Adda on 27 April 1799, he occupied Milan and Turin. The puppet republics established by the French in Italy collapsed, and Suvorov defeated the French army on the Trebbia as it retreated from Naples.
Thus threatened with invasion on her German and Italian frontiers, France seemed disabled by anarchy within. The finances stood in the last distress; the anti-religious policy of the government kept many départements on the verge of revolt; and commerce almost ground to a halt due to the decay of roads and the increase of bandits. The French lacked any real political freedom, yet also lacked the ease or security which enlightened despotism can bestow. The Terrorists lifted their heads in the Council of Five Hundred. A Law of Hostages, which was really a new Law of Suspects, and a progressive income tax showed the temper of the majority. The Jacobin Club re-opened and became once more the focus of disorder. The Jacobin press renewed the licence of Hébert and Marat. Never since the outbreak of the Revolution had the public temper seemed so gloomy.
In this extremity, Sieyès chose as minister of police the old Terrorist Joseph Fouché, who best understood how to deal with his brethren. Fouché closed the Jacobin Club and deported a number of journalists. However, like his predecessors, Sieyès felt that for the revolution which he meditated, he must have the help of a soldier. As his man of action, he chose General Joubert, one of the most distinguished among French officers. The Directory sent Joubert to restore the fortunes of the war in Italy. At Novi, on 15 August 1799, he encountered Suvorov. He was killed at the outset of the battle and his men suffered defeat.
After this disaster, the French held scarcely any territory south of the Alps save Genoa. The Russian and Austrian governments then agreed to drive the enemy out of Switzerland and to invade France from the east. At the same time, the joint forces of Great Britain and Russia assailed the Netherlands. However, the narrow views and conflicting interests of the members of the second coalition doomed it to failure like the first. Lack of co-ordination between Austrians and Russians, and André Masséna's victory at Zürich (25–26 September 1799) stalled the invasion of Switzerland. In October, the British and the Russians had to evacuate the Netherlands. All immediate danger to France ended, but the issue of war remained in suspense. The Directors had felt forced to recall Bonaparte from Egypt. He anticipated their order and on 9 October 1799 landed at Fréjus.
End of the Directory
The Directory and the French Revolution itself came to an end with the coup d'état of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799) in which General Napoléon Bonaparte overthrew the Directory and replaced it with the Consulate.
In November 1799, France was suffering the effects of military reverses brought on by Bonaparte's adventurism in the Middle East. The looming threat of opportunistic invasion by the Second Coalition had provoked internal unrest, with Bonaparte stuck in Egypt. A return to Jacobinism seemed possible.
The coup was first prepared by the Abbé Sieyès, then one of the five Directors. Bonaparte returned from Egypt a hero to the public despite his reverses. Sieyès believed he had found the general indispensable to his coup. However, Bonaparte promptly began a coup within the coup. Ultimately, the coup brought to power Bonaparte, not Sieyès.
The plan was, through the use of troops conveniently arrayed around Paris, first to persuade the Directors to resign, then to persuade the two Councils to appoint a pliant commission to draw up a new constitution.
On the morning of 18 Brumaire, members of the Council of Ancients sympathetic to the coup warned their colleagues of a Jacobin conspiracy and persuaded them to relocate to Saint-Cloud, west of Paris. Bonaparte was charged with the safety of the two Councils. Three directors, including Sieyès himself resigned, destroying quorum. However, the two Jacobin Directors, Gohier and Moulin, refused to resign. Moulin escaped, Gohier was taken prisoner, and the two Councils were not immediately intimidated and continued to meet.
By the following day, the deputies had worked out that they were facing an attempted coup rather than being protected from a Jacobin rebellion. Faced with their recalcitrance, Bonaparte stormed into the chambers accompanied by a small escort of grenadiers. He met with heckling in both houses; he was first jostled, then outright assaulted. His brother Lucien, President of the Council, called upon the grenadiers to defend their leader. Napoleon escaped, but only through the use of military force. Ultimately, military force also dispersed the legislature. The Directory was declared disbanded and a provisional Consulate was set up, with Bonaparte, Sieyès and Ducos as consuls.
The lack of reaction from the streets proved that the revolution was, indeed, over. In the words of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, "A shabby compound of brute force and imposture, the 18th Brumaire was nevertheless condoned, nay applauded, by the French nation. Weary of revolution, men sought no more than to be wisely and firmly governed." Resistance by Jacobin officeholders in the provinces was quickly crushed, twenty Jacobin legislators were exiled, and others were arrested.
Bonaparte completed his coup within a coup by the adoption of a constitution under which the First Consul, a position he was sure to hold, had greater power than the other two.
The Directory judged by historians
Historians generally have not been kind to the Directory. In 1971, Robert Roswell Palmer wrote:
The Directory became a kind of ineffective dictatorship. It repudiated most of the assignats [paper money] and the debt but failed to restore financial confidence or stability. Guerrilla activity flared up again in the Vendée and other parts of western France. The religious schism became more acute; the Directory took severe measures toward the refractory clergy [those who would not swear allegiance to the government].
It was a government of self-interest rather than virtue, thus losing any claim on idealism. It never had a strong base of popular support; when elections were held, most of its candidates were defeated. Historians have been quite negative on the Directory's use of military force to overturn election returns that went against them. Blum et al. argue, "Having by this coup d'état forfeited its claim to be a constitutional government, the Directory henceforth clung to power only by such illegal acts as purges and quashed elections." Overall its achievements were minor, though it did establish administrative procedures and financial reforms that worked out well when Napoleon started using them. Brown stresses the turn toward dictatorship and the failure of liberal democracy under the Directory, blaming it for "chronic violence, ambivalent forms of justice, and repeated recourse to heavy-handed repression."
With the establishment of the Directory, the Revolution seemed on the verge of ending. The nation was tired of the violence of the Terror and needed time to recover. Woloch says that the Directory expected to operate a quiet, noncontroversial government but that was never possible because:
- the Terror had left a dual legacy that made such normalcy impossible. On the one hand massive disengagement, apathy, and cynicism about government; on the other hand rancorous, violent hostility between the politically engaged minorities of royalists and Jacobins, between whom the directorial moderates vainly attempted to navigate. Legality became the main casualty in this situation. The four years of the Directory were a time of chronic disquiet and the late atrocities had made goodwill between parties impossible. The same instinct of self-preservation which had led the members of the Convention to claim so large a part in the new legislature and the whole of the Directory impelled them to keep their predominance. War was at the center of attention, not only for the survival of France but for the loot and forced payments into the French treasury. The supply of the Army was taken out of the hands of the bureaucracy and given to private contractors, who made large fortunes through payoffs that highlighted the regime's tolerance of corruption.
As a majority of the population wanted to be rid of them, the Directory could survive only by illegal means. They disregarded the terms of the constitution, and, when the elections went against them, they used the Army to suppress the winners. The Army became increasingly powerful inside France. The state finances had been so thoroughly ruined that the government could not have met its expenses without the profits of foreign conquests.
The constitutional party in the legislature desired toleration of the nonjuring clergy, the repeal of the laws against the relatives of the émigré, and some merciful discrimination toward the émigrés themselves. The directors firmly opposed any compromises with monarchists.
List of Directors
The following table displays all Directeurs and their dates of service:
|Office began||Office ended||Political Party||Legislature
|1||Paul Barras||2 November 1795||10 November 1799||Thermidorian||II
|2 November 1795||19 May 1799||Thermidorian|
|3||Louis Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux
|2 November 1795||18 June 1799||Thermidorian|
|2 November 1795||26 May 1797||Independent|
|4 November 1795||5 September 1797||Clichyens|
|6||François-Marie de Barthélemy
|26 May 1797||5 September 1797||Clichyen|
|7||Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai
|8 September 1797||18 June 1799||Thermidorian|
|8||François de Neufchâteau
|8 September 1797||20 May 1798||Independent|
|9||Jean Baptiste Treilhard
|20 May 1798||17 June 1799||Independent||III
|17 June 1799||10 November 1799||Thermidorian|
|11||Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès
|17 June 1799||10 November 1799||Independent|
|19 June 1799||10 November 1799||Thermidorian|
|20 June 1799||10 November 1799||Thermidorian|
|The five directors appointed on 10 Brumaire year IV (1 November 1795):|
|Paul Barras||Louis-Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux||Jean-François Rewbell||Lazare Carnot||Étienne-François Letourneur|
|Letourneur drawn by lot to be replaced
1 Prairial year V (20 May 1797).
|Barthélemy and Carnot proscribed and replaced after
Coup of 18 Fructidor year V (4 Sept. 1797).
|Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai||François de Neufchâteau|
|Neufchâteau drawn by lot to be replaced
26 Floréal year VI (15 May 1798).
|Rewbell drawn by lot to be replaced
27 Floréal year VII (16 May 1799).
|Compelled to resign,
30 Prairial year VII (18 June 1799).
|Compelled to resign,
30 Prairial year VII (18 June 1799).
|Treilhard's election annulled as irregular,
29 Prairial year VII (17 June 1799).
|Roger Ducos||Jean-François-Auguste Moulin||Louis-Jérôme Gohier|
|After the Coup of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799), Barras, Ducos & Sieyès resign.
Moulin & Gohier, refusing to resign, were arrested by General Moreau.
The Directory was officially led by a president, as stipulated by Article 141 of the Constitution of the Year III. An entirely ceremonial post, the first presidency was held by Rewbell who was chosen by lot on 2 Nov 1795. The directors conducted their elections privately, and appointed a new president every three months. The last president was Gohier, who resigned during Brumaire after his arrest by troops under the Bonapartist general Jean Victor Marie Moreau.
The ministers under the Directory were:
|Foreign Affairs||3 November 1795||16 July 1797||Charles-François Delacroix|
|16 July 1797||20 July 1799||Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord|
|20 July 1799||10 November 1799||Charles-Frédéric Reinhard|
|Justice||3 November 1795||2 January 1796||Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai|
|2 January 1796||3 April 1796||Jean Joseph Victor Génissieu|
|3 April 1796||24 September 1797||Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai|
|24 September 1797||20 July 1799||Charles Joseph Mathieu Lambrechts|
|20 July 1799||10 November 1799||Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès|
|War||3 November 1795||8 February 1796||Jean-Baptiste Annibal Aubert du Bayet|
|8 February 1796||16 July 1797||Claude Louis Petiet|
|16 July 1797||22 July 1797||Lazare Hoche|
|22 July 1797||21 February 1799||Barthélemy Louis Joseph Schérer|
|21 February 1799||2 July 1799||Louis Marie de Milet de Mureau|
|2 July 1799||14 September 1799||Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte|
|14 September 1799||10 November 1799||Edmond Louis Alexis Dubois-Crancé|
|Finance||3 November 1795||8 November 1795||Martin-Michel-Charles Gaudin|
|8 November 1795||13 February 1796||Guillaume-Charles Faipoult|
|13 February 1796||20 July 1799||Dominique-Vincent Ramel-Nogaret|
|20 July 1799||10 November 1799||Jean-Baptiste Robert Lindet|
|4 January 1796||3 April 1796||Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai|
|Police||3 April 1796||16 July 1797||Charles Cochon de Lapparent|
|16 July 1797||25 July 1797||Jean-Jacques Lenoir-Laroche|
|25 July 1797||13 February 1798||Jean-Marie Sotin de La Coindière|
|13 February 1798||2 May 1798||Nicolas Dondeau|
|2 May 1798||29 October 1798||Marie Jean François Philibert Lecarlier d'Ardon|
|29 October 1798||23 June 1799||Jean-Pierre Duval|
|23 June 1799||20 July 1799||Claude Sébastien Bourguignon|
|20 July 1799||10 November 1799||Joseph Fouché|
|Interior||3 November 1795||16 July 1797||Pierre Bénézech|
|16 July 1797||14 September 1797||François de Neufchâteau|
|14 September 1797||17 June 1798||François Sébastien Letourneux|
|17 June 1798||22 June 1799||François de Neufchâteau|
|22 June 1799||10 November 1799||Nicolas Marie Quinette|
|Navy and Colonies||3 November 1795||16 July 1797||Laurent Jean François Truguet|
|16 July 1797||27 April 1798||Georges René Le Peley de Pléville|
|27 April 1798||2 July 1799||Étienne Eustache Bruix|
|2 July 1799||10 November 1799||Marc Antoine Bourdon de Vatry|
- Soboul (1973) pp 477-548
- J. F,. Bosher, The French revolution (1988) pp 226-30
- Gershoy, The French Revolution and Napoleon (1964) pp 303-8
- Jean Tulard, Jean-François Fayard, Alfred Fierro, Histoire et dictionnaire de la Révolution française, Robert Laffont, Paris, 1998. (In French). Pages 198-199
- Tulard, Fayard and Fierro 1998, pp. 704-705.
- Tulard}1998, p. 702.
- Fierro, Alfred, Histoire et Dictionnaire de Paris (1996), Robert Laffont (in French), page 608
- Tulard 1998, p. 199.
- Tulard 1998, p. 375.
- Tulard 1998, p. 379.
- Tulard 1998, p. 378.
- Tulard 1998, p. 202.
- Tulard 1998, pp. 204-206.
- Tulard 1998, p. 564.
- Tulard 1998, p. 624.
- Tulard 1998, p. 206.
- Tulard 1998, pp. 209-210.
- Tulard 1998, pp. 209-213.
- John Hall Stewart, A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution (1951) pp 654-57
- R. B. Rose, Gracchus Babeuf: The First Revolutionary Communist (Stanford University Press, 1978)
- Doyle, Oxford History,pp 324-26
- George Rude, The French Revolution: Its Causes, Its History and Its Legacy After 200 Years (1991) p 122
- Black, p. 173.
- de Goncourt 1864, p. 268.
- Fierro 1996, p. 1004.
- de Goncourt 1860, pp. 283-287.
- Soboul 1975, p. 505.
- Furet 1996, p. 181.
- Soboul 1975, p. 507.
- Albert Soboul, The French Revolution (1975) p 508
- See: Seuls les morts ne reviennent jamais : les pionniers de la guillotine sèche en Guyane française, Philippe de Ladebat, ed. Amalthée, France, 2008 – http://site.voila.fr/fructidor/page1.html
- Alexander De Conde, The quasi-war: the politics and diplomacy of the undeclared war with France 1797–1801 (1966)
- R.R. Palmer and Joel Colton, A History of the Modern World (4th edition 1971) p 412
- Jerome Blum, Rondo Cameron, and Thomas G. Barnes. The European World - A History (2nd ed. 1970) p 488
- Hunt, Lansky and Hanson, (1979) p 735
- Martyn Lyons, France under the Directory (1975), pp. 159-73
- Howard G. Brown (2007). Ending the French Revolution: Violence, Justice, and Repression from the Terror to Napoleon. U. of Virginia Press. p. 1.
- Isser Woloch, "In the Aftermath of the French Revolution," History Teacher 1994) 28#1 pp. 7-11 in JSTOR
- Howard G, Brown, "a Discredited Regime: The Directory and Army Contracting." French History (1990) 4#1 pp: 48-76.
- Martyn Lyons (1975). France Under the Directory. CUP. p. 66.
- Louis R. Gottschalk, The Era of the French Revolution (1715-1815) (1929) p 281
- Cheynet, Pierre-Dominique (2013). "France: Members of the Executive Directory: 1795-1799". Archontology.org. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- Cheynet, Pierre-Dominique (2013). "France: Presidents of the Executive Directory: 1795-1799". Archontology.org. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- Lefebvre & Soboul, p. 199.
- Muel, Léon (1891). Gouvernements, ministères et constitutions de la France depuis cent ans: Précis historique des révolutions, des crises ministérielles et gouvernementales, et des changements de constitutions de la France depuis 1789 jusqu'en 1890 ... Marchal et Billard. p. 47. Retrieved 2014-05-03.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "French Revolution, The". Encyclopædia Britannica 11. Cambridge University Press.; excerpts are included in this article
- Black, Jeremy (2002). From Louis XIV to Napoleon: The Fate of a Great Power. Routledge. ISBN 9780203006382.
- Church, Clive H. "The Social Basis of the French Central Bureaucracy under the Directory 1795-1799," Past & Present No. 36 (April, 1967), pp. 59–72 in JSTOR
- Doyle, William (1990). The Oxford History of the French Revolution (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 318–40. ISBN 9780199252985.
- Furet, François (1996). The French Revolution, 1770–1814: 1770–1814. France: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-20299-4.
- Fierro, Alfred (1996). Histoire et dictionnaire de Paris. Robert Laffont. ISBN 2-221--07862-4.
- Garrioch, David (2015). La fabrique du Paris révolutionnaire. La Découverte/Poche. ISBN 978-2-7071-8534-1.
- Goodwin, A. "The French Executive Directory—A Revaluation." History (1937) (1937) 22.87 pp: 201-218; more favorable than most historians
- de Goncourt, Edmond and Jules (1864). Histoire de la société française pendant le Directoire. Ernest Flammarion.
- Héron de Villefosse, René (1959). HIstoire de Paris. Bernard Grasset.
- Gottschalk, Louis R. the Era of the French Revolution (1715-1815) (1929) pp 280-306
- Hunt, Lynn, David Lansky and Paul Hanson. "The Failure of the Liberal Republic in France, 1795-1799: The Road to Brumaire," Journal of Modern History (1979) 51#4 , pp. 734-759 in JSTOR; statistical profile of the different factions
- Jainchill, Andrew. "The Constitution of the Year III and the Persistence of Classical Republicanism." French Historical Studies (2003) 26#3 pp: 399-435.
- Lefebvre, Georges. French Revolution from 1793-1799 (1964) pp 171-211
- Lyon, E. Wilson. "The Directory and the United States." American Historical Review (1938) 43#3 pp: 514-532. in JSTOR
- Lyons, Martyn. France under the Directory (1975) excerpt and text search; the standard scholarly history
- Palmer, Robert R. The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760–1800 vol 2: The Struggle (1964) pp 211–62, 549-76
- Lefebvre, Georges; Soboul, Albert (1965). The Directory. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. OCLC 668426465.
- Ross, Steven T. "The Military Strategy of the Directory: The Campaigns of 1799," French Historical Studies (1967) 5#2 pp. 170–187 in JSTOR
- Rudé, George (1988). The French Revolution. New York: Grove Weidenfeld. ISBN 0802132723.
- Soboul, Albert (1975). 'The French Revolution, 1787-1799: From the storming of the Bastille to Napoleon. pp. 477–547.
- Sutherland, D.M.G. The French Revolution and Empire: The Quest for a Civic Order (2nd ed. 2003, 430pp excerpts and text search pp 263–301
- Tulard, Jean; Fayard, Jean-François; Fierro, Alfred (1998). Histoire et Dictionnaire de la Révolution Française (in French). Robert Laffont. ISBN 2-221-08850-6.
- Woronoff, Denis. Thermidorean Regime & the Directory, 1794-1799 (1984) 215p.
- Stewart, John Hall, ed. A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution (1951), pp 654–766