Jean Joseph Victor Génissieu

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Jean Joseph Victor Génissieu
Born(1749-10-29)29 October 1749
Chabeuil, Drôme, France
Died 27 October 1804(1804-10-27) (aged 54)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Occupation Lawyer and politician
Known for Minister of Justice

Jean Joseph Victor Génissieu (29 October 1749 – 27 October 1804) was a French lawyer and politician who was in turn president of the National Convention, Minister of Justice and president of the Council of Five Hundred during the French Revolution.

National Convention single-chamber assembly in France from 21 September 1792 to 26 October 1795

The National Convention was the first government of the French Revolution, following the two-year National Constituent Assembly and the one-year Legislative Assembly. Created after the great insurrection of 10 August 1792, it was the first French government organized as a republic, abandoning the monarchy altogether. The Convention sat as a single-chamber assembly from 20 September 1792 to 26 October 1795.

Council of Five Hundred lower house of the legislature of France during the period commonly known as the Directory (Directoire)

The Council of Five Hundred, or simply the Five Hundred, was the lower house of the legislature of France under the Constitution of the Year III. It existed during the period commonly known as the Directory (Directoire), from 26 October 1795 until 9 November 1799: roughly the second half of the period generally referred to as the French Revolution.

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.


Early years

Jean Joseph Victor Génissieu was born in Chabeuil, Drôme, in October 1749. [1] [lower-alpha 1] His family originally came from Parnans, near to Romans-sur-Isère. His grandfather Clément Génissieu left that village towards the end of the 17th century and established himself as a merchant in Chabeuil. His parents were Joseph Génissieux, notary and prosecutor, and Dominique Faure. [1] Jean Joseph Victor Génissieu became an advocate with the Grenoble parliament before the Revolution. [1] When the revolution broke out in 1789, he assisted in the assembly of Vizille and organized the "People's Society of Grenoble." [2] In 1790 he was named administrator of the Grenoble district and judge of the Grenoble court. [3]

Chabeuil Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Chabeuil is a commune of the Drôme department in southeastern France.

Parnans Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Parnans is a commune in the Drôme department in southeastern France.

Romans-sur-Isère Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Romans-sur-Isère is a commune in the Drôme department in southeastern France.

Political career

In September 1792 Génissieu was elected to the National Convention for the department of Isère, and became one of the most important members. He was an ardent revolutionary. He did not sit with the Mountain, but was associated with almost all the violent measures of the Convention. [3] On 16 December 1792 he demanded that all members of the royal family be banished, including the Duke of Orleans. On 20 January 1793 he voted for the death of King Louis XVI of France without appeal or reprieve. On 26 March he demanded that all the former nobles be disarmed. [3] On 31 March 1793 Génissieu spoke in the Convention in favor of banning performances of Voltaire's play Mérope . The allusions in the play to a queen in mourning were awkward since Louis XVI had just been executed. [4] On 22 July he voted that a forced loan, voted the month before, be levied only on the capitalists. On 5 July he declared that the priests and nobles who took part in the Vendée uprising should be treated as chiefs of brigands. He constantly pressed for the most severe measures against the émigrés. [3]

Isère Department of France

Isère is a department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in eastern France named after the river Isère.

The Mountain

The Mountain was a political group during the French Revolution, whose members called the Montagnards sat on the highest benches in the National Assembly.

Louis XVI of France King of France and Navarre

Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as Citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, son and heir apparent of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin of France. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he assumed the title "King of France and Navarre", which he used until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of "King of the French" until the monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792.

Report to the Council of Five Hundred on 16 Thermidor VI (3 August 1798) Rapport fait par Genissieu, sur la reclamation du representant du peuple Sonthonax etc 16 Thermidor VI - 3 Aout 1798.png
Report to the Council of Five Hundred on 16 Thermidor VI (3 August 1798)

After the Thermidorian Reaction of 9 Thermidor II (27 July 1794) Génissieu was charged with examining the conduct of the revolutionary tribunal of Brest. He submitted a cold and impartial report on 16 Prairial III (4 June 1795) describing actions that had often been appalling. His reports on the conduct of the deputies Dupin and Chaudron-Rousseau, justly accused of great misdeeds, were equally dispassionate. [3] In a speech on 11 Floréal III (30 April 1795) Génissieu discussed the dilemma that to make the Committee of Public Safety more efficient by giving it more power would risk a dangerous transfer of authority from the elected convention to the anonymous bureaucracy. [5]

Thermidorian Reaction event in 1794 in which Robespierre was denounced by the National Convention as a tyrant, leading to his (and his 21 associates’) arrest and beheading; named after the month Thermidor of the French Republican calendar in which the event took place

The Thermidorian Reaction was a counter revolution which took place in France on 9 Thermidor of the Year II. On this day, the French politician Maximilien Robespierre was denounced by members of the National Convention as "a tyrant", leading to Robespierre and twenty-one associates including Louis Antoine de Saint-Just being arrested that night and beheaded on the following day.

Brest, France Subprefecture and commune in Brittany, France

Brest is a city in the Finistère département in Brittany. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon. The city is located on the western edge of continental Europe. With 142,722 inhabitants in a 2007 census, Brest is at the centre of Western Brittany's largest metropolitan area, ranking third behind only Nantes and Rennes in the whole of historic Brittany, and the 19th most populous city in France; moreover, Brest provides services to the one million inhabitants of Western Brittany. Although Brest is by far the largest city in Finistère, the préfecture of the department is the much smaller Quimper.

Committee of Public Safety De facto executive government in France (1793–1794)

The Committee of Public Safety, created in April 1793 by the National Convention and then restructured in July 1793, formed the de facto executive government in France during the Reign of Terror (1793–1794), a stage of the French Revolution. The Committee of Public Safety succeeded the previous Committee of General Defence and assumed its role of protecting the newly established republic against foreign attacks and internal rebellion. As a wartime measure, the Committee—composed at first of nine and later of twelve members—was given broad supervisory powers over military, judicial and legislative efforts. It was formed as an administrative body to supervise and expedite the work of the executive bodies of the Convention and of the government ministers appointed by the Convention. As the Committee tried to meet the dangers of a coalition of European nations and counter-revolutionary forces within the country, it became more and more powerful.

Génissieu was the author of the law of 28 Thermidor III (15 August 1795) that declared void all revolutionary judgments since 10 March 1793. While maintaining his position on the émigrés, on 18 Fructidor III (4 September 1795) he asked that Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord be removed from the list. Four days later he voted for a law restoring their property to deported priests, but he was the author of a law the next day banning all intransigent priests and the parents of émigrés from public office. [3] He always took the position of someone whose political views did not blind him to the need for justice. However, after having voted for a law that allowed the accused to challenge their judges in some circumstances, he declared that the parents of émigrés could not sit on juries. [3] Génissieu was made president of the Convention on 16 Vendemiaire IV (8 October 1795). On 4 Brumaire IV (26 October 1795) he declared that the Convention had completed its mission. [3]

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord French diplomat

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, 1st Prince of Benevento, then 1st Prince of Talleyrand, was a French politician and diplomat. After theology studies, he became in 1780 Agent-General of the Clergy and represented the Catholic Church to the French Crown. He worked at the highest levels of successive French governments, most commonly as foreign minister or in some other diplomatic capacity. His career spanned the regimes of Louis XVI, the years of the French Revolution, Napoleon, Louis XVIII, and Louis-Philippe. Those he served often distrusted Talleyrand but, like Napoleon, found him extremely useful. The name "Talleyrand" has become a byword for crafty, cynical diplomacy.

Génissieu was elected to the Council of Five Hundred for Isère. On 17 Nivôse IV (6 January 1796) he accepted the post of Minister of Justice. [6] He held office until 3 April 1796, when he was replaced by Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai. [7] He had resigned since he could not achieve his goals. He was appointed French consul in Barcelona. He refused this position and was named deputy commissioner of the Court of Cassation on 14 Germinal IV (23 April 1796). Two years later, the Council of Five Hundred nominated Génissieu to the Council of Ancients as a Director, but Jean Baptiste Treilhard was accepted instead. Génissieu was reelected to the Council of Five Hundred for the Seine, and was elected president of the Council on 30 Prairial VII (18 June 1799). [8]

Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai French politician

Philippe-Antoine Merlin, known as Merlin de Douai was a French politician and lawyer.

Barcelona City and municipality in Catalonia, Spain

Barcelona is a city in Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighbouring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area and Milan. It is one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 metres high.

Court of Cassation (France) highest jurisdiction in the French judiciary order

The Court of Cassation is one of the four courts of last resort in France. It has jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters triable in the judicial system, and is the supreme court of appeal in these cases. It has jurisdiction to review the law, and to certify questions of law, to determine miscarriages of justice. The Court is located in the Palace of Justice in Paris.

Last years

Génissieu was opposed to the coup of 18 Brumaire VIII (9 November 1799) in which Napoleon came to power. [9] He was arrested on 20 Brumaire for having declared Napoleon should be outlawed. He was released after six hours. A few days later he abandoned his principles and accepted the position of a judge in the court of the Seine. [8] He died in Paris on 27 October 1804. [1] A street in Grenoble carries his name. [9]


Génissieu's publications included: [10]

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  1. The parish records show Jean-Joseph-Victor Génissieu was baptized on 30 October 1749, born the day before. His biographer Rochas gives his date of birth as 2 June 1751, in error. That was the date of birth of his brother Charles-François. [1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Germane 1891, p. 57.
  2. Brun-Durand 1900, p. 371.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Brun-Durand 1900, p. 372.
  4. Darlow 2012, p. 151.
  5. Brown 1995, p. 173.
  6. Brun-Durand 1900, p. 372-373.
  7. Muel 1891, p. 47.
  8. 1 2 Brun-Durand 1900, p. 373.
  9. 1 2 GENISSIEU Jean Joseph Victor, FREE.
  10. Génissieu, Jean-Joseph-Victor, VIAF.


Further reading