The Law of Suspects (French : Loi des suspects) was a decree passed by the French National Convention on 17 September 1793, during the French Revolution. Some historians consider this decree the start of 'the (Reign of) Terror' over France; they argue that the decree marked a significant weakening of individual freedoms that led to "revolutionary paranoia" that swept the nation.
French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
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.
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.
The law ordered the arrest of all avowed enemies and suspected enemies of the Revolution, and specifically aimed at unsubmissive former nobles, émigrés, officials removed or suspended from office, officers suspected of treason, and hoarders of goods.
Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately under royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy. Nobility possesses more acknowledged privileges and higher social status than most other classes in society. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary, and vary by country and era. As referred to in the Medieval chivalric motto "noblesse oblige", nobles can also carry a lifelong duty to uphold various social responsibilities, such as honorable behavior, customary service, or leadership positions. Membership in the nobility, including rights and responsibilities, is typically hereditary.
In law, treason is criminal disloyalty to the state. It is a crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's nation or sovereign. This usually includes things such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state. A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor.
The following year, the decree was expanded and became more strict. Implementation of the law and arrests were entrusted to oversight committees, and not to the legal authorities.
The decree, with its effect of "Terror", lasted until July 1794, when the decree fell into disuse.
The Law of 22 Prairial, also known as the loi de la Grande Terreur, the law of the Great Terror, was enacted on 10 June 1794. It was proposed by Georges Auguste Couthon but seems to be written by Robespierre according to Laurent Lecointre. By means of this law the Committee of Public Safety simplified the judicial process to one of indictment and prosecution.
The Law of Suspects, actually a decree rather than a law, was based on a proposal by Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai and Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès, approved by the National Convention of the French First Republic.It supplemented an earlier law of 10 March 1793, which created the revolutionary tribunals but contained a much narrower definition of suspects.
A decree is a rule of law usually issued by a head of state, according to certain procedures. It has the force of law. The particular term used for this concept may vary from country to country. The executive orders made by the President of the United States, for example, are decrees. In non-legal English usage, however, the term refers to any authoritarian decision. Documents or archives in the format of royal decrees or farming were issued by rulers.
Philippe-Antoine Merlin, known as Merlin de Douai was a French politician and lawyer.
Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès, duc de Parme, was a French nobleman, lawyer and statesman during the French Revolution and the First Empire. He is best remembered as one of the authors of the Napoleonic Code, which still forms the basis of French civil law and French-inspired civil law in many countries.
Before its enactment, obstinate, anti-republican Catholic priests, called 'refractory clergy' (French : clergé réfractaire), were alleged to be royalist suspects by the Decree of 17 November 1791. Beginning on 10 August 1792, when the constitutional reign of Louis XVI was suspended by the Legislative Assembly, these priests, as well émigrés and their parents, had been expelled, deported, jailed, and sometimes murdered by radical revolutionary sans-culottes .
In the history of France, the First Republic, officially the French Republic, was founded on 22 September 1792 during the French Revolution. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First Empire in 1804 under Napoleon, although the form of the government changed several times. This period was characterized by the fall of the monarchy, the establishment of the National Convention and the Reign of Terror, the Thermidorian Reaction and the founding of the Directory, and, finally, the creation of the Consulate and Napoleon's rise to power.
During the French Revolution, the National Assembly abolished the traditional structure of the Catholic Church in France and reorganized it as an institution within the structure of the new French government. One of the new requirements placed upon all clergy was the necessity of an oath of loyalty to the state before all foreign influences such as the Pope. This created a schism within the French clergy, with those taking the oath known as juring priests, and those refusing the oath known as non-juring or refractory priests.
An émigré is a person who has emigrated, often with a connotation of political or social self-exile. The word is the past participle of the French émigrer, "to emigrate".
The term suspect had been in common parlance by 1793, but had not been defined by consensus. Radical sections of Paris demand that these suspects be arrested, but National Convention failed to act decisively. On 23 March it ordered a disarmament of suspects and, on 2 June, it decreed that those "notoriously suspected of aristocracy and bad citizenship" should be arrested.
The Law of Suspects was finally debated after the invasion of the National Convention by the sections of Paris on 5 September. Its purpose was to define broadly who was to be arrested and examined before revolutionary tribunals. It also forced legislature to adopt the Maximum.
The Committee of Public Safety was given broad powers to arrest and punish. On its behalf, the Surveillance Committees, constituted by a law of 21 March 1793, were responsible for drawing up lists of suspects and for issuing arrest warrants.Citizens were required to carry certificates of civism, attesting to the bearer's good citizenship.
The famous definition of suspects as: "Those who have done nothing against freedom, also have done nothing for it," was part of a provision written by the regional Paris Commune on 11 October 1793. It is often wrongly attributed to wording in the Law of Suspects itself.
Decree that orders the arrest of Suspect People.
The National Convention, having heard the report of its legislative committee on the method of bringing into effect its decree of last 12 August, decrees the following:
Art. I. Immediately after publication of this decree, all suspect people who are to be found on the territory of the Republic, and who are still in freedom, will be put under arrest.
II. Considered as suspect people are:
1º Those who, either by their conduct, or their relations, or by their words or writings, have shown themselves to be partisans of tyranny or of federalism, and enemies of freedom;
2º Those who cannot justify, in the manner prescribed by the decree of last 21 March, their means of existence and the acquittal of their civic duties;
3º Those to whom have been denied certificates of good citizenship;
4º Public officials who have been suspended or discharged from their functions by the National Convention or its commissioners and have not been reinstated, notably those who have been or ought to be discharged under the law of last 14 August;
5º Those former nobles, with their husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, son or daughters, brothers or sisters, and agents of émigrés, who have not consistently demonstrated their commitment to the Revolution;
6º Those who have emigrated during the interval between 1 July 1789 and the publication of the law of 8 April 1792, even if they have returned to France within the time prescribed by that law, or earlier.
The Law of Suspects fell into disuse by July 1794, which meant the end of "the Terror". Direction was replaced by revolutionary surveillance committees (Comité de surveillance révolutionnaire) responsible for the practical exercise of repression, with oversight by district committees.The law was officially abolished in October 1795, immediately preceding the installation of the Directoire in November 1795.
The Reign of Terror, or The Terror, refers to a period during the French Revolution after the First French Republic was established.
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.
The Directory or Directorate was a five-member committee that governed France from 2 November 1795, when it replaced the Committee of Public Safety, until 9 November 1799, when it was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, and replaced by the French Consulate. It gave its name to the final four years of the French Revolution.
The sans-culottes were the common people of the lower classes in late 18th century France, a great many of whom became radical and militant partisans of the French Revolution in response to their poor quality of life under the Ancien Régime. The name sans-culottes refers to their clothing, and through that to their lower-class status: culottes were the fashionable silk knee-breeches of the 18th-century nobility and bourgeoisie, and the working class sans-culottes wore pantaloons, or trousers, instead. The sans-culottes, most of them urban labourers, served as the driving popular force behind the revolution. Though ill-clad and ill-equipped, they made up the bulk of the Revolutionary army during the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars.
Jacques-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, also known as Jean Nicolas, was a French personality of the Revolutionary period. Though not one of the most well known figures of the French Revolution, Jacques Nicolas Billaud-Varenne was an instrumental figure of the period known as the Reign of Terror. Billaud-Varenne climbed his way up the ladder of power during the period of The Terror, becoming one of the most militant members of the Committee of Public Safety. He was recognized and worked with French Revolution figures Georges Danton and Maximilien Robespierre, and is often considered one of the key architects of the period known as The Terror. "No, we will not step backward, our zeal will only be smothered in the tomb; either the Revolution will triumph or we will all die."
Jean-Lambert Tallien was a French political figure of the revolutionary period.
The Revolutionary Tribunal was a court instituted by the National Convention during the French Revolution for the trial of political offenders. It eventually became one of the most powerful engines of the Reign of Terror.
The Drownings at Nantes were a series of mass executions by drowning during the Reign of Terror in Nantes, France, that occurred between November 1793 and February 1794. During this period, anyone arrested and jailed for not consistently supporting the Revolution, or suspected of being a royalist sympathizer, especially Catholic priests and nuns, was cast into the Loire and drowned on the orders of Jean-Baptiste Carrier, the representative-on-mission in Nantes. Before the murders ceased, as many as four thousand or more people, including innocent families with women and children, died in what Carrier himself called "the national bathtub".
The Chouannerie was a royalist uprising or counter-revolution in 12 of the western départements of France, particularly in the provinces of Brittany and Maine, against the French First Republic during the French Revolution. It played out in three phases and lasted from the spring of 1794 until 1800.
Jean-Pierre-André Amar or Jean-Baptiste-André Amar was a French political figure of the Revolution and Freemason.
Jean Théophile Victor Leclerc, a.k.a. Jean-Theophilus Leclerc and Theophilus Leclerc d'Oze, was a radical French revolutionist and publicist. After Jean-Paul Marat was assassinated, Leclerc assumed his mantle.
Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre was a French lawyer and politician, as well as one of the best known and most influential figures associated with the French Revolution. As a member of the Constituent Assembly, the Jacobin Club and National Convention, Robespierre was an outspoken advocate for the citizens without a voice, for their unrestricted admission to the National Guard, to public offices, and for the right to petition. He campaigned for universal manhood suffrage, abolition of celibacy, religious tolerance and the abolition of slavery in the French colonies. Robespierre played an important role after the Storming of the Tuileries, which led to the establishment of the First French Republic on 22 September 1792.
Moyse Antoine Pierre Jean Bayle was a French politician of the French Revolution.
The Federalist revolts were uprisings that broke out in various parts of France in the summer of 1793, during the French Revolution. They were prompted by resentments in France’s provincial cities about increasing centralisation of power in Paris, and increasing radicalisation of political authority in the hands of the Jacobins. In most of the country the trigger for uprising was the exclusion of the Girondins from the Convention after the Insurrection of 31 May – 2 June 1793. Although they shared common origins and political objectives, the revolts were not centrally organised or well-coordinated. The revolts failed to win any sustained popular support and were put down by the armies of the Convention over the following months. The Reign of Terror was then imposed across France to punish those associated with them and to enforce Jacobin ideology.
The revolt of Lyon against the National Convention was a counter-revolutionary movement in the city of Lyon during the time of the French Revolution. It was a revolt of moderates against the more radical National Convention, the third government during the French Revolution. It broke out in June 1793 and was put down in December of the same year, after government forces had besieged the city.
Pierre Joseph Duhem was a French physician and politician.
Jean-Antoine Courbis was a French lawyer and revolutionary.