Pierre Claude François Daunou

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Pierre Claude François Daunou
AduC 258 Daunou (P.C.F., 1761-1840).JPG
Pierre Claude François Daunou

18 August 1761
Died20 June 1840(1840-06-20) (aged 78)
Known forFrench statesman and historian

Pierre Claude François Daunou (French:  [donu] ; 18 August 1761 20 June 1840) was a French statesman of the French Revolution and Empire. An author and historian, he served as the nation’s archivist under both the Empire and the Restoration, contributed a volume to the Histoire littéraire de la France , and published more than twenty volumes of lectures he delivered when he held the chair of history and ethics at the Collège de France.

French Revolution Revolution in France, 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.

First French Empire Empire of Napoleon I of France between 1804–1815

The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Although France had already established an overseas colonial empire beginning in the 17th century, the French state had remained a kingdom under the Bourbons and a republic after the Revolution. Historians refer to Napoleon's regime as the First Empire to distinguish it from the restorationist Second Empire (1852–1870) ruled by his nephew as Napoleon III.

Bourbon Restoration Period of French history, 1814-1830

The Bourbon Restoration was the period of French history following the first fall of Napoleon in 1814, and his final defeat in the Hundred Days in 1815, until the July Revolution of 1830. The brothers of the executed Louis XVI came to power and reigned in highly conservative fashion. Exiled supporters of the monarchy returned to France. They were nonetheless unable to reverse most of the changes made by the French Revolution and Napoleon. At the Congress of Vienna they were treated respectfully, but had to give up nearly all the territorial gains made since 1789.


Early career

He was born at Boulogne-sur-Mer. After studying at the school the Oratorians operates there, he joined the order in Paris in 1777. He was professor in various seminaries from 1780 to 1787, when he was ordained a priest. He had by then published essays and poems that established his reputation in literary circles.

Boulogne-sur-Mer Subprefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Boulogne-sur-Mer, often called just Boulogne, is a coastal city in Northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department of Pas-de-Calais. Boulogne lies on the Côte d'Opale, a touristic stretch of French coast on the English Channel between Calais and Normandy, and the most visited location in the region after Lille conurbation. Boulogne is its department's second-largest city after Calais, and the 163rd-largest in France. It is also the country's largest fishing port, specialising in herring.

Oratory of Saint Philip Neri society of apostolic life

The Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri is a pontifical society of apostolic life of Catholic priests and lay-brothers who live together in a community bound together by no formal vows but only with the bond of charity. They are commonly referred to as Oratorians(Oratorian Fathers). This "Congregation of the Oratory" should not be confused with the French Oratory, a distinct congregation, the Society of the Oratory of Jesus, founded by Pierre de Bérulle in 1611 in Paris.

Seminary, school of theology, theological seminary, and divinity school are educational institutions for educating students in scripture, theology, generally to prepare them for ordination to serve as clergy, in academics, or in Christian ministry. The English word is taken from the Latin seminarium, translated as seed-bed, an image taken from the Council of Trent document Cum adolescentium aetas which called for the first modern seminaries. In the West, the term now refers to Catholic educational institutes and has widened to include other Christian denominations and American Jewish institutions.

With the onset of the French Revolution, he supported the Civil Constitution of the Clergy; a proffered appointment to a high Catholic Church office failed to induce him to alter his position. [1]

Civil Constitution of the Clergy

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was a law passed on 12 July 1790 during the French Revolution, that caused the immediate subordination of the Catholic Church in France to the French government.

Elected to the National Convention by the Pas-de-Calais département , he associated himself with the moderate Girondists and strongly opposed the death sentence imposed on King Louis XVI. Daunou took little part in the Girondist clash with their radical opponents, The Mountain, but was involved in the events of his party's overthrow in the summer of 1793 and was imprisoned for almost a year. [1]

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.

Pas-de-Calais Department of France

Pas-de-Calais is a department in northern France named after the French designation of the Strait of Dover, which it borders.

Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is a government-sanctioned practice whereby a person is killed by the state as a punishment for a crime. The sentence that someone be punished in such a manner is referred to as a death sentence, whereas the act of carrying out the sentence is known as an execution. Crimes that are punishable by death are known as capital crimes, capital offences or capital felonies, and they commonly include serious offences such as murder, mass murder, aggravated cases of rape, child rape, child sexual abuse, terrorism, treason, espionage, offences against the State, such as attempting to overthrow government, piracy, aircraft hijacking, drug trafficking and drug dealing, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and in some cases, the most serious acts of recidivism, aggravated robbery, and kidnapping, but may include a wide range of offences depending on a country. Etymologically, the term capital in this context alluded to execution by beheading.


In December 1794 he returned to the Convention and was the principal author of the Constitution of the Year III that established the Directory in November 1995. It is probably because of his Girondinism that the Council of the Ancients was given the right of convoking the Council of Five Hundred outside Paris, an expedient which made possible Napoleon Bonaparte's coup d'état (the 18 Brumaire ) in 1799. [1]

Constitution of the Year III French constitution

The Constitution of the Year III is the constitution that founded the Directory. Adopted by the Convention on 5 Fructidor Year III and approved by plebiscite on September 6. Its preamble is the Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and of the Citizen of 1795.

French Directory Executive power of the French Constitution of 1795-1799

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. On the other hand, according to the mainstream historiography - for example F. Furet and D. Richet in “French Revolution” - with the aforementioned terms is indicated also the regime and the period from the dissolution of the National Convention of Tuileries Palace on 26 October 1795, which was superseded by the two new elected Councils, and the coup d’état by Napoleon. Only in 1798 the Council of Five Hundred moved to the Palais Bourbon.

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.

Daunou was also drew up the plans for the erection and organization of the Institut de France. He was instrumental in crushing the Royalist insurgency known as the 13 Vendémiaire. He was elected by twenty-seven départements as member of the Council of Five Hundred and became its first president. He was ineligible for election as a director, having himself set the age qualification for that office at forty when he was thirty-four. When the government passed into the hands of Talleyrand and his associates, Daunou returned briefly to literature, but in 1798 he was sent to Rome to organize the Roman Republic. [1]

Institut de France French learned society, grouping five académies

The Institut de France is a French learned society, grouping five académies, including the Académie française.

House of Bourbon European royal house of French origin

The House of Bourbon is a European royal house of French origin, a branch of the Capetian dynasty, the royal House of France. Bourbon kings first ruled France and Navarre in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma. Spain and Luxembourg currently have monarchs of the House of Bourbon.

13 Vendémiaire

13 Vendémiaire Year 4 in the French Republican Calendar is the name given to a battle between the French Revolutionary troops and Royalist forces in the streets of Paris.

Napoleon and Restoration

In 1799 Daunou returned the role of statesman, preparing the Constitution of the Year VIII, which established the Consulate), under which Napoleon held the position of First Consul. He remained largely ambivalent towards Napoleon, but supported him against Pope Pius VII and the Papal States, providing him historical arguments in a scholarly treatise Sur la puissance temporelle du Pape (On the Temporal Power of the Papacy in 1809. [1]

Nonetheless, he took little part in the new regime, of which he was resentful, and turned more and more to literature. At the Restoration in 1814, he was deprived of the post of archivist of the Empire, which he had held since 1807. In 1819 he became the chair of history and ethics at the Collège de France; in that role, his courses were among the most famous of the period. With the advent of the July Monarchy in 1830, he regained his old post, now under the title archivist of the Kingdom.[ citation needed ] In 1839, Daunou was made a peer. [1]


Bust of Pierre Daunou by David d'Angers (1840). David d'Angers - Daunou.jpg
Bust of Pierre Daunou by David d'Angers (1840).

The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition writes:

In politics Daunou was a Girondist without combativeness; a confirmed republican, who lent himself always to the policy of conciliation, but whose probity remained unchallenged. He belonged essentially to the centre, and lacked both the genius and the temperament which would secure for him a commanding place in a revolutionary era. As an historian his breadth of view is remarkable for his time; for although thoroughly imbued with the classical spirit of the 18th century, he was able to do justice to the middle ages. His Discours sur l'état des lettres au XIIIe siècle, in the sixteenth volume of the Histoire littéraire de France, is a remarkable contribution to that vast collection, especially as coming from an author so profoundly learned in the ancient classics.

Daunou's lectures at the Collège de France, collected and published after his death, fill twenty volumes (Cours d'études historiques, 1842–1846). They deal principally with the criticism of sources and the proper method of writing history, and occupy an important place in the evolution of the scientific study of history in France. All his works were written in an elegant style; but apart from his share in the editing of the Historiens de la France, they were mostly in the form of separate articles on literary and historical subjects. In character, Daunou was reserved and somewhat austere, preserving in his habits a strange mixture of bourgeois and monk. His indefatigable work as archivist in the time when Napoleon was transferring so many treasures to Paris won him the gratitude of later scholars. [1]

See also

Tomb of Pierre Daunou Tombe Daunou.jpg
Tomb of Pierre Daunou

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Daunou, Pierre Claude François". Encyclopædia Britannica . 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 849–850.
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