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History >> French Revolution
What was the French Directory?
The Directory was the name of the government that ruled France during the final stage of the French Revolution. The government was based off a new constitution called the "Constitution of Year III."
How long did the Directory rule France?
The Directory ruled France for four years from November 2, 1795 to November 10, 1799. It came into power after the "Reign of Terror" when the country was ruled by the Committee of Public Safety.
Who were members of the Directory?
Paul Barras was a Prominent
Member of the Directory
by E. Thomas
The Directory consisted of an executive branch called the "Five Directors" and a legislative branch called the "Corps Legislatif." The Corps Legislatif was divided into two houses: the Council of Five Hundred and the Council of Ancients.
Fall of Robespierre
- Five Directors - The Five Directors were five men who were selected by the Council of Ancients. They acted as the executive branch and were responsible for the day-to-day running of the country.
- Council of Five Hundred - The Council of Five Hundred proposed new laws.
- Council of Ancients - The Council of Ancients voted on the laws proposed by the Five Hundred.
Before the Directory came into power, France was ruled by the Committee of Public Safety. The leader of the Committee was a man named Robespierre. In order to preserve the revolution, Robespierre instituted a state of "Terror. " Anyone suspected of treason was arrested or killed. Eventually, Robespierre was overthrown, but only after thousands of people were executed by guillotine.
Rule of the Directory
When the Directory came into power, it was faced with many problems including widespread famine, civil war, internal corruption, and war with neighboring countries. There was also a struggle for power within the directory between royalists and radical revolutionaries.
As the Directory moved from crisis to crisis, the people became unhappy with the new government. The Directory used military force to put down uprisings. They also annulled elections when they didn't like the results. Despite these struggles, the Directory did help France to recover somewhat from the Terror and set the stage for future governments.
End of the Directory and the Rise of Napoleon
Napoleon and the
Council of Five Hundred
by Francois Bouchot
As the Directory became more and more corrupt, the military leaders of France grew in power. One particular general, Napoleon, had gained many victories on the battlefield. On November 9, 1799, he overthrew the Directory and established a new government called the "Consulate." He established himself as the First Consul and would later crown himself emperor.
Interesting Facts about the Directory of the French Revolution
- Men had to be 30 years old to be a member of the Five Hundred. They had to be at least 40 to be on the Council of Ancients.
- The Five Directors who were charged with running the country had no say in the laws or the taxes. This made it difficult for them to fund projects and limited their power.
- Many historians consider the end of the French Revolution to be when Napoleon established the Consulate in November of 1799.
- The Directory fought an undeclared war with the United States called the "Quasi-War" when the United States refused to repay its debts from the American Revolution.
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History >> French Revolution