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French Revolution

The Directory

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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.

Portrait drawing of Paul Barras of the French Directory
Paul Barras was a Prominent
Member of the Directory

by E. Thomas
Who were members of the Directory?

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

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.

Painting of Napoleon overthrowing the French government
Napoleon and the
Council of Five Hundred

by Francois Bouchot
End of the Directory and the Rise of Napoleon

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.

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  • More on the French Revolution:

    Timeline and Events
    Timeline of the French Revolution
    Causes of the French Revolution
    Estates General
    National Assembly
    Storming of the Bastille
    Women's March on Versailles
    Reign of Terror
    The Directory
    Famous People of the French Revolution
    Marie Antoinette
    Napoleon Bonaparte
    Marquis de Lafayette
    Maximilien Robespierre

    Symbols of the French Revolution
    Glossary and Terms

    Works Cited

    History >> French Revolution

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