An artist’s relenten of the Girondins, the leading faction until mid 1793

The Girondins and also the Montagnards were political factions the took form in the nationwide Convention in 1792-93. They dominated the Convention in turn, regularly in problem with every other, until the Girondins were expelled and arrested in mid-1793.

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Origins of factionalism

France’s revolutionary politicians held different views on ideology, class, economics, provincial issues and also other issues. This diversity was evident in the revolution’s first legislature, the nationwide Constituent Assembly, where most radical deputies satellite to the left the the president’s chair and moderate and conservative deputies sat to the right (a practice that offered rise come the modern-day terms “left-wing” and also “right-wing”).

Similar alignments ongoing in the legislature Assembly (October 1791-September 1792). The ingredient of that is replacement, the national Convention, revealed unique groupings called the Girondins and the Montagnards.

While this groups lacked the organisation and also discipline of politics parties, they to be unified enough to vote in blocs and also spend month disagreeing over policy. This bickering concerned a head in at an early stage June 1793 when the Montagnards, under push from the national Guard and the sans-culottes the Paris, expelled Girondin deputies from the Convention. Most Girondins were arrested or forced into exile. Of those that remained, few would survive the power of Terror.

Who to be the Girondins?

The Girondin faction took shape in the legislative branch Assembly in the second fifty percent of 1791. The formed roughly the number of Jacques-Pierre Brissot, a Republican lawyer and also influential speaker in the Jacobin club.

Brissot was a renowned figure and also a variety of like-minded deputies gravitated towards him. Their faction came to be known together the Brissotins or Girondins (so named due to the fact that many members were from Bordeaux in the Girdone département).

The Girondins flourished in number within the Assembly and attracted countless supporters outside it. High file Girondins consisted of economist and businessman Jean-Marie Roland and his salonnière wife madame Roland, detailed politician and philosopher the Marquis de Condorcet, future Paris mayor Jérôme Pétion, radical journalist Nicolas de Bonneville and the an effective orator Pierre Vergniaud. Significant Girondins shared the benches in the legislature Assembly and National Convention, then met regularly at Roland’s home to comment on politics and also strategy.

Girondin policies and also values

At their peak, the Girondins had around 200 deputies in the national Convention. Leadership and also policy-making were provided by a clique of significant deputies dubbed the ‘inner sixty’.

By so late 1792, the Girondins were regarded as intellectual, measured, cautious and faithful to the revolution. Politically, the Girondins to be moderate Republicans. Lock initiated a revolutionary battle in April 1792, hope to pre-empt international aggression, success public support, militarise the revolution and export it beyond the wall surfaces of Paris. Their ideal culture was free, capitalist and also meritocratic with an individual liberty safeguarded by the dominance of law. 

Most significantly, the Girondins want a national government chosen by all citizens and also representative of all citizens – not simply the civilization of Paris. Castle distrusted the radicalism of Paris and also believed the sections, the Commune and the em>sans culottes exerted too lot political influence. According come Brissot, these teams were “disorganisers who want whatever levelled”.

Who were the Montagnards

A poster hailing the deputies of the Montagne

The Montagnards, in contrast, to be not plainly recognisable as a faction till the nationwide Convention. Uneven the Girondins, who enjoyed substantial support in the provinces, the Montagnards drew much the their support from Paris. That the 24 Parisian deputies in the nationwide Convention, 21 sat through the Montagnard faction.

The terms Montagnards (‘mountain people’) or La Montagne (‘The Mountain’) were very first used during sessions of the legislature Assembly – but neither term was in common use till 1793.

The Montagnards described those who populated the higher benches in both the Jacobin club and the nationwide legislature. Those that sat on these high benches to be generally an ext radical in their ideology and their policies, when those who sat more down were usually more moderate. 

Le Plaine

The national Convention additionally contained a third grouping. Well-known as Le Plaine (‘The Plain’) or Le Marais (‘The Marsh’ or ‘The Swamp’), this fixed of deputies lived in the floor space and lower benches of the Convention.

The Plain delighted in an absolute bulk in the Convention, boasting 389 the its 749 deputies in 1792. Since of this, no legislation or resolution can pass the Convention without the support of deputies from the Plain. Uneven the Montagnards and also Girondinists, however, the level was filled through shiftless and uncommitted voters; its deputies were not wedded come a details ideology or outlook.

The best way to win the support of the level was through convincing oratory. This made speech-making a critical skill in the nationwide Convention. The level was normally moderate in the an initial months that the Convention, siding with the Girondins on most issues. As the change progressed and radicalised in 1793, many Plain deputies began to vote with the Montagnards.

Factional conflict

A cartoon hailing Marat’s acquittal of fees levied by the Girondins

The conflict between the Girondins and also Montagnards came to a head in the spring of 1793. The catalyst for this to be the attempt of luigi XVI.

In January 1793, the national Convention uncovered the king guilty and also voted because that his execution. Numerous Girondin deputies, fearing the king had actually been judged by Paris rather than the nation as a whole, sought an appel au peuple (‘appeal come the people’) – in effect, a referendum on even if it is the king must die. This motion was defeated in the Convention, which helped undermine Girondin authority.

Among the Montagnards and also the Jacobins, the Girondin appel au peuple to be denounced together a royalist plot to conserve the king’s life. In April 1793 the Girondins combated back against Parisian radicalism, orchestrating the arrest the Jean-Paul Marat, a provocative street journalist turned Montagnard deputy.

The complying with month, Girondin leaders established the the supervisory board of Twelve, a distinct committee tasked through investigating members the the Paris Commune and also their alleged do the efforts to threaten the national Convention. After ~ a quick investigation, the Commission bespeak the arrest that several much more radicals, including Jacques Hébert.

Girondins versus the radicals

The free-speaking national Guard officer Francois Hanriot

Having picked a fight with Parisian radicals, the Girondins now challenged even better opposition. The Commune, the Paris sections, the Jacobin club and the sans culottes every denounced the Girondins together Royalists and Federalists (all terms that were, by this stage, anti-revolutionary slurs).

Calls arised to remove Girondin deputies from the nationwide Convention. On may 28th, a collection of approximately 500 Parisian officials got several petitions and speeches, calling for an insurrection till the nationwide Convention was purged of Girondins. 

Three work later, on the afternoon of may 31st, a number of protesters entered the Convention building and made demands of a comparable nature. This drew supportive speeches native Montagnard deputies but little else. 

The Girondins expelled

On June 2nd, about 20,000 Parisians and a random of radical national Guardsmen gathered external the Convention and demanded the expulsion of its Girondinist members. Once the Convention president sent out a article of protest against this intimidation, nationwide Guard commander François Hanriot responded “Tell her f–king president the he and his Convention deserve to go f–k themselves. If within one hour the 22 room not delivered, we will certainly blow them every up.”

Surrounded and also intimidated, the Convention dithered about what come do. Montagnard radicals began to mount the tribune and argue because that the expulsion of the Girondin deputies.

Leading this chorus to be the wheelchair-bound Georges Couthon, that urged the Convention come abide by the will certainly of the people. The nationwide Guard was no holding the assembly to ransom, Couthon argued; they were its friends and wanted the Convention to choose wisely.

Jean-Paul Marat dubbed for the Girondins to it is in arrested and detained. Bertrand Barère inquiry the Girondin deputies to prevent trouble through voluntarily resigning. The significant Girondin Maximin Isnard refused to carry out so, declaring that he represented the world of his département and would resign only on their instruction.

Finally, after ~ a standoff and also debates lasting several hours, the Convention voted come expel the Girondins.

The Girondin faction had actually led the transformation since so late 1791. Now, it had actually been claimed an opponent of the revolution. Some of the Girondin deputies were detained under house arrest. Rather fled Paris come the provinces, whereby they tried to mobilise opposition against the Montagnard-dominated Convention. In so late October 1793, Brissot and 21 of his Girondin pendant were do the efforts by the Revolutionary Tribunal and guillotined.

A historian’s view:“In the ingredient Assembly, Girondins and Montagnards to be indistinguishable. The legislature Assembly was a duration of gestation. Embryos of the 2 ‘parties’ formed in late 1791 and also early 1792, in disputes over tranquility or war, and also were born ~ painful labour during the 7 weeks adhering to August 10th 1792. It to be then the Montagnards took manage of the Paris Commune and also Jacobins. The Montagnards likewise had the assistance of the Paris part (electoral ar assemblies) yet their dependency on the sections expected they had actually to cosy approximately radical agitators. Montagnards dominated the delegation elected by Paris come the Convention.”Michael Kennedy


1. The Girondins and Montagnards were two political factions that emerged throughout the legislative Assembly and later overcame the nationwide Convention.

2. The Girondins began as pendant of the Jacobin orator Jacques Brissot. They to be moderate republicans who sustained a revolutionary war and also believed the transformation should involve the whole nation, not just Paris.

3. The Montagnards, in contrast, were more influenced by the civilization of Paris, particularly the sections and the sans culottes. Your leaders consisted of radicals favor Robespierre, Marat, Couthon and Barère.

4. The Girondins and also Montagnards frequently differed and bickered end policy. By the spring of 1793, this had occurred into a factional war, the Girondins initiating action against radical agitators in Paris.

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5. In early June 1793, the Montagnards arised victorious after ~ the Convention, surrounding by enemy soldiers and also sans culottes, was intimidated into expelling the Girondinist deputies.