200 years ago – 1801: July-September

Period : Directory / 1st Empire
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July 1801

In France
Saint-Domingue, 3 July (14 Messidor, An IX): General Toussaint-Louverture (1743-1803) proclaimed a constitution (resulting from the deliberations of the Assemblée constituante of Saint-Domingue, which had met on 4 February, 1801): the island was thus to be placed under an autonomous military dictatorship but would remain a French colony in which “slavery was abolished. Men will live and die free and French” (Title II. art. 3). Catholicism was declared the official religion. (Title III. art. 6).
 
Paris, 6 July (17 Messidor, An IX ): A by-law was passed which laid down the procedure for the reorganisation of the Corps des gardes-pompiers or Fire Brigade. The brigade was to comprise 273 men, divided into three companies. Admission requirements were as follows: age between 18 and 30, height of at least 1.68m* (5 feet 2 inches (period measurement)), ability to read and write, previous job (minimum of 2 years) from one of the following trades: mason, carpenter, slater, plumber, joiner, cartwright, locksmith, sadler, basket maker. Applicants also had to produce a 'certificate of probity'. The task of overseeing this fire brigade fell to the Préfet de police, under the authority of the Ministre de l'Intérieur. Pay, uniforms and lodging in barracks were to be provided by the Ville de Paris.

*Napoleon, at 1.686m, would just have made it in!

14 July, 1801 (25 Messidor): The Fête Nationale or Bastille Day, commemorating the taking of the famous detention centre (14 July, 1789) was celebrated. There were side shows and street theatre on the Champs-Élysées, entertainment on the Seine, the 'aérostat de Garnerin' (a sort of balloon), a concert and a fireworks display. The whole of the capital was decked with lights. The architect Chalgrin was commissioned to organise the festivities.
 
The balloon used for the Bastille Day firework display slipped its moorings and ended up at the house of Madame Montlezun, school teacher, number 1069, Rue de la Madeleine, where it exploded, covering her house in burning coals; one of her pupils was wounded as a result of being hit by the gondola as it fell.
Report of the Préfecture de police, 30 Messidor, An IX
 
14 July, 1801 (25 Messidor, An IX): “The lioness at the Jardin des Plantes, whose grand title was Constantine (from the region of Africa where she was captured), gave birth at 5 pm on 25 Messidor to two baby lionesses.”
Journal des Débats, 3 Thermidor, An IX
 
15 July, 1801 (26 Messidor): Signature of the Concordat between France and the Holy See: Catholicism was recognised as the 'religion of the majority of the French', (as per the Articles organiques which were subsequently attached to the Concordat) all denominations were permitted, priests had to swear an oath of loyalty to the French Republic and they became government employees, archbishops and bishops were appointed by the Pope following the proposals of the First Consul, married priests were to be definitively excluded and new parish boundaries were to be drawn up.

For the full original text of the Concordat.
 
Paris, 23 July (3 Thermidor, An IX): The Conseil d'Etat began its discussion on the Code civil: 57 of the total 109 sittings were chaired by Bonaparte. Portalis, Tronchet, Bigot de Préameneu and Maleville, the authors of the code, were also present at the sittings. (The text had been handed to the Consuls on 28 January, 1801 – 8 Pluviôse, An IX).
 
Paris, 23 July (4 Thermidor, An IX): The model for the new menagery (animal house) to be built in the Jardin des Plantes was presented to the First Consul by citizen Molines, architect for the Département de la Seine and for the Jardin des Plantes. “It is a 30-foot high hill. Enclosed within its perimeter are all the animal cages; the monkeys are to live above these.”
Journal des Débats, 5 Thermidor, An IX
 
31 July, 1801 (12 Thermidor, An IX): A bill was passed reorganising the Gendarmerie nationale : it was to be headed by an Inspecteur Général, placed under the authority of the ministers for the Police, War and Justice.
 
31 July, 1801 (12 Thermidor, An IX): A police ordinance prohibited the posting of bills 'which do not bear the name of the author and printer. It is henceforth expressly forbidden for anyone to post bills in Paris, the rural communes of the Départements of la Seine, Saint-Cloud, Sèvres and Meudon, without having previously obtained permission from the Préfet de Police. Those posting bills must carry with them a copper plaque engraved with the word afficheur (poster of bills) and the serial number of the document granting them permission. Those intending to post bills must first, before sticking up their bills, go to the Préfecture de Police and place in deposit a copy (signed by them) of each poster.”
Journal des Débats, 13 Thermidor, An IX
 
During the month of July, 1801: In Brest, the American inventor, Robert Fulton (1765-1815), began testing his torpedo submarine, The Nautilus. On 20 March (29 Ventôse, An IX), Bonaparte had, for the second time, give Fulton a grant of 10,000 Francs in order to fund exhaustive experiments with the Nautilus. Fulton also performed experiments regarding steam navigation.

Abroad
London, 3 July (14 Messidor, An IX): The Moniteur reported the story printed in the Morning Chronicle, (30 June) that a letter (marked 'from Cadiz' and dated 28 May) had arrived from a passenger aboard the packet the Count Gower. “We were entering the Tagus, having left Falmouth six days earlier, when we were so fiercely attacked by a French corsair that after two hours of fighting we were forced to surrender – the corsair was called Le Télégraphe. The captain, Seilles from Calais, treated us perfectly correctly […]. There are six Spanish ships of the line here […] and a French Admiral named Dumanoir […]. Every day we expect the arrival of many sailors and troops from France for a great expedition (where to, we do not know).”
La Gazette nationale ou Le Moniteur Universel, 21 Messidor, An IX
 
London, 4 July (15 Messidor, An IX): The Moniteur reported that on the Thames in London an experiment was performed to see whether it was possible to sail a barge or other heavily loaded vessel against the current using a simple construction made with a small fire pump. The experiment was a great success. Once the machine was set in motion, the barge sailed up-stream at about two and half miles an hour against a very strong current.
La Gazette nationale ou Le Moniteur Universel, 22 Messidor, An IX
 
London, 10 July 1801 (21 Messidor, An IX): The Moniteur of 26/27 Messidor, An IX, noted that in London it had been reported that “the United States has fitted out a squadron of 4 frigates and 2 sloops, to be placed under the orders of Commodore Dale. The squadron is destined for Tripoli. Our government (i.e., the British government, ed.) has ordered that the squadron should be received in all Mediterranean ports under its control.”

“Napper Tandy is still in Kilmainham jail, near Dublin. He is in excellent health and is free to see his family and friends.”

(From the Sun, Morning Herald, and Courier
“Not since the whaling became the object of commercial speculation has there been such a prodigious result as that achieved by nine boats in Davis strait (between Baffin Island and Greenland, ed.). They caught 111 whales in a single month. From the oil to be made from these whales they expect to make a clear profit of 40,000 pounds sterling.”
 
London, 11 July 1801 (22 Messidor, An IX): The Moniteur of 28 Messidor, An IX, noted that in London it had been reported that “the University of Cambridge proposed four prizes for the following two questions:
Quid est causa, cur iam per plurima saecula, scientiae et liberales artes, non nisi in christianis populis floruerint?
Ex coalescentibus Britanniae et Hiberniae imperiis, quid potissimum boni, sit sperandum[?]
(Why is it that for many centuries now the sciences and the liberal arts have flourished only in Christian lands? What benefit can be expected from the uniting of England and Ireland?)

For the first question, the prizes were awarded to M. H. V. Bayley of Trinity College and C. d'Oyley of Benedict College (i.e., Corpus Christi, ed.). For the second, M. J. Brown and N. C. Tindal, both of Trinity College, received prizes.
 
London 18 July (29 Messidor): A remarkable event took place in Weymouth last Wednesday. The custom there is that when the princesses bathe, no one else is allowed in the bathing places. Her Highness princess Amelie wished to bathe, with her lady in waiting, but she was prevented by two individuals who did not wish to get out of the bathing places. The officer on duty remonstrated with them, but to no avail. He then ordered the two men's horses to be pushed into the sea. This forced them to cry 'mercy'. But it did not end there. For when they were dressed and had appeared back on the front, the people jeered at them in the street. The rudeness shown by these two men certainly warranted such treatment. And whilst the officer on duty might not have been exculpated by a court of law, he would certainly have been acquitted by a court of honour. What is more, all those who still value chivalry would have been with him too. (Morning Chronicle).
La Gazette nationale ou Le Moniteur Universel, 4 Thermidor, An IX
 
Frankfurt 17 July (28 Messidor): The news of the arrests in Bayreuth of several known émigrés alarmed the new inhabitants of Offenbach and they fled. Dandré, the Abbé Lamare and Abbé le Camus left yesterday. The latter two had come to prepare the lodgings for the president of Vesey […]. Whilst Dandré, also known as Mayor, did not change money on the route he came by, he did however take the road to Wurzburg, heading for Prague. This at least is what he told his banker before he left. However a traveller reported that he had seen a woman in a carriage with many children on the road between Gelnhausen and Fulda. She was most likely Dandré's wife, travelling in the carriage which Dandré had sent back after having fled himself. […] At Offenbach and here [Frankfurt, ed.], Dandré was known only by the name of Antoine Mayor, a Swiss refugee, as appears on his passport, given to him by the Archduke Charles.
La Gazette nationale ou Le Moniteur Universel, 10 Thermidor, An IX
 
Antoine Balthazar Dandré (d'André), b. Aix-en-Provence 1759, d. Paris 1825
Of noble stock, Dandré became a moderate Revolutionary in favour of a 'monarchie limité'. – he presided over the Constituante three times. Returning to private business after the dissolution of the Constituante, he was denounced in 1792 and he fled to England and then finally Germany. Returning to France after the fall of Robespierre where he moved for a return of the Royalty (financed by Britain via Wickham), he was involved in the coup d'état of 18 Fructidor (1797) and subsequently forced to flee to Germany. There he began running Louis XVIII's Swabian Agency. Here he again liased with the British spymaster Wickham in Switzerland, working for the royalist cause. Shortly after publication of this article in the Moniteur he was arrested by the Prussians, imprisoned and finally expelled in August 1802. His spying career over, he went to England (and later Vienna), returning to France with Louis XVIII in 1814 where he was Intendant des domaines de la Couronne (apart from an interruption during the Hundred Days) until his death in 1825.

29 July, 1801 (10 Thermidor, An IX): The 'Austrian' imperial eagle was placed for the first time on three flags in piazza San Marco, Venice.
Gazette nationale, 28 Thermidor, An IX


August 1801

France
3 August, 1801 (15 Thermidor, An IX)
: A commission was created which was to begin drawing up the Code Commercial. On 10 August, another commission was set up to write the Code Rural.
 
5 August, 1801 (17 Thermidor, An IX), and later 15 August (27 Thermidor): Admiral Latouche-Tréville (1745-1804) fought off Nelson's attack on the port of Boulogne.
For the whole of August in France rumour was rife that French ships would soon invade England; indeed the British navy seemed a great deal less than invincible after the relative success of the defence of Boulogne.
 
Abroad
11 August, 1801 (23 Thermidor, An IX): A 'congregazione generale' was held in Rome for the ratification of the Concordat: 14 votes in favour, 12 with reserves, and 2 against.
 
15 August, 1801 (27 Thermidor, An IX): On the birthday of the First Consul (he was 32), the papal bull Ecclesia Dei was published, ratifying the Concordat; the Pontifical brief Tam multa required French bishops to respect the clause in the Concordat whereby they were ordered them to cede their sees.
 
31 August, 1801 (13 Fructidor, An IX): In Alexandria, general Menou (1750-1810) signed the capitulation to British troops, ending the Egyptian expedition.


September 1801

France
3 September, 1801 (16 Fructidor, An IX): The Salon des Arts of An IX opened at the Louvre; amongst the 720 works of painting, sculpture, engraving and architecture exhibited was a painting by the captain of the engineers regiment, Lejeune, pupil of Maître Valenciennes, entitled Battle of Maringo, 15 Prairial, An 8. The description in the salon catalogue read as follows:

“Foreground. The First Consul arrives at a moment when a shell (which had just killed six men of the 9e Demi-Brigade Légère) explodes nearby. He is followed by his aides Duroc, Lauriston, Le Marois, Lacuée; generals Lannes, Dupont, Murat; the above-mentioned Bessières, Beauharnais, Rivières, Guillotin, etc., commanders and officers of the guard. An Austrian officer, mortally wounded, kills himself using a pistol given him by a Frenchman.
[…]
A conscript who has taken an enemy flag presents it to the General in chief, Berthier; Berthier is followed by his brother César, and his aides, Dutaillis, Soprenzi, Briguiere, Arrighi and Le Jeune (artist of the painting). Dutaillis falls, his horse killed under him. Le Jeune sends to his general prisoners who wished to surrender their arms to him. A Frenchman gives aquae vitae to a wounded Austrian.
A grenadier, and further off a drummer boy, force prisoners to carry off some French wounded.
[…]
Middle ground. General Desaix dies in arms of the son of Consul Lebrun. General Kellermann leading his cavalry.
[…]
Some soldiers throw their caps in the air to signify that they are surrendering.”

Lejeune won a gold medal and his painting was shown again in the Salon of 1802; the work is today held at the Musée du Château de Versailles.

8 September, 1801 (21 Fructidor, An IX): The First Consul ratified the Concordat, after it had received a favourable reading in the Conseil d'Etat.
 
8 September, 1801 (21 Fructidor, An IX): In Paris, bakers were caught reducing the weight of loaves. They had done this in an attempt to redress the balance, given the context of flour shortages and the fact that the raising of bread prices had been forbidden. The police kept a close eye on the stocks in bakeries throughout Paris, particularly in the sensitive 'workers' neighbourhoods such as the Faubourg Saint-Antoine [a part of today's 11th and 12th arrondissements. Ed.].

15 September (28 Fructidor): “Citizen Desquinemare, an engineer/mechanic, inventor of a coating which makes canvass both air- and water-tight, performed the most excellent experiment in the port at Dunkerque […]. He took a canvass bag (which had been coated following his specifications), and sealed within it a sailor's work clothes. A sailor went down into the sea with the said bag, whose opening had been tightly tied. Try as he might to submerge the bag, he could not manage it and the sack kept on floating back to the surface. […] This discovery would at first sight seem very useful for trade and the navy. All sorts of goods may now be carried to countries exceedingly far away without fear that they may be damaged by the sea water.”
Gazette nationale, 28 Fructidor, An IX
 
16 September (29 Fructidor): The First Consul decided that “General Moreau [should continue] to enjoy the rank of Général en chef throughout An X.” But in accordance with Bonaparte's, this 'arrêté' (act) was not to be printed.
 
18 September (1st Jour Complémentaire): The exhibition of French industry products (about 220 stands), opened in the courtyard of the Palais National des Sciences et Arts (in other words the Grande Cour at the Louvre). It was designed to highlight the quality of French production, both factory and cottage, and French inventions, and had been instituted by a decree dated 4 March, 1801 (13 Ventôse, An IX). On show at the exhibition were Conté crayons, Bauwens cottons, Jacquemart and Benard wallpapers, and Sèvres porcelains.
 
22 September (5th Jour Complémentaire): At the Louvre there was a public viewing (but only for two weeks) of two portraits by the painter David of Napoleon on horseback crossing Mont-Saint-Bernard, one of which belonged to Bonaparte and the other having been commissioned by the King of Spain.
Citoyen français, 1 Vendémiaire, An X
 
23 September (1 Vendémiaire, An X): France celebrated the founding of the republic in 1792. There were entertainments and sideshows on the Seine, sideshows on the Champs-Élysées, orchestras and balls in Paris, and a firework display.
There were also celebrations abroad, notably in Milan and Cadiz.
 
23 September (1 Vendémiaire, An X): The First Consul strongly opposed Tsar Alexander I's new representative, Markov, in his contention that Piedmont should be returned to the kingdom of Sardinia.
 
Through an arrêté (bill) of 12 April, 1801 (22 Germinal, An IX), Piedmont had been designated a “military division” with its headquarters in Turin (art. 1); the Administrator general was to be General Jourdan (art. 9). This new status for the region of Piedmont prepared the ground for its annexation to France, to take place on 11 September, 1802. A referendum of February 1799 had revealed a population favourable to connection with France, but amid suspicions that the voting had been rigged an insurrection took place, which was put down severely by Grouchy. The French defeats in Italy of April 1799 at the hands of the Austrians slowed the annexation process. However, with the Piedmont question left entirely out of the treaties of Lunéville (9 février 1801) and Amiens (25 mars 1802), Bonaparte was given a free hand to act as he thought fit.
 
29 September (7 Vendémiaire): The Paris Préfet de police announced in the press that all carriages and other vehicles for hire were summoned for an inspection, to be held in the Place de la Concorde, starting on 11 Vendémiaire (for vehicles numbers 1-200, etc.): “should any such hirers fail to send their vehicles to the Place de la Concorde, as per the notification, their vehicles will immediately be seized wherever they are parked […] and taken to the Préfecture de police.”
Gazette nationale, 7 Vendémiaire, An X
 
Abroad
2 September, 1801 (15 Fructidor, An IX)
: The French army began leaving Egypt, after the signature of the capitulation to the British army on 31 August (13 Fructidor, An IX) in Alexandria.
 
End of August – beginning of September 1801, the Sultan Selim III was forced on more than one occasion to put down insurrections, notably in Serbia where the Janissaries were holding the Pasha prisoner in his palace in Belgrade. The revolt spread to other provinces in the Ottoman empire, in particular Bulgaria where the Pasha Pasvan-Oglu supported the Janissaries in Belgrade and attempted to send them troop support.
 
17 September (30 Fructidor): The First Consul asked his Foreign Affair minister, Talleyrand, to toughen his negociations with Britain and the set an ultimatum for the signature of the treaty: “I want everything to be finished by 10 Vendémiaire.” Bonaparte furthermore entreated Talleyrand to send his “correspondence before going to bed; because time is against us.”

The peace preliminaries were signed on 1 October (9 Vendémiaire, An X)
Correspondance de Napoléon, lettre n° 5749
 
27 September (5 Vendémiaire – in Russia, 15 September, following the Julian calendar): Coronation of the Tsar Alexander I in the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow.

Despite being suspected of having allowed the assassination of his father, Paul I, Alexander was welcomed by the populace. He passed ukases or decrees and began a programme of liberal reform: at home he reintegrated officers and civil servants who had been limoged, gave amnesties to political deportees, reduced the extraordinary powers of the police (March), re-established the rights of the nobility and undertook not to raise taxes (April). He also made overtures abroad, authorising the exportation of goods (March), allowing the importation of books and opening the borders to foreign travellers (April).
 
29 September (7 Vendémiaire): Bonaparte accepted the text of the peace treaty between France and Portugal, negotiated in Madrid by his brother Lucien: France was to receive a part of Guyana, a sizeable indemnity of 25 million Francs, and French products when sold on Portuguese territory would benefit from certain rights. A special clause closed Portuguese ports to British ships.
 
30 September (8 Vendémiaire): France and the Ottoman empire began the preliminary talks for peace discussions, which led to the return of Egypt to the Turks via the Treaty of Paris of 25 June, 1802.
 
1 October (9 Vendémiaire): Signing in London of the peace talk preliminaries between France and Britain. These preliminaries returned to France, Spain and Holland the colonies which had been occupied. France agreed to leave the ports in the Kingdom of Naples.

P. Hicks and I. Delage – September 2001, published online May 2003

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