Jacobin Club/Jacobins

Created: 1789

The Paris Jacobin Club was born in the aftermath of the October Days (1789), in response to which a political club previously located at Versailles for the Estates General (the Breton Club, so named because it was set up by Third Estate deputies from Brittany) moved to the former monastery of the Jacobins in central Paris. It rapidly became the Revolutionary elite's favoured location for political discussion and advancement outside the National Assembly, and also operated as a 'mother society' to hundreds of provincial clubs. Initially discouraging of popular participation in and influence over the Revolutionary process, the Paris Jacobin Club became an increasingly radical force after the king's Flight to Varennes in June 1791. Jacobins across the country split between the Girondin and Montagnard factions in 1792, with the latter triumphant in the Club network and the National Convention by the summer of 1793. During the Terror the Paris Jacobin Club and Jacobins across the country were lynchpins of the national Revolutionary Government's efforts to secure military victory, suppress Counter-Revolutionary conspiracies and enact cultural, social and economic reforms. The duchess uses the term 'Jacobins' not just to refer to members of the Paris Jacobin Club but also as a descriptor for a radical Revolutionary faction in successive National Assemblies. During the period of the National Convention (from September 1792) her references to the 'Jacobins' are often synonymous with the Montagnard faction in the Convention. This may have stemmed from confusion on her part, but also is some reflection of the reality, since there was a significant overlap between the two groups.



Appears in these Letters:


14 August: The August Revolution: The Fall of the Monarchy

The summer of 1792 was a perfect storm for the French monarchy, with rising demands for a Republic amid military defeats and the lasting resentment...


5 June: Purge of the Girondins. Part 3

The political implications of the Purge of the Girondins began to be felt immediately, and the duchess emphasises the political importance of the...

5 June: Reflections on Political Repression

The duchess explains how the balance of political power in the capital has recently shifted in a more radical direction, and considers the...

31 July: Revolutionary Justice in the summer of 1793

The duchess offers news and personal reflections on recent developments in the French Revolution (as seen from her home in the heart of the capital)...


8 January: The Last Words of the Duchess

The final entry in the duchess's notebook series. She observes that France's improving military situation has not resulted in a reduction in domestic...