Girondins


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Girondins

 

a political grouping (a de facto party) of the period of the Great French Revolution that represented primarily the provincial republican commercial-industrial and agricultural bourgeoisie. Some time after its formation, the group was named after the department of the Gironde, from which many of its leaders came. Among the leaders of the Girondins were J. P. Brissot, P. V. Vergniaud, J. M. Roland and his wife, Madame Roland, and J. A. Condorcet.

In the first stage of the revolution the Girondins were not yet a separate group. Primarily members of the Jacobin Club, they acted with other revolutionary forces against absolutism. The differentiation of the Girondins from the left wing of the Jacobin Club, which was led by M. Robespierre, began in the autumn of 1791, when the Girondins began to propagandize for an immediate war against the coalition of feudal and monarchical European states. Expressing the interests of the big bourgeoisie, they endeavored to hasten the onset of war, hoping to expand the borders of France, seize new markets, distract the masses from the class struggle, and subject them to the bourgeois Girondin influence. The self-interested aims of the Girondins were masked by patriotic and revolutionary phrases.

Louis XVI summoned the Girondins to power in March 1792, and the first Girondin ministry was formed. However, in June 1792 the king dismissed the ministry. After the over-throw of the monarchy on Aug. 10, 1792, which occurred despite the Girondins’ opposition, and the fall of the Feuillant government, the Girondins, who held a leading position in the National Convention, came to power again. They tried to retard the development of the revolution, opposing, for example, the immediate establishment of republican forms of government. The Girondins were excluded from the Jacobin Club in October 1792. During their further struggle with the Jacobins, they were gradually transformed from a conservative into a counterrevolutionary force. The Girondins were overthrown by the popular uprising of May 31-June 2, 1793. Forming a bloc with all other French counterrevolutionary forces, they instigated the murder of J.-P. Marat and tried to unleash a civil war against the Jacobin government. Their rebellions in Normandy and in southern France in June 1793 were suppressed. After the counterrevolutionary coup of 9 Thermidor (July 27–28, 1794), the Girondins, who had been arrested before the coup by the Jacobins, were pardoned, and the surviving Girondin deputies returned to the National Convention. The Girondins became one of the most militant counterrevolutionary forces.

REFERENCES

Lamartine, A. Istoriia zhirondistov, vols. 1–4. St. Petersburg, 1902–06.
Frantsuzskaia burzhuaznaia revoliutsiia 1789–1795. Edited by V. P. Volgin and E. V. Tarle. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941.
Manfred, A. Z. Velikaia burzhuaznaia frantsuzskaia revoliutsiia XVIII v. 1789–1794. Moscow, 1956.
Mathiez, A. Girondins et Montagnards, 3rd ed. Paris, 1930.
Sydenham, M. J. The Girondins. London, 1961.
Bernardin, E.J. M. Roland et le Ministère de I’intérieur (1792–1793). Paris, 1964.

A. Z. MANFRED

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