Exiles from the Revolution: Sénac de Meilhan (1734–1803)

L’Émigré (1797)
  • Haydn Mason


Like all revolutions, the turbulent events of 1789 produced a flood of émigrés, rising to a climax with the persecutions of 1793. Many fled immediately after 14 July, among them the King’s youngest brother, the Comte d’Artois (the future Charles X). As the Grande Peur swept the countryside with peasant uprisings and attacks on châteaux the emigration grew; but this was only the beginning of the exodus. With life becoming more precarious the numbers built up, and by 1791 their size, and especially their presence on the German border, were causing great alarm to the government. Though many came to England, the Rhineland seems to have been the most favoured region. Coblenz became their centre, while at Worms the Armée des Princes trained for war and the reconquest of the homeland in the name of the King. Many believed that, with Louis XVI in virtual captivity, their only effective allegiance could be to Artois. Louis for his part feared Artois’s ambitions and at first he did not support the émigré plans, but after his abortive attempt at escape to join his supporters over the frontier in 1791 his attitude hardened. He encouraged French officers to defect, which they did in such numbers that at the end of 1791 three-quarters of the 8000 were on foreign soil. By August 1792 there were 4000 to 5000 émigrés in the Duke of Brunswick’s army when it invaded France.1


French Revolution Ancien Regime Conventional Romance Abortive Attempt French Writer 
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  1. 1.
    G. Lefebvre, La Révolution française ( Paris: P.U.F., 1963 ), p. 274;Google Scholar
  2. D.Greer, The Incidence of the Emigration During the French Revolution (Harvard University Press, 1951), pp. 21–6;Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    J. H. Stewart, A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution ( New York: Macmillan, 1951 ), p. 415.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    J. Vidalenc, Les Emigrés français, 1789–1825 ( Caen: Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines de l’Université, 1963 ), pp. 52–4.Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    H. Coulet, Le Roman jusqu’à la Révolution (Paris: Colin, 1967–8), 2 vols., Vol. I, pp. 443–4, gives a brief list of rapprochements.Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    F. Baldensperger, Le Mouvement des idées dans l’émigration française (1789–1815) (Paris: Plon, 1924), 2 vols., Vol II, pp. 35–6.Google Scholar

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© Haydn Mason 1982

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  • Haydn Mason

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