Key Dates 1795-1815

Chronology from Le Maitron of key dates in French labour history

Author: Stéphane Sirot, additional material by Michel Cordillot, René Lemarquis et Claude Pennetier and Steve Jefferys (italicised)

1795

April 1-2 A workers’ insurrection repressed in Paris.

May 20, May 23 Another workers’ insurrection in Paris ending in the Army occupying the militant Saint-Antoine district. The revolt is finally over after three days of fighting. The slogan of the revolutionaries was ‘Bread and the Constitution of Year 2‘.

December Workers strikes in Paris

1796

March 30 Gracchus Babeuf and his comrades establish the Insurrectionary Committee of the Equals. Sylvain Maréchal drafts the Manifesto of the Equals.

May 10 Babeuf, Buonarroti and 245 ‘Equals’ supporters arrested.

September 9, 10 Equals plot to win over the Grenelle soldiers for a revolution foiled. Many arrests.

October 10 30 of the Equals condemned to death by a military court.

1797

May 27 Babeuf and others in the Conspiracy of the Equals guillotined.

November 16 Carpenters strike in Paris

1798

September 19 110 inventors and industrialists participate in the opening ceremony of an Industrial Exhibition in the Champs de Mars organised under the 1795-1799 Directorate.

1799

November 9 Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte stages a Coup d’État that overthrows the Directorate and opens a period of social calm with regulations highly favourable to employers. This took place on the 18 Brumaire an VIII in the revolutionary calendar.

1802

December 24 Chambers of Commerce and Industry are created by the 1799-1804 Consulate that replaces the Directorate.

1803

April 12 A law is passed regulating work in factories and workshops and at the same time renewing the illegality of workers’ combinations.

December 1 The workers’ passbook (livret ouvrier) is introduced. It is a kind of identify passport that allows the police and employers to know the exact situation of each worker. Any worker travelling without their passbook is declared to be a vagabond and can be treated as such.

1804

March 21 The Civil Code (article 1781) states that in the case of a dispute about a worker’s salary the word of the master takes precedence over the worker’s statements in front of a tribunal. This article is only abolished in 1866. The Code provides for divorce, but within a marriage the wife is treated as a minor, and her property is given to her husband. On his death the property is divided equally between the children, abolishing the right of the oldest male child to inherit all the property.

December 2 Napoléon is crowned Emperor at Notre-Dame Cathedral by Pope Pius VII.

1808

March 18 Establishment of the first industrial tribunals called Conseils de prud’hommes (Wise Men Councils) to arbitrate where there were disputes between employers and their skilled workers. The first one appeared in Lyon.

1809

June 11 Decree passed to finalisie the 1806 Industrial Tribunal law.

1810

February 10, 22 A decree outlining a new Penal Code was passed into law. It codified all the penal laws passed between 1791 and 1800. Its articles 291, 292, 414, 415 and 416 required all associations of 20 or more people to secure government approval for their existence and confirmed the illegality of all combinations of workers aiming to stop work or modify wages.

1812

March 2 Hunger riots in Caen; an order is passed organising the distribution of 2 million soups.

1813

January 3 A decree fixes the minimum age a child can go down a mine to ten.

1814

March 31 Coalition armies enter Paris. Napoleon abdicates at Fontainebleau on April 5 in favour of his son, and then unconditionally on April 11.

May 3 Louis XVIII enters Paris.

June 4 Louis XVIII issues a Constitutional Charter providing for a parliamentary system with a house of lords nominated by the King and an elected chamber of deputies.

October Saint-Simon and his then secretary, Augustin Thierry publish De la réorganisation de la société européenne. It proposes the extension of English parliamentary rule under a constitutional monarch to every European state with a European parliament above them. It escapes the restoration censor, unlike its second edition.

1815

February 25 Napoléon Bonaparte leaves Elba for France.

June 18 Napoléon defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.

June 24 Napoléon leaves Paris.

July 8 Louis XVIII returns to Paris.

July 15 Napoléon surrenders to the English on the Bellerophon that sails for Plymouth

August 7 The Northumberland leaves for Saint-Helena with Napoléon on board. It arrives there on October 16.

November Pierre-Jean Béranger published his first book of songs, Chansons morales et autres in which he celebrated the victories of the Revolution and the Empire, attacked the ancien regime and the supremacy of the clergy.

December 7 Marshal Ney is executed in the Luxembourg Garden for having supported Napoléon during the 100 Days.

PLACES 1795-1815