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  French Republican Calendar

Following the Revolution, France adopted a reformed calendar called the French Republican or Revolutionary calendar, to replace the Gregorian calendar. It consisted of ten day weeks (decades) and twelve months of thirty days. Five or six feast days remained at the end of each year and these were dedicated to vacations and celebrations. The calendar was calculated from 22 September 1792, the day the Republic was first proclaimed.

Revolutionary France was eager to overthrow the oppression of church and king and adopted descriptive calendar names reflecting reason, science and nature. The calendar was devoid of the religious and mythological connotations of the Gregorian calendar.

The months were called Vendémiaire (vintage), Brumaire (mist), Frimaire (frost), Nivôse (snow), Pluviôse (rain), Ventôse (wind), Germinal (sprouting time), Floréal (blossom), Prairial (meadow), Messidor (harvest), Thermidor (heat), and Fructidor (fruit). Not only was each month named for natural themes, but each day of the year was also given a unique name. The "complementary" or feast days at the end of the year were named in honor of Virtue, Genius, Labor, Opinion and Rewards. During leap year the additional day was called Revolution.

Note the four different endings to the names of the months. Each set of three months made up a season; -aire (fall), -ôse (winter), -al (spring) and -or (summer). Because the calendar was first calcuated from the fall equinox of 1792, each season also began on the equinox or solstice.

The Republican calendar was in use from 1793 through 1805 in France and areas under French rule including Belgium, Luxembourg and parts of Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy . The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was annexed to France as the département des Forêts, or "Forest Department" in 1795. France (and Luxembourg) returned to the Gregorian calendar on January 1, 1806, under Napoléon Bonaparte.

  Additional Information

Calendar Conversions
Napolean.org has a great tool for converting French Republican dates into their Gregorian counterparts. This is one of my favorite web gadgets! This site has as a wealth of other informaton about Napolean, well.

French Republican Calendar
From Philippe Chapelin's "Genealogy and History in France" web site. This page is in French, but the conversion tables are easy to figure out.

Republican Calendar Page
Information in English, from Denis Beauregard's "Genealogy in France" site.

The Perpetual Calendar Page
From Toke Nørby, this page was written for postal historians but contains information about several calendars.

French Republican Calendar
From Donna Speer Ristenbatt's On the Trail of Our Ancestors site.

French Republican Calendar
Research outline from the LDS Family History Library.

Last Update: 26 May 2007
Lisa Oberg || lisanne@eskimo.com || www.eskimo.com/~lisanne