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History of the Calendar
The French Republican calendar (also known as the Revolutionary calendar) was introduced during the French Revolution to replace the Gregorian calendar and begin a new era. The calendar was based on scientific rather than Christian principles.
This calendar was used for twelve years, from 24 October 1793 to 31 December 1805. (An attempt was made in 1871 to reinstate it, but this attempt failed.) It was used for civil registration records, notarial records, and other government records throughout France and other areas under French rule, including modern Belgium, Luxembourg, and parts of the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. It also affected records in other areas ruled by the French government, such as Egypt, Malta, Reunion, Louisiana, Guiana, and some Caribbean islands.
Principles of the New Calendar
Each year began on the autumn equinox, and the years were counted from the founding of the French Republic on 22 September 1792.
Each year had twelve months of thirty days each.
Five days, called complementary days, were added to the end of the year to bring the total to 365.
Every four years, beginning with the third year of the Republic, an extra complementary day was added. (Days were added to years 3, 7, 11, and so forth.) During this period, the standard calendar had only two leap years (in 1796 and 1804).
The twelve months of the French Republican calendar were based on the natural events of the seasons of the year. They do not correspond to the standard months of January through December.
In areas that were not French-speaking, the names of the months were often translated into the language of the record, as shown by the following chart:
Months of the French Republican Calendar
|grape harvest||Vendémiaire||Weinlesemonat||Wijnoogstmaand||vendemmaio mensis||vindemiarum|
- Occasionally, the name Fervidor(heat) was used for Thermidor.
Complementary or Feast Days
|Feast of...||Fête de...||Fest der...||Feest der...||giorno della...||Festum...|
|First day virtue||la vertu||Tugend||Deugd||virtù||virtutis|
|Second day genius||le genie||Geistes||Vernuft||genio||ingenii|
|Third day labor||le travail||Arbeit||Werkzaamheid||lavoro||laboris|
|Fourth day opinion||l’opinion||Meinung||Gezindheid||opinione||opinionis|
|Fifth day rewards||récompenses||Belohnungen||Beloning||ricompènse||pretiorum|
|Sixth day* revolution||la révolution||Umsturzes/ Revolution||Revolutie||rivoluzione||revolutionis|
- Only used in leap years
The extra days at the end of the year were called jours complémentaires (complementary days or holidays) or jours-sansculottides (days of the revolutionaries). The complementary days were feast days and each had a name. The above chart shows the names in each language where the calendar was used.
How Dates were Recorded
Dates were usually written out in French or the local language. For example:
- Le treizième jour du mois de Pluviôse l’an sept de la République Française (The 13th of Pluviose in the seventh year of the French Republic).
The years of the Republic were often designated by Roman numerals. For example:
- 13 Pluviôse VII (13 Pluviose, seventh year of the Republic).
The complementary (feast) days were recorded in two ways:
- By the name of the feast. Example: the feast day of Labor in the ninth year of the French Republic.
- By the number (first, second, third, and so on) of the day.
- Example: the third complementary day of the ninth year of the French Republic.
How to Calculate the Standard Date for a French Republican Date
Four calendars are on the following pages. Each calendar has the French Republican months across the top, and thirty days on the left-hand column.
Find the French Republican year for the date you are converting at the top of one of the four calendars.
Find the day (of the French month) in the left column, and move across the page to the French month (abbreviated at the top of the chart). This will give you the standard (Gregorian) month and day.
Return to the top of the calendar. The corresponding standard years are on the same horizontal line as the French Republican year. The correct standard year for the date you are converting is on the same side of the heavy black line as the month and day you found in step 2.
Example: 10 Vendémiaire de l’an IX
Year IX is on Calendar Three
On Calendar Three, find the number 10 in the left column and move across the page to the column for Vendémiaire. This box says 2 Oct. Dates on the left side of the heavy black line for the ninth year of the Republic correspond to 1800. Thus 10 Vendémiaire IX corresponds to 2 October 1800.
Year One I.............................1792 1793
Year Two II.............................1793 1794
Year Three III..........................1794 1795
Year Five V............................1796 1797
Year Six VI............................1797 1798
Year Seven VII.......................1798 1799
|1||22 Sep||22 Oct||21 Nov||21 Dec||20 Jan||19 Feb||21 Mar||20 Apr||20 May||19 Jun||19 Jul||17 Sep|
|2||23 Sep||23 Oct||22 Nov||22 Dec||21 Jan||20 Feb||22 Mar||21 Apr||21 May||20 Jun||20 Jul||18 Sep|
|3||24 Sep||24 Oct||23 Nov||23 Dec||22 Jan||21 Feb||23 Mar||22 Apr||22 May||21 Jun||21 Jul||19 Sep|
|4||25 Sep||25 Oct||24 Nov||24 Dec||23 Jan||22 Feb||24 Mar||23 Apr||23 May||22 Jun||22 Jul||20 Sep|
|5||26 Sep||26 Oct||25 Nov||25 Dec||24 Jan||23 Feb||25 Mar||24 Apr||24 May||23 Jun||23 Jul||21 Sep|
|6||27 Sep||27 Oct||26 Nov||26 Dec||25 Jan||24 Feb||26 Mar||25 Apr||25 May||24 Jun||24 Jul||22 Sep*|
|7||28 Sep||28 Oct||27 Nov||27 Dec||26 Jan||25 Feb||27 Mar||26 Apr||26 May||25 Jun||25 Jul|
|8||29 Sep||29 Oct||28 Nov||28 Dec||27 Jan||26 Feb||28 Mar||27 Apr||27 May||26 Jun||26 Jul|
|9||30 Sep||30 Oct||29 Nov||29 Dec||28 Jan||27 Feb||29 Mar||28 Apr||28 May||27 Jun||27 Jul|
|10||1 Oct||31 Oct||30 Nov||30 Dec||29 Jan||28 Feb||30 Mar||29 Apr||29 May||28 Jun||28 Jul|
|11||2 Oct||1 Nov||1 Dec||31 Dec||30 Jan||29 Feb||31 Mar||30 Apr||30 May||29 Jun||29 Jul|
|12||3 Oct||2 Nov||2 Dec||1 Jan||31 Jan||1 Mar||1 Apr||1 May||31 May||30 Jun||30 Jul|
|13||4 Oct||3 Nov||3 Dec||2 Jan||1 Feb||2 Mar||2 Apr||2 May||1 Jun||1 Jul||31 Jul|
|14||5 Oct||4 Nov||4 Dec||3 Jan||2 Feb||3 Mar||3 Apr||3 May||2 Jun||2 Jul|
|15||6 Oct||5 Nov||5 Dec||4 Jan||3 Feb||4 Mar||4 Apr||4 May||3 Jun||3 Jul|
|16||7 Oct||6 Nov||6 Dec||5 Jan||4 Feb||5 Mar||5 Apr||5 May||4 Jun||4 Jul|
|17||8 Oct||7 Nov||7 Dec||6 Jan||5 Feb||6 Mar||6 Apr||6 May||5 Jun||5 Jul|
|18||9 Oct||8 Nov||8 Dec||7 Jan||6 Feb||7 Mar||7 Apr||7 May||6 Jun||6 Jul|
|19||10 Oct||9 Nov||9 Dec||8 Jan||7 Feb||8 Mar||8 Apr||8 May||7 Jun||7 Jul|
|20||11 Oct||10 Nov||10 Dec||9 Jan||8 Feb||9 Mar||9 Apr||9 May||8 Jun||8 Jul|
|21||12 Oct||11 Nov||11 Dec||10 Jan||9 Feb||10 Mar||10 Apr||10 May||9 Jun||9 Jul|
|22||13 Oct||12 Nov||12 Dec||11 Jan||10 Feb||11 Mar||11 Apr||11 May||10 Jun||10 Jul|
|23||14 Oct||13 Nov||13 Dec||12 Jan||11 Feb||12 Mar||12 Apr||12 May||11 Jun||11 Jul|
|24||15 Oct||14 Nov||14 Dec||13 Jan||12 Feb||13 Mar||13 Apr||13 May||12 Jun||12 Jul|
|25||16 Oct||15 Nov||15 Dec||14 Jan||13 Feb||14 Mar||14 Apr||14 May||13 Jun||13 Jul|
|26||17 Oct||16 Nov||16 Dec||15 Jan||14 Feb||15 Mar||15 Apr||15 May||14 Jun||14 Jul|
|27||18 Oct||17 Nov||17 Dec||16 Jan||15 Feb||16 Mar||16 Apr||16 May||15 Jun||15 Jul|
|28||19 Oct||18 Nov||18 Dec||17 Jan||16 Feb||17 Mar||17 Apr||17 May||16 Jun||16 Jul|
|29||20 Oct||19 Nov||19 Dec||18 Jan||17 Feb||18 Mar||18 Apr||18 May||17 Jun||17 Jul|
|30||21 Oct||20 Nov||20 Dec||19 Jan||18 Feb||19 Mar||19 Apr||19 May||18 Jun||18 Jul|
Paper publication: First Edition, Feb. 1991.
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