1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cordeliers, Club of the
CORDELIERS, CLUB OF THE, or Society of the Friends of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a popular society of the French Revolution. It was formed by the members of the district of the Cordeliers, when the Constituent Assembly suppressed the 60 districts of Paris to replace them with 48 sections (21st of May 1790). It held its meetings at first in the church of the monastery of the Cordeliers,—the name given in France to the Franciscan Observantists,—now the Dupuytren museum of anatomy in connexion with the school of medicine. From 1791, however, the Cordeliers met in a hall in the rue Dauphine. The aim of the society was to keep an eye on the government; its emblem on its papers was simply an open eye. It sought as well to encourage revolutionary measures against the monarchy and the old régime, and it was it especially which popularized the motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” It took an active part in the movement against the monarchy of the 20th of June and the 10th of August 1792; but after that date the more moderate leaders of the club, Danton, Fabre d’Eglantine, Camille Desmoulins, seem to have ceased attending, and the “enragés” obtained control, such as J. R. Hébert, F. N. Vincent, C. P. H. Ronsin and A. F. Momoro. Its influence was especially seen in the creation of the revolutionary army destined to assure provisions for Paris, and in the establishment of the worship of Reason. The Cordeliers were combated by those revolutionists who wished to end the Terror, especially by Danton, and by Camille Desmoulins in his journal Le Vieux Cordelier. The club disowned Danton and Desmoulins and attacked Robespierre for his “moderation,” but the new insurrection which it attempted failed, and its leaders were guillotined on the 24th of March 1794, from which date nothing is known of the club. We know little of its composition.
The papers emanating from the Cordeliers are enumerated in M. Tourneux, Bibliographie de l’histoire de Paris pendant la Révolution (1894), i. (on the trial of the Hebertists) Nos. 4204–4210, ii. Nos. 9795–9834 and 11,813. See also A. Bougeart, Les Cordeliers, documents pour servir à l’histoire de la Révolution (Caen, 1891); G. Lenotre, Paris révolutionnaire (Paris, 1895); G. Tridon, Les Hébertists, plainte contre une calomnie de l’histoire (Paris, 1864). The last-named author was condemned to four months’ prison; his work was reprinted in 1871. The inventory of the pictures found in 1790 in the monastery of the Cordeliers was published by J. Guiffrey in Nouvelles archives de l’art français, viii., 2nd series, iii. (1880). (R. A.*)