1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Feuillants, Club of the

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FEUILLANTS, CLUB OF THE, a political association which played a prominent part during the French Revolution. It was founded on the 16th of July 1791 by several members of the Jacobin Club, who refused to sign a petition presented by this body, demanding the deposition of Louis XVI. Among the dissident members were B. Barère; and E. J. Sieyès, who were later joined by other politicians, among them being Dupont de Nemours. The name of Feuillants was popularly given to this group of men, because they met in the fine buildings which had been occupied by the religious order bearing this name, in the rue Saint-Honoré, near the Place Vendôme, in Paris. The members of the club preserved the title of Amis de la Constitution, as being a sufficient indication of the line they intended to pursue. This consisted in opposing everything not contained in the Constitution; in their opinion, the latter was in need of no modification, and they hated alike all those who were opposed to it, whether émigrés or Jacobins; they affected to avoid all political discussion, and called themselves merely a “conservative assembly.”

This attitude they maintained after the Constituent Assembly had been succeeded by the Legislative, but not many of the new deputies became members of the club. With the rapid growth of extreme democratic ideas the Feuillants soon began to be looked upon as reactionaries, and to be classed with “aristocrats.” They did, indeed, represent the aristocracy of wealth, for they had to pay a subscription of four louis, a large sum at that time, besides six livres for attendance. Moreover, the luxury with which they surrounded themselves, and the restaurant which they had annexed to their club, seemed to mock the misery of the half-starved proletariat, and added to the suspicion with which they were viewed, especially after the popular triumphs of the 20th of June and the 10th of August 1792 (see French Revolution). A few days after the insurrection of the 10th of August, the papers of the Feuillants were seized, and a list was published containing the names of 841 members proclaimed as suspects. This was the death-blow of the club. It had made an attempt, though a weak one, to oppose the forward march of the Revolution, but, unlike the Jacobins, had never sent out branches into the provinces. The name of Feuillants, as a party designation, survived the club. It was applied to those who advocated a policy of “cowardly moderation,” and feuillantisme was associated with aristocratie in the mouths of the sansculottes.

The act of separation of the Feuillants from the Jacobins was published in a pamphlet dated the 16th of July 1791, beginning with the words, Les Membres de l’assemblée nationale ... (Paris, 1791). The statutes of the club were also published in Paris. See also A. Aulard, Histoire politique de la Révolution française (Paris, 1903), 2nd ed., p. 153.