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Émigré is a French term that literally refers to a person who has "migrated out," but often carries a connotation of politico-social self-exile.

The French Protestants (Huguenots), who were forced to leave France, following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, settled in bordering countries, which Catholic and Royalist Émigré sought to use as a base for counterrevolution against the French revolutionaries and Napoleon's regime.

After the Storming of the Bastille, King Louis XVI of France directed several of the most conservative members of his court to leave the country for fear that they might be assassinated. Among this first group of émigrés were the king’s youngest brother, the Comte d'Artois, and Queen Marie Antoinette's best friend, the Duchesse de Polignac. Later, in coordination with the king's failed attempt to escape Paris, the king's other brother, the Comte de Provence, also emigrated.

Marx and Engels, in setting out the strategy for future revolutions in The Communist Manifesto, included the provision that the property of émigrés should be confiscated and used to finance the revolution — a recommendation that was set by the revolutionaries in France and followed by the Bolsheviks seventy years later.

The October Revolution brought over 20,000 Russian emigrants to Finland. Many of these however moved on to France, Paris being the favorite destination for Russian émigrés.

Unlike émigré, the term exile remains politically neutral and includes people from whatever side of the political spectrum who had to leave their homeland, often for political reasons, and who wish to return.

See also


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