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The French Republican Calendar or French Revolutionary Calendar was a calendar proposed during the French Revolution, and used by the French government for about 12 years from late 1793 to 1805, and for 18 days in 1871 in Paris.

Tridi
23
Ventôse
CCXVIII
9:19
Under the calendar, today is:
Tridi, 23 Ventôse 218
or:
Tridi, 23 Ventôse CCXVIII
A copy of the French Republican Calendar in the Historical Museum of Lausanne.

Contents

Overview and origins

History

The days of the French Revolution and Republic saw many efforts to sweep away various trappings of the ancien régime; some of these were more successful than others. The new Republican government sought to institute, among other reforms, a new social and legal system, a new system of weights and measures (which became the metric system), and a new calendar. Amid nostalgia for the ancient Roman Republic, the theories of the Enlightenment were at their peak, and the devisors of the new systems looked to nature for their inspiration. Natural constants, multiples of ten, and Latin derivations formed the fundamental blocks from which the new systems were built.

The new calendar was created by a commission under the direction of the politician Charles Gilbert Romme seconded by Claude Joseph Ferry and Charles-François Dupuis. They associated to their work the chemist Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau, the mathematician and astronomer Joseph-Louis Lagrange, the astronomer Joseph Jérôme Lefrançois de Lalande, the mathematician Gaspard Monge, the astronomer and naval geographer Alexandre Guy Pingré, and the poet, actor and playwright Fabre d'Églantine, who invented the names of the months, with the help of André Thouin, gardener at the Jardin des Plantes of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. As the rapporteur of the commission, Charles-Gilbert Romme presented the new calendar to the Jacobin-controlled National Convention on 23 September 1793, which adopted it on 24 October 1793 and also extended it proleptically to its epoch of 22 September 1792. It is because of his position as rapporteur of the commission that the creation of the republican calendar is attributed to Romme.[1]

The name "French Revolutionary Calendar" refers to the fact that the calendar was created during the Revolution, but is somewhat of a misnomer. Indeed, there was initially a debate as to whether the calendar should celebrate the Revolution, i.e., 1789, or the Republic, i.e., 1792.[2] Immediately following 14 July 1789, papers and pamphlets started calling 1789 year I of Liberty and the following years II and III. It was in 1792, with the practical problem of dating financial transactions, that the legislative assembly was confronted with the problem of the calendar. Originally, the choice of epoch was either 1 January 1789 or 14 July 1789. After some hesitation the assembly decided on 2 January 1792 that all official documents would use the "era of Liberty" and that the year IV of Liberty started on 1 January 1792. This usage was modified on 22 September 1792 when the Republic was proclaimed and the Convention decided that all public documents would be dated Year I of the French Republic. The decree of 2 January 1793 stipulated that the year II of the Republic began on 1 January 1793. The establishment of the Republic was also used for the final version of the calendar; therefore, the calendar commemorates the Republic, not the Revolution. In France, it is only known as the calendrier républicain.

The Concordat of 1801 re-established the Roman Catholic Church in France with effect from Easter Sunday, 18 April 1802, restoring the names of the days of the week with the ones they had in the Gregorian Calendar, while keeping the rest of the Republican Calendar, and fixing Sunday as the official day of rest and religious celebration.[3]

Napoléon finally abolished the calendar with effect from 1 January 1806 (the day after 10 Nivôse an XIV), a little over twelve years after its introduction. However, it was used again during the brief Paris Commune, 6–23 May 1871 (16 Floréal–3 Prairial An LXXIX).

Many conversion tables and programs exist, largely created by genealogists. Some enthusiasts in France still use the calendar, more out of historical re-enactment than practicality.

Some legal texts that were adopted when the Republican Calendar was official are still in force in France and even Belgium (which was incorporated into the former) and have kept their original dates for citation purposes.

Calendar design

Years appear in writing as Roman numerals (usually), with epoch 22 September 1792, the beginning of the 'Republican Era' (the day the French First Republic was proclaimed, one day after the Convention abolished the monarchy). As a result, Roman Numeral I indicates the first year of the republic, that is, the year before the calendar actually came into use. The first day of each year was that of the autumnal equinox.

There were twelve months, each divided into three ten-day weeks called décades. The tenth day, décadi, replaced Sunday as the day of rest and festivity. The five or six extra days needed to approximate the solar or tropical year were placed after the months at the end of each year.

A period of four years ending on a leap day was to be called a "Franciade." The name "Olympique" was originally proposed[4] but changed to Franciade to commemorate the fact that it had taken the revolution four years to establish a republican government in France.[5]

The leap year was called Sextile, an allusion to the "bissextile" leap years of the Julian and Gregorian calendars, because it contained a sixth complementary day.

Decimal time

Each day in the Republican Calendar was divided into ten hours, each hour into 100 decimal minutes, and each decimal minute into 100 decimal seconds. Thus an hour was 144 conventional minutes (more than twice as long as a conventional hour), a minute was 86.4 conventional seconds (slightly longer than a conventional minute), and a second was 0.864 conventional seconds (slightly shorter than a conventional second).

Clocks were manufactured to display this decimal time, but it did not catch on. Mandatory use of decimal time was officially suspended 7 April 1795, although some cities continued to use decimal time as late as 1801.[6]

Current date and time

218 Ventôse CCXVIII
 
Primidi
Duodi
Tridi
Quartidi
Quintidi
Sextidi
Septidi
Octidi
Nonidi
Décadi
décade 16
1 Friday
19 February 2010
2 Saturday
20 February 2010
3 Sunday
21 February 2010
4 Monday
22 February 2010
5 Tuesday
23 February 2010
6 Wednesday
24 February 2010
7 Thursday
25 February 2010
8 Friday
26 February 2010
9 Saturday
27 February 2010
10 Sunday
28 February 2010
décade 17
11 Monday
1 March 2010
12 Tuesday
2 March 2010
13 Wednesday
3 March 2010
14 Thursday
4 March 2010
15 Friday
5 March 2010
16 Saturday
6 March 2010
17 Sunday
7 March 2010
18 Monday
8 March 2010
19 Tuesday
9 March 2010
20 Wednesday
10 March 2010
décade 18
21 Thursday
11 March 2010
22 Friday
12 March 2010
23 Saturday
13 March 2010
24 Sunday
14 March 2010
25 Monday
15 March 2010
26 Tuesday
16 March 2010
27 Wednesday
17 March 2010
28 Thursday
18 March 2010
29 Friday
19 March 2010
30 Saturday
20 March 2010
10 h
9:19:21
Ventose.jpg
22:03:40
24 h
French Republican Calendar - I - II - III - IV - V - VI - VII - VIII - IX - X - XI - XII - XIII - XIV - 217 - 218 - 219 - (Romme)
Click on a year number for a calendar sheet for the whole year.

Months

The Republican calendar year began at the autumn equinox and had twelve months of 30 days each, which were given new names based on nature, principally having to do with the prevailing weather in and around Paris. In 1799, a Souletin Basque translation of the Calendar was published in Mauléon[7]. The Basque names follow the French ones in this list:

  • Autumn:
    • Vendémiaire in French (from Latin vindemia, "grape harvest") / Nabaxte in Basque. Starting 22, 23 or 24 September
    • Brumaire (from French brume, "fog") / Lanhote. Starting 22, 23 or 24 October
    • Frimaire (From French frimas, "frost") / Içotze. Starting 21, 22 or 23 November
  • Winter:
    • Nivôse (from Latin nivosus, "snowy") / Elhurcor. Starting 21, 22 or 23 December
    • Pluviôse (from Latin pluvius, "rainy") / Eoüricor. Starting 20, 21 or 22 January
    • Ventôse (from Latin ventosus, "windy") / Aycecor. Starting 19, 20 or 21 February
  • Spring:
    • Germinal (from Latin germen, "germination") / Sapadun. Starting 20 or 21 March
    • Floréal (from Latin flos, "flower") / Lilidun. Starting 20 or 21 April
    • Prairial (from French prairie, "pasture") / Belhardun. Starting 20 or 21 May
  • Summer:
    • Messidor (from Latin messis, "harvest") / Bihilis. Starting 19 or 20 June
    • Thermidor (or Fervidor) (from Greek thermon, "summer heat") / Berolis. Starting 19 or 20 July
    • Fructidor (from Latin fructus, "fruit") / Frutilis. Starting 18 or 19 August

Note: On many printed calendars of Year II ("Year 2"), 22 September 1793 – 21 September 1794, the month of Thermidor was named Fervidor.

The English translations stated above are approximate, as most of the month names were new words coined from French, Latin or Greek. The endings of the names are grouped by season.

In Britain, people mocked the Republican Calendar by calling the months: Wheezy, Sneezy and Freezy; Slippy, Drippy and Nippy; Showery, Flowery and Bowery; Wheaty, Heaty and Sweety.[8][9]

Ten days of the week

The month is divided into three décades (hamarte in Basque[7]) or 'weeks' of ten days each, named simply:

  • primidi in French / legun in Basque[7] (first day)
  • duodi / bigun (second day)
  • tridi / higun (third day)
  • quartidi / logun (fourth day)
  • quintidi / bogun (fifth day)
  • sextidi / segun (sixth day)
  • septidi / pegun (seventh day)
  • octidi / çogun (eighth day)
  • nonidi / bedegun (ninth day)
  • décadi / margun (tenth day)

The first hamarte of the month was hamartele in Basque; the second, hamartebi; the third, hamartehi.

Décades were abandoned in Floréal an X (April 1802).[10]

Days of the year

Instead of most days having an associated saint as in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, each day has an animal (days ending in 5), a tool (days ending in 0) or else a plant or mineral (all other days).

Autumn

Vendémiaire (22 September ~ 21 October) Brumaire (22 October ~ 20 November) Frimaire (21 November ~ 20 December)
  1. Raisin (Grape)
  2. Safran (Saffron)
  3. Châtaigne (Chestnut)
  4. Colchique (Crocus)
  5. Cheval (Horse)
  6. Balsamine (Impatiens)
  7. Carotte (Carrot)
  8. Amarante (Amaranth)
  9. Panais (Parsnip)
  10. Cuve (Vat)
  11. Pomme de terre (Potato)
  12. Immortelle (Strawflower)
  13. Potiron (Butter Squash)
  14. Réséda (Mignonette)
  15. Âne (Donkey)
  16. Belle de nuit (The four o'clock flower)
  17. Citrouille (Pumpkin)
  18. Sarrasin (Buckwheat)
  19. Tournesol (Sunflower)
  20. Pressoir (Wine-Press)
  21. Chanvre (Hemp)
  22. Pêche (Peach)
  23. Navet (Turnip)
  24. Amaryllis (Amaryllis)
  25. Bœuf (Ox)
  26. Aubergine (Eggplant)
  27. Piment (Chili Pepper)
  28. Tomate (Tomato)
  29. Orge (Barley)
  30. Tonneau (Barrel)
  1. Pomme (Apple)
  2. Céleri (Celery)
  3. Poire (Pear)
  4. Betterave (Beet root)
  5. Oie (Goose)
  6. Héliotrope (Heliotrope)
  7. Figue (Common Fig)
  8. Scorsonère (Black Salsify)
  9. Alisier (Chequer Tree)
  10. Charrue (Plough)
  11. Salsifis (Salsify)
  12. Macre (Water chestnut)
  13. Topinambour (Jerusalem Artichoke)
  14. Endive (Endive)
  15. Dindon (Turkey)
  16. Chervis (Skirret)
  17. Cresson (Watercress)
  18. Dentelaire (Leadworts)
  19. Grenade (Pomegranate)
  20. Herse (Harrow)
  21. Bacchante (Asarum baccharis)
  22. Azerole (Azarole)
  23. Garance (Madder)
  24. Orange (Orange)
  25. Faisan (Pheasant)
  26. Pistache (Pistachio)
  27. Macjonc (Tuberous pea)
  28. Coing (Quince)
  29. Cormier (Service tree)
  30. Rouleau (Roller)
  1. Raiponce (Rampion)
  2. Turneps (Turnip)
  3. Chicorée (Chicory)
  4. Nèfle (Medlar)
  5. Cochon (Pig)
  6. Mâche (Corn Salad)
  7. Chou-fleur (Cauliflower)
  8. Miel (Honey)
  9. Genièvre (Juniper)
  10. Pioche (Pickaxe)
  11. Cire (Wax)
  12. Raifort (Horseradish)
  13. Cèdre (Cedar tree)
  14. Sapin (Fir tree)
  15. Chevreuil (Roe Deer)
  16. Ajonc (Gorse)
  17. Cyprès (Cypress Tree)
  18. Lierre (Ivy)
  19. Sabine (Savin Juniper)
  20. Hoyau (Grub-hoe)
  21. Érable sucré (Sugar Maple)
  22. Bruyère (Heather)
  23. Roseau (Reed plant)
  24. Oseille (Sorrel)
  25. Grillon (Cricket)
  26. Pignon (Pinenut)
  27. Liège (Cork)
  28. Truffe (Truffle)
  29. Olive (Olive)
  30. Pelle (Shovel)

Winter

Nivôse (21 December ~ 19 January) Pluviôse (20 January ~ 18 February) Ventôse (19 February ~ 20 March)
  1. Tourbe (Peat)
  2. Houille (Coal)
  3. Bitume (Bitumen)
  4. Soufre (Sulphur)
  5. Chien (Dog)
  6. Lave (Lava)
  7. Terre végétale (Topsoil)
  8. Fumier (Manure)
  9. Salpêtre (Saltpeter)
  10. Fléau (Flail)
  11. Granit (Granite stone)
  12. Argile (Clay)
  13. Ardoise (Slate)
  14. Grès (Sandstone)
  15. Lapin (Rabbit)
  16. Silex (Flint)
  17. Marne (Marl)
  18. Pierre à chaux (Limestone)
  19. Marbre (Marble)
  20. Van (Winnowing basket)
  21. Pierre à plâtre (Gypsum)
  22. Sel (Salt)
  23. Fer (Iron)
  24. Cuivre (Copper)
  25. Chat (Cat)
  26. Étain (Tin)
  27. Plomb (Lead)
  28. Zinc (Zinc)
  29. Mercure (Mercury (metal))
  30. Crible (Sieve)
  1. Lauréole (Spurge-laurel)
  2. Mousse (Moss)
  3. Fragon (Butcher's Broom)
  4. Perce-neige (Snowdrop)
  5. Taureau (Bull)
  6. Laurier-thym (Laurustinus)
  7. Amadouvier (Tinder polypore)
  8. Mézéréon (Daphne mezereum)
  9. Peuplier (Poplar Tree)
  10. Coignée (Axe)
  11. Ellébore (Hellebore)
  12. Brocoli (Broccoli)
  13. Laurier (Laurel)
  14. Avelinier (Filbert)
  15. Vache (Cow)
  16. Buis (Box Tree)
  17. Lichen (Lichen)
  18. If (Yew tree)
  19. Pulmonaire (Lungwort)
  20. Serpette (Billhook)
  21. Thlaspi (Pennycress)
  22. Thimelé (Rose Daphne)
  23. Chiendent (Couch Grass)
  24. Trainasse (Common Knotgrass)
  25. Lièvre (Hare)
  26. Guède (Woad)
  27. Noisetier (Hazel)
  28. Cyclamen (Cyclamen)
  29. Chélidoine (Celandine)
  30. Traîneau (Sleigh)
  1. Tussilage (Coltsfoot)
  2. Cornouiller (Dogwood)
  3. Violier (Matthiola)
  4. Troène (Privet)
  5. Bouc (Billygoat)
  6. Asaret (Wild Ginger)
  7. Alaterne (Buckthorn)
  8. Violette (Violet (plant))
  9. Marceau (Goat Willow)
  10. Bêche (Spade)
  11. Narcisse (Narcissus)
  12. Orme (Elm Tree)
  13. Fumeterre (Common fumitory)
  14. Vélar (Hedge Mustard)
  15. Chèvre (Goat)
  16. Épinard (Spinach)
  17. Doronic (Large-flowered Leopard's Bane)
  18. Mouron (Pimpernel)
  19. Cerfeuil (Chervil)
  20. Cordeau (Twine)
  21. Mandragore (Mandrake)
  22. Persil (Parsley)
  23. Cochléaria (Scurvy-grass)
  24. Pâquerette (Daisy)
  25. Thon (Tuna)
  26. Pissenlit (Dandelion)
  27. Sylvie (Wood Anemone)
  28. Capillaire (Maidenhair fern)
  29. Frêne (Ash Tree)
  30. Plantoir (Dibber: a hand gardening tool)

Spring

Germinal (21 March ~ 19 April) Floréal (20 April ~ 19 May) Prairial (20 May ~ 18 June)
  1. Primevère (Primrose)
  2. Platane (Plane Tree)
  3. Asperge (Asparagus)
  4. Tulipe (Tulip)
  5. Poule (Hen)
  6. Bette (Chard Plant)
  7. Bouleau (Birch Tree)
  8. Jonquille (Daffodil)
  9. Aulne (Alder)
  10. Couvoir (Hatchery)
  11. Pervenche (Periwinkle)
  12. Charme (Hornbeam)
  13. Morille (Morel)
  14. Hêtre (European Beech Tree)
  15. Abeille (Bee)
  16. Laitue (Lettuce)
  17. Mélèze (Larch)
  18. Ciguë (Hemlock)
  19. Radis (Radish)
  20. Ruche (Hive)
  21. Gainier (Judas tree)
  22. Romaine (Lettuce)
  23. Marronnier (Horse chestnut)
  24. Roquette (Arugula or Rocket)
  25. Pigeon (Pigeon)
  26. Lilas (Lilac)
  27. Anémone (Anemone)
  28. Pensée (Pansy)
  29. Myrtille (Blueberry)
  30. Greffoir (Knife)
  1. Rose (Rose)
  2. Chêne (Oak Tree)
  3. Fougère (Fern)
  4. Aubépine (Hawthorn)
  5. Rossignol (Nightingale)
  6. Ancolie (Common Columbine)
  7. Muguet (Lily of the Valley)
  8. Champignon (Button mushroom)
  9. Hyacinthe (Hyacinth)
  10. Râteau (Rake)
  11. Rhubarbe (Rhubarb)
  12. Sainfoin (Sainfoin)
  13. Bâton-d'or (Wallflower)
  14. Chamérops (Fan Palm tree)
  15. Ver à soie (Silkworm)
  16. Consoude (Comfrey)
  17. Pimprenelle (Salad Burnet)
  18. Corbeille d'or (Basket of Gold)
  19. Arroche (Orache)
  20. Sarcloir (Garden hoe)
  21. Statice (Thrift)
  22. Fritillaire (Fritillary)
  23. Bourrache (Borage)
  24. Valériane (Valerian)
  25. Carpe (Carp)
  26. Fusain (Spindle (shrub))
  27. Civette (Chive)
  28. Buglosse (Bugloss)
  29. Sénevé (Wild mustard)
  30. Houlette (Shepherd's crook)
  1. Luzerne (Alfalfa)
  2. Hémérocalle (Daylily)
  3. Trèfle (Clover)
  4. Angélique (Angelica)
  5. Canard (Duck)
  6. Mélisse (Lemon Balm)
  7. Fromental (Oat grass)
  8. Martagon (Martagon lily)
  9. Serpolet (Wild Thyme )
  10. Faux (Scythe)
  11. Fraise (Strawberry)
  12. Bétoine (Woundwort)
  13. Pois (Pea)
  14. Acacia (Acacia)
  15. Caille (Quail)
  16. Œillet (Carnation)
  17. Sureau (Elderberry)
  18. Pavot (Poppy plant)
  19. Tilleul (Linden or Lime tree)
  20. Fourche (Pitchfork)
  21. Barbeau (Common Barbel)
  22. Camomille (Camomile)
  23. Chèvrefeuille (Honeysuckle)
  24. Caille-lait (Bedstraw)
  25. Tanche (Tench)
  26. Jasmin (Jasmine Plant)
  27. Verveine (Verbena)
  28. Thym (Thyme Plant)
  29. Pivoine (Peony Plant)
  30. Chariot (Hand Cart)

Summer

Messidor (19 June ~ 18 July) Thermidor (19 July ~ 17 August) Fructidor (18 August ~ 16 September)
  1. Seigle (Rye)
  2. Avoine (Oats)
  3. Oignon (Onion)
  4. Véronique (Speedwell)
  5. Mulet (Mule)
  6. Romarin (Rosemary)
  7. Concombre (Cucumber)
  8. Échalote (Shallot)
  9. Absinthe (Wormwood)
  10. Faucille (Sickle)
  11. Coriandre (Coriander)
  12. Artichaut (Artichoke)
  13. Girofle (Clove)
  14. Lavande (Lavender)
  15. Chamois (Chamois)
  16. Tabac (Tobacco)
  17. Groseille (Currant)
  18. Gesse (Hairy Vetchling)
  19. Cerise (Cherry)
  20. Parc (Park)
  21. Menthe (Mint)
  22. Cumin (Cumin)
  23. Haricot (Bean)
  24. Orcanète (Alkanet)
  25. Pintade (Guinea fowl)
  26. Sauge (Sage Plant)
  27. Ail (Garlic)
  28. Vesce (Tare)
  29. Blé (Wheat)
  30. Chalémie (Shawm)
  1. Épeautre (Spelt)
  2. Bouillon blanc (Common Mullein)
  3. Melon (Melon)
  4. Ivraie (Ryegrass)
  5. Bélier (Ram)
  6. Prêle (Horsetail)
  7. Armoise (Mugwort)
  8. Carthame (Safflower)
  9. Mûre (Blackberry)
  10. Arrosoir (Watering Can)
  11. Panic (Switchgrass)
  12. Salicorne (Common Glasswort)
  13. Abricot (Apricot)
  14. Basilic (Basil)
  15. Brebis (Ewe)
  16. Guimauve (Marshmallow)
  17. Lin (Flax)
  18. Amande (Almond)
  19. Gentiane (Gentian)
  20. Écluse (Lock)
  21. Carline (Carline thistle)
  22. Câprier (Caper)
  23. Lentille (Lentil)
  24. Aunée (Inula)
  25. Loutre (Otter)
  26. Myrte (Myrtle)
  27. Colza (Rapeseed)
  28. Lupin (Lupin)
  29. Coton (Cotton)
  30. Moulin (Mill)
  1. Prune (Plum)
  2. Millet (Millet)
  3. Lycoperdon (Puffball)
  4. Escourgeon (Six-row Barley)
  5. Saumon (Salmon)
  6. Tubéreuse (Tuberose)
  7. Sucrion (Winter Barley)
  8. Apocyn (Apocynum)
  9. Réglisse (Liquorice)
  10. Échelle (Ladder)
  11. Pastèque (Watermelon)
  12. Fenouil (Fennel)
  13. Épine vinette (Barberry)
  14. Noix (Walnut)
  15. Truite (Trout)
  16. Citron (Lemon)
  17. Cardère (Teasel)
  18. Nerprun (Buckthorn)
  19. Tagette (Mexican Marigold)
  20. Hotte (Sack)
  21. Églantine (Wild Rose)
  22. Noisette (Hazelnut)
  23. Houblon (Hops)
  24. Sorgho (Sorghum)
  25. Écrevisse (Crayfish)
  26. Bigarade (Bitter Orange)
  27. Verge d'or (Goldenrod)
  28. Maïs (Maize or Corn)
  29. Marron (Sweet Chestnut)
  30. Panier (Pack Basket)

Complementary days

Five extra days — six in leap years — were national holidays at the end of every year. These were originally known as les sans-culottides (after sans-culottes), but after year III (1795) as les jours complémentaires (bethagail-egunak in Basque[7]):

  • 1st complementary day: La Fête de la Vertu "Celebration of Virtue" / bethagail-legun in Basque[7], on 17 or 18 September
  • 2nd complementary day: La Fête du Génie "Celebration of Talent" / bethagail-bigun, on 18 or 19 September
  • 3rd complementary day: La Fête du Travail "Celebration of Labour" / bethagail-higun, on 19 or 20 September
  • 4th complementary day: La Fête de l'Opinion "Celebration of Convictions" / bethagail-logun, on 20 or 21 September
  • 5th complementary day: La Fête des Récompenses "Celebration of Honors (Awards)" / bethagail-bogun, on 21 or 22 September
  • Revolution Day: La Fête de la Révolution "Celebration of the Revolution" / bethagail-arrasgun, on 22 September (or 23 September Leap years)

Converting from the Gregorian Calendar

Tridi
23
Ventôse
CCXVIII
9:19

The calendar was abolished in the year XIV (1805). After this date, opinions seem to differ on the method by which the leap years would have been determined if the calendar were still in force. There are at least four hypotheses used to convert dates from the Gregorian calendar:

  • The leap years would continue to vary in order to ensure that each year the autumnal equinox falls on 1 Vendémiaire, as was the case from year I to year XIV. This is the only method that was ever in legal effect, although it means that sometimes five years pass between leap years.[11]
  • The leap year would have jumped after year 15 to year 20, after which a leap year would have fallen on each year divisible by four (thus in 20, 24, 28…), except most century years, according to Romme's proposed fixed rules. This would have simplified conversions between the Republican and Gregorian calendars since the Republican leap day would usually follow a few months after 29 February, at the end of each year divisible by four, so that the date of the Republican New Year remains the same (22 September) in the Gregorian calendar for the entire third century of the Republican Era (1992-2091 CE).[12]
  • The leap years would have continued in a fixed rule every four years from the last one (thus years 15, 19, 23, 27…) with the leap day added before, rather than after, each year divisible by four, except most century years. This rule has the advantage that it is both simple to calculate and is continuous with every year in which the calendar was in official use during the First Republic. Concordances were printed in France, after the Republican Calendar was abandoned, using this rule to determine dates for long-term contracts.[13][14]
  • Beginning with year 20, years divisible by four would be leap years, except for years divisible by 128. Remark, that this rule was first proposed by von Mädler, not before the late 19th century. The date of the Republican New Year remains the same (23 September) in the Gregorian calendar every year from 129 to 256 (1920-2047 CE).[15][16][17]

The following table shows when several years of the Republican Era begin on the Gregorian calendar, according to each of the four above methods:

RE CE Equinox Romme Continuous 128-Year

CCXIV (214)

2005

22 September*

22 September

22 September

23 September

CCXV (215)

2006

23 September

22 September

22 September*

23 September

CCXVI (216)

2007

23 September

22 September*

23 September

23 September*

CCXVII (217)

2008

22 September

22 September

22 September

23 September

CCXVIII (218)

2009

22 September*

22 September

22 September

23 September

CCXIX (219)

2010

23 September

22 September

22 September*

23 September

* Leap year, extra day added at end of year

Another, modern civil calendar proposal also applies the 128-years rule, keeps the year numbering and the names of the months, but maintains the old roman New Year's Day, the lengths of month like the seven-days-week.[18]

Criticism and shortcomings

Clock dial.

Leap years in the calendar are a point of great dispute, due to the contradicting statements in the establishing decree[11] stating:

Each year starts at midnight, with the day when the true autumnal equinox falls for the observatory of Paris.

and:

The period of four years, at the end of which this addition of one day is usually necessary, is called the Franciade...The fourth year of the Franciade is called Sextile.

These two specifications are incompatible, as leap years defined by the equinox do not recur on a regular four year schedule. Thus, the years III, VII, and XI were observed as leap years, and the years XV and XX were also planned as such, even though they were five years apart.

Clock dial.

A fixed arithmetic rule for determining leap years was proposed in the name of the Committee of Public Education by Gilbert Romme on 19 Floréal An III (8 May 1795). The proposed rule was to determine leap years by applying the rules of the Gregorian calendar to the years of the French Republic (years IV, VIII, XII, etc. were to be leap years) except that year 4000 (the last year of ten 400-year periods) should be a common year instead of a leap year. Because this proposal was never adopted, the original astronomical rule continued, which excluded any other fixed arithmetic rule. The proposal was intended to avoid uncertain future leap years caused by the inaccurate astronomical knowledge of the 1790s (even today, this statement is still valid due to the uncertainty in ΔT). In particular, the committee noted that the true equinox of year 144 was predicted to occur at "11:59:40 p.m.", which was closer to midnight than its inherent 3 to 4 minute uncertainty.

The calendar was abolished because having a ten-day working week gave workers less rest (one day off every ten instead of one day off every seven); because the equinox was a mobile date to start every new year (a fantastic source of confusion for almost everybody); and because it was incompatible with the secular rhythms of trade fairs and agricultural markets.

Another criticism of the calendar was that despite the poetic names of its months, they are tied to the climate and agriculture of France and therefore not applicable to France's overseas territories.

Apparently, the designers of the calendar were unaware of the possibility of a lunisolar calendar as their proposals do not appear to make any mention of lunar months, lunisolar calendars, or of the Metonic cycle.[19] As a result the Republican calendar, just like the Julian and Gregorian calendars, has months whose lengths only have a vestigial relation to an actual physical phenomenon. This is inconsistent with Romme's assertion that the new calendar should be faithful to natural cycles and should not perpetuate past mistakes:[20]

...reason demands that we follow nature rather than servilely continuing upon the erroneous path of our predecessors...

The proposal for the new calendar is a litany of criticism of previous efforts, the previous quote of Romme being representative. As another typical example is Romme's opinion about the nomenclature of the French Gregorian calendar:[21]

This nomenclature is clearly a monument to servitude and ignorance, in which each successive civilization has left an imprint of its impoverishment. The astrological names of the days of the week and their cabalistic order which has been preserved since the first Egyptians and by the impostors which profited thereby and the blindness of men who continually preferred to suffer rather than change any of the idiotic habits of their fathers would dishonor our Revolution if we did not maintain the vigilance which has so successfully attacked all preconceptions.

This tone sets a high standard by which the Republican calendar might itself be judged.

Famous dates in the Republican Calendar and other cultural references

French Republican Calendar of 1794, drawn by Louis-Philibert Debucourt.

Perhaps the most famous date in this calendar was immortalised by Karl Marx in the title of his pamphlet, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoléon (1852). The 18 Brumaire An VIII (9 November 1799) is considered, by many historians, the end of the French Revolution.

Another famous revolutionary date is 9 Thermidor An II (27 July 1794), the date the Convention turned against Robespierre, who, along with others associated with the Mountain, was guillotined the following day. (See Glossary of the French Revolution for other significant dates under this calendar.)

Based on the above event, the term "Thermidorian" entered the Marxist vocabulary as referring to revolutionaries who destroy the revolution from the inside and turn against its true aims. For example, Trotsky and his followers used this term about Stalin.

Émile Zola's novel Germinal takes its name from the calendar.

The seafood dish Lobster thermidor is so named due to its connection with a play entitled Thermidor, from the Republican Calendar month.[22]

The French frigates of the Floréal class all bear names of Republican months.

The Convention of 9 Brumaire An III, 30 October 1794, established the École Normale Supérieure. The date appears prominently on the entrance to the school.

See also

References

  1. ^ James Guillaume, Procès-verbaux du Comité d'instruction publique de la Convention nationale, t. I, pp. 227-228 et t. II, pp. 440-448 ; Michel Froechlé, « Le calendrier républicain correspondait-il à une nécessité scientifique ? », Congrès national des sociétés savantes : scientifiques et sociétés, Paris, 1989, pp. 453-465.
  2. ^ Le Calendrier Républicain, Bureau des Longitudes, p. 19, Paris 1994, ISBN 2-910015-09-2
  3. ^ "Concordat de 1801 Napoleon Bonaparte religion en france Concordat de 1801". Roi-president.com. 2007-11-21. http://www.roi-president.com/bio/bio-fait-Concordat%20de%201801.html. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  4. ^ Rapport sur l'ère de la République, par G. Romme, Séance de la Convention nationale du 20 septembre 1793, Le Calendrier Républicain, p. 26, Bureau des Longitudes, Paris 1994, ISBN 2-910015-09-2
  5. ^ Séance de la Convention nationale du 5 octobre 1793, Article X, Le Calendrier Républicain, p. 36, Bureau des Longitudes, Paris 1994, ISBN 2-910015-09-2. Reproduced in Généalogie et Histoire en France — French Genealogy & History
  6. ^ Richard A. Carrigan, Jr. "Decimal Time". American Scientist, (May–June 1978), 66(3): 305–313.
  7. ^ a b c d e Revolución Francesa (La Revolución en el País Vasco continental): El Euskera en la Revolución, by Eugéne Goyenetche, in the Spanish-language Auñamendi Encyclopedia. It references Franciaco Republicaren Çaspigarren Ourtheco Qhoundaderra ("The [calendar?] of the year VII of the Republic of France")
  8. ^ "The French Republican Calendar". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A2903636#footnote4. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  9. ^ "http://www.cs.ubc.ca/local/reading/proceedings/spe91-95/spe/vol23/issue4/spe821er.pdf" (PDF). http://www.cs.ubc.ca/local/reading/proceedings/spe91-95/spe/vol23/issue4/spe821er.pdf. 
  10. ^ Antoine Augustin Renouard (1822). Manuel pour la concordance des calendriers républicain et grégorien (2 ed.). http://books.google.com/books?vid=0sYtKYT4UrF5aQMiQP0bCup&id=oUoMAAAAIAAJ&pg=PR5&vq=Flor%C3%A9al. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  11. ^ a b "Le Calendrier Republicain". Gefrance.com. http://www.gefrance.com/calrep/decrets.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  12. ^ "Brumaire - Calendrier Républicain". Prairial.free.fr. http://prairial.free.fr/calendrier/calendrier.php?lien=discoursromme. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  13. ^ Antoine Augustin Renouard (1822). Manuel pour la concordance des calendriers républicain et grégorien: ou, Recueil complet de tous les annuaires depuis la première année républicaine (2 ed.). http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC24574361&id=oUoMAAAAIAAJ&pg=RA1-PR9&lpg=RA1-PR9&num=100#PRA24-PA183,M1. 
  14. ^ "Brumaire - Calendrier Républicain". Prairial.free.fr. http://prairial.free.fr/calendrier/calendrier.php?lien=manuel-eng. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  15. ^ "personal.telefonica.terra.es/web/jlmartinmas/repcalendar/calendar.html". http://personal.telefonica.terra.es/web/jlmartinmas/repcalendar/calendar.html. 
  16. ^ "Calendars". Projectpluto.com. http://www.projectpluto.com/calendar.htm#republican. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  17. ^ "The French Revolutionary Calendar | Calendars". Webexhibits.org. http://webexhibits.org/calendars/calendar-french.html. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  18. ^ Author. "Civil Calendar". Hexadecimal.florencetime.net. http://hexadecimal.florencetime.net/Civil_Calendar.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  19. ^ Le Calendrier Républicain, Bureau des Longitudes, Paris 1994, ISBN 2-910015-09-2
  20. ^ Rapport sur l'ère de la République, par G. Romme, Séance de la Convention nationale du 20 septembre 1793,Le Calendrier Républicain, p. 26, Bureau des Longitudes, Paris 1994, ISBN 2-910015-09-2
  21. ^ Rapport sur l'ère de la République, par G. Romme, Séance de la Convention nationale du 20 septembre 1793,Le Calendrier Républicain, p. 27, Bureau des Longitudes, Paris 1994, ISBN 2-910015-09-2
  22. ^ http://whatscookingamerica.net/Glossary/L.htm, retrieved March 2007

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