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French Revolutionary Calendar (French Republican Calendar)

    Year identification tables.

    Coin's pictures.

    Mints of France.

Origins of the calendar

    The French Revolutionary Calendar, or French Republican Calendar, was introduced in France by the Decree of 5 October 1793, AD. It was used from 24 November 1793 to 31 December 1805 (inclusive); on 1 January, 1806, it was abrogated by Napoleon. On September 22nd, 1792 the French First Republic (République française) was proclaimed, so this date is considered to be the beginning of both the Republican Era and the French Republican Calendar. One day earlier, on September 21st, the monarchy was abolished as the political system of France, and state power was passed to the Consul Napoleon Bonaparte from the French king Louis XVI.

    The French Revolutionary Calendar actually had a prototype, that is the so-called Almanac of honest people, a book written by Pierre Sylvain Marechal and published in the beginning of 1788. Pierre Marechal (17501803) was a well-known French revolutionary-atheist at the end of the XVIII-th century. Charles-Gilbert Romme (17501795) was one of the active members of the French Revolution and author of the French Republican Calendar.

Structure of the calendar. Names of the months

    The year of the French Republican Calendar consisted of 365 or 366 days, divided into 12 months, the length of each month was exactly 30 days. 12 months were followed by 5 (in regular years) or 6 (in leap years) complementary days in a row. These extra days were called the Sansculottides, after sans-culottes the revolutionary-minded masses, which literally meant without knee-breeches. The point is that this kind of clothing had only been in use by the bourgeoisie and the noblemen, whereas the urban poor were unable to buy and wear them. Each month consisted of 3 ten-day periods. The government employees had only one day-off, i.e. the last (the 10-th) day of each ten-day period.

    A year of the French Revolutionary Calendar began in the autumn months, followed by the three months of winter, then came spring, and finally there were the three summer months. As you know, the months of the Gregorian calendar got their names from the names of the Roman emperors, roman digits and mythology. In the French Revolutionary Calendar these names were replaced by the new names, reflecting the phenomena of nature, weather and agricultural conditions of the climatic zone of France:

Sequence
number
Name,
in French
Interpretation
Beginning
of the month
End
of the month
1
Vendémiaire Grape harvest 22 September 21 October
2
Brumaire Foggy 22 October 20 November
3
Frimaire Frosty 21 November 20 December
4
Nivôse Snowy 21 December 19 January
5
Pluviôse Rainy 20 January 18 February
6
Ventôse Windy 19 February 20 March
7
Germinal Germination 21 March 19 April
8
Floréal Blossoming flower 20 April 19 May
9
Prairial Pasture 20 May 18 June
10
Messidor Harvest 19 June 18 July
11
Thermidor Summer heat 19 July 17 August
12
Fructidor Fruits 18 August 16 September

    As you can see, months within one season have identical endings, and due to this we can distinguish between the seasons only knowing the name of the month.

The Sansculottides and the leap years

    Each year of the French Revolutionary Calendar started on the autumnal equinox (September 22nd). Thus, September 22, 1792, had become Vendémiaire the 1st of the 1st year of the French Republic (but the calendar itself was introduced, as stated above, only on November 24th, 1793). Each day of the year had its own name as well.

    The names of extra days that were added after the last day of Fructidor are as follows:

 # 
Name, in French
Name, in English
Celebration day
in a regular year
Celebration day
in a leap year
1
La Fête de la Vertu Celebration of Virtue 17 September 18 September
2
La Fête du Génie Celebration of Talent 18 September 19 September
3
La Fête du Travail Celebration of Labour 19 September 20 September
4
La Fête de l'Opinion Celebration of Convictions 20 September 21 September
5
La Fête des Récompenses Celebration of Honors (Awards) 21 September 22 September
6
La Fête de la Révolution Revolution Day 22 September 23 September

    All these introductions were aimed at the dechristianization of the calendar. The Nativity of Christ, as well as the beginning of a new year on the 1st of January were abolished. It was strictly prohibited to celebrate January 1st as the beginning of a new year. On that day post office employees were authorized to open the citizens' envelopes and view the content of the letters, those that included season's greetings, were disposed of.

    The Sansculottides were introduced instead of the former Catholic feasts. Generally speaking, the Revolution itself, as well as the people's love of freedom and the hatred of the previous feudal state system had caused the introduction of the new calendar, which was free from religion.

    The French Revolutionary Calendar had one material shortcoming: there were no strict mathematical rules for the leap year calculation. Thus, the beginning of every year was determined by accurate astronomical observations and subsequent calculations. The New Year actually began at midnight on the day, on which, in accordance with the average Paris time, the autumnal equinox commenced.

    Hence the leap years could fall either after 4 or 5 years. For all of the time of the French revolutionary calendar, the leap years were: the 3rd, the 7th and the 11th. Thus, the strict correspondence between the French Revolutionary Calendar and the Gregorian calendar is as follows:

Name,
in English
Name, in French,
as specified on the coins
The day
when the year began
1st year
LAN 1
September 22, 1792
2nd year
LAN 2
September 22, 1793
3rd year
LAN 3
September 22, 1794
4th year
LAN 4
September 23, 1795
5th year
LAN 5
September 22, 1796
6th year
LAN 6
September 22, 1797
7th year
LAN 7
September 22, 1798
8th year
LAN 8
September 23, 1799
9th year
LAN 9
September 23, 1800
10th year
LAN 10
September 23, 1801
11th year
AN 11
September 23, 1802
12th year
AN 12
September 24, 1803
13th year
AN 13
September 23, 1804
14th year
AN 14
September 23, 1805

    For convenience you can use the following two tables: one for direct year identification, and the other for reverse calculation (in case you need to know which year of the Revolutionary calendar falls on a given Gregorian year).

Table for direct conversion

Year
on the coin
Corresponding years
of the Greg. calendar
LAN 1 1792/1793
LAN 2 1793/1794
LAN 3 1794/1795
LAN 4 1795/1796
LAN 5 1796/1797
LAN 6 1797/1798
LAN 7 1798/1799
LAN 8 1799/1800
LAN 9 1800/1801
LAN 10 1801/1802
AN 11 1802/1803
AN 12 1803/1804
AN 13 1804/1805
LAN 14 1805
Table for reverse conversion

Year of the
Greg. calendar
Corresponding years
of the Revol. calendar
1792 LAN I
1793 LAN I / LAN II
1794 LAN II / LAN 3
1795 LAN 3 / LAN 4
1796 LAN 4 / LAN 5
1797 LAN 5 / LAN 6
1798 LAN 6 / LAN 7
1799 LAN 7 / LAN 8
1800 LAN 8 / LAN 9
1801 LAN 9 / LAN 10
1802 LAN X / AN XI
1803 AN XI / AN 12
1804 AN 12 / AN 13
1805 AN 13 / AN 14

Mints

    18 different mints were striking coins for France during the period of time when the French Revolutionary Calendar was in effect. 16 of them were located in France, 1 in Switzerland (the city of Genèva) and 1 in Italy (the city of Turin). As a rule, the letter code (including one symbol or, in some cases, two symbols) was specified on a coin to the right of the date. The list of all the 18 mints is below. Their location can be found out on this piece of a Yandex-map (click to show/hide).

Update @January 4-th, 2012: according to Peter, administrator of the forum World of coins,

France is a well-known case of centrally made dies. All dies were made in Paris and shipped out to the provincial mints. These added the mint mark and, if necessary, the mark of the director and chief engraver of the mint. Another example is the UK, where the mint in London outsourced striking some colonial coins to the (private) Birmingham mint. Again, the dies were made in London, the mint marks added locally (or the unwanted mint mark filled in, as the case may be).

    Numbering in the Yandex-map picture above is just the same as in the table below:

 # 
Code
on the coin
Name of the city,
in French
Mint name,
in English
1
A
Paris Paris mint
2
AA
Metz Metz mint
3
B
Rouen Rouen mint
4
BB
Strasbourg Strasbourg mint
5
D
Lyon Lyons mint
6
G
Genève Geneva mint
7
H
La Rochelle La Rochelle mint
8
I
Limoge Limoges mint
9
K
Bordeaux Bordeaux mint
10
L
Bayonne Bayonne mint
11
M
Toulouse Toulouse mint
12
MA
Marseille Marseilles mint
13
N
Montpellier Montpellier mint
14
Q
Perpignan Perpignan mint
15
R
Orleáns Orleans mint
16
T
Nantes Nantes mint
17
U
Turin Turin mint
18
W
Lille Lille mint

Pictures of a coin minted during the French Revolutionary calendar

20 francs (the Gold Napoleon, from French Napoléon d'or); reverse; mint: A (Paris);
year of French Revolutionary calendar: 12, year of the Gregorian calendar: 1803

Ruler's title: Bonaparte, Premier Consul (Bonaparte, the First Consul of the French Republic);
obverse


    Image source: Russian treasurehunting forum samara-clad.ru, user


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