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Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations
The Graduate School
The Art of Humbling Tyrants: Irish
Revolutionary Internationalism during the
French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Era,
Nicholas Stark
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A Thesis submitted to the
Department of History
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Degree Awarded:
Spring Semester, 2014
© 2014 Nicholas Stark
Nicholas Stark defended this thesis on March 27, 2014.
The members of the supervisory committee were:
Rafe Blaufarb
Professor Directing Thesis
Darrin M. McMahon
Committee Member
Jonathan Grant
Committee Member
The Graduate School has verified and approved the above-named committee members, and
certifies that the thesis has been approved in accordance with university requirements.
I would like to thank my adviser, Rafe Blaufarb, for all of his help in guiding me through
the process of my thesis and degree, in addition to the teaching he has provided. Serving with
him as his research assistant has also been very enlightening and rewarding. In addition, I wish to
express my gratitude to the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution at Florida State
University (FSU) for providing excellent resources and materials for my education and research.
The staff in Special Collections, Strozier Library at FSU has also been most helpful. Outside of
the university, the archivists in Manuscripts at Trinity College Dublin and the National Library of
Ireland deserve special note. Derek Byrne, President of the Napoleonic Society of Ireland,
provided me with the opportunity to stay in Dublin and conduct my research there, much to my
appreciation. Special thanks as well to J. David Markham, President of the International
Napoleonic Society, and Wayne Hanley, Chair of the History Department of my alma mater,
West Chester University, for their continued encouragement and support. I would like to also add
Sylvie Kleinman of Trinity College Dublin for her consultation on the topic, Cécile MustersDéjardin for her assistance with research at the Château de Vincennes, and Stephen Dunford for
his useful guidance to local sources. In addition, the Masséna Society, Inc., generously supplied a
travel grant for a conference presentation in connection with this work.
And of course, a big thank you to my loving family and friends for their support and
encouragement throughout the years, without which none of this would have been possible,
especially my parents Susan and Todd for their crucial financial support for my education, my
brother Ian for our lengthy discussions on historical events and theory, and my girlfriend Evelina
Eyzerovich who went out of her way to assist me and reviewed my work. Unless stated
otherwise, all translations are my own. Any errors are mine alone.
ABSTRACT .....................................................................................................................................v
CHAPTER 1- INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................1
CHAPTER 2- ASSEMBLING A MOVEMENT ..........................................................................10
CHAPTER 3- FORGING A REVOLUTION................................................................................25
CHAPTER 4- THE REVOLUTIONARY CRESCENDO ............................................................43
CHAPTER 5- THE NAPOLEONIC FINALE ..............................................................................64
CHAPTER 6- CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................85
APPENDIX A- GLOSSARY OF TERMS ....................................................................................95
APPENDIX B- GLOSSARY OF NAMES..................................................................................103
BIBLIOGRAPHY ........................................................................................................................109
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................................132
Ireland was England’s first subject, its breeding ground for colonization and imperialism
that would span the world over. Ireland underwent eight hundred years of more of various forms
of encroachment by the British, yet the period surrounding the French Revolution and Napoléon
would offer the greatest opening for Ireland to reclaim its independence. Irish revolutionaries,
none more so than the United Irishmen, sought to internationalize their struggle, turning
especially to the new French Republic and subsequently to Napoléon Bonaparte’s Empire for
assistance. The Irish revolutionaries defy state repression, arrange for an abortive French
invasion in 1796, organize a national uprising and second French invasion in 1798, undergo the
creation of the United Kingdom, and become part of Napoléon’s army before being ultimately
stamped out by the British authorities. In the process of following the development and
ultimately the defeat of the United Irishmen, there is much to observe about the Irish
revolutionary praxis that can shed insight into the broader field of international revolutionary and
anti-imperial struggles in the modern world. In addition, the struggle of the United Irishmen
provides a first-rate glimpse into the inner-workings of British empire and imperialism,
especially as it intersects with concepts of French empire.
“What a blessing it would have been for humanity had all this taken place, and what torrents of
blood and treasure it would have spared to England and the continent of Europe! But providence
seems to have decreed, that Ireland should remain the most degraded, the most miserable country
on the face of the globe.” –Miles Byrne1
An explosion broke the early morning silence on the streets of Dublin on 8 March 1966.
Up went the statue of British Admiral Horatio Nelson on O’Connell Street, a defining monument
of the city, toppling to the ground from his mighty pillar that lay in ruins.2 Thus ended the life of
the stone giant, which had been born in 1808 during England’s war against Napoleonic France to
honor the fallen hero of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Even a century and a half later, the
legacy of the French Revolution and Napoléon, as well as the imperial legacy of the British
Empire, still remained in Ireland. Few can hear the words “French Revolution” and “Napoléon”
without conjuring images, whether positive or negative, of massive change and upheaval,
marking a significant point of departure for modern history. Such was the extent of this upheaval
that several times the British Empire was brought to the verge of collapse by revolution within
Ireland, the “weakest link in Britain’s armour.”3 The Irish revolutionaries, by allying themselves
with Revolutionary and Napoleonic France, brought the cause of Irish independence and
The quote is in reference to the desired success of the French invasion of Ireland in 1796. Miles
Byrne, Memoirs of Miles Byrne, ed. by Fanny Byrne, vol. I (1863; repr., Shannon: Irish
University Press, 1972).
It was blown up by Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteers. No one was injured or killed.
Martyn Lyon, France Under the Directory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975),
potential for the social transformation of Ireland to new heights, although both the Irish and
French would ultimately suffer the bitter fate of defeat. Nevertheless, there is great potential for
edification in the revolutionary praxis of the Irish revolutionaries, a group often lost in the gaze
of historians and theorists.
While a great part of the historiography of this period, the Revolutionary Era, broadly
defined for present purposes as 1789-1815, is focused on the inner-workings of two nationstates, France and England, the famous rivals, this trend has been notably disrupted within the
past generation. Stuart Woolf pioneered new approaches to understanding the Napoleonic system
in Europe, and the mantle has since passed to figures such as Alexander Grab, Michael Broers,
and Philip Dwyer.4 However, the focus remains focused as ever primarily on the French
Republic and Empire. Far less work has been done to compare how the Revolutionary and
Napoleonic systems in a given area differed from the alternatives, and this is especially true in
regards to that ever absent-mentioned nation in Western Europe known as Ireland.
Shifting the focus from France to its allied, administrated, and conquered territories in
Europe has helped combat the universalizing of peculiarly French developments in the period
and has re-emphasized the importance of historical context in social and political evolution.
However, that development must be juxtaposed to simultaneous processes in which rival empires
were engaging for their own benefit and regional hegemony. This is especially important when
one realizes that the interests of a given ruling elite are not purely constrained by national
borders: they share certain key class interests.
For example, see: Stuart Woolf, Napoleon’s Integration of Europe (London: Routledge, 1991);
Alexander Grab, Napoleon and the Transformation of Europe (New York: Palgrave MacMillan,
2003); Michael Broers, Europe Under Napoleon, 1799-1815 (London: Arnold, 1996); Philip G.
Dwyer, ed., Napoleon and Europe (London: Pearson Education Ltd., 2001).
Of all the other empires competing against the French, few topped the British in size and
scope. Even in this period, bridging the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, England
had already established bases and business interests all across the world, from North America to
Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa to India to East Asia to the Pacific, let alone in
Europe. Of all the regions under British domination and control, none serve so great a case study
on the nature of British rule as Ireland. The situation of Ireland serves as a guideline to
understanding the development of the British Empire at large at the start of the nineteenth
century, a process that would see England dominant in much of the world, and provides immense
insight into the development of capitalism in these early stages of the Industrial Revolution.
While the history of Ireland during the Revolutionary Era can hardly be said to be
underrepresented in Irish accounts, it is largely invisible in the broader historiography. R. R.
Palmer, former president of the American Historical Association and history professor at both
Princeton and Yale University, in his two-volume seminal work of Atlantic history The Age of
Democratic Revolution, gives only passing mention.5 Several prominent Marxist historians, like
Georges Lefebvre and George Rudé, have devoted attention to Ireland in their broader narratives
of the period, but they shirk away from making terribly significant arguments out of the
example.6 Few military historians, including the likes of David Chandler and T.C.W. Blanning,
R. R. Palmer, The Age of Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America,
1760-1800, 2 vols. (1964; repr., Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970). Ireland is also all
but missing from such notable Atlantic anthologies as Jack P. Greene and Philip D. Morgan,
eds., Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
For example, see: Georges Lefebvre, Napoleon: From 18 Brumaire to Tilsit 1799-1807,
translated by Henry F. Stockhold (1936; repr., New York: Columbia University Press, 1970);
Lefebvre, Napoleon: From Tilsit to Waterloo 1807-1815, translated by J. E. Anderson (1936;
repr., New York: Columbia University Press, 1990); George Rudé, Revolutionary Europe 17831815, 2nd ed. (1964; repr., Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2000).
include the Irish battles and struggles in their accounts.7 Not even that father of revisionism,
François Furet, addresses the subject, nor protégés like Simon Schama.8 The list goes on and on,
but these key texts serve the point well.
Even those texts from international academics that do address Ireland in the period are
often weak. British Radicalism and the French Revolution by H.T. Dickinson, emeritus professor
of British history at the University of Edinburgh, gives more attention to the matter, but largely
rejects the political and social significance of the epoch, reducing it to almost purely religious
dynamics between Catholics and Protestants.9 Martyn Lyons, history professor at the University
of New South Wales, makes the remarkable claim in his 1975 work France Under the Directory
that there was little revolutionary impetus there, and that the French expeditions were not
popular, contrary to the established historiography.10 A new perspective on Napoleonic Irish
revolutionary activities arose with John Gallaher's Napoleon's Irish Legion (1993), which filled
in a portion of the gap in the history of Irish revolutionaries in the Napoleonic system. His was
the very first monograph on the subject, and remains so presently. It is largely the narrative of a
corps of Irish officers, revolutionary refugees from Ireland especially from the 1790s until 1803,
and their politics and infighting while leading a force increasingly composed of non-Irish
For example, see: David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon: The Mind and Method of
History’s Greatest Soldier (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1966) and T.C.W. Blanning,
The Origins of the French Revolutionary Wars (1986; repr., London: Longman, 1995).
For example, see: François Furet, Revolutionary France 1770-1880, translated by Antonia
Nevill (1988; repr., Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 2000) and Simon Schama, Citizens: A
Chronicle of the French Revolution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989).
H. T. Dickinson, British Radicalism and the French Revolution 1789-1815 (Oxford: Basil
Blackwell, 1985).
Martyn Lyon, France Under the Directory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975).
soldiers and deployed from the North Sea to Spain yet never seeing action in their homeland.
However, the work lacks a larger argument, focusing mostly on being a group biography. 11
Breaking it down linguistically, the French historiography is relatively rich, but dated,
coming primarily from the Restoration into the early Third Republic, that is, the nineteenth
century. Édouard Desbrière released a multi-volume set of documents on French invasion plans
entitled Projets et tentatives de débarquement aux îles Britanniques (1900-1902), a source which
remains greatly important to this day.12 Georges Escande also printed a valuable document
collection concerning French General Lazare Hoche, who led an abortive invasion of Ireland in
1796, entitled Hoche en Irlande (1888).13 E. Guillon likewise published a collection entitled La
France & L'Irlande Pendant la Révolution (1888).14 Yet these collections were and are no
substitute for historical analysis. One of the most recent French works to address the topic was
Napoléon diplomate (2012) by Thierry Lentz, director of the Fondation Napoléon. In this book
he devotes a single chapter to Napoléon and Ireland. However, much of it is dedicated to
revisiting the conditions in Ireland after the failed '98 uprising and the consequent passing of the
Act of Union. What is spent discussing of Napoleonic ties is limited to the year 1803 and the
brief attempts of Robert Emmet to secure French aid before his abortive rising that year. In the
John G. Gallaher, Napoleon's Irish Legion (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press,
Édouard Desbrière, 1793-1805; Projets et tentatives de débarquement aux îles Britanniques, 4
vols. (Paris: R. Chapelot et cie, 1900-1902).
Georges Escande, Hoche en Irlande 1795-1798, D'Après des Documents Inédits: Lettres de
Hoche, Délibérations Secrètes du Directoire, Mémoires Secrets de Wolfe Tone (Paris: Ancienne
Librairie Germer Baillière et Cie, 1888).
E. Guillon, La France & L'Irlande Pendant la Révolution- Hoche et Humbert: D'après les
documents inédits des archives de France et d'Irlande (Paris: Armand Colin et Cie, Éditeurs,
end the episode appears as more of an exotic oddity than as a glimpse into any significant aspect
of the period.15
A new problem presents itself when turning to the Irish historiography. Irish history is
particularly unique for its wealth of, and emphasis on, legendary figures, tragic martyrs, and
often heroic yet futile struggles. While this lends to a roaring tale, it also steers analysis of the
past away from the field of history and more towards an overtly politically charged, often
nationalist or loyalist (especially in light of twentieth century Irish independence), social
memory. Incidentally, one of the best works on Irish social memory of this period is not by an
Irish born scholar at all, but by Israeli historian Guy Beiner, who wrote Remembering the Year of
the French (2007).16 These martyrs and saints, or traitors and villains, then become significant
more for their legends, which lend credibility to those who claim to be successors, than for the
nature of their actual struggles in their historical context. In this sense as well, the history of
Ireland is often a series of disconnected dots, blips of nationalist or clan uprisings with
uneventful periods in between. Such is the context of the Irish revolutionary struggle, partly
eulogized in Irish folklore, epitomized during the French Revolution by the Irish rising in 1798,
also known as “The Year of the French,” while activity during the Napoleonic Era is mostly lost
in Irish history between the “men of '98” and the Fenians of the latter half of the nineteenth
century, and largely forgotten by historians outside of Ireland.17
Much of what has ended up being written on the Irish revolutionary struggle during the
Napoleonic Era has reduced it to a single episode, that of the “bold Robert Emmet” and his failed
Thierry Lentz, Napoléon diplomate (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2012).
Guy Beiner, Remembering the Year of the French: Irish Folk History and Social Memory
(Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2007).
As this is a common way of phrasing the date in the historiography and in popular culture, the
standard writing of “1798” will be as “'98.”
revolt in 1803. Alongside Theobald Wolfe Tone of '98 fame, few figures in Irish history loom
larger than Emmet. He is the image of the romantic revolutionary, the great lover turned fighter.
Biographies of the man abound, from slanderous penny journal pieces to hagiographies, although
notable amongst them is Leon Ó Broin's The Unfortunate Robert Emmet (1958), written by a
former Sinn Fein student turned Irish Free State magistrate. While outdated, it is one of the most
significant of its kind for detailing part of the larger Irish social context for the episode and
examining the larger aims of the United Irishmen and the revolution. Nevertheless, the text
follows the all-too-frequent flaw of biographies in missing an explicit larger historiographical
argument, instead focusing on commemorating the dead and self-promotion through connecting
oneself to their legacy.18 However, this shortcoming has come to light especially as of late with
the publication of Reinterpreting Emmet (2007) by Anne Dolan and associates, a collection
containing a more serious analysis of the period. This includes Sylvie Klienman's “Social and
Linguistic Perspectives on Robert Emmet's Mission to France,” which is one of the few newer
works to tie Irish studies back into broader international revolutionary context, providing a
transnational perspective on Napoleonic life and policy.19 One of the few works to address Irish
dealings with France from the French Revolutionary through the Napoleonic period is Marianne
Elliott’s Partners in Revolution (1982), a superb and crucial work for those interested in the
period. Nevertheless, as insightful and informative as the manuscript is, it refrains from offering
any significant conclusions, other than the oft-repeated claim that this period gave birth to
modern Irish republicanism.20
Leon Ó Broin, The Unfortunate Mr. Robert Emmet (Dublin: Conmore & Reynolds Ltd., 1958).
Anne Dolan, Patrick M. Geoghegan, and Darryl Jones, eds., Reinterpreting Emmet: Essays on
the Life and Legacy of Robert Emmet (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2007).
Marianne Elliott, Partners in Revolution: The United Irishmen and France (1982; repr., New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).
As Irish and British historian Ian McBride wrote so clearly, “The 1798 rebellion,
precisely because of its perceived relevance to Irish political life during the last two centuries,
continues to be the subject of noisy, acrimonious debate.”21 Therein lies much of the problem:
the history has been primarily debated for the sake of lending legitimacy, or else to delegitimize,
modern Irish political movements and causes. On the other hand, discussion often simply
terminates, either by stalemate or because of a misunderstood notion of “objectivity, with the
concept that the period broadly framed modern political concepts like “nationalism” and
“republicanism.” There is far too often a failure to draw real insight from the episode that could
result in a truly edifying study for the sake of modern considerations, which is, after all, an
important distinction between the historian and the antiquarian. It is an appalling travesty in need
that a revolutionary movement, which at its height rocked the seat of power of the British Empire
to its core at least twice (notably in 1796 and 1798) and maintained a strong representative
organization inside the heart of the most powerful nation of Europe (the French
Republic/Empire) has been either ignored, mythologized, or left primarily to social memory.
Consequently, what follows is an examination of Irish revolutionaries in the age of the
French Revolution [1789-1815] with an aim to discover what insights into revolutionary
internationalism and revolutionary praxis can be offered, as well as to interpret the development
of modern imperialism through cross examinations of competing empires. Due to the sheer
breadth of this scope, the present emphasis will be, out of all contending Irish groups, on the
United Irishmen, the most numerous and significant group. Since the present aim is to examine
revolutionary theory and practice, the early stages and foundations of the United Irishmen will be
only briefly examined, as much of it falls outside of the present purview in addition to already
Ian McBride, Eighteenth-Century Ireland: The Isle of Slaves (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan,
2009), 407.
being well-represented in the existing historiography. Of the questions to be examined, some of
the most significant are as follows: How did the United Irishmen approach the question of
enacting revolution, both ideologically and practically? How did Ireland fit into Revolutionary
and Napoleonic France’s model and system for Europe? What do Britain’s actions in regards to
Ireland reveal about the nature of empire? Armed with these questions, one can look to discern
possible lessons from the Irish revolutionary struggle to inform the modern struggle in an age of
empires in crisis and rising urban unrest and peasant war across the world.
“Irish history shows what a misfortune it is for one nation to subjugate another. All English
abominations have their origin in the Irish pale.” – Friedrich Engels, 186922
There can hardly be a better place to begin an examination of Irish revolutionary activity
in the Revolutionary Era [1789-1815] than outlining conditions in Ireland at the time and how
they had progressed to that point. “She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen” goes
the contemporary Irish tune “The Wearing of the Green” (circa 1800).23 The French press
mirrored this sentiment on frequent occasions. For example, Le Moniteur, the official newspaper
of the French government under the Consulate and Empire [1799-1815], editorialized in the
midst of its examination of England on 3 December 1799 “There is extreme misery in Ireland,”
and on 23 January 1800 about “the deaths and robberies that are witnessed each day in this
unhappy country.”24 Stendhal, the famous French realist author of The Red and the Black (1830),
Friedrich Engels, “Engels to Marx in London: Manchester, 24 October 1869,” Marxists
Internet Archive, online, (accessed 19 March
“21. Green on My Cape and The Wearing of the Green,” Text B in Georges Denis
Zimmermann, Songs of Irish Rebellion: Irish Political Street Ballads and Rebel Songs, 17801900 (1966; repr., Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002), 168.
Gazette Nationale, ou Le Moniteur Universel: An 8, Vendémiaire à Ventôse, 1799-1800, No.
72, 12 Frimaire An 8, 283 and No. 123, 3 Pluviôse An 8, 487 respectively. For conversions from
the French republican calendar into the standard Gregorian calendar, I am particularly indebted
to the UniCal- Universal Calendar iOS application published by MuppetJack. For more
information, see: “UniCal- Universal Calendar [App],” App Annie, online, (accessed 19 March
in his biography of Napoléon, outright referred to Ireland in this period as being “oppressed by
the most abominable and bloody tyranny.”25
The situation of this “unhappy island” cannot stop at platitudes, however, and must be
examined more thoroughly.26 The “British Isles” had the peculiarity of combining the arguably
most advanced and the most backwards regions of Europe, most certainly in Western Europe at
least.27 The majority of the Irish peasantry, which was the overwhelming percentage of the
population, was either renters or infinitesimally small land holders, with land ownership being
predominantly an Anglo-Protestant privilege following the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in
the seventeenth century.28 Anglicanism was associated with British rule, in contrast to the almost
whole Catholic population at large and the Dissenter communities, with Catholics disallowed
from various professional careers and entirely from public office or even voting.29 While there
was a growing Catholic bourgeoisie, it was still numerically and politically in its infancy in this
period. It is worth noting at this point that the partition of Ireland between north and south did
not exist in this period, nor did the region’s modernly-associated ideology of “loyalism” exist as
such until roughly the latter-half of the nineteenth century and administratively not until 1921, as
counter-intuitive as that might appear to outside eyes following “the Troubles” of the last
Stendhal, A Life of Napoleon (London: The Rodale Press, 1956), 59.
The term “this unhappy island” is frequently used in French and Irish sources from the period.
Note that while the term “British Isles” is contentious today, being imperialist terminology
undermining Irish sovereignty, it is historically appropriate and apt in this context, since Britain,
or more specifically England, both “owned” and dominated the entirety of the collective islands
of the region, and it is in that sense alone that the term will be used henceforth.
The Cromwellian Conquest is roughly dated 1649-53, and the Ascendency and British
domination were particularly secured subsequently after the Battle of the Boyne, 1 July 1690,
during the Williamite-Jacobite War. It also must be noted to avoid confusion that Irish
“Jacobites” bear no resemblance to the French Revolutionary “Jacobins.”
For the sake of clarity, “dissenter” is the British historical term for non-Anglican Protestants.
century.30 Indeed, quite the opposite, Belfast in particular was one of the leading centers of
radicalism in this period and was home to the founding section of the Society of United Irishmen
in 1791.
As British historian Niall Ferguson of Harvard University remarked, “Ireland was the
experimental laboratory of British colonization.”31 While English invasions of Ireland date back
over eight hundred years, serious colonization efforts took a few hundred more years. It was
Queen Elizabeth I who initiated the new wave of colonization in Ireland, in Munster in 1569 and
Ulster in 1571. It was in Ireland that the British first implemented their plantation system
following the publication of the “Printed Book” in 1610. Rather than relying on African slave
labor, as is commonly associated with the plantations established in the North American
colonies, the British instead used the Irish plantations to plant “pure” English and Scottish
laborers. Agriculturally and militarily significant land was divided into parcels of a few thousand
acres and given to prominent aristocratic and bourgeois Englishmen and closed off to the local
inhabitants and Catholics. Thus began a process of native dislocation and what is often termed
ethnic cleansing.32
While these early stages of industrial and agricultural mechanization were occurring in
England, the British prevented much of that development in Ireland. England was likewise
undermining development in India, but to a lesser extent. British policy towards Ireland, which
was technically its own kingdom under the dual monarchy of England and Ireland, explicitly
dealt with it as a colony. As such, England prevented industrialization in Ireland so as to protect
Placing dates on “The Troubles” can be difficult, but rough estimates place it from the 1960s
until the turn of the 21st century.
Niall Ferguson, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for
Global Power (2002; repr., New York: Basic Books, 2004), 49.
Ferguson, 48.
itself against competition in that sphere, and oriented the Irish economy around providing
agricultural goods and cash crops for its markets. As the 18th century progressed, Ireland
produced decreasingly for direct consumption and simple use-value and increasingly for
exchange on the market. Indeed, the types of products are significant for shaping this system.
Some cash crops like cotton would eventually necessitate mechanization, especially upon the rise
of machinery for spinning and weaving and the shortage of “cheap and efficient labor.”
However, like in Central Europe, the impoverished peasantry served as a contingent for linen
production, especially in Ulster, which was cheap and technologically unadvanced and
Nevertheless, the Irish produced more than linen and fish: they grew potatoes. While to
some the ordinary potato may not seem like much, it was part of a significant development in
Ireland. The British introduced the potato to Ireland following their colonization in North
America. Gradually across the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (and onwards) they enforced
it as the primary crop. What was (and is) special about the potato was that it was something that
not only did not require immensely organized or technologically advanced labor, but also
required little space and provided a higher yield per acre than most other crops. This worked
perfectly for the colonial model the British had devised for Ireland. Land parcels were divided
into increasingly smaller plots, to less than an acre by the start of the nineteenth century, for
increasingly larger families amid the population boom resulting from increased food supplies
(albeit not increased quality), who survived on about ten to twelve pounds of potatoes per person
Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 (1962; repr., New York: Vintage Books,
1996), 36. For more details on growing and processing cotton as a cash crop and its role in
empire, an excellent source is Andrew Zimmerman, Alabama in Africa: Booker T. Washington,
the German Empire, and the Globalization of the New South (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 2010).
a day. According to the late Eric Hobsbawm, history professor and former president of Birkbeck,
University of London, this process of concentrating people and dividing land allowed “a handful
of absentee landlords… [who] exploited a vast mass of tenants by means of extortionate money
rents,” to maximize the number of paying renters while also readying a larger labor force for
work on expanding farms for exports to British markets. This policy, while richly rewarding to
British capitalists and landlords, created “a population unparalleled in Western Europe for its
poverty,” and driven to action out of, among other factors, sheer deprivation.34 While this was
occurring especially in the country, most of the major ports served as the major urban and trade
centers (with the notable exception of Kilkenny), especially Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Dublin,
and eventually Belfast. Cork and Dublin (the latter being the fastest growing center) in particular
served to bank and credit the country’s (uneven) development, especially the northern linen
industry.35 Yet poverty and deprivation was hardly unknown in the cities as well. As Le
Moniteur reported, “Bread is so expensive in Dublin that the poor find themselves in the most
deplorable situation.”36 Overall, the British restricted the economy of Ireland and made it
peripheral to its own development as a full-blown colony.
In military considerations, Ireland could not be overlooked by England. It possessed
major ports that were not only central hubs of trade, but also major ports for the English Navy,
ever so crucial to the maintenance of the empire. Yet there is a more direct role Ireland played
for the English military: recruiting station. The English relied heavily on Irish troop
Hobsbawm, 17, 165-66.
Jim Smyth, The Men of No Property: Irish Radicals and Popular Politics in the Late
Eighteenth Century (London: MacMillan, 1992), 25. The continued uneven economic
development of Ireland led to the British partitioning Ireland in the 20th century, cutting off the
more industrialized north for itself and leaving the rest to fall into the US-dominated Atlantic
Gazette Nationale, ou Le Moniteur Universel, vol. II : 1790, Semestre I, no. 11, 11 January
1790, 47.
contributions, even though they had to simultaneous maintain a military occupation of the
country, as well as Scotland. During the American War for Independence [1775-1783], the Irish
composed 16%, and the Scottish another 24%, of the English rank and file, and in terms of
officers, the Irish composed 31%, and the Scottish a further 27%. The Irish officers were
virtually entirely Protestant gentleman, who had begun entering the ranks of the British officer
corps in the time of the Williamite-Jacobite War, and occupied roughly a third of the officer
positions of not just the army in the colonies but of the army as a whole.37 In addition, from
1741-1815, for all but three years [1776-79] the Irish were numerically predominant. Indeed,
from 1795-1810 the Irish represented 42%, the Scottish 21%. This is despite the fact that there
was a separate Royal Irish Artillery from1763-1801. And Irish numbers in the English army
would only increase into the mid-19th century.38 The English navy was also recruited form
Ireland. United Irishmen like Theobald Wolfe Tone often cited the navy as being composed of
roughly two-thirds Irishmen, a staggering figure. However, in actuality the figures are closer to
one-twelfth, representing perhaps twenty-five percent of the lower decks at the start of the
nineteenth century, which is still a considerable sum.39 Despite contributing soldiers and sailors
to the English Army, England forced Ireland to rely on the occupation forces for protection,
breeding further dependency.
Politically, Ireland was its own kingdom. While the King of England served as Lord of
Ireland by papal bull since the twelfth century, it was not until 1542 that the Irish parliament
Alan J. Guy, “The Army of the Georges, 1714-1783” in David G. Chandler and Ian Beckett,
eds., The Oxford History of the British Army, New ed. (1994; repr., Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2003), 104.
Richard Holmes, Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket (2001; repr.,
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002), 54-56.
Theobald Wolfe Tone, The Writings of Theobald Wolfe Tone, 1763-98, ed. by T.W. Moody,
R.B. McDowell, and C.J. Woods, vol. II: America, France and Bantry Bay, August 1795 to
December 1796 (2007; repr., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 4n1.
passed the Crown of Ireland Act making him King of Ireland.40 Ireland was deemed to be its own
kingdom, only joined to England through the person of the dual monarch of England and Ireland.
However, in every respect this dual monarchy was the rule of England over Ireland. Ireland had
its own parliament in Dublin since the thirteenth century. However, England meant for the
parliament to represent its own people in Ireland, not to represent the Irish people themselves.
The parliament was further weakened in 1494 with the passing of Poynings’ Law in the
aftermath of the War of the Roses, which restricted it to only being able to pass bills that had first
been introduced in London. This restriction would last until 1782, leaving a legacy of legislative
subservience in its wake.41 Locally the crown governed through the Lord Lieutenant, who was
always an Englishman appointed by England, and his chief secretary. The British administration
thus functioned out of Dublin Castle rather than through parliament, although Irish peers were
closely monitored and financially wed to the British.
Ireland was also subject to a lengthy series of legal discriminations known collectively as
the Penal Laws. Overtly the aim of the laws was to force a mass conversion of Catholics and
Dissenters to the Anglican Church. However, the intent and effect of the laws was to further
empower British rule and authority. As James Smyth, historian at the University of Notre Dame,
aptly put it, “If vigorously enforced these laws would have led to the eventual disappearance of
the catholic landed classes- the catholic majority’s ‘natural’ political leadership.”42 Professions
and public offices were closed to non-Anglicans, ensuring that the Ascendency controlled the
government and could enact the desired legislation and deal the desired judicial rulings. Catholic
merchants were expropriated in favor of Anglicans, which would undermine internal class
A papal bull is a charter from the pope.
Technically, Poynings’ Law was only rendered ineffective by Yelverton’s Act that year, 1782,
and was only formally repealed with the Irish Republic’s Statute Law Revision Act of 2007.
Smyth, Men of No Property, 11.
development of the bourgeoisie, furthering dependency on the English ruling elite.43 Bishops and
other higher clergy were banished, aimed at preventing the ordination of new priests. Catholics
were forbidden to bear arms or own horses that were worth more than five pounds, respectively
denying them the marks of citizenship and being a gentleman.
The Penal Laws also struck at that crucial source of social and political power in latestage feudalism and pre- and early industrial capitalism: land. Catholic lands had to be divided
between sons and could only be leased for periods of thirty-one years, never purchased from
Anglicans. However, if the eldest converted, he would gain all the inheritance.44 Catholic
property would be subdivided into oblivion, while the Ascendency was carving up large swathes
of land for its own, including in the form of large plantations. The scheme was effective, and
from 1668 to 1778 Catholic land ownership (excluding leases) dropped from 22% to 5%,
although the question then arises as to the legitimacy of some conversions to avoid losing land.45
Along similar lines, religious intermarriage was forbidden (which would affect property
transference and inheritance), Catholics were forbidden to teach children in schools, and a whole
host of other measures. However, the Penal Laws were not everywhere and at all times enforced
strictly or uniformly, largely due to a limited government bureaucracy as well as balancing
concerns over potential risings, and so the larger project ultimately failed, but only after leaving
a heavily disenfranchised and deeply bitter population.
Real reforms would not be launched in Ireland until the late 1780s and early ‘90s. At this
point, the preoccupation in Irish social life was with ending the Penal Laws. In 1791 England
Denis O’Hearn, “Ireland in the Atlantic Economy” in Terrence McDonough, ed., Was Ireland
a Colony? Economics, Politics and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Ireland (Dublin: Irish
Academic Press, 2005), 8.
Smyth, Men of No Property, 11.
Smyth, Men of No Property, 13.
passed Mitford’s Act, repealing some anti-Catholic legislation there, relieving economic and
social limitations and easing restrictions on education, which inspired hopes for similar changes
in Ireland. Then Langrishe's Act of 1792 allowed Catholics to practice law. However, these
developments had major drawbacks in Ireland. The drawn-out public discussions about the Penal
Laws over several years forced the Irish people to recall each and every instance and aspect of
them, serving to create immense public discontent. Meanwhile, not only was little of the British
Catholic Reform reverberating in Ireland, but also the Irish government was repealing some of
the already existing pro-Catholic legislation. To top it off, the government began suppressing the
recently formed Irish Volunteers, local militia groups aimed at independent self-defense, which
created a public uproar against the dismantling of the people’s defense.
It was in this context that Theobald Wolfe Tone, James Napper Tandy, and company
founded the Society of United Irishmen, first in Belfast and then in Dublin in 1791. It was a civil
group to promote the need for parliamentary reform to create a more representative government
with more local autonomy in contrast to unilateral English laws and powers.46 It was essentially a
mixture of an Enlightenment salon and lobbying group, dominated by bourgeois Irish
Protestants, including Wolfe Tone and Napper Tandy, who were also generally in favor of
Catholic Emancipation.47 As Tone later noted, “The Catholics, who are the Irish properly so
called and who form almost the entire body of the peasantry… the great bulk of them are in the
lowest degree of misery and want... they labor incessantly, and their landlords, the Protestant
aristocracy, have so calculated that the utmost of they can gain by this continual toil will barely
“Declaration and Resolutions of the Society of United Irishmen of Belfast” in Tone, Life of
Theobald Wolfe Tone: Memoirs, Journals and Political Writings, Compiled and Arranged by
William T.W. Tone, 1826 (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1998), 298-99.
Simply put, Catholic Emancipation refers to the 18th and 19th century movement to remove
restrictions (especially political ones) on Catholics in Ireland and Great Britain.
suffice to pay the rent at which these petty despots assess their wretched habitations... their own
priests fleece them.”48 By 1794 their program also called for what amounted to universal adult
male suffrage.49 That was as radical as the Society was originally, promoting legal equality
between each of the king’s realms.
Now, certain members were indeed more radical at the time. Wolfe Tone, for instance, a
lawyer most outspoken and published in favor of Catholic Emancipation, promoted an
independent Ireland. He was also a champion, along with Napper Tandy, a trader and influential
member of Dublin Corporation, of the novel theory that Irish strife, especially religious strife,
was the product of British policy and design, aimed at preventing the uniting of Ireland.50 As
such, they sought to make their movement into a pan-religious (or at least pan-Christian) one in
the interests of the Irish nation.51 While the notion of an independent Ireland did not catch on at
the beginning, the idea of religious union, at first contested as jeopardizing the success of
parliamentary reform by adding Catholic Emancipation to the demands simultaneously, did
become an accepted point.
One member in particular would be charged with higher levels of radicalism, notably
Arthur O’Connor. A member of parliament (MP) in the Irish House of Commons, he was a latercomer to the United Irishmen, joining in 1796. Another United Irishmen, Leonard McNally, who
became one of the most significant British informants in the movement after being arrested in
1794 and throughout the rest of this saga, decried that O’Connor desired summary punishment
“First memorial to the French government on the present state of Ireland, 22 February 1796,”
Tone, Writings, vol. II, 64-65.
The Dublin Society of United Irishmen, “The United Irishmen’s Plan of Parliamentary reform”
in Edmond Curtis and R.B. McDowell, eds., Irish Historical Documents 1172-1922 (1943; repr.,
New York: Barnes & Nobles, Inc., 1968), 237-38.
Dublin Corporation is presently known as Dublin City Council.
The movement was “pan-Christian” as far as is evident in the major historiography, which has
a dearth of work on non-theists most of all, as well as Jews, etc.
“as severe as that of Robespierre in Paris” should be “executed on the prescribed characters of
the country, whenever the French can effect a landing sufficiently permanent to render the
measure practicable.”52 However, that was blatantly untrue, as O’Connor on several occasions
actively denounced “the bloody and destructive principles of Robespierre that alarmed many of
the major proprietors [in Ireland], Catholic as well as Protestant,” much to the benefit of
England.53 . O’Connor biographer Clifford Conner also cites an incident in 1796 when he was
“horrified” to witness fellow United Irishman William Duckett honoring the memory of
Maximilien Robespierre, Louis St. Just, and Georges Couthon.54
What O’Connor did add to the United Irishmen, in terms of ideology and theory, was
situated in the realm of economics, which he best summed up in his 1804 work The Present State
of Great Britain. His arguments were essentially a capitalist critique of what he considered the
mercantilist policies of England, and called for the necessity of “free trade.” He condemned the
English for seeking global domination, arguing in terms of its power and wealth, “The entire
structure depends, not only upon making the interests of every other nation subservient to her
own aggrandizement, but that the precarious existence of her bloated power and wealth depend
upon her being able to impede or to crush the manufactures and commerce of the other nations of
Europe,” expanding into the Americas and India as well.55 He accused England, through
monopoly over trade from the Antilles, of keeping European markets intentionally understocked,
while undermining especially Irish industry. In the meanwhile, their corrupt government was
Rupert J. Coughlan, Napper Tandy (Dublin: Anvil Books Ltd., 1976), 118.
National Library, Ireland, MS 10961, Le Général O’Connor à Sa Majesté L’Empereur et Roi,
Paris, 1er Septembre 1811.
These three were three members of the Committee of Public Safety most associated with the
Terror. Clifford D. Conner, Arthur O'Connor: The Most Important Irish Revolutionary You May
Never Have Heard Of (New York: iUniverse, Inc., 2009), 64.
Arthur O’Connor, The Present State of Great-Britain (Paris: 1804), 1-2.
replacing violence with influence, a system of corruption undermining the significance of
political representatives, controlling the right to legislate for Ireland, and centralizing power into
just a few hands in their secretive cabinet. In all, Ireland was chained by the remnants of
feudalism, the degrading of commercial trades, and the prevention of the free circulation of
property, especially in land. On the converse, Tone, instead of lavishing praise upon the
merchants and bourgeoisie, decried the “spirit of commerce,” especially as he saw strangling
social life in the United States while he was there. Even though the new country was supposedly
democratic, he saw it as being consumed by a merchant aristocracy, especially in terms of the
Senate and the presidency, then under George Washington, that “high-flying aristocrat”
corrupted by staying too long in power. “What is it to me,” Tone argued, “whether it is an
Aristocracy of Merchants or of Peers, elective or hereditary? It is still an aristocracy,
incompatible with the existence of genuine liberty.”56
The English and Ascendency governments were much perturbed by the formation of this
group and watched it closely, for one reason especially: its sympathy with the French
Revolution. The United Irishmen was becoming a popular institution, just as French sympathies
were increasing in popularity. As a matter of fact, as the late historian and pro-treaty Sinn Féin
TD Richard Hayes noted, “Nowhere outside France was the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille
celebrated with such fervour as in Belfast and Dublin.”57 The Phrygian cap and liberty trees
abounded, and Irishmen toasted the Right of Man and the National Assembly. The French
Revolution’s popularity continued to rapidly rise even into the start of 1793, despite minor
setbacks with the news of the September Massacres and the execution of the former king, Louis
“Letter from America,” Tone, Life, 450-51.
Richard Hayes, Ireland and Irishmen in the French Revolution (London: Ernest Benn Limited,
1932), 12.
XVI.58 The authorities considered the Society a threat from the start, but with the start of war
between England and France on 1 February 1793, they viewed the society as outright dangerous,
even treasonous.59
To combat what they saw as an existential threat, the Irish parliament passed the
Gunpowder Act of 1793, enabling the authorities to crack down militarily on areas where they
believed arms were being stored. Added to this was the suspension of Habeas Corpus on 16 May
1794 and the passing of the “Gagging Acts,” or as they were more formally known, the
Treasonable & Seditious Practices and the Seditious Meetings Acts. These laws outlawed written
and verbal dissent, critiques of the government or “Constitution,” and the gathering of over fifty
people without prior written authorization from the magistrates.60 Ireland was thus placed in
lockdown, much to the chagrin of the population at large, who grew increasingly disillusioned
with a parliament that would neither concede more rights to Catholics nor offer any opposition to
these new oppressive acts, contributing to their turn to various societies and political
organizations for extra-parliamentary solutions. The United Irishmen were one group to gain
from this.
Yet it was in this context that the authorities finally got their chance to strike at the
United Irishmen. On 3 April 1794, a French agent from the Committee of Public Safety, William
Jackson, arrived in Dublin to probe the possibility of French assistance. The United Irish largely
considered him to be a British agent, but he caught the attention and support of the prominent
Hayes, Ireland and Irishmen in the French Revolution, 14. For the dates, the September
Massacres were 2-3 September 1792, the monarchy was abolished in favor of the republic on 21
September 1792, and Louis Capet (as he was dubbed as non-king) was executed 21 January
England joined the ranks of Austria, Prussia, Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and a
varying collection of Italian states in this, the First Coalition, against the French Republic.
The “Constitution” refers not to any real covenant or legal document, but rather to a traditional
set of legal precedents, as per the British fashion.
leader and wealthy politician Hamilton Rowan. While Jackson was not a British spy, his friend
and traveling companion, John Cockayne, was. With evidence of a connection with the enemy,
the authorities swept in, arresting Jackson and others. The United Irish leaders who were not
caught were forced to flee abroad into exile, and the United Irishmen were forced underground.
With the repression of the Society, it became a militarized secret society. Potential
members were to be proposed by a pre-existing member and had to be seconded, after which
their admittance would be voted on during the next meeting. On the lowest level, the members
composed local neighborhood-level “societies” of up to twelve members. The members would
be bound by an oath of allegiance known as a “test,” but since the swearing of oaths was a
capital crime in the midst of government repression (oaths being an integral part of secret
societies, with which the English had dealt with their fair share in Ireland in the past), the
swearing of new members would be done in a separate meeting location before only the oathtaker and those who both initiated and seconded the perspective's application. Part of the
organizational program of the society as a whole pertained explicitly to the secrecy and
censorship of the body: “No communication relating to the business of the institution shall be
made to any United Irishman on any pretense whatever, except in his own society or committee,
or by some member of his own society or committee.”61 Above the local “society” were higher
levels of organization, from the Baronial Committee to County Committees to Provisional
Committees up to the National Committee. In the end, each committee would be elected by the
members of the one directly beneath it. By design only those who voted for their above
committee men would know the names of those composing the committees, for added secrecy,
The United Irishmen, “The Organization of the United Irishmen, 1797” in Curtis and
McDowell, eds., Irish Historical Documents, 240-41.
so that if anyone were captured, they could not possibly give away more than a single
In terms of support bases, the largest urban centers of the realm were also notably
republican, both Dublin and Belfast. However, while the northern regions were the best
organized, support for the United Irishmen was largely ubiquitous. Furthermore, while the
overwhelming percentage of the population spoke Irish Gaelic, the majority of United Irish and
other propaganda, such as the works of Thomas Paine, were published in Ireland in English.
Nevertheless, they managed to reach a wide audience, through schools, churches, and other
social organs. These propaganda centers would be the same cites as the United Irish
headquarters, and the overall most populous cities of Ireland: Dublin, Belfast, and Cork.63
Ironically, it was this crackdown on the United Irishmen that more thoroughly radicalized
them from reformists into revolutionaries, and while up until 1794 they were ineffective and
weak, they now became highly organized and efficient. The United Irishmen flourished as a
revolutionary secret society. Then, on 30 April 1795, when the British executed Jackson, he
became a popular symbol of resistance and, as British historian Stella Tillyard put it, “Jackson’s
became the first name in a new United Irish martyrology.”64
The United Irishmen, “The Organization of the United Irishmen, 1797” in Curtis and
McDowell, eds., Irish Historical Documents, 238-242. Note that “men” is in the original phrase
and is not the author’s word choice.
Hayes, Ireland and Irishmen in the French Revolution, 8.
Stella Tillyard, Citizen Lord: The Life of Edward Fitzgerald, Irish Revolutionary (New York:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997), 173-74, 187-88.
“These men aimed at nothing less than a social and political revolution such as had been
accomplished in France, or even greater, because the French Revolution did not enfranchise all
the people, but made a distinction between active and passive citizens, taxpayers and nontaxpayers.” –James Connolly, 191065
As the authorities cracked down on the United Irish leadership in 1794, those who could
escape fled primarily to the United States (especially Philadelphia) and France (often via
Hamburg). It was not a completely disorganized flight, however. Several of these members,
primarily Wolfe Tone and Napper Tandy, were charged as emissaries to negotiate for foreign
support. If force were required to repel the English forces and their subservient Irish parliament,
then force it would be. However, to best ensure the likelihood of success, especially given that
English rule in one form or another stretched back several hundred years against numerous failed
Irish confederations, an outside ally would be needed. Such an ally was to be sought in the
French Republic. While Tone, Tandy, and Lord Edward Fitzgerald had previously pressed for a
militarized union with France, the legal suppression of the United Irishmen finally made it
Franco-Irish relations were not a completely novel phenomenon at this stage of history.
Irish regiments had served in the French army since the days of King Louis XIV [r. 1643-1715].
Ireland also shared a common popular religion with France, which at that time was majority
James Connolly, Labour in Irish History (1910; repr., New York: The Donnelly Press, 1919),
Catholic and indeed was a Catholic state.66 In addition, there were Irish colleges in France for
those expatriates and exiles. On top of that, an invasion of Ireland had long been a potential for
the French, as well as the Spanish. However, there had never truly been any political relationship
between France and Ireland. Any prior talk of an Irish expedition was purely for conquest or
military expediency, not with the aim to establish an independent, sovereign Irish state. This
would be the birth of Franco-Irish politics.
When Tone reached Paris in February 1796, having worked with the French ambassador
to the United States in Philadelphia, Pierre Adet, who gave him passage to France and a letter of
introduction to the government, much had changed in France.67 Tone’s letter was actually to the
Committee of Public Safety, but that body no longer existed. The Thermidorian Coup of 27 July
1794 purged those most prominently associated with the Terror (Maximilien Robespierre, Louis
St-Just, etc.) and marked a rightward shift in the National Convention.68 As the Convention
began slowing down and dismantling the apparatus of the Terror, a new phase of White Terror
reprisals began against the “terrorists.”69 On 22 August 1795 the Convention passed a new
Constitution, that of Year III (because in the new French republican calendar, it was passed on 5
Although the high percentage of Catholics was in part artificially constructed, due to the strict
maintenance of Catholicism as the state religion since the Reformation, the expulsion of many
Huguenots , and the restrictions of civil rights for those Huguenots who remained prior to the
French Revolution.
“Pierre Auguste Adet to the Committee of Public Safety, 1 October 1795,” Tone, Writings, vol.
II, 23-24.
The National Convention was the unicameral legislature that had governed France since the
start of the republic on 22 September 1792. The Committee of Public Safety was, as its name
might suggest, a committee of the Convention.
“Terrorist” here is used in its original sense, as in those who supported the Terror,” not in the
sense it is commonly used today.
Fructidor, Year III).70 The state was to be led by a five-person executive known as the Directory,
from which the government derived its name, alongside a bicameral legislature. The Committee
of Public Safety was dissolved, and due to an additional decree, two-thirds of the National
Convention was to automatically transfer into the legislature of the new government. The
Directory went into effect late in the year, on 2 November 1795, after Gen. Napoléon Bonaparte
quelled the royalist revolt of 13 Vendémiaire (5 October 1795). Meanwhile, Gen. Lazare Hoche
pacified the civil war in the Vendée in western France between 1795 and ‘96.
Externally, France’s situation had also changed since Tone’s flight from Ireland in 1794.
The French were now more assuredly on the offensive in Europe: controlling Belgium and the
Netherlands, attempting to expand into the northern Italian states, and fighting the primary
theater along the Rhine. The Coalition, on the other hand, had begun to dwindle. Prussia and
Spain dropped out of the war in 1795, leaving behind primarily Austria and England. While
invasion was still possible if the war effort faltered, France was winning and not only defending
itself but also expanding into enemy territory, as well as those regions where it assisted the
formation of sister republics. Outside of Europe, French forces and the freed slaves in St.
Domingue, Martinique, and Guadeloupe were combatting invasion by the British, who continued
despite the defeat of their Spanish allies. Meanwhile, relations between France and the United
States were strained following the US deciding not to honor its treaties with France and staying
legally neutral, although maintaining favorable relations with England, France’s enemy. Thus
when Tone arrived in France at the start of 1796 with an outdated (yet still valid) letter of
The French republican calendar begins marking the date from 22 September 1792 in the
Gregorian calendar, symbolizing the new start of society with the first full day after the creation
of the republic, 21 September.
introduction, he found France still at war, but not one in the direst situation, relatively peaceful
internally for the moment and not presently under the threat of invasion.
Tone was left with the effort of convincing a French government firmly committed to a
war in the east against Austria and defending itself from England in the Caribbean to pursue
foreign revolution. Despite the National Convention’s “edict of fraternity” on 19 November
1792, offering “fraternity and aid to all peoples who wish to recover their liberty” and ordering
the executive “to give the necessary orders to the generals to bring these people aid and defend
the citizens who have been or could be vexed for the cause of liberty,” the Republic was not
enthusiastically unified on the issue of international revolution.71 Moreover, the effort would
require a naval expedition, despite the British blockade of French ports. This was no minor task.
Yet, it also was not out of the realm of possibility. In 1793 French Minister of War LebrunTondu was a particularly strong supporter of the idea of helping establish an Irish Republic, but
he was more interested in peace, so he delayed action concerning Ireland so as not to jeopardize
his negotiations with England, which ultimately failed anyway. Agents were also sent to Ireland,
but at this stage in the war, France’s intelligence system was still largely undeveloped and
uncoordinated, resulting in numerous and redundant agents being sent, as well as the ill-fated
Jackson affair of 1794.72
Apart from meeting with the US Ambassador to France, James Monroe, to present his
credentials and gain his insight and support, Tone’s first real official meeting in Paris was with
Charles-François Delacroix, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, who referred him in turn to
Jérôme Mavidal and Émile Laurent, eds., Archives Parlementaires de 1787 à 1860: Recueil
Complet des Débats Législatifs & Politiques des Chambres Françaises, series 1, vol. LIII: 27
Octobre 1792 au 30 Novembre 1792 (Paris: Imprimerie et Librairie Administratives et des
Chemins de Fer, 1898), 484.
For the Jackson Affair, see CHAPTER 2- ASSEMBLING A MOVEMENT.
Nicholas Madgett.73 Born in County Cork yet educated in France, Madgett was an Irish patriot
and the accepted expert on Irish affairs, for which reason he was entrusted with arranging and
organizing all activities relating to Ireland. Madgett and Tone quickly became friends, so much
so that Madgett came under scrutiny for too freely divulging information to Tone on the state of
arrangements concerning Irish affairs. As knowledgeable and friendly as Madgett was with Tone,
negotiations nevertheless suffered great delay. Tone’s memoirs are filled with gaps of days at a
time due to inactivity, or situations where the Foreign Ministry lost documents it needed to
forward or translate, which frustrated him to no end. It is worth noting that Tone was working at
this time to teach himself French fluently. As Trinity College Dublin historian Sylvie Kleinman
has pointed out, “Though French was undeniably the lingua franca of the intelligentsia…many
members of the urban middle class [such as Tone] admitted not speaking French, though they
could possibly read it with the help of a dictionary.”74 By April his patience was exhausted, and
his next action would permanently alter the negotiation process.
In order to expedite negotiations, Tone brought his request for military assistance to the
Ministry of War. However, rather than deal with any government bureaucracy, he directly
approached Director Lazare Carnot, “the organizer of victory.” Carnot enthusiastically embraced
Tone’s proposal, and agreed to work with him on the matter. Being occupied with affairs of
state, he could not handle the issue directly, and so he referred the matter to Henri Clarke, head
of the Topographical and Geographical Cabinet of the War Ministry. Now the Irish affair had
become entangled in the internal political struggle of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and War,
which had been competing over the scope of their overlapping purviews. Carnot also tried to use
“John Beckley to James Monroe, 14 December 1795” in Tone, Writings, vol. II, 35-36.
Sylvie Kleinman, “Ambassador incognito and Accidental Tourist: Cultural Perspectives on
Theobald Wolfe Tone’s Mission to France, 1796-8,” Journal of Irish Scottish Studies 2, iss. 1
(September 2008), 106-7.
the negotiations to strengthen the position of his War Ministry, while Clarke and Madgett each
resented the involvement of the other. Although Clarke was more capable than Madgett of
potentially offering real aid, he was intent on informing Tone of any progression strictly on a
need-to-know basis, and while Carnot was particularly amicable towards Tone, Clarke came
across as a personally disagreeable fellow (initially at least), which would cause Tone to
approach him with suspicion, especially when he surmised “I see clearly that all Clarke’s ideas
on Irish politics are at least thirty years behind those of the people.”75 Meanwhile,
communication with Ireland, due to both the underground nature of the United Irishmen and the
fact that England was at war with France, became an issue. The resolution was that all matters
were channeled through Napper Tandy, still in exile in Philadelphia where he remained close
friends with French ambassador Pierre Adet.76
While Tone was hopeful that plans for a French invasion of Ireland would be undertaken
immediately, the Directory was not fueled by blind revolutionary zeal, and the issue involved
great internal debate. Central to the issue was the policy of revolution that should be pursued in
general, which remained undecided even after half a decade of revolutionary government. While
the aforementioned “edict of fraternity” of 1792 expressed support for international revolution,
there was no consensus as to qualifications for French aid, how the aid should be given and in
what form, or when such offers should be extended. This question drove the war debate in 1792,
pitting the Jacques Brissot’s faction, with their call for the militarized spread of revolution
radially from France through Europe, against Robespierre’s faction, which took a more cautious
approach and advocated focusing on ensuring the internal security of France above spreading
At one point Clarke even suggests looking for a possible Stuart claimant to the throne of
Ireland, which Tone discards as nonsensical for the Irish. Tone, Life, 499 & 536.
Coughlan, 111.
international revolution. Although the result was the ongoing war, the only settled issue was that
French aid would typically entail military support. Now the debate assumed a new dimension:
whether French armies should be instigators of revolution, or whether, in light of fatigue and
limited resources, the military should only assist in a region once the native population began its
own revolution. While the Directory favored the latter, more cautious strategy, Tone would
spend the next three years trying to convince it to take the offensive.
Interesting the Directory in an invasion of Ireland was not difficult; that aspect was
readily and enthusiastically received. The devil laid in the details. The Directory ordered Tone to
prepare memorials at the end of February 1796 on the state of Ireland, explaining his precise aid
requests and laying out his view of an appropriate military strategy. Tone advised sending a
French army of more than 20,000 men along with 40,000 stand of arms, the bulk of which should
land in or around Belfast, the greatest base of United Irish support, and from there march on
Dublin.77 If that were done, the aristocratic government of the Ascendency would quickly
collapse, and combined with 100,000 Irish volunteers, perhaps as many as 300,000 (as the
United Irish [unrealistically] believed their numbers to be), the Franco-Irish army would be far
more than a match for what he estimated to be 12,000 British troops of the line and 18,000
militia, many of the latter being Irishmen he hoped would desert.78 While he acknowledged the
improbability getting so many soldiers from the Directory, his arguments for smaller forces were
sprinkled with reminders of how much easier and cheaper it would be overall to begin with a
more imposing force. Nevertheless, he asked for a minimum of 5,000 troops, largely artillerymen
due to the lack of such skilled men in Ireland. In that case there would be a far greater need for a
“Second Memorial to the French Government on the Present State of Ireland, 29 February
1796,” Tone, Writings, vol. II, 88-90.
“First Memorial,” Tone, Writings, vol. II, 69 and John G. Gallaher, Napoleon's Irish Legion
(Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1993), 8.
voluminous delivery of arms, since the Irish in many areas lacked firearms above all else and
would otherwise be forced to fight with pikes. The expedition should still start close to Belfast
and convene an Irish government which would call for a general revolution.
Considering French assistance, Tone was sure to distinguish “aid” from “exploitation.”
Ireland would not see the loss of one foreign ruler only to be replaced by another. A Sister
Republic would be one thing, a department or even a colony another. Tone therefore took the
opportunity to outline from the start the potential government of Ireland and the restrictions by
which the French should abide. He listed the popular organizations that could serve as a
provisional Irish government in the interim until the British and their puppet Irish lords were
defeated. . It would be immediately responsible for its own executive and legislative functions.
The Irish would then convene a National Convention, modeled after the General Committee of
the Catholics, working with Dissenters, together composing the vast majority of the population
Furthermore, from the very moment of their arrival in Ireland, the French must publish a
proclamation renouncing any concept of conquest and promising peace as quickly as possible,
but only on the grounds of Irish independence.
Yet it would be ludicrous to expect something, especially if that “something” were
significant military support, for nothing. Therefore Tone was heavily intent on laying out the
benefits for France. One of the fundamental arguments he made from the start with his first
memorial on the state of Ireland was that “two thirds of the British navy are manned by
Irishmen,” maintaining that creating an Irish republic would cripple Britain's navy and give the
Irish a navy capable of trade favorable to France.79 Although Tone overestimated the Irish
presence in the navy, he was absolutely right that the Directory would be tempted by thought of
“First Memorial,” Tone, Writings, vol. II, 62.
extensively damaging its opponent's navy, its lifeline, and that is not even taking into account the
significant Irish composition of the army, especially the artillery and officer corps.80 It would
furthermore deprive England of beef, pork, butter, and other victuals supplied by Ireland.
Moreover, upon a successful landing, the Convention would immediately grant France a
beneficial trade agreement as well as a defensive and offensive military alliance. As an
additional concession, Tone specified that should England still not sue for peace, Ireland could
serve as a staging point for further operations.81 That was, and would remain, a crucial point.
While genuine interest by the French in the creation of an Irish Republic waxed and waned,
generally high at the start and then general decreasing over the years, Ireland was always also
seen as a stage of the invasion and/or defeat of England. Talk of the invasion of Ireland therefore
meant talk of the invasion of England, and talk of the invasion of England always left open the
possibility of invasion of Ireland. The two cannot be separated.
Furthering his argument, Tone described the majority of Irishmen as being oppressed
Catholics eager to remove English rule, and claimed, in line with United Irish ideology, that the
Catholic-Protestant social divide was merely a device used by England to keep its subjects
divided. It was not Protestantism that oppressed, but rather English rule, whose hegemony gave
the Anglicans a monopoly on aristocratic titles and local political offices, using religion to
distract from imperialist policy. Indeed, he claimed that it was “incumbent not merely on France
but on all Europe to endeavor to reduce her [England] within due limits and to prevent that
enormous accumulation of wealth which the undisturbed possession of the commerce of the
whole world would give her,” which could only be done by separating Ireland from England.82
For more details on the figures, see CHAPTER 2- ASSEMBLING A MOVEMENT.
“Second Memorial,” Tone, Writings, vol. II, 88-97.
“First Memorial,” Tone, Writings, vol. II, 62.
This analysis could be utilized in two ways in particular: using support for Catholics as a
refutation to charges of the French revolutionaries being a “godless people (in this sense having a
negative connotation) or alternatively undermining internal critiques in the French government
that this was some sort of religious crusade by presenting religion as secondary.
The Directory was not just being dictated to by foreign agents. It had a certain plan in
particular, predating Tone's arrival, which it was intent on executing, much to Tone’s chagrin:
Chouanization. The terminology refers to the Chouans, a band of royalist counterrevolutionary
guerrillas in the west of France where civil war raged since roughly 1793, although the
Chouannerie can refer to the entire civil war.83 Gen. Lazare Hoche had only recently managed to
pacify the Vendée in 1796, although the region would remain a hotbed until 1800, with further
disturbances in 1815.The counter-revolution in the Vendée served as the bleakest episode in the
Revolution, and forever scarred the government and the region. Of the executions during the
Terror, more than half (an estimated 52%, or 8,840 people) were in the Vendée, with thousands
more killed in combat and non-judicial reprisals.84 To add to this outrage, the British had
There is some discrepancy in terminology in terms of the civil war. The conflict itself is often
simply referred to as “the Vendée,” after the Vendée region that contained much of the fighting.
In this sense, “Chouan” is generally used to describe particulars of elite, die-hard royalist
guerrillas, as compared to Catholic and royalist peasant armies. However, “Chouan” can lose that
connotation if one moves past the Vendée and describes the larger conflict as the “Chouannerie.”
French politician and often Minister of Foreign Affairs from the Directory into the Empire,
Charles Maurice Talleyrand, described the difference in terminology as more chronological:
“The organizers [of civil war in the western provinces] handed down to their families the proud
title of Vendéen, afterwards replaced and spoilt by that of Chouan.” Charles Maurice TalleyrandPérigord, Memoirs of the Prince de Talleyrand, ed. by the Duc de Brogile, trans. by Raphaël
Ledos de Beaufort and Angus Hall, vol. I (Boston: The Napoleon Society, 1895), 194.
For rough figures on the Terror: Marc Bouloiseau, The Jacobin Republic 1792-1794, trans. by
Jonathan Mandelbaum (1972; repr., London: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 210. In terms
of lives lost in total, numbers are vastly imprecise. For a couple of examples, François Furet
presents the number as at least “several tens of thousands,” while Patrice Higonnet presents a
minimum of 250,000. François Furet, Revolutionary France 1770-1880, trans. by Antonia Nevill
(1988; repr., Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), 139-40 and Patrice Higonnet, Goodness Beyond Virtue:
supported these counter-revolutionaries, distributing false assignats to undermine the
government and providing the rebels with financial and material aid, and even going so far as to
provide limited direct military assistance.85 The embodiment of such support came with the
Quiberon Expedition of 1795, where the British navy landed 4,500 émigrés and soldiers before
being defeated by Gen. Hoche at the Battle of Quiberon on 21 July 1795.86
The French strategy of “Chouanization” therefore aimed to create just as gut-wrenching a
violent and bitter civil strife for the British, whether in Ireland or England itself. This meant
sending prisoners, revolutionaries, and small bands of French soldiers to spread subversion,
encourage mutiny in the navy and revolution in the countryside, and wage a sort of guerrilla war,
causing sheer attrition to the enemy.87 The plan was based primarily on a desire for revenge for
the Vendée with military considerations being secondary, and Tone knew that especially in
Ireland, it would only undermine the moral superiority of the French and drive more Irish to the
British. This strategy was popular with the Directory, where it originated with Carnot.88 It took
over a month of difficult negotiations and a detailed memorandum, but Tone finally convinced
Jacobins during the French Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), 52. For a
general overview of the historiography on the subject of providing figures for the Vendée, see:
Jean-Clément Martin, “Est-il possible de compter les morts de la Vendée ?” Revue d’histoire
moderne et contemporaine (1954-) 38, no. 1 (January-March 1991): 105-121.
Assignats were the paper currency introduced by the revolutionary government in 1789, based
on the sale of national property and infamous for their high inflation rate as the revolution
continued. The Directory began phasing them out and they were replaced by the franc under the
Consulate in 1803.
Albert Mathiez, After Robespierre: The Thermidorian Reaction , trans. by Catherine Alison
Phillips (1929; repr., New York: The Universal Library, 1965), 230-32.
Tone, Life, 473, 493, 507, 509, 516, 522.
The document in question is a memoire entitled Instruction pour l’établissement d’une
Chouannerie en Angleterre, which, although technically unsigned, is charged by July Monarchy
general and Second Empire senator Alphonse de Grouchy (son of the famous/infamous
Napoleonic Marshal Grouchy), among others, as being the work of Carnot. This seems entirely
possible and plausible, so no objection is herein raised, although the technicality should be
pointed out. Alphonse Frédéric Emmanuel, Marquis de Grouchy, Le général de Grouchy et
l’Irlande en 1796 (Paris : Imprimerie Balitout, Questroy et Ce, 1866), 16-24.
the Directory in early April 1796 to abandon the scheme for chouanizing Ireland, although
preparations continued for doing so in Great Britain.89
Apart from working to secure the desired troop levels from France, the Irish also had to
secure the proper commanders. Tone himself expressed interest early on in desiring a
commission in the French expedition, although he made it known he was not militarily trained.
Madgett opposed, yet the Directory gladly accepted his offer and made him chef de brigade in
the infantry.90 Nevertheless, the choice still needed to be made regarding the head of the army. It
was important to Tone that the reputation of whoever was chosen carried enough weight in
Ireland to elicit popular support on landing in Ireland. He specifically requested Gen. JeanCharles Pichegru, famous for his victories in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Rhine in the
present war. When the Directory informed Tone that Pichegru had been appointed Ambassador
to Sweden, he replied that “any old woman would make an ambassador to Sweden” and that the
“dismemberment of the empire of England; the destruction of her power; and the establishment
of a new republic in Europe of 4,500,000 people” should be enough to appeal to his desire for
glory.91 Neither the Directory nor Pichegru budged. Tone did not seem to be fully cognizant of
the falling out of Pichegru and the revolution as a whole, increasingly acting on his royalist
inclinations until finally he died in prison following his leading role in the failed royalist
Cadoudal plot in 1804.92
“Memorandum to General Henri Jacques Guillaume Clarke on the Encouragement of
Chouannerie in Ireland, Paris, 4 April 1796” in Tone, Writings, vol. II, 144-145.
“Claude Pétiet to Theobald Wolfe Tone, Paris, 19 June 1796” in Tone, Writings, vol. II, 240.
Tone, Life, 537.
The “Cadoudal plot” took its name from the main conspirator, Chouan leader and terrorist (in
the modern sense) Georges Cadoudal. The aim was the kidnapping and assassination of First
Consul Napoléon Bonaparte. The prison guards found Pichegru strangled in his cell. The official
report and evidence point to suicide, but some, especially in royalist circles, have believed he
was murdered.
By now it was spring, 1796, and the Directory’s attention was absorbed in the renewal of
the Italian front by Gen. Napoléon Bonaparte alongside a push along the main theatre, the Rhine.
Nevertheless, by June a new development had occurred in the Irish affair, born out of the
involvement of Director Carnot. He had managed to secure the appointment of a commander
beyond the caliber that Tone could have anticipated, Lazare Hoche, a personal friend of the
director. This general had just distinguished himself with the pacification of the Vendée, and
carried fame not only as the victor of Quiberon Bay but also as a successful commander of the
Army of the Rhine, in addition to being a reputable republican. Carnot wrote to Hoche, “I see in
the success of this operation the downfall of the most irreconcilable and the most dangerous of
our enemies. In it I see the security of France for centuries.”93 Hoche embraced the appointment
and set to work immediately. At this stage the United Irishmen were able to establish additional
contact with the French, which the Directory also desired so as to reinforce its faith in the
negotiations. Prominent Irish leaders Arthur O'Connor and Lord Fitzgerald met with Hoche in in
August through September 1796, verified Tone’s credentials, discussed plans for the invasion,
and left confident that they had secured a French army of 15,000 soldiers and 80,000 guns to be
sent from Brest.94
While O'Connor and Lord Fitzgerald returned to Ireland to prepare for the revolution
amidst worsening British repression there, Tone remained in Paris to assist with French
preparations. The Directory charged him with preparing the proclamations that the French would
publish in Ireland, and it merits consideration for the nature of the episode. “People of Ireland!
…Our sole object is the establishment of your independence, solemnly disclaiming all idea
Huntley Dupre, Lazare Carnot: Republican Patriot (1940; repr., Philadelphia: Porcupine
Press, 1975), 210.
Tillyard, 199 and Conner, 64-73.
whatsoever of conquest… We come amongst you, not as enemies to invade, but as brothers to
assist you; not reduce you to a state of dependence upon France, but to break the chains which
have so long bound you in subjection to England, and to raise you from the abject situation of a
province to the rank and dignity of a free nation. The army...will preserve the most inviolable
respects for persons and property... [and] the free and uncontrolled exercise of all religions,
without distinction or preference… Frame your own organization; regulate for yourselves your
properties, your religion and your laws. We ask nothing of you but your friendship. Remember
America who, with not the thousandth part of your wrongs to inflame her, did not hesitate to
embark in the contest, in order to sever herself from the possibility of a tyranny which she did
not feel, and under which you actually groan. Rise then. One grand effort and your fetters are
broken, the scepter of your tyrant is wrested from his hand, and Ireland is forever free,
independent and happy.”95
All of the main issues of Tone’s negotiations came through in his sanctioned
proclamation. The principles that ring out are religion, property, sovereignty. These would be the
key principles repeated in each successive phase of negotiations with France from here until the
fall of Napoléon. Freedom of religion must be granted to the Catholics and maintained for the
Protestants. Fears of the possibility of Catholic theocracy were vigorously assuaged. The state
would not only be free in terms of which religion one could practice, but also itself be free from
a governing religion. Specifically, the French were to declare the “perpetual abolition of all
ascendancy or connection between church and state.”96 As such, the Irish republic was to be a
“Proclamation to the people of Ireland, 9-10 June 1796” in Tone, Writings, vol. II, 196-98.
Note that this proclamation never made it to circulation in Ireland.
“Second Memorial,” Tone, Writings, vol. II, 91.
secular state. This message was well summarized in the 20th century in the Irish rebel/protest
song “Sunday Bloody Sunday:” “Leave Ireland for the Irish, not for London or for Rome.”97
While as Irish historian and revolutionary James Connolly noted “Tone built his hopes
[for the revolution] upon a successful prosecution of a Class War,” calling upon the full
democratic participation of the nation against the aristocracy, neither the United Irish program
nor Tone personally called for anything approximating the abolition of private property. 98
However, they did call for the transformation of private property as it presently stood. The
majority of the land as previously noted belonged to the Protestant aristocracy, which the United
Irish viewed as invalid for multiple reasons. First, their ownership was the spoils of British
conquest, and therefore based in theft, not law. The land was also based largely on a feudal
system, wherein most of the land and consequently sovereignty and rights belonged to the
aristocracy, and therefore it must be forcibly transformed into a private ownership system. In
addition, since the republic would be born in wartime against the British, the Protestants, as
upholders in the British system and whose positions and possessions were inherently connected
to the colonial system, would assuredly side with the British, therefore making them enemies of
the republic. This would grant a more immediate legal justification for confiscation.
Apart from altering the fundamental structure of property-relations into a more capitalist
system, part of the call for confiscations concerned immediate military needs. The fledgling
republic must have enough resources for the war against England, in which Ireland aspired to be
a full legal combatant nation instead of being seen as purely insurgent, another constant in Irish
revolutionary history. Therefore the government must enact the “immediate confiscation of every
Renditions of the song have been sung by numerous singers and bands, including U2, John
Lennon, and Charlie and the Bhoys.
Connolly, Labour in Irish History, 62.
shilling of English property in Ireland, moveable or fixed, of every species, and appropriating it
to the national service,” which also included “the church, college, and chapter lands,” and those
of emigrants and “absentees who never visit the country at all.”99 This was purely a utilitarian
proposal, not based in the desire to cast out religion or the clergy of Ireland. It must be
remembered that the Catholic Church was the largest feudal landholder in Europe, coupled with
the possessions of the Ascendency, and if Ireland was to be free of feudal relations, it must be
able to transform all land ownership. Functionally, property ownership would symbolize
patriotism, in that while not all republicans would have property, all those who held property
could be deemed to be republicans in support of the government. At the same time, it should be
kept in mind that there was no planned radical redistribution of the property to the peasantry as a
class. The plan was instead akin to the nationalized land system of the French Revolutionary
government. Nationalization in this context was not meant as a form of collectivization, but
rather the converse, to allow the state to divest itself of public property and create private
property.100 In short, the image of the Irish Republic to be formed shapes up to be a liberal,
secular, bourgeois republic based in universal adult male suffrage, a sister republic to France.
Tone managed to secure from the French government all the promises the United Irish
desired: the guarantee of a truly independent Ireland under sovereignty of the Irish people,
protection of private property, no “Chouanization,” and the non-involvement of religion in
politics. These are largely born out in the instructions the Directory gave to Hoche for the
expedition. They emphasize the creation of an independent Hibernian Republic as their
necessary goal, bringing aid to a people desirous for liberty, couched in very similar terminology
“Second Memorial,” Tone, Writings, vol. II, 95.
This line is a paraphrasing of a notable line from a presentation: Rafe Blaufarb, “Napoleon
and the Biens Nationaux” at the 2014 Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850, Oxford,
MS, 20 February 2014.
as the “edict of fraternity,” and freeing them from “slavery.”101 If the Catholic Committee or
members of the United Irishmen gathered at the moment of the French landing, they would be
recognized at the true representatives of the nation until a National Assembly could be convoked.
In the meanwhile, Hoche was to watch over the Republic and its representatives, ensure their
protection and intervene if necessary to prevent the accumulation of English agents. While they
authorized Hoche to intervene if necessary, the stress was on restraining the use of any force
unless absolutely necessary. Ireland was to be allied to France against England in the present
struggle. Upon arrival, the French were to have two immediate goals of the utmost importance:
“the organization of a simple and economical financial system and the creation of a formidable
navy.” At the same time, they were not to interfere with religious affairs, as “It does not seem
that Ireland would be ripe for a revolution of religion.” If the Irish revolution was secured and
Hoche possessed the necessary means, he would be further authorized to undertake the invasion
of England. But if, for some reason, Hoche could not defeat the English in Ireland, he was,
unbeknownst to Tone, ordered to organize a Chouannerie and hold out until the Directory could
reinforce him.102
What remained of the negotiations was how many troops the Directory would ultimately
provide and when. In the end, there was a major flaw on the Irish side. Tone, while having
proven himself to be the foremost of foreign diplomats in Paris and having arranged for an
unprecedented invasion of Ireland, was still only one man, and one man does not make a
revolution. He had not been in Ireland for months, was not involved in rousing the Irish people,
and was not in continued contact with the United Irish leadership, apart from what managed to
“Hibernia” is the Latin term for Ireland, often used to reference Ireland without British rule.
National Library, Ireland, MS 704/ 19-24, Instructions pour le Général en Chef Hoche sur
l’expédition d’Irlande, 3 (?) Thermidor An 4.
come from Napper Tandy in Philadelphia, to coordinate the effort. Tone could negotiate for all
of the French aid in the world, but without coordination with the Irish people, only the flimsiest
foundation could be laid. And while the French debated about international revolution, a similar
argument was reigning amongst the United Irishmen, questioning how their own revolution
should be enacted. Of primary concern was whether they should wait for French aid, whether
French aid could even be expected and whether it should be welcomed, or if the Irish should plan
from the start to depend solely on their inherent resources. This last point was especially
important since the Directory never set a solid date for the invasion, leaving Tone increasingly
frustrated thinking every day that the expedition would set sail in just a few days or weeks more.
As a matter of fact, the Directory was facing opposition from its own administration that
prevented quicker action. Royalist sympathizers and anglophiles in the Councils offered strong
opposition to the plan, and the Treasury, constitutionally independent of the Directory, refused to
provide the necessary funding thus far.103 While the French military position was improving,
with Gen. Napoléon Bonaparte’s impressive victories in Italy where the army forced the
Piedmontese out of the war and was pursuing Austrian and Papal forces, the Directory was
heading towards an overall crisis as the government shifted rightward and royalists continued
gaining ground, especially with the elections of 1 Germinal Year V (21 March 1797). Yet,
despite all of these flaws and concerns, a Franco-Irish relationship was forged, and the
movement could progress.
Denis Woronoff, The Thermidorean Regime and the Directory, 1794-1799, trans. by Julian
Jackson (1972; repr., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 81.
“Rise then with an unanimous movement and join your friends; we are your allies and your
brothers; united, let us purge the soil of Ireland of your haughty English masters; it is time that
their tyranny should cease.” –Gen. Lazare Hoche, 1796104
The autumn of 1796 found the United Irishmen and the Directory, despite their setbacks,
drawing closer to the enacting of the Irish revolution, which would be sparked, hoped Theobald
Wolfe Tone, by the arrival of a sizeable French force on the shores of Ireland. What remained
was to actually deliver that army as promised. As summer progressed, Tone worked with the
commander of the expedition, Gen. Lazare Hoche, to prepare the invasion, and by October the
expedition began gathering in Brest. At this time, Hoche divulged that along with the Irish
expedition, the Directory still maintained its scheme of chouannizing England with a landing of
six or seven thousand men.105 “It is, to be sure, a horrible mode of making war,” sighed Tone, yet
“England showed the way by disgorging so many hordes of emigrants into France, and the
enormities which have been committed in consequence in this country are such to justify France
in adopting any means of revenge; it is, in a word, strict retaliation. I am curious as to how
England will relish a war of Chouans in her own bowels.”106 Retaliation though it might have
been, it would potentially serve as a distraction, keeping England's focus off of Ireland.
“To the people of Ireland, 22 December 1796,” Tone, Writings, vol. II, 422.
For details on “Chouanization” and the negotiations for French assistance and alliance, see
Tone, Life, 625-26.
Most of the invasion force consolidated by early December 1796, with 46 sail, of which
18 were ships of the line; 14,450 troops; 41,644 stand of arms; Irish national cockades; and 5,000
uniforms taken from the defeated royalists at Quiberon Bay, 1795.107 However, naval
preparations were lagging. Moreover, the admiral in charge, royalist sympathizer Louis-Thomas
Villaret de Joyeuse, spent much time vying with Hoche to repurpose the expedition primarily for
the West Indies, which had initially only been meant as a lure to cover the tracks of the Irish
expedition. He was more interested in trying to reassert French authority and ideally restore
slavery, which he supported despite its abolition with the Decree of 16 Pluviôse Year II (4
February 1794), as compared to the Irish expedition, which he opposed. However, Hoche won
out with the Directory, which replaced Joyeuse with Admiral Justin-Bonaventure Morard de
Galles and gave Hoche direct command of the naval expedition itself.108 At this crucial junction,
December whittling away, chances slim that the expedition would be able to set sail anytime
soon, Hoche offered the redirection of the army. Thanks to the great reversals on the Italian
front, where Gen. Bonaparte transformed a desperate situation into a rout of the Austrians, the
Directory resolved that Italy was the crucial theater of operations, and so contemplated relocating
Hoche and his forces to the Army of the Sambre et Meuse for a final push east to Vienna.109
Before the Irish expedition could be cancelled, immediate circumstances intervened.
Around the evening of 11 December 1796, Hoche judged the seas had calmed enough and
conditions were ripe for the expedition, and, reinvigorated, he put the expedition to sail by 15
December. Meanwhile, the Directory had only begun to mull over the reappointment of Hoche to
Marianne Elliott, Partners in Revolution: The United Irishmen and France (1982; repr., New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 111.
National Library, Ireland, MS 704/ 28, Extraits des régistres des délibérations du Directoire
Exécutif, 4 Brumaire An 5 [25 October 1796].
Marquis de Grouchy, 66.
the Sambre-et-Meuse on 12 December, and procrastinated on making a decision. It was not until
17 December that the Directory finally sent word to Hoche to officially disband the expedition,
but by then the expedition had been gone already for two days. In the meanwhile, Hoche had left
behind Gen. Jean Joseph Amable Humbert, who had previously served under him in the Army of
the Rhin et Moselle, and Irish-American chef de brigade William Tate in charge of preparing la
Légion des Francs, also known as la Légion Noire (the Black Legion), the force for Chouanizing
Almost immediately the expedition ran into trouble. The winter storms in the Channel
were particularly rough that year. As one of the sailors, Moreau de Jonnes, commented, “As the
solstice approaches the hurricanes redouble in violence and the sea becomes so heavy that
vessels are often disabled, their boats carried away, and their bulwarks often stove in as by a
cannon shot. In certain years, for unknown reasons, these hurricanes spread and seem endowed
with heavy an increased power of destruction. In the autumn of 1796 there were signs that one of
these terrible epochs might be expected.”110 In addition, the sea was covered in a thick fog.
Hoche's frigate, under Admiral Galles and including Tone, became separated from the main
What happened next has been a subject on much contention ever since. The rest of the
navy began arriving piecemeal near the coast of Bantry Bay in the southernmost part of Ireland
on 18 December. With Hoche and Galles missing, the French forces fell under the guidance of
two officers: Gen. Emmanuel Grouchy for the army and Adm. François Bouvet for the navy.
After a week of sitting off shore, the expedition turned back for France on 25 October without
ever disembarking, followed by Hoche, who sailed around Ireland until 31 December before
Moreau de Jonnès, Adventures in the Revolution and under the Consulate, trans. by Cyril
Hammond (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970), 97.
turning back. The question that remains is who or what is to blame. Traditionally, especially after
the fall of the Empire in 1815, blame has fallen largely on Gen. Grouchy. The idea of Grouchy
failing to take the initiative and land forces independently of Hoche harkens to Grouchy’s
infamous failings at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 where he refused to join combat. However,
according to the apologetics of Grouchy’s own son, among others, the general was the one
pushing for a landing either at Bantry Bay or at the mouth of the River Shannon, but he was
opposed by the admirals.111 He would also later claim that Hoche never gave him explicit
instructions to disembark in such an eventuality as their separation. The latter point was merely
scapegoating, but it is true that at least Adm. Galles had desired the abandonment of the
expedition. As such, Grouchy alone was not at fault, but since Hoche, as commander of the
army, had been charged with authority over the expedition and its navy, and Grouchy was the
one acting in his stead, it can reasonably be charged that Grouchy bore responsibility for the
The French had been anchoring off of an ideal area for landing, as far as potential
locations went. Shortly after this episode, English Gen. Dalrymple wrote to the Chief Secretary
of Ireland, Thomas Pelham, “There are a variety of harbors in the West proper for the purpose of
debarkation, but Bantry Bay is by far the most so.” He also noted, returning to considerations of
proposals by Grouchy, that “The Shannon is long and needs a variety of winds to make it
feasible.”112 Tone’s estimate of government forces in Ireland was also quite correct; instead of
30,000 men, there were 33,025, including 4,240 cavalry.113 Considering the quality of the French
Marquis de Grouchy, 84.
National Library, Ireland, MS 809, From General Dalrymple to Mr. Pelham, February 1st
National Library, Ireland, MS 809, Effective Forces in Ireland. On Tone’s estimates and
commander, Hoche, and the quality of his experienced Army of the Ocean, veterans of the
Vendée and the Rhine, chances of victory, even with the lightest of recruitment of Irish on
arrival, immensely favored the Franco-Irish forces. In addition, it must be noted that the British
navy failed to intercept this sizeable expedition (although there was some harassment) due to a
combination of the fog and French counter-intelligence, which successfully kept the destination
of the mission a secret while leading the British to believe it was meant for Portugal. Although
the expedition failed, the bulk of the forces were salvaged.
To be more precise, the French forces for Ireland were salvaged, but that leaves an
exception: the Black Legion. Despite the failure of the Irish expedition, the Directory went ahead
with its plans for Great Britain. Whereas Tone believed the force planned for this trip would be
5-6,000 strong, it actually numbered 1-2,000, composed primarily of convicts and prisoners of
war.114 The plan was to sail up St. George’s Channel and land in or near Cardigan Bay on the
West coast of Wales. If they should discover the River Severn little or undefended, the fleet was
to sail down it and destroy Bristol to “strike terror and amazement into the very heart of the
capital of England.”115 From that point they were to cross the Severn and redeploy beneath
Cardiff, then move Northward towards Liverpool and establish a position past the River Dee.
The force would remain mobile, relying heavily on cavalry. They were also to recruit people
along the way, aiming primarily at the lower class, playing off of the British class system.
Britons that joined would be formed into separate units under French officers, while Frenchmen
For examples of the estimates, see: Elliott, Partners in Revolution, 117 and “Les Cinq
Expéditions Envoyées par le Directoire en Irlande et en Angleterre: Du 15 Décembre 1796 au 16
Septembre 1798” in Sabretache, Carnet de la Sabretache: Revue Militaire Rétrospective, vol.
VIII (Paris : Berger-Levrault et Cic, Libraires-Éditeurs, 1900), 536-537.
Lazare Hoche, Authentic Copies of the Instructions Given by Gen. Hoche to Colonel Tate
Previous to His Landing on the Coast of South Wales in the Beginning of 1797 (London: Printed
for J. Wright, 1798), 8.
encountered would be allowed to join the main force, so long as care was taken to prevent them
from forming separate sects. Overall, their purpose would be to disrupt commerce and military
movements and distract the British government by acts such as burning bridges, factories, and
docks and plundering towns.116 In practice, none of this came to pass. Tate’s forces landed at
Carregwastad Point in Wales on the night of 22 February 1797, and by the end of 24 February
they surrendered to the British at Fishguard after some local plundering and light skirmishing.
They would later be repatriated to France.
Although the expedition to Ireland failed, it is worth looking into the proclamations
prepared for release in Ireland to see what insight they give to French expectations and plans.
Hoche, with the assistance of Tone and Gen. Louis Chérin, prepared a declaration to the people
of Ireland that assured, “Brave Irishmen, in the name of the French republic, ever faithful to her
engagements, I promise you the most inviolable respect for persons and properties, and the free
and undisturbed exercise of all religions, without distinction or preference; we come to
emancipate, not to conquer your country, and we bring you the succor of which you have need to
constitute yourselves an independent nation.”117 Gen. Grouchy also prepared a similar document,
decreeing, “People of Ireland, France has not been sent here to conquer you. Only see in us your
faithful allies… We will break your chains, but we swear to respect your persons, your
properties, and your religions.”118 Both generals were exceedingly clear about the need and
desire to protect sovereignty, property, and religion, and renouncing ideas of conquest.
Moreover, they stressed that they were assisting the Irish in what was their own struggle, giving
reason for the Irish to join the arriving French forces rather than let the French and British clash
Hoche, 7-20.
“To the people of Ireland, 22 December 1796,” Tone, Writings, vol. II, 422.
“Proclamation by General Emmanuel Grouchy, 24 December 1796,” Tone, Writings, vol. II,
on their own. This was not to be France “saving” Ireland, but aiding the Irish in freeing
Despite the survival of the bulk of the French expedition, the position of the Irish back
home was becoming increasingly perilous. Even before the expedition in December 1796, the
authorities passed the Insurrection Act on 22 February (and given the royal assent on 24 March),
which would remain in effect until modified by a similar bill in 1807. This law condemned
anyone administering and assisting the administration of oaths or engagement in any sort of
society, brotherhood, or confederation not explicitly allowed by the authorities to death “without
the benefit of clergy” and condemned those who took such oaths to transportation for life, unless
they could demonstrate that they had been forcibly “compelled by inevitable necessity” to do
so.119 It also increased the power of the authorities to crack down on areas and homes believed to
be storing weapons, allowing more domestic raids and the terrorizing of villages. In the
aftermath of the French expedition, these repressive measures were only magnified and British
forces in the kingdom augmented. They stepped up efforts to disarm the United Irishmen, greatly
increasing their arrest rate, and torched the homes of suspected sympathizers.120
The situation facing the Irish revolutionaries internationally altered greatly in the new
year, 1797. The United Irish Executive sent another agent to the Continent via Hamburg, Edward
Joseph Lewines, to obtain material aid from France, Holland, and Spain, although concentrating
on the first one. Napper Tandy, who had for several months at this point lost contact with Tone
although was still in touch with his comrades in France and Ireland, was called upon by the
French government to come to Paris to assist with the formation of another expedition. He would
“The Insurrection Act, 1796” in Curtis and McDowell, eds., Irish Historical Documents, 204Gallaher, 12.
arrive in Paris via Hamburg by June that year.121 Together these three, Tone, Tandy, and
Lewines, were the principal Irish agents in France. However, this would not be a joyous reunion.
Tandy, a man with a large ego based in his cherished popular reputation, resented Tone’s
dominance in the French political scene, and sought to undermine confidence in Tone for his
own gain. As such, a split began to grow in the Irish colony in Paris, which would come to haunt
the movement. At this point, the split was based more on pure personality and ego than on
substantive issues.
French policy towards Ireland remained relatively unaltered after Bantry Bay. Little
serious repercussions came for those in charge of the expedition, the failure being ascribed
primarily to the storms and weather, although Hoche was relocated back to the Rhine in the
meanwhile. The bigger concern for the Directory was not why the expedition did not land, but
why no Irish rising could be seen in support of the French while they were anchored off the
shore. That had been one of the greatest causes of delay all along. French policy had been to
offer aid once a foreign revolution had already been established, and held that the Irish must first
rise and be able to hold out on their own for at least a few months. In turn, Tone and the United
Irishmen had argued the whole time that if the French would just land the Irish would rise up, but
the fear of British reprisals without a guarantee of success would prevent a rising otherwise.
They also claimed that the French were supposed to land in the West, where they had been
expected, specifically Galway Bay, and if so the people would have risen, or that even if the
French had landed in Bantry Bay there still might have been a rising. Moreover, the Irish had no
warning at all at to when to expect this expedition, and so they were caught completely by
Coughlan, 113-14. Coughlan mistakenly lists Tone’s awareness of Tandy’s arrival on 26
May, when in actuality Tone’s passage is from 13 June. Tone, Writings, vol. III: France, the
Rhine, Lough Swilly and death of Tone, January 1797 to November 1798, 81.
surprise. Ultimately the Directory yielded, and apart from still launching the aforementioned
expedition to Wales, they maintained much the same policy in general towards the Irish
One aspect that would change in the Irish policy, however, was an increased role
calculated for the Batavian Republic. The Directory called upon the Dutch, primarily their navy
and potentially their ports as points of departure, to assist in the invasion of Ireland. Plans were
afoot for an invasion in July 1797, involving 13,500 Dutch troops aided by the guidance of Tone.
However, contrary winds delayed departure for several weeks, allowing the British fleet to move
into position to counter the invasion, which was therefore cancelled.122 The Directory proposed a
similar invasion of Scotland in October, with 15,000 Dutch to be followed by 10-15,000 French
troops from the Army of the North. It would supposedly be easier to land there, and with less
enemy forces present, than in Ireland for the moment. The successful execution of this plan
would also ideally further drain Ireland of troops for an upcoming invasion. Plans were also
discussed for a smaller simultaneous expedition to Ireland of some 5,000 troops. Nothing came
of these plans either.123
In Europe the situation was rapidly changing. Gen. Bonaparte’s victories in Italy,
combined with the renewed offensive of Gens. Hoche and Jean Moreau along the Rhine, forced
Austria, England’s sole major ally on the Continent, to sue for peace with the Treaty of Leoben,
1797. At the same time, from 16 April onwards, the British navy at Spithead mutinied, followed
on 12 May by those at the Nore, lasting respectively until 15 May and 13 June. As CUNY
historian Clifford D. Conner noted, “The massive presence of Irish rebels in the navy certainly
had a major impact on the events of 1797. Generally speaking, the larger the number of Irishmen
Coughlan, 115.
“To General Hermann Wilhelm Daendels,” Tone, Writings, vol. III, 163-169.
in a given ship’s crew, the more solidly supportive that ship was of the mutiny.”124 Combined
with the discontent of the navy, the British population appeared increasingly wary of war as
military recruitment and prices for foodstuffs like bread soared, not to mention the scare of the
French expedition to Ireland and the invasion of Wales, which stands to this day as the last
invasion of Britain. In this context, England finally began negotiations with France. This scared
the Irish revolutionaries, who feared that peace would mean the shelving of invasion plans.
However, the talks fell apart. As Talleyrand, the Directory’s foreign minister, observed about
England’s peace proposals, “In this, she was not sincere. The English Cabinet was then forced to
feign entering on negotiations with us, in order to overcome its difficulties at home.”125 By 18
October France and Austria signed the Treaty of Campo Formio, which had been negotiated by
Gen. Bonaparte, leaving France largely at peace on the Continent, confirming France’s Cisalpine
and Ligurian Sister Republics in Italy, and isolating England in the war.
While autumn 1797 brought the collapse of the Coalition on the Continent, it also
brought significant developments in France. As royalist influence in the government continued to
grow, marked notably by the election of aforementioned royalist sympathizer Gen. Pichegru as
President of the Council of Five Hundred, Directors Paul Barras, Jean-François Rewbell, and
Louis de la Révellière-Lépeaux, their followers, and the remnants of the Jacobins left in the
government decided purge those elements.126 The result was the Coup of 18 Fructidor Year V (4
September 1797), where Gen. Hoche led part of his Army of Sambre et Meuse and Gen. Pierre
Augereau led part of the Army of Italy (the latter sent by Gen. Bonaparte in Italy) to clear the
Conner, 91.
Talleyrand, vol. I, 193.
The Council of Five Hundred was the lower chamber of the bicameral legislature under the
Directorial Regime, as compared to the upper chamber, the Council of Elders, also known as the
Council of Ancients.
assembly of royalists and their real and supposed sympathizers. Interestingly enough, Hoche had
marched his troops closer to Paris in July for the sake of the coup on the pretext of transferring
his troops to Brest for the upcoming invasion of Ireland.127 Unfortunately for the Irish, the coup
cost them one of their major supporters in the government and Hoche’s own friend, Director
Lazare Carnot, who fled the country into exile in Geneva. In the aftermath of the coup, Hoche
was appointed the new Minister of War, but he quickly resigned in favor of returning to duty on
the Rhine. The Irish cause was dealt a second immense blow in quick succession with Hoche’s
death from illness soon thereafter on 19 September, depriving the expedition of its famed
Yet the loss of Hoche did not mean the permanent decapitation of the expedition’s head.
Like the Hydra of lore, the expedition soon boasted a new head: Napoléon Bonaparte. In
November 1797 the Directory appointed Gen. Bonaparte as the commander of the Army of
England, which had 50,000 troops, many transferred from the Army of Italy, and nearly 50
warships.128 Lewines welcomed these developments, writing to the Directory, “This decree alone
and the name of the conqueror of Austria and the liberator of Italy will strike fear into the
treacherous Cabinet of St. James.”129 Tone quickly offered his services to Napoléon as well on
12 November.130 However, they were not without reserve concerning the new commander.
Several months earlier, on 1 July, Tone had commented to Gen. Hoche concerning news of
Napoléon reorganizing the government of Genoa, which offers insight into concerns of the
nature of French aid: “I thought [of it] as trenching on the indispensable rights of the people…If
Furet, Revolutionary France, 182.
Felix Markham, Napoleon (New York: Mentor, 1966), 58.
The Cabinet of St. James refers to the British government. National Library, Ireland, MS 705/
34-35, To Citizen Director from Edw. J. Lewines, minister plenipotentiary of Ireland to the
French Republic.
“To General Napoléon Bonaparte, 12 November 1797,” Tone, Writings, vol. III, 173.
Bonaparte commanded in Ireland and were to publish so indiscreet a proclamation as that, it
would have the most ruinous effects.”131 When Lewines and Tone first met Napoléon on 21
December, Tone noted that “it appears he is a good deal uninformed” of Irish affairs, noting in
particular that Napoléon considered the population of Ireland to be less than half of what it really
was, some 2 million rather than closer to 4.5 million.132 Despite concerns with Napoléon’s
knowledge of Ireland and the absence of a sense of particular exuberance, they found “the
greatest in Europe” capable and eager to gather information, and they entrusted themselves to his
With control over appointments for his staff, Napoléon appointed many of his best
commanders, including generals of division Louis-Alexandre Berthier (chef de l’état-major),
Laurent de Gouvion Saint-Cyr, François Lefebvre, André Masséna, Jean Serurier, and Claude
Victor along with generals of brigade Jean Lannes, François Kellerman, Joachim Murat
(dragoons), Louis Davout, Nicolas Oudinot, Jean Soult, and Michel Ney (cavalry), that is to say,
a full half of what would later under the Empire [1804-15] become Napoléon’s elite marshalate
(thirteen out of a total twenty six). Also included in the list were Charles Kilmaine as general of
division, Jean Hardy and Jean Humbert as generals of brigade, and Jean Sarrazin and Theobald
Wolfe Tone (referred to by his covert name “Smith”) as adjutant generals.134 In terms of the
navy, he requested Admiral Laurent Truguet, who he considered the best.135 The reason for
The incident in question concerned Napoléon, during the Italian Campaign in 1797, creating
the Ligurian Republic out of the Republic of Genoa and fiefs of the House of Savoy. “Diary, 12
June- 14 July 1797,” Tone, Writings, vol. III, 98-99.
“Diary, 21-3 December 1797,”Tone, Writings, vol. III, 184-85.
“Diary, 21-3 December 1797,”Tone, Writings, vol. III, 186-87.
“2406. Arrêté, Paris, 23 nivôse an VI (12 janvier 1798)” in Napoléon Bonaparte, La
Correspondance de Napoléon Ier, vol. III (Paris: Imprimerie Impériale, 1859), 632-33.
“2321. Au Directoire Exécutif, Quartier général, Milan, 15 brumaire an VI (5 novembre
1797),” Bonaparte, Correspondance, vol. III, 533-34.
detailing all of these officers is primarily to demonstrate that this was not some minor operation,
something to be taken lightly. Rather, it encompassed some of the greatest leaders and resources
at the Directory’s disposal, and one far in excess of anything the English could match against
them if given the chance.
Despite all the preparations for the expedition, by 23 February 1798 Gen. Bonaparte
wrote to the Directory requesting that the invasion of England be delayed in favor of reinforcing
positions along the Rhine or launching an expedition to the Levant. Judging the naval
preparations along the Channel to be inadequate, he estimated the expedition would not be ready
until the next year.136 In the meanwhile, Napoléon and Foreign Minister Talleyrand urged the
Directory that an invasion of Egypt would threaten Britain’s position in India and force England
to come to peace, in addition to potentially providing France with what they hoped would be a
wealthy colony.137 In the end, Napoléon’s plan won through and the Egyptian expedition began
syphoning resources, soldiers, and officers from the Army of England, although the Irish
expedition was never actually cancelled. Indeed, Napoléon even threw out a scheme to the
Directory regarding the invasion of England. Maintaining part of the Army of England on the
coast and continuing to prepare the navy would force England “to keep up immense preparations
which would ruin their finances.” By September 1798, following the Egyptian expedition, the
Mediterranean navy could be augmented by two newly built ships and nine Venetian ships, as
“2419. Au Directoire Exécutif, Paris, 5 ventôse an VI (23 février 1798),” Bonaparte,
Correspondance, vol. III, 644-48.
It was only “hoped” because Europe knew little about Egypt at that time, as it was an
unstudied area under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire, more specifically the semiautonomous Mamluks. Indeed, even to the Egyptians the understanding of hieroglyphics was
lost. Napoléon’s Egyptian campaign would be what sparked the birth of Egyptology. In terms of
the nature of what was intended for Egypt, that falls outside of the present purview, but to
address it in brief, there was a debate to some extent as to whether Egypt would be a full French
colony or more of an immediate base of operations to launch an invasion of India. Either way,
Egypt’s resources were to be exploited in the interim for French interests.
well as those that could be potentially ceded from Spain and the Ligurian Republic and be
brought to reinforce the fleet at Brest. From there, they could land 40,000 soldiers in England
while the Dutch fleet landed 10,000 in Scotland. “Executed in this way, and in the months of
Brumaire and Frimaire [roughly November and December], the invasion of England will be
virtually guaranteed.”138
On 19 May 1798 Napoléon’s Egyptian expedition set sail with 38,000 soldiers, excluding
sailors but including at least 167 savants and civilian experts, while what was left of the Army of
England remained along the Channel.139 As it turned out, revolution broke out in Ireland shortly
thereafter, in the last week of May, spearheaded by the United Irishmen. However, it was too late
to recall or redirect the Egyptian expedition, even if the Directory had wanted to. It is fascinating
just to think Napoléon actually could have joined in this crucial point in the Irish revolution, but
it was not to be. By 19 July 1798 the Directory authorized a new expedition to Ireland under
Gen. Jean Humbert, the aforementioned comrade of the late Gen. Hoche. The level of setbacks in
Ireland, however, does not appear to have been known at this point. The very same day the
Egyptian expedition departed, 19 May, the authorities in Ireland arrested several of the leading
figures of the United Irishmen, most importantly Lord Edward Fitzgerald who was killed in the
struggle, while they had already arrested Arthur O’Connor in February. The British and their
Irish administration were not caught entirely unawares this time, and had planned on this
disruption of the movement before the rising occurred. As they had hoped, the Irish uprising in
most of the country was disorganized and ill prepared to meet the British counter-offensive,
although the rebellion in Wexford proved far harder to suppress. A judge at the time, Irishman
“2502. Note au Directoire Exécutif, Paris, 24 germinal an VI (13 avril 1798),” Bonaparte,
Correspondance, vol. IV (1860), 75-77.
David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon: The Mind and Method of History’s Greatest
Soldier (New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1966), 213-14.
Jonah Barrington observed that “The rebels were totally unpaid- many of them nearly unclothedfew of them well armed- all of them undisciplined, with scarcely any artillery- no cavalry- their
powder and ammunition mostly prepared by themselves- no tents, or covering- no money- no
certainty of provisions- obedience to their chiefs, and adherence to their cause were altogether
voluntary... yet they fought with wonderful perseverance, address, and intrepidity.”140
Nevertheless, just shortly after the Directory had authorized a new expedition to Ireland, the
United Irish leadership agreed to the Kilmainham Treaty on 26 July.
The original plan the United Irish, through Tone, proposed involved landing 5-12,000
French soldiers in the north near Belfast or Dublin, the main centers of administration and
republican support. In that instance, the British and Ascendency government would be forced
out, and there could be a smooth transfer of control of the postal service, the treasury, the banks,
the Custom House, and the seat of the Legislature to Franco-Irish control. It would then be easy
to convoke the National Convention, which would be easily established with the necessary
supplies and infrastructure, and it would send a clear signal to the rest of the country to join the
Irish republic.141 What the Directory ended up sending was a three-part invasion, beginning with
an expeditionary force of roughly 1,000 soldiers under Gen. Humbert departing from Rochefort
in conjunction with 3,000 under Gen. Jean Hardy from Brest, to be supplied by 260 under
Napper Tandy from Dunkirk, and these would be reinforced shortly thereafter by a further 4,000
under Gen. Louis Chérin.142
Sir Jonah Barrington, Historic Memoirs of Ireland; Comprising Secret Records of the
National Convention, the Rebellion, and the Union; With Delineations of the Principal
Characters Connected with these Transactions, vol. II (London: Richard Bentley, New
Burlington Street, 1833), 254.
“Second Memorial,” Tone, Writings, vol. II, 88-90.
John Cooney, Humbert: A French General in Rebel Ireland, 1798 (Reprowest: Humbert
Publications, 1998), 13.
On the morning of 22 August, Humbert landed in Kilcummin Harbor, by the village of
Killala in County Mayo in the West. Tone's old proclamations from 1796 were published, in
addition to a new one decreeing, “After several unsuccessful attempts, behold Frenchmen arrived
amongst you… We swear the most inviolable respect for your properties, your laws, and all your
religious opinions. Be free, be masters in your own country… The moment of breaking your
chains is arrived. Our triumphant troops are now flying to the extremities of the earth to tear up
the roots of wealth and tyranny of our enemies. Union, Liberty, The Irish Republic. Such is our
shout. Let us march. Our hearts are devoted to you; our glory is in your happiness.”143 After
defeating the British at the “Races of Castlebar” in the center of County Mayo on 27 August, the
French occupied that city and Humbert called for the organization of the Irish provisional
government, often referred to as the Republic of Connaught because of its situation in that
province. Rather than a large National Convention composed of the Catholic General Committee
and elected Dissenters, the government consisted of President John Moore, a local bourgeois
gentleman appointed by Gen. Humbert, and a cabinet of twelve men nominated by Moore and
appointed by the general. In essence, the provisional government did not so much operate the
overall functions of state for Connaught as it organized provisions and recruitment for the
military, which was indeed its primary charge by Gen. Humbert: “The government shall
immediately attend to the organization of the militia of the province of Connaught, and to the
supplies for the French and Irish armies.”144
Those men appointed to the government were all Catholics, local notables, and not
particularly enthusiastic supporters of the Irish republic. Nevertheless, they performed their jobs
Issued in English and reprinted in Stephen Dunford and Guy Beiner, In Humbert's Footsteps:
Mayo 1798 (Fadó Books, 2006), 49.
Reprinted and translated in Dunford, 122.
adequately in most respects. They did not exceed their positions, for better or for worse, and they
remained inactive on any property or land reform. Supposedly, in the words of Irish historian J.
G. Simms, they were “Men of moderation who administered their areas reasonably and earned
the commendation of local protestants.”145 On the other hand, they failed to create a public treaty
of alliance between Ireland and France, as had been agreed upon, binding them legally together
and adding an air of legitimacy to the republic to grant it a better bargaining position, or really
any diplomatic position at all. They were not wholly to blame for this, as they were in most
respects more of a municipal council than a provisional national government. Nevertheless, this
still remained a general failing, which would deny the Irish rebels more broadly even the
pretense of legal standing as official participants of a legitimate government against British
In addition to Humbert, Gen. Hardy also wrote a proclamation, his addressed to the
United Irishmen, before reaching Ireland: “UNITED IRISHMEN! The persecution which you
experience on behalf of a government atrociously perfidious has excited sentiments of
indignation and horror in the breast of every friend of humanity…I do not enter your country
with hostile views, to spread terror and desolation around me; I come not to dictate the law.
Companion and friend of the gallant and unfortunate Hoche, I follow scrupulously the line of
conduct which he had chalked out…I present to you my brave companions…Long trained in the
art of humbling tyrants, under whatever form they may present themselves, they will join their
courage to yours, they will mix their bayonets with your pikes, and IRELAND SHALL BE
FREE FOR EVER!... Unfortunate inhabitants who have seen your houses, your properties,
J.G. Simms, “Connacht in the Eighteenth Century,” Irish Historical Studies 11, no. 42
(September 1958): 132.
wrapped in flames by your pitiless enemies, your losses shall be repaired…”146 Among all of the
inspiring phrases and calls to action, it is important to note that the emphasis remained, as the
Irish representatives and the Directory had stressed since 1796, on the French as a moderating
presence and military spearhead. Irish sovereignty was explicitly guaranteed, the ills addressed
against tyrannical government instead of religion, and at least as important, property was
In observing the behavior of the French forces in this episode, they indeed lived out their
respect for the principles established for them of how the Republic should act: sovereignty,
religion, property. In addition to his proclamation, Humbert repeated his intentions concerning
property when meeting Killala's Anglican Bishop Joseph Stock, and relayed that “the very
precise order of the Directory was to establish a proper harmony between Protestants and
Catholics and to induce them to unite for the common cause.”147 The military was not forced into
much invasive action concerning requisitioning. Indeed, the officers, rather than infringing on
the much-noted wealth of the Protestants in Castlebar, complained of the Irish republic's inability
to get the troops anything more than just potatoes and some beef and mutton, let alone bread,
although the limited meat, bread, and wine the Franco-Irish forces procured, despite being
insufficient for the French officers, was still progress for the Irish peasants.148 Gen. Sarrazin
earlier, following the capture of Killala, regarded that the victory thus far had afforded their Irish
comrades “a favorable opportunity for drinking wine and eating bread, which was a novelty for
“Address of Gen. Jean Hardy to the United Irishmen, 7 August 1798 [Version C],” Tone,
Writings, vol. III, 318.
Richard Hayes, “An Officer's Account of the French Campaign in Ireland in 1798,” The Irish
Sword 2, iss. 6 (Summer 1995), 112.
Louis-Octave Fontaine, “Notice historique de la descente des Français en Ireland au mois de
thermidor, an VI, sous les ordres du général Humbert” in J. Sarrazin, J.-L. Jobit, and L.-O.
Fontaine, La Descente des Français en Irlande, 1798 (Paris: La Vouivre, 1998), 78.
them. Water had been their only drink and potatoes their only food,” in addition to the potential
for an annual meal of real meat.149
In terms of the seriousness of the dedication of the French to protecting property, Judge
Barrington reported that apart from restraining themselves from pillaging, the French went out of
their way to pay money for everything and even hanged some of the Irish rebels who tried to
plunder.150 Apart from the fine estates of the Protestant clergy like Bishop Stock, which served
as a base for the French officers, the forces noted the peasantry for their hovels. Indeed, when.
Humbert asked Sarrazin, “Do you not find that Ireland quite resembles France?,” Sarrazin
replied, “Without a doubt, but France in the Middle Ages.”151 Tone had called for the
nationalization of English, church, and absentee properties, as had United Irish leader Miles
Byrne, who wrote, “The country possessed all the resources necessary for this great undertaking;
the church property becoming immediately the property of the state; and the estates of all those
who should emigrate, or remain in the English army, fighting against their country being
confiscated, the revenue arising from these funds would have been employed to provide for and
defray all the expenses necessary for the defense and independence of the country.”152
Nevertheless, even at the cost of hampering the war effort, the French forces stood by their
pledge to respect and protect the rights of property.
The French likewise kept their vows on religion. Indeed, despite the possible oddity of
the government that was degraded as “atheistic” for its religious policies, ignobly and
inaccurately dubbed overall “dechristianization,” coming to the aid of a nation with an
Hayes, 113.
Barrington, 280n.
Cooney, “En Campagne Avec L'Armée D'Humbert,” Études Irlandaises 23, no. 2 (1998),
Byrne, vol. I, 8-9. For Tone on property, see CHAPTER 3- FORGING A REVOLUTION.
overwhelmingly Catholic nation, this was not a significant issue.153 Dechristianization was
fundamentally about the necessities of military requisitions and overturning the feudal system in
France, with the Catholic Church being the largest feudal power in Europe, than with a program
to abolish Catholicism, let alone religion altogether. Nevertheless, proceeding on the basis of
reputation alone, some of the French themselves noted this irony and how the Irish peasantry
swore loyalty “To France and the Sacred Virgin!” and that “They consider us their liberators and
protectors of their Catholic religion.”154 That is the fundamental distinction: the French did not
represent “anti-religion,” but rather “religious freedom,” which worked perfectly into the United
Irish desire for a truly secular state. The Irish peasantry in general saw the French, as the French
republicans typically saw themselves, as removing religion from the state and perhaps even
moving it into the private sphere, but not as removing religion from people's lives altogether.
French actions towards property and religion were successful enough that English provocations
had no active effect, including their publication in the London Times of the falsified “Mayo
Manifesto,” supposedly written by Sarrazin on 6 September, claiming “You [the Irish] shall live
on the spoils of war and the labours of others...We [the French] have made all the nations we
have conquered happy, by arresting their property...Religion is a bondage intolerable to free
minds; we have banished it from our own country.”155
Despite France itself being overwhelmingly Catholic, detractors undermined the
revolutionary regimes as “atheistic” even when there was still the monarchic theocracy under the
Bourbons, as early as when the government began nationalizing Church properties in November
Cooney, “En Campagne,” 144. The “Sacred Virgin” is a reference to Christian mythology
wherein Mary, the mother of human deity Jesus, is believed to have delivered him via a “virgin
birth” in keeping with religious prophecies. The honoring of Mary as the “mother of god” is
particularly associated with Catholicism.
“Mayo Manifesto” in John Killen, ed., The Decade of the United Irishmen: Contemporary
Accounts 1791-1801 (Belfast: The Blackstaff Press, 1997), 155.
Despite such efforts by the British, the actions of the French forces and the Irish republic
undermined their claims and schemes. Not only did the Irish republic and French forces not enact
such land seizures and redefine and reorganize property, leaving them innocent of those charges
brought against them, but indeed such inaction fundamentally handicapped their efforts. It
prevented a potential boom in active peasant support in exchange for material gains. Instead,
while there was no dearth of verbal support and feting of the Franco-Irish effort, recruitment of
local Irish was notably lacking, especially in light of the small number of French troops present
and the bloody suppression of the Irish risings that began prior to the French landing. At the
same time, such efforts did not prevent the scorn of the British and Irish authorities, which
suppressed the revolts in Ireland with just as much of an iron hand as if they had indeed been
guilty of the radical transformation of the Irish nation. In essence, the state envisioned and
enacted by the Irish revolutionaries, in what limited capacity it existed, was overall a bourgeois
state akin to those of its sister revolutionary states of France and the U.S., in the hands of a rising
commercial and industrial elite tied to landed interests and private property, aware of the plight
of the peasantry and workers, yet unable to speak for their interests. The French finally suffered
defeat and surrendered to British forces under Lord Charles Cornwallis and Gen. Gerard Lake at
the Battle of Ballinamuck on 8 September 1798, having reached into the center of the country.
The British completed the conquest of the Franco-Irish forces with the recapture of Killala on 23
September, marking an end to the “Year of the French.”
“On what trifles does the fate of Empires depend! If instead of entering upon the Egyptian
expedition, I had invaded Ireland; if some slight derangement of my plans, had not thrown
obstacles in the way of my Boulogne enterprise, what would England have been to-day? What
would have been the situation of the continent, and the whole political world?”
–Napoléon, 1816156
The British defeat of the French forces at Ballinamuck and the recapture of Killala in late
September 1798 marked the end of open combat in Ireland. The captured French soldiers were
repatriated to France by and large as part of the formalities of “legitimate” warfare. However, the
same protocols could hardly be said to have applied to the Irish. The country remained under
military law, overseen by Lord Lieutenant Cornwallis. For at least the next year, the British
forces held courts martial across Ireland, reported at least into December of 1799 if not later.157
While the army followed normal procedures for the French forces proper, especially for the
officers, they did not hold those standards for Irish officers, let alone the common soldiers, even
for those Irishmen who had received official commissions from the French. Among others,
Matthew Tone, brother Theobald Wolfe Tone, was captured and hanged as a traitor rather than
treated as an enemy combatant, as was John Moore, president of the provisional government in
Count Emmanuel de Las Cases, Memorial de Sainte Hélène: Journal of the Private Life and
Conversations of the Emperor Napoleon at Saint Helena, vol. II, part 3 (Boston: Wells and Lilly,
1823), 167.
For instance, Le Moniteur: An 8, Vendémiaire à Ventôse, 1799-1800, No. 77, 17 Frimaire An
8, 303, i.e., 8 December 1799, reports from 21 November 1799 [30 Brumaire An 8] “Courts
martial are still active in many districts,” especially in County Meath, which is not to mention the
upcoming trial of Napper Tandy and his associates, let alone less prominent cases.
Castlebar. After Gen. Hardy’s force was intercepted off of Donegal at the Battle of Tory Island,
Wolfe Tone himself was captured and sentenced to the same fate, although he escaped such
public degradation through suicide following his trial. Napper Tandy was set to meet the same
fate, and was even forcibly extradited from neutral territory, but his fate will be seen later.
Suspects were often not spared a half-hanging, nor their homes a torching. In all the
failed uprising of '98 cost some 30,000 Irish their lives, mostly outside of battle, treated like
colonial “others” without the benefits of Irish or English constitutional law, in what could aptly
be termed Ireland's own Terror at the hands of British forces.158 Indeed, French historian
Edouard Driault once referred to the Ireland as England’s Vendée, arguing, “Victory against
France required England to unite all its forces, mainly Ireland, as Napoléon reconciled the
Vendée with the Consulate.”159 While large-scale combat ended in September 1798, resistance
continued in all four provinces until 1804.160 The post-rebellion period witnessed not only
resistance, but reactionary White Terror, especially in south Leinster, which served to undermine
attempts by the authorities to enact any real policy of reconciliation, while encouraging the
revolutionaries in their analysis that the government was not able to protect them. Although the
revolutionaries continued, in keeping with the United Irish tradition, to generally distinguish
between loyalists and Protestants, those ultra-conservatives of the white terror, primarily the
militia and lower peasantry of the yeomanry encouraged by the Ascendency and landed gentry,
targeted Catholics broadly and were fueled more by vengeance then useful objects in a
While there is no authoritative source on precise numbers of casualties outside of battle,
30,000 is the rough figure of general consensus. For example, see Adam Zamoyski, Holy
Madness: Romantics, Patriots, and Revolutionaries, 1776-1871 (1999; repr., New York: Penguin
Books, 2001), 108; Barrington, 271; and O’Connor, 62.
Edouard Driault, La Politique Extérieure du Premier Consul, 1800-1803 (Paris: Librairie
Félix Alcan, 1910), 163.
James G. Patterson, “White Terror: Counter-Revolutionary Violence in South Leinster, 17981801,” Eighteenth-Century Ireland/ Iris an dá chultúr 15 (2000), 38.
systematic program. As Irish historian James G. Patterson observed, “The desire for revenge was
a key element of the white terror, and it must be remembered that many loyalists had suffered
very real losses during the rising.”161
The aftermath of '98 was not merely military repression and terror. The Irish had rebelled
amidst a major war, Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger's counter-revolutionary crusade.162
Moreover, and more damningly, it revealed just how vulnerable was Ireland, and by extension
England. As the late American historian R. R. Palmer noted, “The French had threatened an
invasion of Ireland in every war since the days of William III, and this time they had come
uncomfortably close to causing real trouble by their efforts.”163 Ireland was not a risk to be
gambled away. Not only was it a “rightful” colonial possession to England, but it was also a
military platform and recruiting station. The loss of Ireland would be a serious blow to the
British war effort, including its navy, which was both drawn in part from Ireland and stationed in
Irish ports. In addition, it would be immensely easier for an expedition against England to launch
from Ireland than from the Continent. Britain would not continue to allow such a possibility to
exist. What was needed was Union. The model of the dual kingdoms of Ireland and England
under the King of England was overthrown, and in its place arose the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland. It was also, when viewed in the context of a longer development of policy
towards Ireland, a logical extension of the process of centralization of metropolitan rule. While it
Patterson, 51.
From this point on, Pitt the Younger, now that the distinction has been made between him and
the Elder of American Revolutionary fame, will be referred to simply as Pitt, in keeping with the
common historiographical trend concerning this period.
R. R. Palmer, The Age of Democratic Revolution. Vol. II: The Struggle (1964; repr.,
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), 503.
may have struck the rebels as a surprise, it was more of a culmination than a bolt from the
It was not enough for England to secure itself against any threat from Ireland; Ireland
must actively provide a benefit. The parliament of Ireland, which already was subordinate to
England's, was to be formally disbanded, stripping away the charade of self-governance after the
“golden age” of Grattan's parliament.165 Now Westminster could rule unopposed, while Ireland
would cross the nineteenth century as the sole “white” colony in the empire to lack a
parliament.166 Symbolically the Union would also represent progress in Pitt's anti-Jacobin
crusade, the strengthening of the empire and bringing its loyal subjects closer together despite
the machinations of the Irish revolutionaries. More than purely politically, Britain was to extract
further economic gains from the Emerald Isle. Despite being in actuality a colony, Ireland was
now to be legally an integral part of England's empire. As such, they required Ireland to pay for
the “privilege” of enjoying British rule and “protection,” responsible for two-seventeenths of the
imperial expenditure, which was in addition to its domestic taxes. However, Ireland's debts were
not absorbed in the process, piling onto their dues.167
The challenge remained of selling this idea of Union to the Irish people themselves. It
was not a matter of voting approval, as there was no referendum or popular election of any sort.
Indeed, Catholics still did not have the right to vote. While military repression was effective in
the immediate sense, the British realized that such measures could not purchase permanent Irish,
Ian McBride, Eighteenth-Century Ireland: The Isle of Slaves (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan,
2009), 355.
“Grattan's Parliament” is an historical term for the dominance of reformist Henry Grattan in
Ireland's parliament, roughly spanning from the 1780s until 1798.
Ferguson, 208-09.
Georges Lefebvre, Napoleon: From 18 Brumaire to Tilsit, 1799-1807, trans. Henry F.
Stockhold (1936; repr., New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), 22.
especially Catholic, support without some degree of concession. But therein laid the answer:
Catholic Emancipation. This was primarily the agenda of Pitt, to his credit. Westminster was
begging to lift legal restrictions on Catholics in England itself, and so enacting Emancipation in
Ireland would create uniformity in the empire.168 In the process, the British could start restoring
the Catholic Church in Ireland in a way similar to how Napoléon would approach the Concordat
in 1801, with the state having the power to select bishops among other controls, which would
ideally both pacify the country and increase British centralization of power.
Such a scheme was fraught with perils from the start. While ten bishops were bought over
by the promises of Catholic Emancipation and hints at Church restoration, it immediately caused
the Irish Protestants, in their Ascendency, “who had at first rallied to the project [of Union] out
of fear,” to turn against it.169 Despite the nascent Catholic bourgeoisie and higher clergy being at
least partially appeased, the British lost their base in the ruling class of Ireland. Furthermore,
Emancipation was unpopular in the Protestant elite of England itself. King George III personally
opposed the measure, as defender of Anglicanism as the state religion, and largely over this
issue, in combination with the economic and agricultural crisis of 1799 and the faltering position
of England in its war against France on the Continent, without allies, he ultimately forced Pitt to
tender his resignation in 1801. Although Pitt would later return to his post, he was replaced in the
meanwhile by Henry Addington. Before Pitt left, though, he was able to oversee the enacting of
Union. He had to resort to bribery, distributing peerages to the Irish elite, with 28 Irish peers
joining Westminster in addition to 100 token members of Parliament [MPs], and distributing
pure financial persuasion, but he managed to convince the Irish Parliament to vote for Union,
and therefore voting itself out of existence, on 5 February 1800, which was then ratified in
Thierry Lentz, Napoléon diplomate (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2012), 136.
Lefebvre, 22.
London in May. As of 1 January 1801, the Act of Union officially went into effect and the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was born.
Yet the Union was not without its birth pangs. As the priority was Union before
Emancipation, Emancipation was promptly abandoned following the Union, embodied in Pitt's
resignation. Napoléon himself, while in exile in St. Helena in 1816, commented on how odd he
found this development: “I cannot conceive why your [English] ministers have not emancipated
them [Catholics.] At the time that all nations are emerging from illiberality and intolerance, you
retain your disgraceful laws, which are only worthy of two or three centuries back… It would
have entirely ruined my projects upon Ireland; as the Catholics, if you emancipated them, would
become as loyal subjects as the Protestants.”170 While Britain scared and bribed the Irish
Ascendency into accepting a settlement that was still in their favor, as their interests were
inextricably linked to British domination, and the prominent Catholic elites were deceived with
broken promises, the majority, i.e., the impoverished peasantry, gained nothing while losing the
pretense of a representative body, consolidating the foreign rule they already resented on the
whole, and owing further expenses to that foreign being's upkeep. The Union was opposed by the
Irish, imposed on them against their will.
The callous approach of England to Ireland played nicely into the negotiations of the Irish
revolutionaries to secure French sympathy and support for future collaboration. Le Moniteur
published articles expressing derision on how much of a “union” this really was.171 It also
allowed Napoléon to intervene more openly on behalf of Irish émigrés, none more so than
Barry Edward O’Meara, Napoleon in Exile: Or, a Voice from St. Helena. The Opinions and
Reflections of Napoleon on the Most Important Events of His Life and Government in His Own
Words, vol. I (Philadelphia: M.C. Carey and I. Lea, 1822), 229-30.
For example, Le Moniteur: An 8, Vendémiaire à Ventôse, 1799-1800, No. 124, 4 Pluviôse An
8, 491.
Napper Tandy, the most prominent Irishman to escape, making his way to the free imperial city
of Hamburg along with his companions James Blackwell, Henry Morres, and William Corbet on
2 November 1798. In the early hours of 22 November, however, the English ministers in the city,
having discovered the true identity of the incognito Irishmen, succeeded in getting permission
from the chief magistrate to enact an arrest on them as British subjects, and on 24 November the
Hamburg Senate approved their transfer to British authority, despite Tandy and Blackwell being
commissioned French officers, the former a brigadier general and the latter colonel. This course
of action would cost Hamburg.
French public sympathy was most in favor of the Irish captives, who were expected to be
hanged on their return to the “British Isles,” yet France was not yet in a position to intervene. Not
only was it in a legally dubious position, having likewise called for Hamburg to expel French
émigrés, but it was also not in a military position to threaten the city, with the Second Coalition
forming against France at this time, whereas the English were an immediate threat to the city. In
the meanwhile, however, the prisoners remained in their cells as Hamburg became the scene of a
growing international incident. Holland joined France in petitioning for their release, while even
Austria urged England towards moderation on the matter.172 It was not until 1 October 1799,
almost a year later, that the English ship Xenophen sailed from Hamburg with the prisoners.
Here is where Napoléon reappeared on the scene. Returning just a week later from Egypt,
by November 1799, with the close of the Coup of 18 Brumaire [9 November] against the
Directory and the start of the Consulate, he was essentially the leader of France as First
Síle Ní Chinnéide, Napper Tandy and the European Crises of 1798-1803 (Dublin: National
University of Ireland, 1962), 16.
Consul.173 The papers continued to follow the case of the Irishmen closely, and Napoléon
himself took a direct role in the negotiations. He had no hesitation in making the affair open to
the public. In response to the excuses offered by the Hamburg Senate, he published on 9 Nivôse
Year 8 (30 December 1799) a letter directed to the government of Hamburg, “Courage and virtue
preserve states; cowardice and vice ruins them. You have violated hospitality. This would not
happen even amongst the most barbarous desert hordes...The two unfortunates who you have
given over will die gloriously, but their blood will do more harm to their persecutors than an
army.”174 Apart from a public shaming, France punished the city by imposing an embargo on
them until they paid reparation of several million francs, which they did in April 1801.175
Punishing Hamburg did not save Napper Tandy and company though. As Napoléon
negotiated at Amiens with England in 1802, he strenuously pressed as a condition that the
Irishmen be released to France, much as he had worked to free the Marquis de Lafayette from
imprisonment by Austria in the Treaty of Campo-Formio in 1797. Ironically, the British
representative was Gen. Cornwallis, the lord lieutenant of Ireland himself. In the end, the treaty
was a mixed bag for Ireland. On the one hand, Napoléon succeeded in freeing the Irish band as
of April 1802, which he followed by awarding Tandy a sum of 6,000 francs and a pension of
3,000 and had Gen. Louis Berthier, Minister of War, report on how he was treated. On the other
hand, peace meant shelving plans for the invasion of Ireland.176 However, this must be
contextualized. The French had launched a significant expedition to St. Domingue just months
Napoléon was the head of the coup along with Directors Roger Ducos and Emmanuel Sieyès,
the latter of whom was the one who organized it. The bicameral legislature was restructured, the
five Directors replaced with three Consuls, and a new constitution (that of Year VIII) passed.
“4482. Aux Bourgmestre et Sénat de la Ville Libre et Impériale de Hambourg,” Bonaparte,
Correspondance, vol. VI: An VIII (1799) (1860), 75.
“4520. Au Citoyen Talleyrand,” Bonaparte, Correspondance, vol. VI, 107.
“6062. Décision” and “6101. Arrêté,” Bonaparte, Correspondance, vol. VII: An X (1802)
(1861), 573 and 607.
earlier, some 22,000 soldiers along with fifty ships, roughly half of France's larger naval vessels,
arriving on the island in December 1801 to suppress Governor Toussaint L’Ouverture’s
increasingly independent rule and possibly restore slavery.177
The Haitian Revolution would remain the priority of France until 1803, following the 30
April sale to the US of the Louisiana territory, worth infinitely less to France without St.
Domingue, and the Battle of Vertières on 18 November, the last major battle in Haiti resulting in
the French defeat. This, however, fit perfectly with the cracking Amiens peace with England,
opening the potential for a new invasion of Ireland. England condemned France primarily for the
annexation of Piedmont and the imposition of a constitution on Switzerland in what is known as
the Act of Mediation. However, neither of these actions was in violation of the Treaty of
Amiens, of which England was itself in violation by refusing to vacate Malta. Moreover the
French could dismiss such arguments as hypocritical considering that the French actions were
arguably supported by the majority parties of the nations involved, whereas England's imposition
of the Act of Union on Ireland was “incontestably against the will of the Irish.”178
Regardless as to who was to blame for the faltering peace, it opened the path for a return
to considerations on Ireland, and Napoléon took advantage of it. The French saw great
revolutionary potential in the state of Irish discontent after Union. Le Moniteur even went so far
as to suggest the coming of “an internal war as terrible and disastrous as the War of the
Roses.”179 Already by 16 April 1803 Napoléon had called on Gen. Berthier, his Minister of War,
to gather information on the numbers, means, and plans for war of the Irish and Scottish chiefs in
Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (2004;
repr., Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2005), 251. St. Domingue was the French colonial name for
what would become Haiti in 1804 as a result of this revolution.
Frank McLynn, Napoleon: A Biography (1997; repr., New York: Arcade Publishing, 2002),
265. The italics are in the original.
Le Moniteur: An 8, Vendémiaire à Ventôse, 1799-1800, No. 66, 6 Frimaire An 8, 257.
Ireland.180 Following the '98 rising, Paris had become the center of the Irish revolutionary émigré
community, where they not only were safe from British extradition but also free to try to
influence French policy. As the alternate verse to the “Wearing of the Green” aptly put the Irish
hope, “Oh may the wind of Freedom soon send young Boney o'er, And we'll plant the Tree of
Liberty upon our Shamrock shore.”181 It can hardly be said that Napoléon was the greatest
partisan of the Irish cause. Ireland did not occupy a notable amount of his fascination in so far as
he made known to the world. For him, Ireland was an object in so much as it was connected to
England. While there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of French support for Ireland in the
event of a landing, it was not an end in itself, but a stage in the invasion of England. The
invasion of England and Ireland were inseparable concepts.
The leadership of the Irish émigrés remained split between two opposing camps as before
with Tandy and Tone, although now based both on personality and practical concerns.182 The one
side was led by Thomas Addis Emmet, commonly described as the more “moderate” party, and
they pressed for emphasizing primarily Irish efforts at their own liberation, with French aid to be
appreciated not strategically necessary. They were the more cautious party in preparing the rising
in 1798, believing that the time for revolt had not yet arrived and disinclined to take immediate
action. The other side was led by Arthur O'Connor, who shared a mutual dislike for Emmet, and
this group pressed largely for French aid as a precondition for rising and argued that conditions
were ripe for Ireland to cast off British rule. This division originated before they were even
forced to flee to France in '98 and only intensified thereafter. Infighting and internal bickering
“7579. Au Général Berthier, Ministre de la Guerre,” Bonaparte, Correspondance générale,
publiée par la Fondation Napoléon, vol. IV: Ruptures et Fondation 1803-1804 (Paris: Librarie
Arthème Fayard, 2007), 103.
“The Wearing of the Green,” Variants A in Zimmermann, 169.
For the split with Tandy and Tone, see CHAPTER 4- THE REVOLUTIONARY
served to keep the émigré community divided in this most vital hour, as well as dividing the
attention of the French government.
Despite the divisions in the Irish camp, there was a leading figure that was responsible for
breaking through the dust clouds of combat, and that was Thomas Emmet's own brother, Robert
Emmet. Robert Emmet had moved to France following the '98 rising, trying to organize French
support for a rising in Dublin, along with leaders Thomas Russel and James Hope. While he
returned in October 1802 to Ireland without any signs of success, he had indeed interested the
French government in his plan. Already by February 1803 Napoléon summoned Thomas Addis
Emmet to Paris to serve as representative for Irish affairs. By 8 August Napoléon agreed to the
details that Robert Emmet had initially proposed, offering 25,000 men under General Augereau,
40,000 guns, and all the necessary artillery and munitions and to only seek peace with England if
Irish independence were secured, so long as the United Irishmen can mobilize at least 20,000
men to join the French army within the first few days of landing.183 However, later that same day
Napoléon received letters from Foreign Minister Talleyrand, informing him of what had recently
befallen Robert Emmet.184
Considering how well riddled through with spies and informers the '98 rising was, it is
surprising that the Irish Rebellion of 1803 went undetected for so long. Despite Robert Emmet
returning to Ireland in October 1802, where he remained in hiding, his presence was not detected
by the police until at least last June 1803.185 Preparations were underway in anticipation of a
“7914. Au Contre-Amiral Decrès, Ministre de la Marine et des Colonies,” Bonaparte,
Correspondance générale, vol. IV, 258-59. For Emmet’s memorial to Napoléon, see : Kleinman,
“French Connection II: Robert Emmet and Malachy Delaney’s Memorial to Napoleon
Buonaparte, September 1800,” History Ireland 11, no. 3 (Autumn 2003): 29-33.
“7920. À Talleyrand, Ministre des Relations Extérieures,” Bonaparte, Correspondance
générale, vol. IV, 261-62.
Broin, 79.
French invasion by October of that year, and pikes and rockets and other explosives were
carefully stockpiled. The plan centered around Dublin, where the main attack aimed to take
Dublin Castle unawares, the traditional seat of British administration in Ireland, along with
several other key locations across the city such as the Pigeon House, Island Bridge, the Royal
Barracks, and the old Custom House barracks, which would send a signal for a national
uprising.186 Dublin, along with Belfast, were always the ideal targets in the minds of the United
Irishmen, dating back to Wolfe Tone's mission in Paris from 1796-98, containing a large
concentration of republicans, and if it could be captured suddenly, it would enable a smooth
transfer of control of the national postal service, the treasury, the banks, and the Custom House,
both immensely hampering the loyalist and British forces and bolstering the United Irishmen.
However, secrecy until French assistance arrived was paramount.
Disaster ruined the entire plan. On the evening of 16 July 1803, one of the rebels
inadvertently sparked off an explosion of their stockpile on Patrick Street, causing a great scene.
Believing the police to be on the trail, Emmet and the other leaders decided that the plans must
be accelerated, and the rising was advanced to the next week, 23 July. Without French aid and
without significant organizational unity across the country, and with poor coordination within the
capital itself, the rising was limited to skirmishes in Dublin, which were quickly suppressed. By
25 August the episode was over, and about 50 people died in all, primarily Emmet's fellow
revolutionaries.187 The British caught Robert Emmet, who declared from the dock, “I have but
one request to ask at my departure from this world: it is- THE CHARITY OF ITS SILENCE.188
Let no man write my epitaph; for as no man who knows my motives dares vindicate them, let not
Broin, 86-87.
Lentz, 140.
Capitalization in the original.
prejudice or ignorance asperse them...When my country takes her place among the nations of the
earth, then and not till then, let my epitaph be written.”189 As with his predecessors of '98, the
authorities hanged him as a traitor on 20 September. With the failure of the 1803 rising, the
United Irish leadership became entirely based on the Continent, concentrated more than ever in
Without a local basis in Ireland anymore, the Irish revolutionaries in Paris were forced to
rely entirely on France. To reflect the growing Irish colony in Paris, Napoléon authorized the
organization of the Irish Legion on 31 August 1803. He chose Adjutant Commander Bernard
MacSheehy, a Dublin-born officer who had served with Hoche in the 1796 invasion and with
Napoléon himself in Egypt in 1798, as the head of the Legion. His next in line was Chef de
Bataillon James Blackwell, one of the aforementioned comrades of Napper Tandy in '98.191 By
January 1804 the Legion contained 46 commissioned officers, including 13 captains, 16
lieutenants, and 17 second lieutenants. In the words of Irish Legion historian John Gallaher,
these officers were from “clearly upper class” backgrounds back in Ireland, although their lives
in Paris were at petit bourgeois standards.192 Most of them possessed no formal military training
or experience, their credentials being more often political and sometimes purely the fact that they
were Irish. MacSheehy answered to Gen. François-Xavier Donzelot, chief of staff for Gen.
Augereau, who distinguished himself against the Spanish and with Napoléon in Italy during the
War of the First Coalition.193 In addition, Napoléon made Arthur O’Connor a general of division
T. D. Sullivan, A. M. Sullivan, and D. B. Sullivan, Speeches from the Dock, or Protests of
Irish Patriotism (Providence: Henry McElroy, Murphy and McCarthy, 1878), 51.
Elliott, 323.
Gallaher, 30-31.
Gallaher, 34-35.
This is the same Augereau from the Coup of Fructidor. For details on that, see CHAPTER 4THE REVOLUTIONARY CRESCENDO.
and attached him to the expedition. The Legion gathered at Morlaix, east of Brest, where they
joined with Gen. Augereau's force of 15-20,000 men.194 In total, the Army of England, spread
out along the Channel, numbered roughly 130,000 soldiers.195 Yet the Legion suffered from the
same bickering and competing of officers that plagued Thomas Addis Emmet and Arthur
O'Connor’s circles, who despite French overtures, could not come to terms with each other or at
least cooperate enough to form a committee to negotiate and organize more effectively with the
As for the invasion itself, Napoléon as of 6 September 1804 wrote to Admiral Honoré
Ganteaume in order to arrange an attack on Ireland, landing 16,000 men and 500 horses in or
around Lough Swilly in the north, which would serve to terrorize the British positions.196 The
language of creating a “great terror” for England appears reminiscent of an idea the Directory
had previously floated in regards to Ireland and England in 1796-98, namely “Chouanization.”197
It is unclear if this is quite the connotation Napoléon had in mind, but if nothing else he did aim
to disconcert the British to that extreme extent and to divert such massive resources and
manpower from an invasion of England, if the Irish situation did not force them to sue for a more
permanent peace.
What was required in order to enact such an invasion, however, was either surprise or
decisive naval victory to gain brief mastery of the Channel. Surprise could mean either one of
two things: it could mean the invasion would launch in secret and attempt to evade the British
fleet, left in control of the Channel, or it could mean that a diversionary tactic would be deployed
Gallaher, 36.
André Masséna, Mémoires d’André Masséna, vol. V (Paris : Chez Jean de Bonnot, 1966), 22.
“9186. À l'Amiral Ganteaume, Commandant l'Armée Navale de l'Océan,” Bonaparte,
Correspondance générale, vol. IV, 857-58.
For the discussion of “Chouanization,” see CHAPTER 3- FORGING A REVOLUTION.
so as to lure the British fleet from the Channel, thereby enabling the crossing unimpeded. The
Directory had employed the former type of secret expedition in both 1796 and '98. However,
Napoléon was not confident in this approach. For him, it would either be a naval confrontation or
a diversion, and he leaned towards the latter. Napoléon had originally planned to have Adm.
Louis-René Latouche-Tréville with his Toulon squadron evade British Adm. Horatio Nelson's
Mediterranean fleet and rendezvous with Adm. Pierre-Charles Villeneuve's Rochefort fleet and
together gain control of the Channel.198 Needless to say, this did not occur. On 19 August 1804
Latouche-Tréville, one of the best French admirals, died, and with his death the plan was
shelved, and Villeneuve now took command of the Toulon squadron.
The new plan in September 1804 was, as mentioned above, to include the landing of Gen.
Augereau and the Irish Legion with Adm. Ganteaume's fleet in Lough Swilly. Rather than cross
the Channel directly, they were to pass out into the Atlantic and then hook around back to
Ireland. However, that was just the beginning.199 Ganteaume would then return to Cherbourg and
depending on the weather, either attack the British blockade if conditions were favorable or else
travel to Texel through the Straights of Dover and transport another 25,000 men to Lough
Swilly, that is, either clear the way for the simultaneous invasion of England or else overwhelm
Ireland. To afford a chance of Ganteaume succeeding, however, Napoléon would launch a
diversion. Villeneuve would take the Toulon fleet and Adm. Édouard Missiesy the Rochefort
squadrons and sail separately for the West Indies.200 There they would threaten the various
Markham, 114.
The details of this plan are largely based on the account provided in McLynn, 325-26.
Comte Pelet de la Lozière, who worked at the time with the Minister of the Interior,
presumably Jean-Baptiste de Nompère de Champagny, claimed that the diversionary maneuver
was aimed ostensibly for India. However, the evidence points to the West Indies. Comte Privat
Joseph Claramond Pelet de la Lozère, Napoleon in Council: Or, the Opinion Delivered by
British possessions in the region and reinforce the French positions in Haiti, Martinique, and
Guadalupe before rendezvousing and then returning to combat the British blockade of Ferrol and
Corunna. Such a massive attack on the British North American colonial breadbasket and
solidification of valuable French colonies could not be tolerated, forcing the British to intervene.
That was precisely what Napoléon wanted, and it was requisite to the plan. These plans, so
ingeniously improbable, would require the utmost perfect execution, at least at the start.
As British historian Frank McLynn put it, “The amazing thing was that Napoléon nearly
pulled it off.”201 On 11 January 1805 Missiesy's Rochefort fleet managed to break out of the
blockade, and Villeneuve escaped Toulon while Nelson was in Sardinia. However, where
everything went wrong was the command. Napoleonic administrator and realist author Stendhal
once wrote of the invasion of England, “All this failed to take place because our navy did not
possess a Nelson.”202 While the French navy had possessed some capable, if not notable,
admirals, they mainly faced untimely demises. Most notably, Latouche-Tréville and Étienne
Eustache Bruix both died in 1804. Villeneuve was not up to the task. Returning to Stendhal, he
summed it up best when, on clarifying his point on the lack of French naval leadership, he added
either sarcastically or lamentably as a footnote, “See the story of Admiral Villeneuve.”203 Having
bypassed Nelson's fleet, Villeneuve made it to the Gulf of Lyon, where he encountered a heavy
storm. At this critical juncture, he turned his fleet around and sailed back to Toulon. Thus the
expedition ended in a most inglorious fashion. To add insult to injury and demonstrate just how
Bonaparte in the Council of State, trans. Captain Basil Hall, R.N. (London: Whittaker & Co.,
1837), 41.
McLynn, 326.
Stendhal, 60.
Stendhal, 60n.
poor of a decision Villeneuve had made, Nelson had to undergo the same storm, yet sustained no
serious damage.204
Villeneuve's lost nerves had a most expensive price. He squandered the last clear window
of opportunity while the French were left with only England as an opponent, when Irish
liberation was closest at hand. While hopes were momentarily raised when Spain entered the war
against England as France's ally in December 1804, with the hope of combining their navies into
a formidable power, they were soon dashed. On 21 October 1805 Villeneuve led the combined
Franco-Spanish fleet against the British at the Battle of Trafalgar, a victory as utterly splendid for
the British as it was utterly devastating for the French, counterpoising Nelson's naval ingenuity
with Villeneuve's naval incompetence. He lost the better part of the French and Spanish fleets,
and in the disgrace he faced, from Napoléon personally and the French population at large, who
adopted his name as synonymous with failure, he committed suicide on 22 April 1806. While
Trafalgar had little military significance in the immediate sense in 1805, as Napoléon, in the
campaign that year against the Third Coalition of England, Austria, and Russia, went on to win
his greatest victory at the Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December, ending the war in triumph.
However, in the long run, it ended what parity there was in the naval struggle between France
and England, which now leaned heavily in England's favor for at least the next generation. For
the Irish this meant that a large-scale invasion was now a pipe-dream, although it was never the
possibility that, especially if the Danish fleet were enlisted, a more moderate French invasion
could come to pass. While 1805 did not definitively mark the end of possibilities for Irish
independence in this period, it did signal the rapid decline of such hopes and plans for the
immediate future.
McLynn, 327.
Even though the British gained the upper hand in the naval race, it came at a price. It goes
without saying that the larger the navy, the more upkeep it requires. By virtue of the increased
size of the navy, not only did the British continue to syphon males from Ireland for their navy,
but also material resources. As a result, in 1808 the British employed a series of commissioners,
nine in all and a staff of fifty engineers, to head a project to survey the bogs of Ireland. The aim
of this thorough evaluation was to allow the British to organize the draining of those massive
bogs and growing the flax and hemp there that the navy needed for its sailcloth.205 By exploiting
the Irish bogs, the British military could be supplied for its conquests and international expansion
without having to infringe upon the lands growing vital foodstuffs for Ireland, as well as those
used to provide for British consumers. As Ireland suffered from the need for increased food
supplies for a growing population forced onto increasingly small plots of land, the British plan
was to try to monopolize what potential room there was for expanding their space for living and
farming. The project occupied precious engineers at this time of the birth of engineering where
there were so few yet were necessary for the developing industrial revolution. Nevertheless, by
the time the bog commissioners finished their reports in 1814, the war against France was
terminating, removing the immediate military pressure, and with the calculation that the draining
of the bogs would be a lengthier and more expensive project than originally anticipated, the
government shelved the plans.206
Despite the defeat of Trafalgar, Napoléon gave up neither the naval struggle nor the
expedition to Ireland. Apart from initiating a massive naval building operation and enforcing the
Continental System at least in part to further that aim, Napoléon also tried once more for the
Arnold Horner, “Napoleon’s Irish Legacy: The Bogs Commissioners, 1809-14,” History
Ireland 13, no. 5 (September-October 2005): 24-26.
Horner, 27-28.
invasion of Ireland in 1811.207 At this point, France was at peace with the Continent, having
defeated the Fifth Coalition (Austria, Sicily, Sardinia, and England, the last of which never gave
up) in 1809. Only England was left as a major combatant, pouring troops into Portugal and Spain
to prop up Spanish rebels against French occupation.208 As such, Napoléon had many resources
to draw upon. By March of that year he wrote to his Minister of War, Henri Clarke, who had
been involved in the organization of the Irish expedition from 1796-98 and was now the Duke of
Feltre, to inquire about the state of the Irish Legion and its officers and start making preparations
for a new expedition to Ireland.209
In July Napoléon wrote again to Clarke, this time asking for him to gather Arthur
O’Connor and the other Irishmen in Paris to “revive a party in Ireland,” on whatever conditions
the Irish proposed. The proposal was for an invasion with 30,000 men and 4,000 horses to set
sail in October, so long as the French could count on an Irish rising to support them and so long
as the British continued to pour forces into Portugal. That would leave France the opportune
space it needed to invade Ireland while Britain was vulnerable and leave the invasion forces
enough time to consolidate themselves before the British could pull their forces back out of
Portugal.210 O’Connor sent Napoléon a memorial on the public spirit in Ireland, detailing several
hundred years of British oppression in Ireland. However, the Irish have had to struggle alone.
Abandoned by the Directory, they saw great hope in Napoléon and the potential expedition in
I am indebted to historian Kenneth Johnson for the concept of the Continental System being
heavily caused by a desire to build up the navy, especially his talk “‘Se trouver en mesure dans
le Méditerranée’: Napoleon’s Mediterranean Naval Strategy, 1808-1812” at the Consortium on
the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850 on 22 February 2014.
France invaded Portugal in 1807 and in 1808 deposed the Spanish monarchy in favor of
Joseph Bonaparte, Napoléon’s older brother, who became king. Resistance in Spain had been
flaring up since then.
National Library, Ireland, MS 10961, Napoléon au Duc de Feltre, Paris, 11 mars 1811.
National Library, Ireland, MS 10961, Napoléon au Duc de Feltre, Paris, 4 juillet 1811.
1804, but since then “the number of years that the Irish have remained without any sign of your
interest and the forgottenness into which they see themselves as having fallen (I fear at least)
chills the expectations they maintained for so many years.” O’Connor himself admitted to having
lost communication with Ireland for several years. He encouraged Napoléon to reestablish
contact with Ireland, and offered his services in any way he could if Napoléon were to launch the
desired invasion.211
As O’Connor was unable to go, Gen. Clarke appointed Luke Lawless, a lieutenant in the
Irish Legion, to serve as emissary to Ireland, arriving in Dublin on 24 September 1811. He
returned to Paris on 20 November and reported back to Napoléon, who was much pleased.
Lawless reported that the majority of Irish were indifferent even to emancipation, and thought
only of “the tyrannical oppression of England, which only a revolution can extirpate.”212 He
estimated that while 30,000 soldiers should be enough, 40,000 would absolutely guarantee
success. He insisted, as had been the case in every instance yet (1797, ’98, 1804), that the French
take great pains to assure the Irish that they aimed not at conquest, but at helping the Irish
achieve independence. In the meanwhile, according to him, the British regular forces in Ireland
consisted of 12,100 men (8,500 infantry and 3,600 cavalry), along with 23,000 militia infantry,
stationed primarily in the South and West while the North was largely abandoned.213
However, it was not to be. Whether it was the widening rift in relations with Russia that
would result in war the next year or whether Napoléon thought the opportune window England
presented had disappeared, or if Napoléon was even sincere in an expedition at this time, nothing
National Library, Ireland, MS 10961, Le Général O’Connor à Sa Majesté L’Empereur et Roi,
Paris, 1er Septembre 1811.
F. W. Ryan, “A Projected Invasion of Ireland in 1811,” The Irish Sword: The Journal of the
Military History Society of Ireland 1, no. 2 (1950-51), 137.
Ryan, “A Projected Invasion,” 138-39.
materialized and nothing more was said. Napoléon had even promoted Lawless to captain
following his report, yet it meant nothing for Ireland. The close of 1811 marked the final time
Ireland was opened as a possibility for the Napoleonic French Empire.
“If revolutionary government should be more active in its working and freer in its movements
than ordinary government, does that make it less just and less legitimate? No. It is supported by
the holiest of all laws: the salvation of the people; by the most indisputable of all entitlements:
necessity.” –Maximilien Robespierre, 1793214
After Napoléon cancelled plans for an Irish expedition in 1811, there would be no further
opportunity. In 1812 the disastrous Russian Campaign saw the decimated French army withdraw
to German territory at the end of the year. England, Austria, Russia, Prussia, Sweden, Portugal,
Sicily, and Sardinia formed the Sixth Coalition in 1813, and by the end of the year Napoléon’s
soldiers were forced back to France, marked by the defeat at the Battle of Leipzig, as the Allies
prepared to invade in the East, while Anglo-Spanish forces closed in on the Pyrenees.
Napoléon’s Paris Campaign in 1814 was inspired, but ultimately Napoléon abdicated and the
Allies occupied Paris, forcibly reinstalling the Bourbon monarchy under the younger brother of
Louis XVI, the comte de Provence, now Louis XVIII.215 The Allies exiled Napoléon and made
him the Emperor of Elba, a small island in the Mediterranean, and began convening the Congress
of Vienna to renegotiate the order of Europe. Napoléon escaped exile and returned to France in
1815, becoming emperor again in a bloodless transition of power as the king fled. The Congress
“On the Principles of Revolutionary Government, 25 December 1793/ 5 Nivôse Year II” in
Maximilien Robespierre, Virtue and Terror: Maximilien Robespierre, trans. by John Howe
(London: Verso, 2007), 100.
The National Convention executed Louis XVI on 21 January 1793. The new king declared
himself the eighteenth in honor of the former king’s son, who died in prison in 1795 and was
now posthumously dubbed by the new regime “Louis XVII” despite never having ruled.
of Vienna disbanded, formed the new Seventh Coalition, and the Anglo-Prussian forces defeated
Napoléon at Waterloo on 18 June 1815, sending him into exile again, this time to the remote
British island of St. Helena in the middle of the Atlantic, while forcibly reinstalling the Bourbon
monarchy under Louis XVIII a second time. Napoléon would die in captivity in 1821.
For the Irish, the defeat of Napoléon and the dismemberment of the French Empire,
whatever each of them individually thought of Napoléon’s reign or of him personally, meant the
end of the Franco-Irish alliance and the military defeat of their cause. Louis XVIIII disbanded
the foreign regiments, which included the Irish Legion on 28 September 1815, before their
officer corps was purged of known and suspected Bonapartists.216 This was all the more
important as the restored monarchy was in part reliant on English support, and so military units
carrying the title “Irish” would be a diplomatic affront. The legacy of Irish brigades in France,
and of the special relationship between the two countries it implied, had now crashed in flames
after over a century. There would be no Irish revolutionary voices heard at the Congress of
Vienna, and no power would take up the mantle of defender or supporter of Irish freedom and
independence. England was a major partner of the new conservative and reactionary order
reigning in Europe, the most constant enemy of the French Revolution throughout the wars from
1792-1815, present in every single one of the seven Coalitions. As such, England was now
absolutely free from foreign interference in its administration of Ireland.
The United Irishmen no longer possessed a ready network in Ireland with multiple tens
to, optimistically, several hundreds of thousands of willing comrades ready to take up arms and
fight the British as there had been in 1798. Indeed, they did not even have a “legitimate”
parliamentary path of any significance open into which they could try to reintegrate, as there was
In this context, “Bonapartist” refers to one who supported Napoléon and his family’s dynastic
claims to rule France in opposition to the Bourbons. Gallaher, 215-19.
no more Irish parliament. In some ways, they were in a worse position after the French
Revolutionary period than before, as now they had no foreign power to call upon. The closest
option, for those with the means, was immigration to the US, although there was no hope at this
time for military assistance, let alone the problems facing Catholics at this stage in that country’s
history. If nothing else, though, the US would now be the safest haven for the United Irish
leaders fearing British extradition. In the meanwhile, the Congress of Vienna solidified Britain’s
monopoly on international commerce and the end to immediate aspirations for selfdetermination, whether in Ireland, in India, or in Poland, which was partitioned again primarily
under Russian domination, among other regions.
The consequences and influence of the Revolutionary era [1789-1815] on Ireland was
immense. British policy in Ireland galvanized the population at large. The debates on the Penal
Laws outraged civil society. The war dragged thousands of Irishmen into the British army and
navy for over twenty years and required those left behind to foot the bill. The Gagging Acts, the
Gunpowder Act, Insurrection Act, and the suspension of Habeas Corpus: these laws and their
like dispensed with the notion of British “moderation.”217 When the French National Convention
instituted mass conscription (levée en masse), revolutionary tribunals, and the Terror, it was
beset by war on all fronts by most of Europe and undergoing intense civil war from counter
revolutionary Vendéans, federalists, and royalists as well as treason among even its own
generals. England, on the other hand, enacted conscription, repression, and executions in Ireland
before there was ever an attempted French landing in 1796 or a rebellion in ‘98.
Furthermore, England faced nowhere near the same level of threat. Indeed, apart from the
natural barrier of the Channel protecting it, England quickly became the primary leader of the
For details on these acts, see CHAPTER 2- ASSEMBLING A MOVEMENT.
international anti-Jacobin crusade after 1793 (although it did not start the original war in ’92) and
was actively combating France, as well as supporting the counter-revolutionaries in France.
Consequently, England’s position was in many ways the opposite of Revolutionary France. The
National Convention was in a struggle for its very existence. England was not inherently
threatened and could have, had it so desired, remained out of the war. Its participation was purely
voluntary, nay, desirable! War enabled the British to prey on enemy and neutral ships, combat
and raid rival navies, spread influence in the Spanish colonies in Latin America (including the
failed invasion of Buenos Aires), conquer colonies in the Caribbean, claim Dutch colonies in the
Pacific, and improve the position of British bankers who loaned and financed the Coalition
The National Convention was defending the gains of the Revolution, mass political
participation, universal adult male suffrage, the end of slavery and the slave trade, the abolition
of feudalism, subsistence for the poor, legal equality, the end of the monarchy and theocracy, and
more. Meanwhile, England was fighting to expand its commercial interests and, in Ireland, to
continue the systematic exploitation of the land, agriculture, resources, and labor of a people who
had been fighting against them from the beginning of English entanglement some six hundred
years prior. In short, England ruled in Ireland through extraordinary means in the absence of
extraordinary need to preserve the status quo of plunder. As Robespierre’s adage went, Terror
without Virtue is disastrous, yet Virtue without Terror is powerless.218 The Convention needed
The quote more precisely is “If the mainspring of popular government in peacetime is virtue,
the mainspring of popular government in revolution is virtue and terror both: virtue, without
which terror is disastrous; terror, without which virtue is powerless.” “On the Principles of
Political Morality that should Guide the National Convention in the Domestic Administration of
the Republic, 5 February 1794/ 18 Pluviôse Year II,” Robespierre, 115.
extraordinary activity, Terror, to preserve the virtues of the Revolution. Yet there was no virtue
to be upheld in the terror England inflicted on Ireland.
Out of the sides in question, it was the United Irishmen who feared excesses of energy
more than excesses of weakness, and that was a fatal flaw in their praxis. They were so cautious
about concerns with protecting property and religion in particular that when the time came for
action, they were paralyzed. This was most apparent during the “Year of the French,” Gen.
Humbert’s expedition in County Mayo. When the Franco-Irish forces captured Killala and
Castlebar, what did they do? They maintained the status quo! Some French officers attended gala
balls, the soldiers enjoyed food of better quality, and a handful of established local gentlemen
became political bureaucrats in a provisional government mostly aimed at the maintenance of the
army. If the aim was to give the local people interesting anecdotes to tell for generations to
come, of how foreigners reached Irish soil and made an interesting show, then they succeeded.
But this was no way to inspire a national uprising.
What was the incentive for a national uprising against the Ascendency, the aristocracy,
the British occupation? The United Irishmen gave high-flying speeches, but could they deliver?
Supporting the rising, whether physically or morally, meant braving death. If they risked death,
what could they hope to see change? The example the revolutionaries gave in 1798 was
uninspiring. The peasants continued to live in hovels in squalor, the Ascendency and aristocracy
were unperturbed, and a non-elected provisional government was assembled. All that changed
for the most part was that the British forces were chased out, so the local population had to
provide for Franco-Irish troops instead. That encouraged some, but there was no material benefit
from the limited French presence to inspire hope in the transformation of society. As later Irish
revolutionary James Connolly astutely noted, “If you remove the English army to-morrow and
hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle… England would still rule you through her capitalists,
through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and
individualist institutions she has planted in this country… Without a reorganization of society on
the basis of a broader and more developed form of that common property which underlay the
social structure of Ancient Erin- [nationalism] is only national recreancy.”219
A reasonable defense could easily be raised that in 1798 the provisional government in
Castlebar had but two weeks to act before the British suppressed them, a month if you count
from the capture of Killala. However, even granting that, the revolutionaries made no notable
advancement at all, and had no hope of drawing on the peasantry at large without any such
progress. A revolutionary government requires the enactment of some form of immediate
material improvement and definitive action. The French Revolutionaries had the sale of national
lands (1789 onwards), the trial of the king (1792), price controls on essential foodstuffs [the
Maximum] (1793), and more. The Paris Commune (1871) had the abolition of rents and
postponements of debts. The Bolsheviks offered peace, land, and bread (1917). The Cuban
Revolutionaries offered sweeping land reform, civil rights for non-whites, and so on (1959
onwards).These are but a few of many examples of revolutionary initiative. Whether the United
Irishmen would have enacted a sweeping popular program if given more time is ahistorical
posturing, yet either way, the United Irishmen serve as an example of the inadequacy of moral
superiority in achieving a revolution. “Citizens,” once asked Robespierre, “do you want a
Erin is an English derivation of the Irish Gaelic word for Ireland, Éire. Connolly, “Socialism
and Nationalism (1897),” Marxists Internet Archive, online, (accessed 19 March 2014).
revolution without revolution?”220 In this case the answer was “yes,” as when necessity required
energy for the salvation of the people, all they were able to offer was moderation.
Another problem in the United Irishmen’s praxis regarded their conduct of international
relations. To their credit, they managed to appoint several immensely capable individuals as
diplomats to France, most notably Robert Emmet and Theobald Wolfe Tone, who greatly
impressed the Directory (especially Lazare Carnot and Paul Barras), Foreign Minister CharlesMaurice Talleyrand, and First Consul/Emperor Napoléon, in addition to learning proficient
French in rapid manner. The ability of the United Irishmen to arrange for two French invasions,
in 1796 and ’98, speaks volumes for the United Irish diplomatic corps. Yet, by 1804 the United
Irish émigrés in Paris destroyed their own movement. Their lack of cohesion, their constant
bickering, especially between the factions of Thomas Addis Emmet and Arthur O’Connor, rose
to such extremes that it prevented them from cooperating with the French government when it
actively sought them out. As Napoléon later wrote in exile, “If the Irish had sent over honest men
to me, I would have certainly made an attempt upon Ireland. But I had no confidence in either
the integrity or the talents of the Irish leaders that were in France. They could offer no plan, were
divided in opinion, and continually quarrelling with each other.”221 Again, there is no way to
know if another invasion would have occurred, but the United Irishmen certainly hamstrung
themselves by allowing their inner quarrels to reach such excess and become public knowledge,
undermining French confidence in them. Nevertheless, the Napoleonic episode brought the Irish
revolutionary cause a boon in the form of military professionalization. While Irish brigades in
France were nothing new, the Irish Legion provided desperately-lacking skills to hardened
revolutionaries and the wars during this period provided the perfect testing grounds. This
“Extracts From ‘Answer to Louvet’s Accusation,’ 5 November 1792,” Robespierre, 43.
O’Meara, vol. I, 311-12.
newfound professionalization would be passed down to the United Irish movement’s successors,
the Fenian and Irish Republican Brotherhoods.
Considering the French, the Irish revolutionaries provide particular insight into the nature
of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic system for Europe. For the Directory, Ireland was
set to be a sister republic, yet an unusual one. Unlike with the Batavian, Cisalpine, or Ligurian
republics, the Directory did not make it clear that France was first among equals. They hoped
that Ireland would join the war effort against England, but there is no indication that Ireland was
intended as a satellite state with France. Nevertheless the Directory devoted its best soldiers and
commanders to the Irish expeditions. The fact that the sheer detachment of Ireland from England
should have proved harmful to England was a benefit for the Directory, yet still it is unusual that
they accepted the Irish not guaranteeing continued military support and refusing to grant France
exclusive rights to its trade. Furthermore, as Stuart Woolf noted, “Of the thirteen constitutions
promulgated in the ‘sister republics,’ eleven were modelled on the Thermidorian constitution of
the Year III [that of the Directory, 1795].”222 However, Ireland, which would be a fourteenth
sister republic, would join the minority in appearing closer to the Constitution of Year I [that of
the National Convention, 1793], with the unicameral legislature based on universal adult male
suffrage, property rights limited by public need, and other social rights.
Ireland serves as even more of a peculiarity in the Napoleonic scheme of European states.
Whereas around 1804-05 the French Empire developed a greater degree of involvement in client
and allied states, in addition to outright annexing some of those territories to France, Napoléon’s
plans for Ireland are staggeringly politically aloof. There are no instructions from 1804-1811 for
the way the French desire, or outright demand, the Irish republic to operate. There are no designs
Woolf, 11.
for ensuring a system of collaboration with Napoleonic administrators to enact reforms in
keeping with those in France. Yet again no French demands are made for Irish levies for
Napoléon war effort apart from those needed to assist the invasion of Ireland itself. Even the
Duchy of Warsaw, one of France’s closest allies and one that received comparably little French
intervention (compared to Italy, Germany, etc.), was still given a constitution by Napoléon, had
to participate in the Continental Blockade, and was not allowed to conduct its own foreign
policy.223 In contrast, Napoléon never drafted a constitution for Ireland, never declared he would
do such a thing, never demanded that Ireland participate in the Continental Blockade, and never
forbade Ireland from conducting its own foreign policy. France under the Empire made virtually
no demands on Ireland other than that it rise up to support the proposed French invasion, such
was the significance of Ireland for the war with England. The Emerald Isle defied the mold of the
French Directory and Empire’s system of integration in Europe, including Michael Broers’s
system of inner, outer, and intermediary empire.224
While Ireland eluded Directorial and Napoleonic standards, it fit all too well into the
British imperial system. Following the Act of Union in 1801, Ireland ceased to be technically its
own kingdom and became part of the newly created United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland. The Irish lost their façade of a parliament, and their country would remain amongst the
ranks of England’s colonies on the same level as India and the British holdings in Africa and
south-east Asia. Ireland would continue to serve as a bulwark in the British army and navy
across the nineteenth and into the twentieth century, serving alongside England’s other colonial
recruits from around the world. The processes of decreased landholding, diminishing plots of
The Continental Blockade, also known as the Continental System, was Napoléon’s project
from 1806-1814 to undermine England economically by closing off the entirety of mainland
Europe to English goods. Grab, 180.
land, landlord exploitation and rent, industrial underdevelopment, and British monopoly present
and worsening during the French Revolutionary Era continued for decades afterwards. Ireland
was subject to that other consequence of British colonial rule, the culmination of these
developments: famine. The Great Famine, or Irish Potato Famine, 1845-52, engineered by the
English, decimated the Irish population much as such famines ravaged British India.
At the conclusion of this odyssey, the United Irishmen laid defeated, many cast from their
homeland by the British and then from France by the Restoration government in France under
Louis XVIII, and scores more dead on the battlefields in Ireland. The French Revolutionary
government was overthrown, Napoléon languished in exile, and the monarchical and theocratic
despots of Europe regained control for the moment in Europe. However, the sage was not truly
finished. France would undergo stormy transitions of monarchy and even fascism but ultimately
end up with a republic for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The United Irishmen,
although they failed, provided an example for future generations of Irish revolutionaries that
would, by the twentieth century, partially succeed in their quest, liberating much of Ireland from
British rule, although they too ultimately failed. The United Irishmen still serve as a
revolutionary model for how they humbled the mighty empire of England and became a force to
be reckoned with during the Revolutionary Era [1789-1815]. However, they also provide a
cautionary tale against the disaster awaiting those who dare to challenge the status quo but
succumb to temerity and moderantism in the end; “Moderantism,” as Robespierre so keenly
pointed out, “which is to moderation as impotence is to chastity.”225 These are lessons of which
revolutionaries the world over, from the Bolivarian to the Naxalite, should take heed.
“Principles of Revolutionary Government,” Robespierre, 100.
13 Vendémiaire Year IV: the royalist uprising in Paris on 5 October 1795. Largely in response
to the unpopular decision to transfer two-thirds of the members of the National Convention into
the newly created Directory, about 20,000 royalists armed and attempted to overthrow the
government.226 The government forces under Gen. Napoléon Bonaparte defeated and dispersed
them, allowing the Directory to go into effect.
Act of Union: passed by the parliaments of England and Ireland in 1800 following the Irish
uprising and supporting French expedition in 1798, it made Ireland a full part of the British
Empire. Ireland ceased to be a kingdom, its parliament dissolved itself, and Irish ministers joined
the English Parliament. The act created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,
marking a definitive transformation in the history of Anglo-Irish relations. The Union remains to
the present, although now it is of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as the remainder of Ireland
has since gained political independence.227
Aristocracy: the ruling class of society explicitly marked by traditional social and political
privilege. While the term is frequently associated with landed nobility and feudalism, neither
connection is strictly necessary for this category. The distinction between the aristocracy and
bourgeoisie becomes contentious in the late stages of feudalism from the seventeenth century
Ascendency: the collective term for the British and Irish Protestant elite, especially landowners,
in colonial Ireland.
Assignats: the paper currency introduced by the revolutionary government in 1789, based on the
sale of national property and infamous for their high inflation rate as the revolution continued.
The Directory began phasing them out and they were officially replaced by the franc under the
Consulate in 1803.
Battle of Ballinamuck: the battle between Franco-Irish forces and the British on 8 September
1798. The British victory marked the end of the French campaign in Ireland and the dissolution
of the provisional Irish government, clearing the way for the march on rebels at Killala.
Albert Soboul, The French Revolution 1787-1799: From the Storming of the Bastille to
Napoleon, trans. by Alan Forrest and Colin Jones (1962; repr., New York: Vintage Books, 1975),
This is the case at least as of March 2014.
Tom Bottomore, ed., A Dictionary of Marxist Thought (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
1983), s.v. “aristocracy,” 28-29.
Battle of Castlebar: also known as the Races of Castlebar, the conflict between the British and
Franco-Irish forces in Ireland on 27 August 1798, resulting in the British retreating and yielding
the town. Consequently the Franco-Irish forces proclaimed the Irish republic.
Battle of Quiberon: the campaign of French émigrés and Chouans supported by a British fleet
in the Quiberon peninsula, France, from June-July 1795. The French revolutionary forces under
Gen. Lazare Hoche defeated them at Quiberon Bay on 21 July.
Battle of Trafalgar: the battle between the combined French and Spanish fleets and the British
fleet on 21 October 1805 during the War of the Third Coalition. The resounding British victory
cost France its main naval force, thereby rendering a large-scale French invasion of the “British
Isles” improbable. It was the last major naval battle of the wars through 1815, and enabled
unbridled British control of sea trade.
Battle of Vertières: the final major battle of the Haitian Revolution on 18 November 1803. It
marked the victory of the Haitians over the French, resulting in their expulsion from the island
and the establishment in 1804 of Haiti as a free black republic, the first successful slave
Battle of Waterloo: the final battle of the War of the Seventh Coalition on 18 June 1815, pitting
the French against the Prussians and British in Belgium, marking the final defeat of Napoléon
Bonaparte and the collapse of the French Empire.
Black Legion (la Légion Noire): also known as the Légion des Francs, it was the French force of
1-2000 troops, mostly released convicts and prisoners of war, under William Tate for the
Chouanization of England in 1796-97.229 The legion surrendered at Fishguard, Wales on 24
February 1797.
Bourgeoisie: the class of great capitalists. In modern society, they are the ones who own the
means of production as private property and serve as the ruling class in capitalist society.
Cadoudal Plot: the attempt to kidnap and assassinate First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte in 1804.
The scheme took its name from the main conspirator, Chouan leader Georges Cadoudal, who
worked with Gens. Jean-Charles Pichegru and Jean Victor Moreau. The plot was discovered, the
culprits arrested, Pichegru committed suicide in prison, Cadoudal was executed on 5 April 1804,
and Moreau was banished. It served as a pretext for the creation of the Empire.
Capitalism: the mode of production primarily concerned primarily concerned with the
accumulation and expansion of capital, which is held in monopoly by a single class. It is marked
by the purchase and sale of labor power, the enshrinement of private property, competition
between capitalists, commodity production, and an economy dominated by the exchange of
Elliott, Partners in Revolution, 117 and “Les Cinq Expéditions Envoyées par le Directoire en
Irlande et en Angleterre,” in Sabretache, Carnet de la Sabretache, 536-537.
Bottomore, s.v. “capitalism,” 64-67.
Catholic Emancipation: the eighteenth and nineteenth century movement to remove
restrictions, especially political ones, on Catholics in Ireland and Great Britain.
Chouanization: part of the military strategy developed by the Directory in 1796, it aimed to
recreate in the “British isles” the same sort of violent strife and civil war as the British had
sponsored in France in the civil war in the Vendée. Its practical effects aimed at distracting and
absorbing British forces while embittering the populace against the government.
Chouannerie: in the broadest sense, a term for the broader counter-revolution in Western France
during the French Revolution, often used interchangeably with “the Vendée.” More specifically,
the term refers to bands of elite, die-hard royalist guerillas, as compared to the larger Catholic
and royalist peasant armies. Its members were known as “Chouans.”
Class: the grouping of people on the basis of their relation to labor and the means of production.
Committee of Public Safety: the organ of the National Convention from 1793-95 charged with
organizing the war effort, both against the First Coalition and the counter-revolution. It was
composed of between nine and twelve members chosen by and from the Convention, amongst
the most famous of which were Maximilien Robespierre and Louis St. Just. The committee was
one of the instruments most associated with the Terror. The coup of Thermidor in 1794 heavily
weakened the committee, but it technically remained until the formation of the Directory in
Consulate: the revolutionary government in France from 1799-1804. It began with the Coup of
18 Brumaire, which overthrew the Directory and installed the Constitution of Year VIII, replaced
in 1802 with that of Year X to reflect the appointment of Napoléon as First Consul for Life. The
executive was formed by three Consuls, with the First Consul famously being Napoléon
Bonaparte. The legislative functions were divided amongst four bodies. The Council of State,
essentially Napoléon’s consultative organ, drafted bills; the Tribunate discussed bills but did not
vote on them; the Legislative Assembly voted on bills but did not discuss them; and the Senate
verified the laws and served as defenders of the Constitution. Universal adult male suffrage was
restored and the regime was marked by plebiscites, but the electoral system was multi-tiered and
indirect, involving a system of notables. The Consulate transformed into the Empire by decree of
the Senate and validated by a subsequent referendum.
Continental Blockade/System: the collection of laws passed by Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte
starting in 1806 aimed at launching large-scale economic warfare against England. The terms are
frequently used interchangeably, but technically, the Blockade refers to those laws aiming to
prevent British goods from entering mainland Europe, while the System refers to those laws
promoting French goods in the continental economy. The embargo ended with Napoléon’s defeat
in 1814.
Coup of 18 Brumaire, Year VIII: the event that marked the end of the Directory from 9-10
November 1799. Led by Directors Joseph Sieyès and Roger Ducos along with Gen. Napoléon
Bonaparte, the plan was a parliamentary coup in the legislative councils. However, they
ultimately resorted to using the military guard under Napoléon to restore order before the
councils voted for the creation of the Consulate.
Coup of 18 Fructidor Year V: the purge of royalists from the Directory on 4 September 1797.
With growing royalist and sympathizer presence in the legislature, especially following the
elections of Germinal (21 March) that year, Directors Paul Barras, Jean-François Rewbell, and
Louis La Révellière-Lépeaux decided to intervene, employing forces Gens. Lazare Hoche and
Pierre Augereau. Recent elections in many departments were nullified, and 177 deputies were
removed, along with Director Lazare Carnot.231
Coup of 9 Thermidor Year II: also known as the Thermidorian Reaction, led most notably by
Jean-Lambert Tallien, Paul Barras, and Joseph Fouché. On 27 July 1794 (9 Thermidor), the
National Convention decreed Maximilien Robespierre and twenty-one of his associates as
outlaws. They were arrested, and the next day executed. It marked a growing conservatism in the
Convention, and is generally marked as the end of the Terror. The purged Convention would
remain another year, including the weakened Committee of Public Safety, before being replaced
by the Directory in 1795.
Dechristianization: the collective term for the French revolutionary government’s religious
policy in regards to the Roman Catholic Church, roughly 1789-1799. It sometimes refers
specifically to the campaign in the autumn of 1793 to confiscate and repurpose Church property
for the war effort against the First Coalition and the creation of civic religions. Prominent figures
in this more precise effort included Jacques Hébert, Pierre Chaumette, and Joseph Fouché. The
term is morally and politically charged, inherently hostile to the revolutionary effort and
conflating attacks on institutions with a desire to eliminate Christianity as a religion.
Decree of 16 Pluviôse Year II: law by the National Convention on 4 February 1794 abolishing
slavery in the colonies (it did not exist in the metropole) and the slave trade and making the
former slaves into full citizens.
Directory: the revolutionary government in France from 1795-99. The name derives from the
five member executive body known as the Directory. It succeeded the National Convention, of
whose members it was largely composed initially. The government based in the Constitution of
Year V (1795) with an electorate based on stringent property requirements. The legislature was
bicameral, with the Council of Five Hundred as the lower chamber and the Council of Elders
(sometimes translated more literally as “Ancients”) as the upper chamber. The Directory was
overthrown in the Coup of 18 Brumaire in 1799, where it was replaced by the Consulate.
Dissenter: in Ireland, England, and Wales, one who was neither a Catholic nor an Anglican.
Edict of Fraternity: passed by the National Convention on 19 November 1792, it offered
assistance to international revolutionary movements.
Erin: an English derivation of the Irish Gaelic word for Ireland, Éire.
Soboul, 508.
Ethnic Cleansing: the act of imposing ethnic homogeneity in a region through the eviction,
deportation, imprisonment, or otherwise removal or eradication of those ethnicities already
inhabiting the given region. In the case of Ireland, the England government and settlers
systematically displaced ethnic Irish, predominantly Catholic, inhabitants in order to colonize
that land for themselves.
Feudalism: the mode of production generally marked by the predominance of small-scale
agricultural production, predominant notably in the Medieval through the Early Modern Era. The
primary form of property in feudal society is land, typified by fiefs granted from lords to vassals
although the system did not exclude allodial, i.e., absolute property. The division of labor in such
a system is very limited, with production of surplus value minimal and products produced mostly
for their direct use-value. Production occurs mostly on level of the family unit. Serfs and free
peasants are strictly limited in their movement and, although primarily producing for their own
consumption, they owe established feudal rents and dues to their lords, generally paid in kind but
increasingly over time in money. This is in contrast to the development of wage-labor. The
peasants mainly owned the means of production and were compelled to work not by economic
necessity, but rather by the relative strength of lords. The state appears as encompassing all of
society rather than being a force above society, and is typically headed by a figure considered the
human representative of a given deity, this being predominantly the Catholic or else Protestant
one in Europe. Government is based in the nobility and traditional rights and ethics, and societal
roles and duty are highly dictated by inheritance and familial relations.232
French Empire: the revolutionary government of France from 1804-1814 and 1815. The Empire
was in many ways a consolidation of the Consulate, continuing the Constitution of Year X
(1802). Napoléon Bonaparte became Emperor of the French, initially with the power to appoint
his successor although later made hereditary. The regime was marked by the completion and
implementation of the Civil Code (Code Napoléon) and Penal Code. The regime collapsed in
1814 with the Sixth Coalition’s invasion of France and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy.
The Empire was briefly restored along with the liberalizing Charter of 1815 after Napoléon
returned from exile, but it was overthrown by the Seventh Coalition after the Battle of Waterloo
that same year, exiling Napoléon again and restoring the Bourbon monarchy a second time.
‘Gagging Acts’: the collective term for the Treasonable & Seditious Practices Act and the
Seditious Meeting Act in Ireland in 1794. They curtailed freedom of speech and of the press in
regards to criticizing the government and limited the gathering of people.
General Committee of Catholics: in Ireland, an organization of prominent Catholics, primarily
from the bourgeoisie, who advocated for Catholic Emancipation in the parliaments of England
and Ireland.
Half-Hanging: a form of torture and interrogation most commonly associated with the British
forces in Ireland in 1798. It involves tightening a rope around the neck until the victim becomes
unconscious, a process that can be repeated as desired.
Bottomore, s.v. “feudal society,” 166-170 and Friedrich Engels, Socialism, Utopian and
Scientific (1907; repr., Memphis: General Books, 2010), 33-35.
Hibernia: the Latin term for Ireland, often used to reference Ireland in the absence of British
Insurrection Act: passed by the parliament of Ireland on 22 February 1796, it called for the
execution of those administering or voluntarily taking oaths and joining secret societies and
augmented the power of the authorities to raid homes and confiscate weaponry.
Irish Legion: a foreign unit in the French army established by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1803.
While its officers were largely Irish, the same cannot be said of the rank and file, who, especially
as the years went on, became increasingly composed of Germans, among others. It was meant to
entail the invasion of Ireland, which never came to pass. The legion was ultimately
decommissioned following the second restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1815 along with
the other foreign regiments.
Kilmainham Treaty: the surrender of the United Irish leadership to the British authorities on 26
July 1798.
Langrishe’s Act: passed in 1792 as part of England’s Catholic Relief Acts, it allowed Roman
Catholics to practice law.
Mitford’s Act: passed in 1791 as part of England’s Catholic Relief Acts, it relieved some of the
social limitations on Roman Catholics and eased restrictions on education.
National Convention: the revolutionary government of France from 1792-95. It began with the
abolition of the monarchy and the proclamation of the republic on 21 September 1792. It was a
unicameral legislature and is frequently regarded as the most radical of the revolutionary
governments in France from 1789-1815. It later created the Committee of Public Safety as an
executive body. The government featured universal adult male suffrage for the first time, without
property qualifications, and was based in the Constitution of Year I (1793), although the
constitution was suspended due to the crisis of the Revolution at that point. The Convention
ultimately transformed itself into the Directory in 1795.
Papal Bull: a charter or solemn proclamation from the Roman Catholic pope.
Peasantry: in general usage, frequently a term for non-industrialized farm workers. However,
the term more precisely refers to small-scale agricultural laborers who do not outright possess the
land, but rather are dependent on a larger landholder to whom they owe tribute or rent of some
form. Nevertheless, lack of industrialization remains a qualifying marker.233
Penal Laws: a series of restrictions passed by British authorities over Ireland from the early
seventeenth century onwards intended to secure English control in Ireland and force a mass
conversion of Roman Catholics and Dissenters to the Anglican Church. Serious government
efforts to repeal the laws began in the late eighteenth century, although the last vestiges would
only be repealed with the Government of Ireland Act in 1920.
Bottomore, s.v. “peasantry,” 363-65.
Poynings’ Law: passed by the parliament of Ireland in 1494, it prevented that body from passing
any bills except for those that had already been introduced in England’s Parliament. It was
effectively rendered void by Yelverton’s Act in 1782, although it was only officially repealed
with the Irish Republic’s Statute Law Revision Act of 2007.
Private Property: one of the defining characteristics of the relations of production under
capitalism, whereby property is owned by an individual or non-governmental organization. In
economic terms, private property refers to the bourgeoisie’s monopoly on the ownership of the
means of production despite the socialization of labor.234 As such, society becomes divided into
the class that possesses capital and the class that is compelled to sell its labor power.235 Private
property is distinct from personal property, which refers to objects intended for personal use or
Republic of Connaught: the unofficial name of the provisional Irish republican government
proclaimed by Franco-Irish forces on 27 August 1798 following the Battle of Castlebar. It lasted
until the defeat at the Battle of Ballinamuck on 8 September that year.
September Massacres: the killing of some 1,100 prisoners in Paris from 2-6 September 1792 by
National Guards and fédérés amidst fear of the Prussian army encroaching on Paris.236
Sister Republics: those republics favorable to the French Revolutionary government, especially
under the National Convention, Directory, and Consulate [1792-1804], whether as client states or
The Terror: sometimes also referred to as the Reign of Terror, lasting roughly from 1793-94. It
was the effort of the French revolutionary government, the National Convention, to guide
popular violence and strike terror into the hearts of its enemies, internal and external, in the
context of foreign invasion and the outbreak of civil war in the Vendée. The most representative
organs of the Terror were the Committee of Public Safety and the Revolutionary Tribunal, and
the period was marked by the concentrated use of the guillotine and mass incarceration. Placing
figures on the Terror is a highly controversial and contended field, but rough estimates vary
around several tens of thousands. The Convention began dismantling the mechanisms of the
Terror after the Thermidorian Coup in 1794.
Terrorist: in the context of the French Revolution, one who supported the policies of the Terror.
The term is also sometimes applied to those who voted for or supported the execution of Louis
XVI, used interchangeably with ‘regicide.’
Treaty of Amiens: the treaty between the Consulate and England on 25 March 1802, marking
the end of the Second Coalition and the sole period of peace between the French and British
during all the wars from 1792-1815. The agreement ended with the Third Coalition in 1803.
Bottomore, s.v. “forces and relations of production,” 178-80.
Ernest Mandel, An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory (1969; repr., New York:
Pathfinder Press, 1992), 31-34.
Soboul, 262-64.
Treaty of Campo Formio: the treaty between the Directory and Austria on 18 October 1797
following Gen. Napoléon Bonaparte’s successful Italian campaign that year. It marked the
collapse of the First Coalition and end of hostilities on the Continent, leaving England alone at
war with France. This left an opening for the invasions of Ireland and Egypt. War resumed with
the Second Coalition in 1799.
Vendée: a department in central-western France. During the French Revolution, the prevalence
of counter-revolutionary activity there resulted in the civil war in the west at large being referred
to as “the Vendée.” The war in the Vendée was infamous for its sheer ferocity and scale.
White Terror: the collective term for organized violence by royalists, counter-revolutionaries,
and reactionaries against revolutionaries and their sympathizers. This phenomenon was notable
in post-Thermidorian France into the Directory and again in 1815 during the Hundred Days and
the brief recreation of the Empire under Napoleon. It also occurred in Ireland, especially in
southern Leinster and the West, following the rising in 1798 and lasting into 1804.
Year of the French: a term for the Irish uprising of 1798, emphasizing the French expedition
under Gen. Jean Humbert.
Adet, Pierre-Auguste (1767-1848): French scientist and politician, secretary to the Minister of
the Navy and Colonies from 1793-95, commissioner to the colony of St. Domingue (modern
Haiti), ambassador to the United States from 1795-96, prefect of Nièvre in 1803, member of the
Legislative Assembly in 1809.
Augereau, Charles Pierre François (1757-1816): French general, officer in the Vendée in
1793, officer in the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees from 1793-95, officer in the Army of Italy
from 1795-97, sent by Gen. Napoléon Bonaparte to Paris to command troops along with Gen.
Lazare Hoche as part of the Coup of Fructidor in 1797, made a Marshal in 1804, commander of
the Army of England in 1804, fought in the wars from 1805-1814, supported the first restoration
of the Bourbon monarchy under King Louis XVIII by the Sixth Coalition in 1814, offered his
services to Napoléon during the Hundred Days in 1815, consequently stripped of his military
title and pension when Louis XVIII was restored again later in 1815.
Berthier, Louis-Alexandre (1753-1815): French general, served in the Vendée from 1793-95,
general of division and chief of staff to Gen. Napoléon Bonaparte as commander of the Army of
Italy from 1796-97, organizer of the Roman Republic in 1798, designated officer of the Army of
England from 1797-98, Napoléon’s chief of staff in the Egyptian campaign from 1798-99,
supported Napoléon in the Coup of 18 Brumaire in 1799, minister of war from 1799-1800,
Napoléon’s chief of staff until his defeat by the Sixth Coalition in 1814, died mysteriously during
Napoléon’s return in the Hundred Days in 1815 as a result of falling out a window, debate over
whether it was an accident, suicide, or defenestration.
Bonaparte, Napoléon (1769-1821): French general and politician, victor of Toulon in 1794,
organizer of the victory of 13 Vendémiaire, commander of the Army of Italy from 1796-97,
supporter of the Coup of Fructidor in 1797, commander of the Army of England from 1797-98,
commander of the Egyptian campaign in 1798-99, First Consul from 1799-1804, Emperor of the
French from 1804-1815, defeated ultimately at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, succeeded by the
Bourbon monarchy under Louis XVIII forcibly restored by the Seventh Coalition, died in exile
in St. Helena.
Bouvet, François Joseph (1753-1832): French admiral, rear-admiral during the Battle of the
First of June against England in 1794, admiral attached to the Irish expedition of 1796 under
Gen. Lazare Hoche, de facto naval commander of the expedition following the separation of
Adm. Morard de Galles from the rest of the fleet, commander of the fleet at Guadeloupe in 1802,
military chief of Brest harbor in 1803, replaced by Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte in 1813, baron
and vice-admiral under Louis XVIII following the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1814.
Brissot, Jacques Pierre (1754-1793): French lawyer and politician, founder of the abolitionist
Society of the Friends of Blacks in Paris in 1788 and president from 1790-91, prominent member
of the Jacobin club, member of the Legislative Assembly and National Convention from 1791103
93, main proponent in the Legislative Assembly for war in 1792, leader of the Girondin, expelled
from the Convention with his fellow Girondin representatives and arrested on 2 June 1793,
executed later that year.
Cadoudal, Georges (1771-1804): French politician and counter-revolutionary, joined the
Vendéans and Chouans against the Revolution starting in 1793 under the National Convention,
supporter of the Count of Provence (the future Louis XVIII), declined negotiating with First
Consul Napoléon Bonaparte, organized the plot of Rue St. Nicaise and the Infernal Machine
aimed at assassinating Napoléon in 1800, organized the Cadoudal Plot against Napoléon in 1804,
captured and executed that same year, posthumously made a Marshal by King Louis XVIII in
1814 during the first restoration of the Bourbon monarchy.
Carnot, Lazare (1753-1823): French politician, engineer, and mathematician, member of the
National Convention 1793-95, voted for the death of Louis XVI, member of the Committee of
Public Safety from 1793-94, nicknamed “Organizer of Victory” for his work his work
reorganizing the army during the War of the First Coalition, part of the Thermidorian coup,
member of the Directory from 1795-97, supported the project for the invasion of Ireland in 1796,
promoted concept of Chouanization, fled during the Coup of Fructidor (1797), Minister of War
under the Consulate in 1800, member of the Tribune until the creation of the Empire in 1804,
Minister of the Interior under Napoléon in 1815 during the Hundred Days, died in exile as a
regicide after the second restoration of the Bourbon monarchy.
Chérin, Louis Nicolas Hyacinthe (1762-99): French general, second lieutenant in the Army of
the North in 1792, tried to stop the treason of Gen. Charles-François Dumouriez, served as
second chief of staff under Gen. Lazare Hoche in the Vendée from 1795-96, participated in the
Irish expedition of 1796, served under Hoche in the Coup of Fructidor 1797, chief of general
staff for the Armies of the Danube and Helvetia under Gen. André Masséna in 1799, died from
wounds suffered while preparing for the Second Battle of Zurich.
Clarke, Henri Jacques Guillaume (1765-1818): French general, born to Irish parents, general
of brigade in the Army of the Rhine in 1793, head of the Topographical and Geographical
Cabinet of the War Ministry under Director Lazare Carnot and again under First Consul
Napoléon Bonaparte, governor of Vienna in 1805, governor of Erfurt and Berlin in 1806,
Minister of War from 1807-1817, made Duke of Feltre in 1809, sided with the Bourbons during
Napoleon’s return in 1815, and became a Marshal in 1816.
Cornwallis, Charles (1738-1805): English general, Governor General of India from 1786-94,
command-in-chief of the British and East India Company forces in India during the Third AngloMysore War from 1789-92, Master-General of the Ordinance in 1794, Lord Lieutenant and
commander-in-chief of Ireland from 1798-1801, organizer of the Act of Union, chief British
representative at the Franco-English peace negotiations in Amiens in 1802.
Emmet, Robert (1778-1803): Irish revolutionary, brother of Thomas Addis Emmet, secretary of
the United Irish committee at Trinity College in 1798, fled to France following the failed Irish
uprising that year, convinced First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte to support another rising, leader
of the 1803 rebellion that would serve as the last major rebellion in Ireland in the Revolutionary
Era up into 1815, captured and executed.
Emmet, Thomas Addis (1764-1827): Irish revolutionary and lawyer, brother of Robert Emmet,
legal adviser for the United Irishmen, joined the United Irish in 1795 and served as secretary,
became a member of the United Irish executive in 1797, part of the more cautious and moderate
party of revolutionaries in contrast to the like of Arthur O’Connor and Lord Edward Fitzgerald,
arrested during the Irish uprising of 1798, after being released from jail in 1802 he went to Paris
to serve as a United Irish representative to the French government, opposed O’Connor, moved to
the US after hearing of the failure of Robert Emmet’s uprising in Dublin in 1803, became a
prominent lawyer in New York where he served as Attorney General in 1812 and where he
ultimately died.
Lord Fitzgerald, Edward (1763-98): Irish aristocrat, politician, and revolutionary, member of
the parliament of Ireland, joined the United Irishmen in 1796, served as a United Irish
representative to the Directory along with Arthur O’Connor in 1796, prominent organizer of the
Irish uprising of 1798, arrested in mid-May just days before the uprising was set to start, received
wounds resisting arrest and died of them several days later.
Galles, Justin Bonaventure Morard de (1741-1809): French admiral, famed naval leader
before the Revolution, made counter admiral in 1790 and vice admiral in 1793, replaced Adm.
Louis Villaret de Joyeuse at the last minute as naval commander of the Irish Expedition of 1796
under Gen. Lazare Hoche, commander of the ship with Hoche that became separated from the
main force during the expedition, member of the Senate from 1799 onwards, member of the
Legion of Honor, Count of the Empire in 1808.
Grouchy, Emmanuel (1766-1847): French general, general of division in the Vendée in 1793,
de facto commander of the Irish expedition of 1796 following the separation of Gen. Lazare
Hoche from the rest of the fleet, commander throughout the wars from 1800-1815, supported
Napoléon during the Hundred Days in 1815 and was made a Marshal and peer, participated
infamously in the Battle of Waterloo that year, exiled to the US until 1821 by King Louis XVIII
under the returned Bourbon monarchy, restored to the Marshalate and peerage in 1830 by King
Louis Philippe.
Hardy, Jean (1762-1802): French general, fought at the battle of Valmy in 1792, general of
brigade with the Irish expedition in 1798 during which he was captured but exchanged that same
year, general of division with the Army of Helvetia from 1799-1800, general of division under
General Charles Leclerc in the St. Domingue Expedition in 1801 as part of the Haitian
Revolution, died of yellow fever the next year.
Hoche, Lazare (1768-97): French general, commander of the Armies of the Moselle and the
Rhine, pacifier of the Vendée from 1794-96, victor of Quiberon in 1795, commander of the Irish
expedition in 1796, involved in the Coup of 18 Fructidor (1797), died of illness after returning to
the eastern front.
Humbert, Jean Joseph Amable (1767-1823): French general, brigadier general in the Army of
the Rhine and Moselle in 1794, served under Gen. Lazare Hoche in the Vendée from 1794-96,
involved in preparing the Irish expedition and the Black Legion with Hoche in 1796, part of the
’96 invasion, commander in the Army of the Sambre-et-Meuse, commander of the Irish
expedition of 1798 where he organized the provisional republican government, part of the St.
Domingue expedition in 1803, served in the US military in New Orleans during the War of 1812,
served the military of the independent government of Argentina in 1814, died as a schoolteacher
in New Orleans.
Jackson, William (1737-1795): Irish preacher, revolutionary, and spy, agent of the Committee
of Public Safety to Ireland in 1794, betrayed by informants, arrested and executed, his presence
was used as a pretext for the authorities to crack down on the United Irishmen, his execution
made him a martyr for the United Irishmen.
Lake, Gerard (1744-1808): English general, victor of the Battle of Lincelles in Flanders in
1793, lieutenant general in Ireland during the uprising in 1798, defeated at Castlebar during the
French expedition that year but victorious at the Battle of Ballinamuck against the Franco-Irish
forces, Commander-in-Chief of India from 1801-7.
Lawless, Luke (1781-1846): Irish lawyer, lieutenant in the Irish Legion, secretary to Minister of
War Henri Clarke, Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte’s agent to Ireland in 1811, forced to leave
France following the second restoration of the Bourbon monarchy under Louis XVIII by the
Seventh Coalition in 1815, relocated to the United States where he ultimately settled in St. Louis
in 1824, ran a law practice and served as judge of the Circuit Court there for three years.
Lewines, Edward Joseph: Irish revolutionary; United Irish agent sent to the Continent in 1797
to obtain material aid from France, Holland, and Spain; one of the principal Irish agents in
France from 1797-98.
Louis XVI (1754-93): king of France, r. 1774-92, supported the American Revolution against
England from 1776-83, ruler during the French Revolution, became constitutional monarch in
1791, suspended as monarch following the storming of the Tuileries Palace on 10 August 1792,
officially overthrown with the abolition of the monarchy and the creation of the republic on 21
September 1792, went on trial beginning 10 December 1792 where he was also referred to as
Louis Capet, executed on 21 January 1793.
Louis XVIII (1755-1824): king of France, r. 1814 and 1815-24, brother of Louis XVI, Count of
Provence, fled France in 1791, remained in exile until he was forcibly restored as king by the
Sixth Coalition in 1814, fled at the return of Napoléon from exile in 1815, forcibly restored as
king again by the Seventh Coalition in 1815, took the title of “eighteenth” in deference to Louis
XVI’s son who died in prison in 1795.
Madgett, Nicholas (1740-1813): Irish revolutionary and translator, head of the translation
bureau of the French Foreign Ministry from the Committee of Public Safety through the
Moore, John (1763-99): Irish politician, a wealthy Catholic landed proprietor, appointed
president of the provisional Irish government in Connaught by Gen. Jean Humbert during the
French expedition in 1798, arrested by the British and executed the next year.
Nelson, Horatio (1758-1805): English admiral, notably served as a commodore in the Battle of
Cape St. Vincent against Spain in 1797, suffered defeat at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
against Spain shortly thereafter and lost an arm in the process, victor of the Battle of the Nile
against the French fleet in 1798, led the victorious English fleet as Vice Admiral at the Battle of
Copenhagen against neutral Denmark-Norway, Admiral of the English fleet that secured the
overwhelming triumph over the combined Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar in
1805, died in the battle.
O’Connor, Arthur (1763-1852): Irish politician and revolutionary, free-trade theorist, member
of the Irish parliament in the House of Commons from 1790-95, joined the United Irishmen in
1796, United Irish representative to France with Lord Edward Fitzgerald in 1796, organizer of
the Irish rising in 1798, moved to Paris in 1802 following his release from an English prison in
order to organize another French invasion, opposed Thomas Addis Emmet, made a general of
division by First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte in 1804, part of the planned Irish invasion of 1804,
retired thereafter from the military but remained in France and supported further efforts to
organize an expedition to Ireland.
Pichegru, Jean-Charles (1761-1804): French general and politician; distinguished for his
victories in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Rhine during the War of the First Coalition from
1792-95; supporter of the Thermidorian coup; vanquisher of the insurrection of 12 Germinal
Year III (1 April 1795) in Paris; resigned his position under the Directory in 1795; elected to the
Council of Five Hundred in the Germinal (May) elections of 1797 as a supporter of the royalists;
exiled during the Coup of 18 Fructidor in 1797; returned to Paris in 1803 to join the Cadoudal
Plot; discovered and arrested in 1804 and committed suicide in prison that same year.
Pitt the Younger, William (1759-1806): English politician, Prime Minister of Great Britain
from 1783-1801 and 1804-6, major figure behind the Act of Union, supporter of Catholic
Emancipation, utterly opposed to the French Revolution and its principles. He died shortly after
Emperor Napoléon’s total victory at the Battle of Austerlitz against the Third Coalition in
December 1805.
Robespierre, Maximilien (1758-1794): French lawyer and politician, member of the EstatesGeneral and Constituent Assembly (1789-91), a guiding force of the Declaration of Rights,
leader of the opposition to war in 1792, member of the National Convention (1792), leading
figure during the trial of Louis XVI in support of death without trial, member of the Committee
of Public Safety (1793-94), leading figure of the Jacobin Club, theorist of revolutionary
government, one of the architects of the Terror, inventor of the Cult of the Supreme Being in
1794, executed following his ousting as the main target of the Coup of Thermidor 1794.
Sarrazin, Jean (1770-1840): French general, adjutant-general in the Army of the Sambre-etMeuse in 1794 and the Army of Italy after that, general of brigade under Gen. Jean Humbert in
the Irish expedition of 1798, turned traitor and joined the English against the French Empire in
1810, returned to France during the first Bourbon restoration in 1814, tried to join Napoléon
during the Hundred Days in 1815 but was thrown in prison where he remained even under the
second Bourbon restoration until 1822. He died in exile.
Talleyrand-Périgord, Charles-Maurice (1754-1838): French politician and one-time Roman
Catholic bishop, member of the Estates-General in 1789, author of the Civil Constitution of the
Clergy in 1790, left France in 1792 and was not permitted to return until 1796, Foreign Minister
under the Directory from 1797-99, Foreign Minister again under Napoléon Bonaparte from
1799-1807, afterwards worked to undermine the French Empire, one of the main architects of the
Bourbon restoration under King Louis XVIII by the Sixth Coalition in 1814, primary French
representative at the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15, ambassador to the United Kingdom from
Tandy, James Napper (1740-1803): Irish revolutionary, businessmen and Dublin city
politician, founding member of the Dublin Society of United Irishmen, United Irish
representative in Paris from 1797-98, participant of the French invasion of 1798, died in Paris
after First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte secured his release following capture in the aftermath of
Tate, William: Irish-American colonel in the French military, commander of the Black Legion
during the attempt to Chouanize England in 1797.
Tone, Theobald Wolfe (1763-98): Irish revolutionary, lawyer, founding member of the Belfast
Society of United Irishmen, prominent advocate of Catholic Emancipation, main proponent of
theory of Irish divisions being based in British interests rather than religion, main United Irish
diplomat in Paris from 1796-98 organizing for a French invasion of Ireland, participant in the
invasions of ’96 and ’98, committed suicide in prison after being captured in the aftermath in the
failed uprising and French invasion of 1798.
Villeneuve, Pierre-Charles (1763-1806): French admiral, made rear admiral in 1796, served at
the Battle of the Nile against England in 1798 that resulted in a definitive French defeat although
he escaped, Vice Admiral of the Toulon squadron in 1804, commander of the combined French
and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar against the British that resulted in a complete fiasco
of a defeat for Villeneuve, became a national disgrace for losing the better part of the French
navy and committed suicide the next year.
Primary Sources: Manuscripts
National Library of Ireland, Dublin
MS 704 French Invasion I (1796)
MS 705 French Invasion II
MS 706 French Invasion III
MS 707 French Invasion IV
MS 809 Defense of Ireland, 1796-97
MS 1134 Kilmainham Papers
MS 10961 Napoleon (4 Letters) and O’Connor (1) 1811
Trinity College, Dublin
MS 868-9 Sirr Papers
MS 873 Madden Papers
MS 1471 Wexford Court Martials, 1798-1800
MS 1472 Luke Cullen Papers
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B11 1 Première Expédition d’Irlande, 1796-97
B11 2 Deuxième Expédition d’Irlande, 1798
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Language Proficiency
English- fluent, French- professional proficiency
Archives Consulted
Napoleon and the French Revolution Special Collection at Florida State University
Les Archives au Château de Vincennes
La Bibliothèque Nationale de France
The National Archives of Ireland
The National Library of Ireland
Trinity College Dublin
Relevant Employment
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Position: Research Assistant to Dr. Rafe Blaufarb, 2012-2014
Supervisor: Dr. Jonathan Grant
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL [Fall 2012-Spring 2014]
Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution
Adviser: Dr. Rafe Blaufarb
Degree earned: M.A. in History. Major Field: Modern Europe. Minor Field: Revolutionary
West Chester University, West Chester, PA [Fall 2009-Spring 2012]
Graduated summa cum laude
Degree earned: B.A. in History, French minor
La Salle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania [Fall 2008- Spring 2009]
Archdiocesan Scholarship
12 Credits Earned
Father Judge High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania [2005-2009]
Cumulative GPA: 4.0
West Chester University Dean's List, 2009-2012
Secretary of the West Chester University Political Science Club, 2010-2011
President of the West Chester University Political Science Club, 2011-2012
Treasurer of the West Chester University French Club, Fall 2009- 2010
Internship with National Iron & Steel Museum at Lukens National Historic District, Jan.-May
“The Last Stand of Eire: The Irish Revolutionary Struggle under Napoleon” at the 2014
Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850, Oxford, MS, 21 February 2014.
“The Red Shamrock: Ireland and International Socialism during the First World War” at Cork
Studies in the Irish Revolution, Ireland and the First World War: ‘In Defense of Right, of
Freedom, and of Religion’?, University College Cork, Ireland, 24 January 2014.
“Plucking the Shamrock of Europe: Lessons from Irish Revolution and Union” at the Eleventh
International Napoleonic Congress, Old World, New World: Momentous Events of 1812-1814,
Toronto, Canada, 2 August 2013.
“Planting the Tricolor in the Emerald Isle: Franco-Irish Revolutionary Communications” at the
5th Annual Southeast Regional Graduate Student Conference, Tallahassee, FL, 23 March 2013.
“The French in the Emerald Isle: The Role of France in the Irish Rising of 1798” at the 2013
Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850, Ft. Worth, TX, 22 February 2013.
“Remember the Alamo? Combating Historical Revisionism Post-Texas School Board” at the 2nd
Annual Critical Theories in the 21st Century Conference of Transformative Pedagogies, West
Chester, PA, 17 November 2012.
“The French Revolution: An Enragé History” at the 2012 Consortium on the Revolutionary Era,
1750-1850, Baton Rouge, LA, 25 February 2012.
“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Union: Revolutionary French and Irish Relations” at the 2011
Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850, Tallahassee, FL, 5 March 2011.
“The Tricoloured Shamrock: Franco-Éire Politics” at the Seventh International Napoleonic
Congress, Napoleon, Europe and the World, Montréal, Québec, Canada, 9 June 2009.
“The French in the Emerald Isle: The Role of France in the Irish Rising of 1798” in The
Consortium on the Revolutionary Era 1750-1850: Selected Papers 2013 (forthcoming).
“'Striking the Right Tone:' Theobald Wolfe Tone and Franco-Irish Relations during the French
Revolution” in Mikaberidze, Alexander and Rafe Blaufarb, eds. The Consortium on the
Revolutionary Era 1750-1850: Selected Papers 2011. Shreveport: Louisiana State UniversityShreveport, 2012.
J. David Markham, and Cameron Reilly. “The Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast #58- Wolfe Tone &
The Irish Rebellions 1796-98.” Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast. (accessed 17 March 2014).
---. “The Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast #57- Haiti Pt 3.” Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast. Online.
(accessed 17 March 2014).
---. “The Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast #56- Nick Stark on Haiti (Part Two).” Napoleon
Bonaparte Podcast. Online. (accessed 17 March 2014).
---. “The Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast #55- Nicholas Stark on Napoleon and Haiti (Part One).”
Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast. (accessed 17 March 2014).
“Society: Friend or Enemy of the Blacks.” Napoleonic Scholarship: The Journal of the
International Napoleonic Society, no. 4 (November 2011): 119-126.
“The Tricoloured Shamrock: Franco-Éire Politics.” Napoleonic Scholarship: The Journal of the
International Napoleonic Society, no. 3 (May 2010): 110-117
Professional Memberships
Fellow of the International Napoleonic Society
Fellow of the Masséna Society
Honorary Member of the Napoleonic Society of Ireland
Member of Phi Alpha Theta Honors Society, Nu-Sigma Chapter