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Girondists

Girondists (jĭrŏnˈdĭsts) [key] or Girondins zhērôNdăNˈ, political group of moderate republicans in the French Revolution, so called because the central members were deputies of the Gironde dept. Girondist leaders advocated continental war. Led at first by Jacques Brissot de Warville, the Girondists were known as Brissotins. Notable members were Pierre Vergniaud, Charles Dumouriez, and Jean Marie Roland de la Platière and Jeanne Manon Roland de la Platière. Representative of the educated, provincial middle class of the provinces, they were lawyers, journalists, and merchants who desired a constitutional government. Early in 1792 they succeeded, against Maximillien Robespierre's opposition, in having war declared on Austria. In the Revolutionary assembly, the Convention, they engaged in personal rivalry against Robespierre, Georges Danton, and Jean Paul Marat. The Girondists championed the provinces against Paris, and in particular against the commune. They were unable to prevent the trial of King Louis XVI, or his death sentence. The leftist Mountain became dominant in the Convention. The treason of Dumouriez, who defected to the Austrians (Mar., 1793), further weakened the position of the Girdondists, who also aroused popular hostility in Paris by opposing workers' demands for economic controls. On May 31 an armed crowd organized by the Paris sections surrounded the Convention and demanded the arrest of the Girondists. The Convention at first resisted, but continued popular pressure forced it to order the arrest of 29 girdondists on June 2. Brissot, Vergniaud, and other leaders were subsequently executed. The fall of the Girondists assured complete control by the Mountain.

See studies by M. J. Sydenham (1961) and A. Patrick (1972).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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