Hello, and welcome to Revolutions.
We left off last time with the coup of Fructidor, which created the Second Directory, and the Treaty of Campo Formio, which ended hostilities between France and Austria. Today, we will cover the fallout from these two watershed events. The Directory will spend the next six months trying to stabilize its regime at home, project its power abroad, and settle a new international order for Europe. Now, I thought I was going to be talking more about Bonaparte today, the planned invasion of Great Britain and then the real plan to invade Egypt but I’ve rejiggered how I’m going to approach these final few episodes. So we’re going to talk about all that stuff next week as preparation for the episode two weeks from now, which will focus almost entirely on Bonaparte’s Egyptian expedition.
In the immediate aftermath of the coup of 18 Fructidor, Year V, that is September 3, 1797, the purged Directory and the purged Legislative Councils were faced with the question of whether or not to suspend the Constitution of Year III, or amend it or rewrite it or whatever, or just keep going, pretending like nothing had happened. And right after Fructidor, for example, there were discussions between Talleyrand and Bonaparte and the abbé Sieyès about the benefits of drafting a new Constitution with a much stronger Central Executive. But those talks went nowhere for the moment, and the purged Directory decided it was safer to remain in the constitutional clothes they were wearing rather than trying to sew a new suit from scratch. Hopefully, Fructidor would be a one off and we won’t have to resort to such naked tactics again. But, of course, the coup of Floreal, which will annul the elections of Year VI will be just around the corner and Talleyrand and Bonaparte and Sieyès will go back to talking, just talking about coming up with a better Constitution.
To replace Carnot and Barthélemy inside the Directory, the Triumvirate elevated two staunch allies. These two men were Philippe Antoine Merlin de Douai and Francois de Neufchatêau. The latter is a nonentity who will get his name chosen to retire the following May so don’t worry about him. No one else certainly did. But Merlin has been a delegate in both the National Assembly and the National Convention and was a regicide. He has been serving as the Directory’s Minister of Justice and that’s what he was doing when he was promoted to the Directory and he had spent most of his time focused on threats from the Right and keeping tabs on suspicious émigrés.
So the newly reconstituted Directory then set out to complete its repression of conservatism, implementing what is now known as the Directorial Terror. But since everyone had lived through the Terror, the Directorial Terror was far more about political repression and intimidating critics into silence, rather than, like, slaughtering their way to victory. In the first week of September 1797, that is, in the days right after Fructidor, the Directory abolished freedom of the press. From now on, all publications would be registered, cataloged and monitored. Print anything the Directory didn’t like and they would just shut you down. It goes without saying that the first targets of this revocation of press freedom was aimed at anyone saying anything even remotely rightwing.
They also passed an emergency law that allowed the Directory to dismiss and replace judicial, municipal, and administrative officials at all levels of government. Conservatives were identified and purged and replaced by solid Republicans. But you know what that means? That’s right, now the Left is going to start creeping back to life because that’s where all the committed Republicans live. And so next week, the Directory will have to spin back around to put down the Left again, because that’s what the Directory is all about, spinning around in these tight little circles, trying to balance on the head of a pin. It is no wonder when Talleyrand showed up, he said, this is never going to last.
There were two big targets of the Directory’s wrath though: émigrés and priests. To take the émigrés first, remember, there were a bunch of émigrés who returned to France after Thermidor and they had been looking to vote the monarchy back into power. Well, it is time for all of them to clear back out of France. The Directory announced that if your name was still on the prescribed list, you had two weeks to vacate the country on pain of death. But to enforce this decree, the Directory did not turn to revolutionary tribunals and show trials and summary execution. Many of those caught lingering over the next few months and years were processed through ordinary criminal courts or, in the case of specific émigrés, a special military commission handling cases of treason. And through the Spring of 1799, that military commission will have executed just 160 men. And that was after they had all been given fair warning to clear out.
So, given what we’ve seen so far in the show, the Directorial Terror hardly lives up to its name. But there was one interesting extension to the repriscription of the émigrés that is worth mentioning. In November, the Directory decreed that all nobles, because they were nobles, were now considered aliens and if they wanted to stay in France, they needed to apply to become a naturalized citizen, just like any foreign immigrant. This went further than any previous revolutionary government had ever gone, even the sans-culottes backed Committee of Public Safety. But this decree turned out to be all bark and no bite. Paul Barras was a noble, Bonaparte was a noble. Are you really going to make them apply for citizenship? This most extreme of all the anti noble laws was never really enforced.
Now, the biggest target of the Directorial Terror, though, was by far the clergy. Again with the clergy. The triumvirate of Rewbell, La Révellière, Barras were all personally anti-clerical. Especially La Révellière. They had hoped to keep the religious question out of the political mix. But then the newly conservative Legislative Councils had tried to rehabilitate all those refractory priests. And so, after Fructidor, the second Directory turned in the opposite direction, demanding the clergy take a new civic oath, swearing a hatred of monarchy. The punishment for refusal was deportation to French Guiana.
But if you look at it, this new oath was not as demanding as the original civic oaths handed down in the early days of the Revolution, which demanded that the priests swear loyalty to the French nation above all, including the Pope, which is why it was so controversial. But all this new civic oath says is “say you hate monarchy”. This is a far less extreme and purely political demand. Just say you hate monarchy. Come on, say it! But tons of the priests wouldn’t, especially, as we’ll see in a moment, in the newly annexed territories of Belgium. But again, this law was more about intimidating the priests into silence, rather than aggressively pursuing a door to door search for refractory priests.
By the end of the Directory, about 12,000 priests will have been denounced. Of those, only about 10% will actually be arrested. And of those, only about 10% would be processed for deportation. And of those, only a handful would actually wind up being deported. So really, this new oath was about making the priest be quiet. The Directory only went after a priest if they started causing too much trouble.
So while the second Directory worked to shore itself up politically, it was also working to shore itself up financially. And to talk about that, I must first begin by correcting a boneheaded mistake I made last week. When I was talking about the ministerial reshuffle the Triumvirate carried out in July 1797, the one that brought Talleyrand back into power, I said that they appointed a new Finance Minister to help increase revenue and balance the books. Wow, that was totally and completely wrong. The Finance Minister in question was Dominique Vincent Ramel, and he was actually appointed way back in February 1796. He’s been around from almost the beginning of the Directory and will hang around until almost the very end. He will finally resign in July 1799. He was in no way a part of the reshuffle. I just completely biffed that.
But that said, Ramel was having a heck of a time getting some of the men who work for him to do their jobs. And he was under sustained attack from the conservatives in the Legislative Councils who were trying to get him fired for his various financial expedients. Expedients we’re going to talk about here in a moment.
After Fructidor gave the all clear to purge suspected Royalists, his job got a lot easier. And he subsequently took the opportunity to do something dramatic, very dramatic, to solve the Directory’s financial troubles.
So, since the hyperinflationary collapse of the assignat and the total failure of the territorial mandate, the Directory abandoned paper currency and went back to relying only on hard specie: minted coins. But since all of these had been driven out of circulation years ago, Ramel and everyone else in France suddenly faced the exact opposite problem. Rather than runaway inflation, they were dealing with runaway deflation. Prices that had been bursting through the ceiling now collapsed through the floor as no one had any money to pay for anything. In many areas, barter alone became the only means of exchange.
This was especially bad for anyone who had debts to pay, because the numbers written down in the days of hyperinflation were now orders of magnitude beyond what you could hope to cobble together from selling your crops or your wares or your services or whatever it is you did for a living. And good luck trying to borrow any more money. Interest rates skyrocketed well past usury into double secret usury. And that was a problem not just for the farmer in the field or the local shopkeeper, it was a problem for the Treasury of France. Ramel was forced to borrow to cover the state’s debt. I mean, what else could he do? But to do so he was taking on interest rates that were downright scandalous and that was one of the things he was being attacked for throughout 1797. It looked a lot like he was in cahoots with mustache twirling financiers to rob the government blind.
But Ramel was really not in cahoots with the financiers. Or if he was, he is about to double cross them so, so hard. So hard that I think he is just a guy trying to pay the government’s bills, rather than a guy trying to line his own pockets, though he probably was lining his pockets a little bit. They all were. That’s what the Directory was all about.
As the year progressed, Ramel kept scrambling to keep things together. The Directory confiscated church property in Belgium and sold it off to raise money. And the treaty with the Batavian Republic required cash payments and forced loans. And then Italy was paying off like a slot machine. But it wasn’t enough and it was never going to be enough. So after Fructidor cleared out all of his fiercest critics, Ramel dropped a bomb on September 31, 1797: the state was going to repudiate two thirds of its debt. So like I say, if he was in cahoots with the financiers, he just shivved them in the back so hard.
Now the actual process of repudiation was to issue one time only paper bonds that would be redeemable for national land, basically what the assignat were originally before they became a currency. Now, the total value of these bonds did not add up to the total amount owed by the state, but tough luck, this is what you’re going to get. The value of these bonds would then proceed to drop to 60% face value and within a year, the government will announce it’s just not going to accept them anymore. So that’s one way to get out of debt.
But this declared bankruptcy was a shocking scandal. For the whole course of the Revolution, none of the government had ever repudiated the national debt, not even the National Assembly who could have made a pretty legitimate case for repudiating the debts of the Ancien Régime. Sure, they had wound up paying off the King’s debts and piles of paper that later turned out to be worthless. But just saying, we’re done with this? It’s never happened.
But skipping out on the debt only affected one side of the balance sheet, so Ramel had to figure out a way to also increase state revenue. For a variety of reasons, tax receipts have plummeted over the years. So in mid November 1797, he rolled out a new agency to enforce and collect taxes. This agency would be centrally operated and its commissioners would work directly for the Finance Ministry, which was another major break with revolutionary precedent. Even at the height of the Committee of Public Safety and their all powerful representatives on mission, local tax collection had always been handled by local officials. The King’s unscrupulous tax farmers had been one of the most hated parts of the Ancien Régime so tax collection had always been left to the locals. Ramel’s new revenue service is taking France all the way back to 1788. And what’s more, many of the guys hired to be the Directory’s tax collectors came from the ranks of those old Ancien Régime tax farmers.
But it wasn’t just the tax men themselves that reminded French citizens of the old ways. Because Ramel also decided to revive all the hated excise taxes that had been right at the heart of why everyone wanted to call the Estates General in the first place. But excise taxes were a lucrative source of income, which is why the Royal ministries had kept going back to them even though they were so unpopular. So at the dawn of Year VI, everyone had to deal with a host of very familiar taxes on things like tobacco and doors and windows. There were now road tolls again, a stamp tax was levied on all newspapers and legal forms. It would not be as haphazardly applied as these taxes had been before the Revolution but still, this is verbatim stuff that we talked about way, way back in Episode 3.2: The Broken Regime.
Ramel even flirted with the idea of a universal salt tax. But if you’ll recall from that same episode, the gabelle was one of the most hated of all the indirect taxes, and bringing it back was just one thing too many so Ramel let it drop. Now, since the Second Directory is essentially now operating as a partnership between the government and the army, tax enforcement was guaranteed by the soldiers. Departments or municipalities or even individual homes that resisted the new taxes were liable to find soldiers camping out in the town square. In the end, Ramel’s financial reforms really did help stabilize the national finances but as you can imagine, they won the Directory no friends. So this is a great place to pivot from the Directory’s domestic policy of political repression and economic expedients to the Directory’s foreign policy of political repression and economic expedients. Because one other huge pillar of the government’s improved finances was their naked looting of all the territories they had won during the war. So we’ll spend the rest of the day running a circuit of the Directory’s little empire to see how things are shaping up for the people who have been liberated by revolutionary France.
So we should start with the main territory that has been fully annexed into France, the former Austrian Netherlands, or what we’ve all agreed it’s cool for me to call Belgium. After the second conquest of Belgium by Pichegru in the Fall of 1794, the local citizens were briefly treated as an occupied foreign country and Lazare Carnot, for example, was a major proponent of looting the country to help subsidize the war. He went so far as to create the ominously named Agency of Trade and Extraction to cart off all the movable wealth. But a majority inside the National Convention, this is all still in the National Convention days, planned to incorporate Belgium into France, and they decided that such harsh requisitioning would be counterproductive. So in early 1795, the agency was shut down. Commissioners then went in to pave the way for formal annexation and in October 1795, in one of their last acts before handing the reins over to the Directory, the National Convention annexed Belgium. All those former Belgian subjects of the Habsburgs became French citizens.
Now, Austria, of course, did not recognize this annexation yet, but there was very little they could do about it. And besides, if you’ll recall from our previous discussions of Austrian foreign policy, they had been trying to give away their territories in the Netherlands for like 80 years now. It was not a province they really mourned the loss of.
But relations between Belgium and the Directory were going to be strained, very strained. Yes, they were now fellow citizens rather than conquered enemies, but on the ground the difference was very hard to make out.
The trouble began most especially over religion, because, of course it did. Initially, the Belgians were pretty happy to hear that one of the main pillars of the Thermidorian reaction was freedom of worship. But unfortunately, that ideal was no match for the economic possibilities offered by all the lands owned by the local Belgian church, especially since the Directory was still trying to prop up the assignat and then the territorial mandates.
The Directory started unilaterally seizing church property and putting it up for auction. In September 1796, they abolished all monastic orders, seized their property and put it all up for auction. This was all done in the name of harmonizing the laws of Belgium with the rest of France, where monastic orders had been abolished for years. But it did very little to harmonize the people with the rest of France. The Belgians attempted to voice their displeasure in the elections of Year V, and they elected a slate of conservative delegates to the Legislative Councils. But in this very first act of political expression as French citizens, they learned a harsh lesson. The Belgian elections were among those enrolled in the coup of Fructidor and all their delegates were purged from the Legislative Councils, not exactly the welcome to your new home they had been looking for.
After Fructidor things started to get really ugly because the Belgian clergy uniformly refused to swear the hatred of monarchy oath now required by the Directory. Of the 12,000 priests identified as refractory, 10,000 were Belgians.
So in Belgium, the Directory is having a hard time learning the lessons from the Vendée. They responded to Belgian intransigence with a crackdown on priests who refused to take the oath. So the whole region was now on edge. And wouldn’t you know it, pretty soon the Directory will drop literally the same match onto the flammable material in Belgium that the Convention had dropped into the Vendée. We haven’t gotten there yet but in September 1798 the Directory will make the Belgians subject to conscription. And that, my friends, will provoke a full blown rebellion. And also, like it happened in the Vendée, the region was under garrison by the French army, and so the rebellion would get out of hand very quickly. But that is still in the future, and so we should move on up to the Batavian Republic, which is where the French had stationed its regional garrison, a garrison that was at the moment pretty dang shrunk down to size.
After the Batavian Republic was proclaimed in January 1795 and then confirmed in June 1795, relations between France and her very first sister republic, because that’s what these republics get called, was surprise, surprise strained. But that was partly because relations between the Dutch themselves were strained. When delegates met to hammer out a new constitution for the Batavian Republic, there was quickly a divide between federalists who wanted to keep the old, decentralized system of government and those who wanted a unified, centralized state like France was becoming.
But with the sport of the occupying French army, the Convention delegates ultimately produced a mostly centralized constitution that was vague enough on the details that it would hopefully please everyone. Instead, it pleased no one. And when the French ambassador endorsed it, that turned out to be the kiss of death and so when the constitution was submitted to the voters in May 1797, it was rejected 108,000 to just 27,000.
Now, the reason the French endorsement turned out to be a kiss of death was because the French had become extraordinarily unpopular by May 1797. As we discussed back in Episode 3.40, The Frozen Rivers, when the French showed up in the Netherlands there was a genuine outpouring of enthusiasm from the Dutch people, and the French soldiers were, in fact, greeted as liberators. But the reality of French occupation brought everyone down hard and fast.
From the beginning, the French paid for all their requisitions in worthless paper, so basically just legalized theft. Then the Treaty of The Hague that was signed in June 1795 called for the Dutch to pay for and provision a 25,000 men French occupying army. This was obviously quite a burden, but it also turned out to be quite an insult, because, in short order, there were only 10,000 French garrisoning the country, the rest were peeled off to go fight the Austrians but the Dutch were still paying as if there were 25,000.
These insulting financial burdens might have been bearable had the French occupation not crippled the Dutch economy. Obviously, overseas trade is the main lifeblood of the Dutch economy but now that trade was under constant attack by the British navy. Goods that had been staples of Dutch life for 200 years suddenly disappeared from the shelves. And as for Dutch manufacturing, it now had no place to export its goods. France was clearly the logical market, but though they were sister republics, France had erected massive tariff barriers to protect French manufacturing which left the Dutch with no place to go. All these trade disruptions then collapsed the shipbuilding industry, which was yet another mainstay of the economy. Tons of people were thrown out of work. So, yes, the French pretty well went from angelic liberators to demonic occupiers overnight.
After the first constitution was rejected in May 1797, a second convention had to be called, but this one gridlocked too. But after the French Directory staged the coup of Fructidor, they decided it was safe to take a more active part in internal Dutch politics. And they were in no mood to accommodate their sister republic, especially after the Dutch’s terrible showing at the Battle of Camperdown in October 1797. The acquisition of the Dutch fleet was supposed to be a major boon to France’s war effort against the British, but when the Dutch and British fleets met for the first time in the North Sea off the coast of Holland, the Dutch were utterly routed. They lost all eleven ships of the line they had sent into battle, the British lost none.
So in January 1798, the French ordered local Dutch forces to purge the still deadlocked constitutional convention of its conservative federalist faction. The remaining delegates then produced a unitary state government modeled on the Directory, sweeping aside all the vestiges of the old regime including the powerful guilds and the fiercely independent oligarchic city councils. The purged constitutional convention then also did this thing where they declared themselves to be the sitting Legislative Councils and said that in the next election, only one third of us will be up for reelection and this was no more popular with the Dutch than it had been with the French when the National Convention passed the Law of Two Thirds.
The new constitution also disestablished the Dutch church which crippled whatever social safety net existed in the Netherlands just as the economy was starting to collapse. But unfortunately for the Dutch, they were now stuck between a rock and a hard place. The expelled Prince of Orange, William V was up in London writing missives even more reactionary and inflammatory than Louis XVIII was writing, so inviting him to come back in was just out of the question.
But the Dutch wound up in a not totally terrible place, at least politically. When the Directory staged the coup of Floreal in the spring of 1798, a coup we will talk about next week and which targeted the left, the Directory decided neutralizing radicals was now more important than neutralizing conservatives. So, with French approval, a Dutch general carried out a coup against the self proclaimed Dutch Legislative Councils, reinstating the formerly perched Federalists, calling for free and open elections and getting them. This helped clamp down on any nascent rebellion against French rule and it offered the Batavian Republic a degree of home rule not at all afforded to the other sister republics being created by the French down in Italy and in Switzerland.
Down in Italy, Bonaparte hung around after the Treaty of Campo Formio to oversee the transition to peace but he would soon be coming back to Paris. And as soon as he left, things started to get a little dicey as the Italians started to divide between a majority who were not at all keen with the French occupation and a minority of radicals who wanted the French to help them sweep aside all the old regimes and unify the peninsula under a single national government. But the French wanted no part of that dream. They wanted a divided Italy that would be compliant and profitable, not a unified Italy that would pose a major threat.
So the next great reorganization on the Italian peninsula hit in December 1797 when a riot targeting the French Embassy broke out in Rome. Or possibly a riot that was instigated by Italian radicals who wanted to provoke the French into erasing the Papal States from the map because that’s what’s about to happen. During the riot, a French general was killed and the French ambassador, who just so happened to be Napoleon’s brother, Joseph Bonaparte, had to flee to Florence. Since the Directory had just turned in a decisively anticlerical direction they were not just going to sit by and let the capital of Catholicism kill one of their generals and get away with it.
So in February 1798, the French army marched south, entered Rome and occupied the Eternal City. When they arrived, a group of Italians stood in the Forum and proclaimed the new Roman Republic. But it is critical to note that those guys were not themselves Romans, they all came from the north. The Romans themselves wanted no part of any of this, especially after the Pope was taken prisoner and escorted out of the city.
Now, knowing that the Romans were not going to be capable of even pretend self government, the Directory dispatched a team of French lawyers to go down and drop a new constitution and these guys had a ball recreating all the institutions of the ancient Roman Republic. There were consoles and senators and tribunes, for a bunch of guys who grew up steeped in classical history, this all must have been a great delight. But it was all for show. All the officials were appointed by the French, and anything those officials wanted to do had to be approved by the French army. The local French representatives also had the power to issue their own decrees as they saw fit.
The now thoroughly anticlerical French occupiers then did what they were doing everywhere. They disestablished the church and targeted church property for confiscation. But Rome is the church. The church is Rome. So going after church property meant going after all property, and shutting down church functions meant shutting down the economy of the city. For the next ten months, the French looted the city at will, while the Romans slid into destitution. The Roman Republic was not popular, and pretty soon the French would find themselves kicked out during the lead up to the war of the Second Coalition.
Meanwhile, further north, the supposedly compliant Cisalpine Republic that had been created by Bonaparte was starting to exert some independence. But the problem here was not that the leaders of the new republic were too conservative, but rather that they were too radical. Milan had become the capital of choice for enlightened nationalistic Italians from all over the peninsula. And they were going to use the Cisalpine Republic as a base to integrate all of Italy into a single state, a state that they did not want to be merely a stooge for the French.
So when, in February 1798, the French delivered a treaty for them to sign that required Milan to fund a 25,000 men French occupying army and raise a 22,000 men Italian auxiliary army, they balked and refused to sign. So the French did what was now becoming second nature. They purged the Cisalpine government of men who resisted French demands and appointed new men who agreed to play ball. These men signed the treaty. There, see? Isn’t liberty and independence wonderful?
Meanwhile, even further north, the Swiss were watching all of this with mounting dread. Their long cherished neutrality and independence were clearly threatened now that France was turning Italy into a French satellite. So, just to give a quick little bit of background, at the end of the 18th century, the Swiss Confederation was one of the most intricately convoluted political units in Europe, a microscopic hodgepodge of independent cantons and municipalities and free cities who were only linked by the loosest of mutual understandings. And on top of that, there were three main language groups: French, German and Italian.
Most of the native Swiss wanted no part of revolutionary France and wanted to keep things like they had always been. But a few native Swiss were afraid of becoming Cisalpine-ized, that’s what they called it. These guys believe that it would be far better to integrate into a single state and then make a treaty with France now before the French imposed harsh terms by force. A few of these forward thinkers were invited to Paris in December 1797 to discuss the formation of a unitary Swiss state.
Now, there was some French speaking Swiss territory that the Directory was going to annex outright, but they agreed to let the rest of Switzerland govern itself, and the Swiss collaborators returned home to get ready. The plan was for the French to annex the city of Mulhaus in January, and that would be the signal for a pro French, pro unitary Swiss uprising to get going. But that is not how things went. The annexation of Mulhaus triggered not a coordinated uprising, but total chaos as everyone in Switzerland seemed to take the opportunity to make self-interested plays at everyone else’s expense. Rural areas that had been dominated by cities tried to shrug off urban rule. Neighboring cantons grabbed at each other’s territory. Old tensions between the French Swiss and the German Swiss and the Italian Swiss flared back up. It was quite a mess.
So in February, the Directory did what the collaborators had been trying to forestall. They sent in a French army to restore order. The Directory ordered the French General in charge to set up three republics corresponding to the language divisions, but quickly changed their minds when they decided that that would be too difficult to control. So at the end of March 1798, the French declared the former Swiss Confederation to be the single, unified Helvetic Republic and they imposed the constitution, creating, as was now the standard model, a bicameral legislature with a five men Executive Directory.
They then divided up the new republic into 23 equal cantons. But conspicuously absent from the new map of the Helvetic Republic was Geneva, which was simply annexed into France. Representatives from the cantons were then ordered to meet for an inaugural legislative session, but nearly half refused to send anyone. The French army had to march around compelling men to come by force. After that, the Helvetic Republic was well and truly Cisalpine-ized. The Helvetic government was forced to sign a treaty granting the French free and exclusive use of the Alpine passes and then they demanded the Swiss, particularly these Swiss banking operations, provide funds that would go to both support the army of Italy and Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt which was due to launch in May 1798.
So, come the Spring of 1798, the old maps of Europe were thoroughly obsolete, and France was enjoying the lucrative profits that came with having so many Allied sister republics who were so happy to be providing their French benefactors with so much wealth. I mean, seriously, what a lovely generosity of spirit in this new age of liberty and fellowship.
Next week, we will open with a discussion of the other side of the Directory’s foreign policy. So not how they were dictating terms to their friends, but how they’d plan to defeat their few remaining enemies. But wait, you say there’s only one enemy left, right? The British. Well, yes, technically that’s true, but new Foreign Minister Talleyrand is going to accidentally provoke the Americans into an undeclared naval war in the Caribbean because the Puritanical colonials refused to pay a very civilized bribe that Talleyrand demanded before they sat down to discuss Franco-American relations. Then we will move on to talk about the elections of Year VI. Elections that will bring yet another abrupt change in who the Directory fears most. Where the elections of Year V triggered the annulment of the results in a purge of conservative, the elections of Year VI will trigger an annulment of the results and a purge of the re-re-resurgent left.
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