Research Subjects: Government & Politics

Restoration of the Gregorian Calendar

September 9, 1805

The National Convention adopted a new Revolutionary calendar on 5 October 1793, making it retroactive to 22 September 1792, the founding of the French Republic. Years were numbered with Roman numerals beginning with year one. The year was divided into twelve months, each having thirty days. Weeks (called decadi) now had ten days. To make the calendar coincide with the solar year additional days, the sansculottides were added (after year III, these were renamed complementary days). Fabre d'Eglantine was charged with coming up with the names for the months, which were to be named after the natural seasons or phenomena. The months of autumn ended with -aire, those of winter in -,se, of spring in -al, and of summer in -or. The names given for the months, in order, were: Vendémiaire (vintage), Brumaire (fog), Frimaire (frost), Niv,se (snow), Pluvi,se (rain), Vent˘se (wind), Germinal (budding), Floréal (flowering) Prairial (meadows), Messidor (harvest), Thermidor (heat) and Fructidor (fruit).

The new calendar was largely a failure, unlike its equally "rational" cousin the metric system, also adopted under the Revolution. One reason for its failure was that the 10-day week allowed only one day in ten, rather than one day in seven off. Napoleon's Concordat with the Catholic Church, and the recognition of Sunday as a day of worship, meant an end to the experimental calendar. The revolutionary calendar was revived briefly during the Paris Commune of 1871.

A. Gregorian Calender. Decree of the Conservative Senate; September, 9th, 1805.

The conservative senate, the number of members being assembled prescribed by the 90th article of the constitutional act of the 13th December, 1799. Having seen the projet of a senatus consultum, prepared in the form prescribed by the 57th article of the constitutional act of the 4th of August, 1801. After having heard, respecting the motives of the said projet, the orators of the government, and the report of the special committee, appointed in the sitting of the 2d instant, decree as follows: Art. 1. From the 1st of January, 1806, the Gregorian calendar shall be used throughout the French empire. Art. 2. The present senatus consultum shall be transmitted by a message to his imperial majesty.

Francois de Neufchateau, President.
Colaud and Porcher, Secretaries.

Examined and sealed. The chancellor of the senate,


The Annual Register, or, A View of the History, Politics, and Literature for the Year 1805. London: Printed by R. Wilks for W. Otridge and Sons, etal. (Publisher varies by year.) Published for the years 1758-1837 in 80 vols.; illus., maps; 21-23 cm. Alternate titles for some years include: Annual Register, or, a View of the History and Politics of the Year... and New Annual Register, or General Repository of History, Politics, and Literature, for the Year... Succeeded by: Annual Register of World Events.



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