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The Napoleon Series > Government > Governments and Politics

Decree on Émigrés

April 27, 1802.

From the outbreak of the Revolution in France some nobles, clergy and commoners chose to leave the country. Some of these émigrés joined the armies of foreign nations at war with France; others joined the armies created by the émigré brothers of King Louis XVI; still others fought against the Revolution in the Royalist armies in the West. Under the Convention, émigrés were banished from France forever, their property sold and the death penalty was imposed on those who returned. The Constitution of 1795 provided for the perpetual banishment of émigrés. Approximately 150,000 French emigrated at some point during the Revolution. On 20 October 1800 Napoleon declared a partial amnesty. On 26 April 1802 Napoleon decreed a general amnesty for all but about one thousand of the émigrés.

Tom Holmberg


Title I.

Dispositions relative to the Persons of Emigrants.

  1. An amnesty is granted for emigration, to every individual who is not definitively erased.
  2. Those individuals who are not in France, shall be bound to return before the 23d of September next.
  3. Immediately on their return, they shall declare before the commissaries appointed for that purpose, in the cities of Calais, Brussels, Mayence, Strasburg, Geneva, Nice, Bayonne, Perpignan, and Bourdeaux, that they return to the territory of the republic by virtue of the amnesty.
  4. This declaration shall be followed by an oath of fidelity to the government established by the constitution; and that they will not entertain, either directly or indirectly, any connexion or correspondence with the enemies of the state.
  5. Those who have received from foreign powers, places, titles, decorations, gratuities, or pensions, shall be bound to declare it before the same commissaries, and formally to renounce the same.
  6. Those who shall not return to France before the 23d of September, and have fulfilled the conditions prescribed by the preceding articles, shall remain excluded out of the present amnesty, and definitively placed upon the list of emigrants, unless they prove, in due form, that it was impossible for them to return to the territory of the republic within the time fixed, and that they have before the expiration of that time fulfilled before the agents of the republic, in the countries where they reside, the other conditions above expressed.
  7. Those who are at present on French territory shall be bound under the same penalty and definitive establishment on the list of emigrants, to make, within one month from the date of the present act, before the prefect of the department where they reside, sitting in the council of prefecture, the same declaration, oath and renunciation.
  8. The commissaries and prefects charged with receiving such declarations, oaths, and renunciations, shall without delay transmit to the minister of the interior, in the form of a dispatch, the proces-verbal of their proceedings, on sight of which the minister shall make out a certificate of amnesty, which shall be signed, and delivered to the individual concerned.
  9. Such individuals shall, until the delivery of such certificate of amnesty, reside in the commune in which he made the declaration of his return to the territory of the republic.
  10. The following persons are exempted out of the present amnesty. 1st, Those individuals who have commanded armies assembled in hostility to the republic. 2d, Those who have had rank in the enemies' armies. 3d, Those who since the foundation of the republic have held places in the households of the ci-devant French princes. 4th, Those who are known to have been, or were actually movers or agents of the civil or foreign war. 5th, Those who commanded by land or sea, as well as the representatives of the people, who have been found guilty of treason against the republic, and the archbishops and bishops who, despising legitimate authority, have resolved to give in their resignation.
  11. The individuals denominated in the preceding article, are definitively placed on the list of emigrants; but the number so definitively placed on the list of emigrants shall not exceed 1000, of whom 500 shall be named previous to the 23d of September next.
  12. The emigrants to whom the amnesty is extended, as well as those who have been definitively erased from the list of emigrants, according to the decree of the consuls of the 28th Vendemaire (October 20) 1801, shall for the space of ten years, from the date of the erasure, or certificate of amnesty, be under the special inspection of government.
  13. The government, if it judges expedient, shall have the power to oblige the individuals, placed under the said inspection, to remove to the distance of 20 leagues from the ordinary place of residence. They may also be removed to a greater distance, if circumstances should require it; but in that case, the order of removal must first have been committed to the council of state.
  14. After the expiration of the ten years of inspection, all the individuals against whom the government shall not have been obliged to put the above-mentioned measure in execution, shall cease to be subject to the said inspection; it may be extended to the whole duration of the lives of those against whom these measures have been put in execution.
  15. The individuals subjected to the inspection of government shall enjoy, in other respects, all their rights as citizens.


Title II.

Arrangement relative to Goods.

  1. The individuals included in the amnesty, shall not be entitled, under any pretext, or in any case, to interfere with the arrangements respecting property, which have been entered into between the republic and individuals before the present amnesty.
  2. Those of their goods which are still in the hands of the nation (with the exception of woods and forests, which have been declared unalienable by law, immovables applied to public service, the rights of property real or pretended to impositions on the grand canals, claims which they may have on the public treasury, and the extinction of which took place in the moment of confusion, when the public seized on their goods and debts), shall be restored to them without any of the fruits, which in conformity to a law passed, pertain to the republic, down to the day on which they obtain their certificate of amnesty.

The present senatus consulte shall be transmitted by a message to the consuls of the republic.


Tronchet, president.
Chapel and Serrurier, secretaries.

By the conservative senate,
Cauchy, sec. gen.

Let the present senatus consulte be confirmed by the seal of state, inscribed in the bulletin of the laws, inscribed in the registers of the judiciary and administrative authorities, and let the minister of justice be charged with superintending its publication.

Paris, April 26, 1802.


Bonaparte, first consul.
H.B. Maret, secretary of state.



The Annual Register, or, A View of the History, Politics, and Literature for the Year 1802. 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.


Placed on the Napoleon Series 10/00


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