One of the least likely survivors of the Jacobin purge of the National Convention in early 1793 was Jean-Baptiste Louvet, the author of the popular eighteenth-century romance Les Amours du Chevalier de Faublas. Had it not been for the upheaval caused by the revolution in 1789, Louvet undoubtedly would have continued to build his promising literary career. Few of his readers could have imagined that this frail, young man would be elected as a deputy in the national assembly, where he dared to oppose powerful Jacobin leaders like Robespierre. His limited formal education and background as a bookstore clerk set Louvet apart among his legally trained friends in the Brissotin/Girondin faction; yet his intelligence, courage, and loyalty led them to appreciate his skills and friendship. Louvet would be the only one among the group to survive the proscription of the Girondins and life as a fugitive. He returned to Paris following the Jacobins’ downfall in July 1794, to serve again in the National Convention and then in the newly elected government of the Directory.
Bette W. Oliver is an independent scholar.
Chapter One: Before the Storm (1760-1789)
Chapter Two: Dawn of a New Day (1790-1792)
Chapter Three: Division and Disillusionment (1792-1793)
Chapter Four: From Deputies to Fugitives (1793-1794)
Chapter Five: From St. Émilion to Paris (1794-1795)
Chapter Six: After the Storm (1795-1797)
This compelling study of Jean-Baptiste Louvet illuminates the fratricidal conflict between republicans during the French Revolution. Associated with the Girondin faction, Louvet denounced Robespierre as a tyrant in 1792. The Montagnards purged the Girondins from the National Convention in 1793, sending many of them to the Revolutionary Tribunal and the guillotine. Louvet and others escaped Paris, and this book charts their perilous experience as fugitives. Louvet survived the Terror to bear witness to his friends’ memory in 1795. While acknowledging the complexity of factional divisions, Oliver effectively demonstrates the deeply personal nature of revolutionary politics.
Lost in the pantheon of revolutionaries, Jean-Baptiste Louvet has earned his reincarnation in Bette W. Oliver's biography. Finally an end to ninety years of biographical silence on one who helped to shape the Revolution—here is a life of conviction, intrigue, and adventure.
Jean-Baptiste Louvet was an important figure in the leadership of the French Revolution. Affiliated with the Girondins, he shared their fate when he was expelled from the National Convention and went on the run. Unlike most members of this faction, he survived the Terror. The most illustrious chapter of his career began after the death of Maximilien Robespierre. His story has rarely been told in English, and very few writers are better equipped to tell it than Oliver. She has spent many years studying the Girondins, and in this book, she reconstructs Louvet’s revolutionary career with sympathy and aplomb. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Oliver has chosen this moment of increasing polarization to bring us the story of Louvet, a moderate who tried to walk between the rain drops during a Revolution that left little room for compromise.