Profile of a political migration
Age of Emigrations and siècle des exilés
The exile of ca. 150,000 French people in the wake of the French Revolution of 1789 constitutes the first instance of political emigration on a European, if not indeed a global, scale. Émigrés of the French Revolution left their homeland because they eschewed the political development in France or in reaction to the increasing pressure of political exclusion. They dispersed throughout practically all European states from Sweden to Sicily and from Portugal to Russia, as well as to the fledgling United States and to French, British, and Spanish colonial territories. French émigrés even sporadically reached China and India.1
On account of its political character and geographical scope, this migration differs from two similarly large predecessors: the emigration of French Huguenots after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and that of the Scottish and Irish Jacobites following the Glorious Revolution of 1688/1689.2 Whereas confession was the decisive factor for the Protestant Huguenots' emigration, the Catholic Jacobites were more strongly motivated by political considerations, although these ran along confessional lines. Accordingly, both groups sought exile in Europe and in part in the Atlantic world, but they stuck respectively to Protestant or Catholic areas. Another difference lies in the temporal dimension: whereas the Huguenots integrated relatively quickly and enduringly into their host society, the Jacobites focused their political activities until the mid-18th century more on returning home. Nevertheless, the latter's initiatives missed the mark over many generations, in part because they were linked to the restoration of the fallen Stuart dynasty. In contrast, émigrés of the French Revolution succeeded in large part in returning home – and not only on the coattails of the Bourbon royal family, which returned in 1814 after having been overthrown in 1792, but rather from the end of the 1790s in most cases. For émigrés of the Revolution, returning to France was an enduring goal which initially manifested itself in a Franco-centric understanding of exile as France du dehors or France extérieure.3
From the perspective within France, the emigration caused by the Revolution served as the spark and the model for an entire siècle des exilés.4 In consequence of the valse des régimes between the First Empire in 1804 and the Third Republic in 1870/1871, a considerable number of politically active French men and women thenceforth gained first-hand experience of exile. Across the political spectrum, from Legitimists to anarchists, these émigré groups represented the ongoing processes of political, cultural and social change in all their ambivalence. In their very name, les émigrés embodied the clear reference point of these changes.5
Nevertheless, the peculiarity of the emigration unleashed by the French Revolution should not be overestimated when seen within a broader European and French context. For French exiles were in no way the only political émigrés in Europe between 1789 and 1814. Their ranks included Jacobite families, which had once fled revolution in Britain in the 1690s but which now went into exile as third- or fourth-generation naturalized French subjects. When they sought refuge in Protestant territories, émigrés of the French Revolution encountered local Huguenot colonies. In Great Britain and in the British Empire, they met with American Loyalists who had opposed the rebels in the American War of Independence. In Habsburg areas, French émigrés mixed with exiles from parts of the Monarchy that were also affected by the Revolution, such as Further Austria and the Southern Netherlands, with the result that continuous streams of exiles flowed until the late nineteenth century.6 A special case was the Ottoman Empire. Here, for example in Constantinople, it was possible to emigrate without leaving one’s residence. French traders and diplomats opposed to the Revolution secured the protection of a foreign embassy and then continued to live alongside their Republican-minded compatriots, without their political allegiance necessarily being distinguishable from Paris.7
Furthermore, French exiles encountered the émigrés of earlier revolutions, such as in Geneva (1768/1782/1792/1794), as well as refugees from areas that, in connection with developments in France, became stages for their own revolutions. In addition to the Italian states and the Old Swiss Confederacy, this happened in an especially dramatic way in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, from which tens of thousands of settlers and plantation owners fled to neighbouring colonies, the American mainland, and Europe.8 In the overall picture, this accumulation of emigrations led at the end of the 18th century in Europe and in the Atlantic world to the creation of a multi-national political diaspora of refugees of revolution, whose numbers were in the hundreds of thousands.9
This exile society gained an additional dimension when areas that had been "revolutionalised" by the wars of revolution were recaptured by the coalition powers or occupied, and now, as in Poland and Naples, supporters of the revolution were forced to flee by its opponents.10 As a result, émigrés of similar origin met again in different places and often lived in a community of other exile groups. These interrelations began to dissolve the individual characters of the various revolutions and the emigrations they caused. Out of the émigré societies arose a transnational space of political exile. Within the common self-understanding as émigrés, the political motives of individual groups lost their immediacy, as described by Charles Saladin-Egerton (1757–1814), who emigrated from Geneva to London:
Qu'un Polonais réfugié à Paris, un loyaliste Américain à Londres, ou un émigré Français royaliste à Pétersbourg ne puissent consentir à regarder comme légaux les gouvernemens qui, par la force seule des armes, par l'ascendant progressif d'une faction faible, ou par le vœu de la majeure partie de leurs compatriotes, ont succédé à ceux sous lesquels ils avoient vécu, cela se conçoit ; c'est l'effet d'un sentiment plus ou moins aveugle, mais souvent honorable.11
From this perspective, the émigrés of the French Revolution became the personal core of an Age of Emigrations, within the broader context of an Age of Revolutions at the turn of the nineteenth century.12 In their European dimension they shed new light on the question of the French Revolution's broader impact – and not within the traditional interpretive model of "exporting the revolution", but rather as reflected in the European exile of emigrant groups.13
Periodisation and composition
The composition of the French émigrés is more difficult to track than the paths they followed into exile. The reason is patchy record-keeping both on the French side and in host countries. During the first years of the Revolution, emigration was not yet regulated by law in France. On the contrary, the Constitution of 1791 explicitly stipulated a right to freedom of movement. Only after Louis XVI's (1754–1793) brothers stepped up their military activities in Koblenz were the first laws passed threatening émigrés with loss of property should they not return.14
With the outbreak of war and the overthrow of the monarchy in 1792, these regulations became draconian: once an individual emigrated, all of his assets in France were confiscated, and his property was nationalized and sold. At the apex of the Jacobin Terreur, émigrés were declared dead for purposes of civil law; if they returned from their perpetual banishment, the death penalty awaited them. This also applied should émigrés fall into the hands of revolutionary troops outside of France. Thus the high mobility of émigrés within Europe is explained not only by the policy of accepting them in exile territories, but also by the course of the war in the 1790s.
In order to enforce these laws, lists of émigrés were drawn up in their home communities, in the newly created départements, and by the central authorities in Paris. Yet these lists were anything but reliable. Gaps in registration, the mistaken spelling of names, and duplicate names impeded the quantification of the emigration. Even the documents of the reparations commission, established in 1825, were of limited value, as they only included émigrés with landholdings.15
Back in the 1950s, Donald Greer pioneered a social and regional classification of the émigrés on the basis of these sources.16 Today, a fresh, computer-aided evaluation of the French lists17 still remains a desideratum, as does a comparison with the extant registers of émigrés accommodated in the various exile territories. Thus Greer's statistics, despite their shortcomings, continue to provide the basis for demographic conclusions about the French emigration that resolutely contradict the contemporary commonplace that it was a royalist noble phenomenon. Of the ca. 150,000 émigrés, only 17% were nobles, and 25% were clergy; the majority were members of the Third Estate.
This supposedly clear picture, however, must be viewed with subtlety, and it should not lure us into facilely accepting the apologetic argument, according to which the émigrés came primarily from unprivileged social strata. On the one hand, numerous members of the Third Estate followed the nobles for whom they worked into exile; this service staff was often not registered at all, or only summarily, in host territories. In addition, there were many artisans, cooks, and musicians who lost the posts they had held in noble families in France and likewise sought to secure their livelihood via emigration. On the other hand, the considerable share (nearly 20%) of farmers in particular can be explained by short-term migration over the French border, such as happened in 1793 in Alsace with the changeful course of the revolutionary wars. The implication is that emigration in numerous host territories far from France was clearly more socially exclusive than the aggregate numbers suggest. In general, rates of emigration were much higher in the continental and maritime border regions of France than in the country's interior.18 As a portion of the overall population of about 25 million, émigrés totalled ca. 0.6%. If the first two Estates are considered separately, however, roughly one tenth of the nobility and a whole quarter of the clergy emigrated. Therefore, emigration represented a significant and relevant phenomenon for the political and social elites of the Ancien Régime.19
As to periodisation, scholarship has consistently emphasized the connection between date of emigration and the political profile of émigrés. The first émigrés to leave France, shortly after the storming of the Bastille, were the king's youngest brother, the comte d'Artois (future Charles X, 1757–1836), and his inner circle, initially with the prospect of a short absence and in the hope of a quick containment of the Revolution. In the coming months, he was followed by many of the noble families affected by the abolition of feudal rights, and then by royalist officers in the wake of the army reforms. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which required an oath to the constitution, was the main catalyst for the emigration of high and lower clerics alike.20 The fundamental break has always been seen in the year 1792. According to this view, the outbreak of war and above all the fall of the monarchy broadened the political spectrum of noble royalists and clerics to include constitutional monarchists in particular, who fled above all for humanitarian reasons and not as a conscious repudiation of the Revolution.21
This dichotomous picture of the emigration essentially goes back to Anne Louis Germaine de Staël-Holstein (1766–1817), who fashioned it in the Restoration period not least to politically justify her own emigration in 1792.22 Although this periodisation is basically accurate and most émigrés only went into exile during the Republic,23 it still requires a great deal more nuance. For example, émigrés in the early phase (1789/1790) already included constitutional monarchists, among them members of the monarchiens, who in the autumn of 1789 failed to prevail with their constitutional model (which foresaw the introduction of a bicameral system in France) in the National Assembly. In contrast, the king's other brother, the comte de Provence (future Louis XVIII, 1755–1824), emigrated in June 1791 – relatively late in comparison with numerous members of the high nobility – fleeing Paris in parallel with his brother Louis XVI (and succeeding in the undertaking whereas the latter failed).
The political structure of the emigration can be divided into three large groups of actors who, however, can be differentiated less as clear political currents than according to their own self-understanding. A distinctive characteristic of these groups is that they were all essentially supporters of the monarchy. First there were the royalistes, adherents of the ancienne constitution and the positive antithesis of the revolutionaries of the Ancien Régime.24 This group contained supporters both of absolute and pre-absolute monarchy, the latter including greater participatory rights for the nobility. A second group were the above-named Anglophile monarchiens, who in turn vied with the so-called constitutionnels, the supporters of the Constitution of 1791, to determine the nature of a future constitutional monarchy in France.25 After the overthrow of Louis XVI, however, the prerequisite for the political projects of all three groups was the restoration of the monarchy. The focus of the émigrés' political orientation was therefore the king's brothers, especially the comte de Provence. After Louis XVI's execution in 1793, he proclaimed himself regent for Louis XVII (1785–1795), still a minor, and, after the latter's death in a Paris prison in 1795, in the eyes of his supporters he ascended the French throne as Louis XVIII.26 While these decisions may have seemed anachronistic and fictitious from the point of view of France du dedans,27 and while Louis XVIII failed to be recognized for long by the great European powers, nevertheless in the self-understanding of France du dehors, France remained, at least until Napoléon Bonaparte's (1769–1821) coup in 1799, a kingdom with an absentee monarch.
Émigré status and admission policies
The administrative definition of émigré status originated first as a result of the emigration process itself. For example, when French nobles settled on Lake Geneva in the autumn of 1789, the British historian Edward Gibbon (1737–1794), then living there, spoke of an "inundation of strangers";28 the French ambassador, likewise using a descriptive category from the realm of tourism, headed his list of foreigners as "Français qui passent l'hiver en Suisse".29 In French usage, the active substantive participle émigrans ("those emigrating", "emigrants") initially connoted a reversible process. Only in May 1790 were emigrants first labelled as émigrés, as those who had definitively emigrated – a designation that was quickly adopted by the host countries.30
At first, the émigrés were largely tolerated by the authorities; for the most part, comprehensive rules of admission did not yet exist. A special case within this practice was the Electorate of Trier, where Archbishop Clemens Wenceslaus (1739–1812) allowed Louis XVI's brothers, his nephews, to create an émigré army. Furthermore, he provided money and accommodations in Koblenz, where the number of émigrés approached that of local residents, and he even put a part of the city's administration into émigré hands.31
A change occurred in admission practice in 1792. On the one hand, emigration from France increased yet again after the overthrow of the monarchy. On the other, the émigré army dispersed after the coalition troops' failed autumn campaign, and its members increasingly headed eastwards through the Holy Roman Empire. In response, a series of German territories issued strict regulations for admission and passage through. As the case of Prussia shows, however, these orders could barely be enforced, especially in areas along the borders. Thus, with local differences, a wide-ranging practice of toleration was established. Although the Imperial Diet (Reichstag) decreed no regulations for the Empire as a whole, Prussia, for example, oriented itself on the admission regulations of the Habsburg Monarchy, which predicated émigrés' long-term residency on their ability to provide for their own subsistence. In addition, some governments, such as in the Prince-Bishopric of Münster, hoped that the émigrés' precarious humanitarian situation would immunize their populations against inclinations to revolution.32
In Great Britain, in contrast, the outbreak of war in early 1793 markedly increased the fear of Jacobin emissaries and domestic unrest. London's rapidly growing émigré colony, with numbers in the five digits the largest in Europe,33 made the domestic security situation increasingly unmanageable. Thus in 1793 Parliament passed the Aliens Act. This law allowed suspicious individuals to be expelled – a practice that among émigrés especially affected the constitutionnels and caused a number of them to journey on to the USA.34 The Russian Empire tested émigrés' views to determine whether they qualified for residency, and in 1793 it required a loyalty oath to Louis XVII and to religion. This extended as well to French people who had long resided in Russia, such that from then on, in the eyes of the French Republic, all oath-taking French became émigrés and thus enemies of the state.35
Nevertheless, such attempts at control proved limited in their reach. Thus the diplomatic pressure that was applied in particular as part of peace agreements with the Republic led to no corresponding change in the practice of toleration. Émigrés were expelled in Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in 1798, but similar measures were not so easy in Prussia, neutral since 1795, on account of a lack of bureaucratic structures.36 A similar initiative failed in Bern, where an émigré commission had been established in 1793, as the French presence in southern Germany and Italy left émigrés no place to go, and thus they were allowed to remain for the time being.37 From the émigrés' point of view, northern Germany and Great Britain were preferable, for they had liberal admission policies and these areas were relatively safe from French invasion. War was the cause of massive internal migration within Habsburg lands, especially from Further Austria to more central regions or farther on to Russia; the authorities reacted by adjusting their admission regulations.38
French émigrés as agents of cultural transfer
Around 1800, French émigrés became prominent intermediaries in European cultural transfer processes for many reasons. As French exiles seeking to return home quickly, they had a political interest in mobilizing their host societies against revolutionary France. With the exception of a minority, however, they did not establish themselves permanently in exile. Nevertheless, after various military defeats – such as the 1792 campaign in which émigré troops played a leading role, the short-lived British capture of Toulon in 1793, and the disastrous landing of émigré troops on the Quiberon Peninsula in Brittany in 1795 – the question of securing a livelihood became more and more pressing.39 In addition to the clergy, often living in precarious conditions, and the less affluent members of the Third Estate, now noble families increasingly fell into a financial position that made them dependent on support or forced them to take up a profession. In their favour was French culture's traditional high prestige abroad, which despite all resentment towards émigrés made them attractive suppliers of cultural goods broadly speaking. Then again, locals friendly to émigrés, such as Edmund Burke (1729–1797), defined European exile against the background of a common civilization:
From all those sources arose a system of manners and of education which was nearly similar in all this quarter of the globe; and which softened, blended, and harmonized the colours of the whole. […] From this resemblance in the modes of intercourse, and in the whole form and fashion of life, no citizen of Europe could be altogether an exile in any part of it. There was nothing more than a pleasing variety to recreate and instruct the mind; to enrich the imagination; and to meliorate the heart. When a man travelled or resided for health, pleasure, business or necessity, from his own country, he never felt himself quite abroad.40
Interactions between migrations
Against the background of the migration context around 1800 that was outlined at the outset, attention should be given to cultural transfer processes within the larger exile diaspora that influenced French émigrés or from which the latter profited. Not in all exile countries did official structures for registering and supporting émigrés need to be created as they did in Prussia, where the new arrivals became the impetus for an increasing differentiation between native subjects, or citizens, and "foreigners".41 In Great Britain, in fact, the government established an assistance committee based on the maintenance of the Loyalists – that is of its own subjects – after the American Revolution, which dispensed subsidies and worked together with senior representatives of the émigré community.42 The colonial dimension of emigration also had an effect on the assistance given to exile planters from Saint-Domingue. On the one hand, in comparison with their fellow exiles in continental Europe, they were somewhat more successful when placed under a British protectorate and fighting as part of a British military expedition.43 On the other hand, after the British withdrawal in 1798, they found – like the American Loyalists – refuge and compensation in the British colonies in North America and the West Indies – and this despite being in part much less monarchically-minded than the metropolitan émigrés. Spanish Cuba and the USA also took in a five-digit number of colonial émigrés, sometimes with their slaves.44 In Cuba this led to a massive boom in sugar production. In the USA, colonial planters decisively and enduringly shaped French Creole culture in the southern states, Louisiana in particular.
A close collaboration between French and Genevan émigrés developed in a totally different area, namely journalistic activity. Together they criticized the expansive character of the Revolution, which was republicanizing Europe, and implored the European powers to act more decisively against advancing revolutionary troops.45 More ambivalent was the relationship to Huguenot colonies. On the one hand, by expecting them above all to open economic doors, the revolutionary émigrés indirectly challenged the Huguenots' self-understanding as having fully integrated into their host societies. On the other hand, they found advocates in the Huguenots, who were then in their third or fourth generation and assigned no essential importance to confessional differences.46
The Jacobites, finally, served as both a positive and a negative historical reference point. To the extent that French émigrés of all political persuasions drew parallels between the French Revolution and 17th-century British history – pointing to civil war, regicide, dictatorship, restoration, and the renewed overthrow of the ruling dynasty – Jacobites represented a political argument in the eyes of their host societies for a more resolute support of legitimate adherents of monarchy. Different émigré groups sought to make predictions for further developments in France on the basis of fixed points in the English revolutionary cycle, instrumentalising them variously for their own purposes. Whereas the royalistes interpreted the English Restoration of 1660 as a return to the ancienne constitution, the monarchiens were more eager to stress that it was a constitutional monarchy that had been re-established and that there no was no place for the Ancien Régime in France. For with regard to the Jacobites, the view of English history always provided two scenarios for political transfer: a successful restoration in 1660, and a failed restoration in 1688/1689.47
Mutual references and transfer processes between the French émigrés and other migration groups, no matter how heterogeneous, improved the conditions for political, humanitarian, economic and cultural assistance and integration in exile territories. They also provided argumentative ballast and political relevance, which helped to counteract anti-French sentiment in exile countries and to coordinate military, ideological, and journalistic activity to fight the Revolution.
Transfer processes between émigrés and host societies
As agents of cultural transfer, French émigrés took on various functions in exile according to their own political and economic interests and according to the needs of their territories of exile. For Great Britain and Austria, it can be shown on the political level that émigrés partially replaced diplomatic structures once war broke out and embassies were withdrawn from Paris. They advised and sought to influence the various governments, always with an eye to their political competitors among the émigré community. That this input was ascribed a high informational value can be seen in its transmission in diplomatic correspondences in the archives of foreign ministries.48 Thanks to their networks across various parts of Europe as well as their connections to revolutionary France via relatives, friends and agents, émigrés provided information relevant to the war that otherwise would have been hard to come by.49
The longer exile lasted, the more pressing became the issue of securing a livelihood, as noted above. This applied first to émigrés of the lower Third Estate and of the lower clergy, but increasingly to the upper Third Estate and to noble émigrés as well. That the last group took up professions is noteworthy, since in the French understanding they would have been punished with dérogeance, the loss of their noble privileges. Nobles working as shoemakers, at times under assumed names, were as common as women and children involved in commercial activity.50 In sectors where state interests existed, manufactories and factories were created. In Prussia, for example, this happened in silk production but also for the purpose of agricultural innovations, as on the model estate of the Chevalier de Boufflers (1738–1815).51
Such activities, therefore, covered a reasonably broad spectrum, depending on an individual's own qualifications and local needs, and they could tend to the bizarre. Thus the journalist Jean Gabriel Peltier (1760–1825) spent his early time in London beheading geese and ducks with a miniature guillotine before a paying audience.52 Officers, in contrast, after the disbandment of the émigré army, sought employment with the coalition forces in émigré regiments and later in regular army units, especially in Austria. The Armée de Condé, part of the émigré army of 1792, spent the 1790s in close formation in foreign service, relocating from the Upper Rhine to Volhynia before being set loose in Austria.53 Émigrés with professional qualifications like architects, painters and artisans established themselves in their proven milieus. Thus the musical instrument maker Sébastien Érard (1752–1831) had his harp design patented in London and thenceforth, after his return to France, built his pianos with English action mechanisms.54 The much more famous Élisabeth Vigée-Le Brun (1755–1842) spent her exile between Naples and St. Petersburg painting the portraits of the European high nobility.55 Conversely, émigrés in Weimar learned painting in the local drawing school and swapped techniques and motifs.56
As for the clergy in exile, its ancestral domain became teaching. Beginning with positions teaching French at universities like Oxford, Göttingen, and Jena, émigrés then worked as home teachers and private tutors, and ultimately founded large schools such as those run by the Abbé Guy Toussaint Julien Carron (1760–1821) in London or by the Abbé Dominique Charles Nicolle (1758–1835) and Frédéric François Xavier de Villers (1770–1846) in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Odessa.57 As shown by the case of Jean Joseph Mounier's (1758–1806) educational institute for foreigners in Weimar, the émigrés had the European dimension of their operational sphere in view. Recognizing the cultural prestige of Weimar in the age of Goethe, he taught above all sons of British nobility, educating them explicitly about the European consequences of the Revolution and the construction of a post-revolutionary order. Thanks to the integration of both émigré teachers and foreign students in host societies, we can speak of transferts triangulaires between German, French and British cultural paradigms.58 If what has been said so far suggests that émigrés consciously exploited the locals' Francophile predisposition, such becomes even clearer in the example of the French restaurants that sparked a boom in Hamburg's gastronomy sector, or the émigré theatre troupes that successfully established themselves in Brunswick and Hamburg.59
In urban centres like London, Hamburg, Vienna, and Philadelphia, émigré salons, schools, bookstores and publishers developed that, at the same time, acted as fora for discussion about events in France and helped émigrés affirm their identity.60 It was especially the émigré publishers and journals – in part with older roots – that turned the emigration into a component of the communications and media event that the French Revolution had become. It was described as follows by the young François René de Chateaubriand (1768–1848): "L'exil, qui suit les persécutions des hommes, n'est pas si défavorable au génie qu'on pourroit bien le croire: le miel le plus salutaire est celui que l'abeille, chassée de sa ruche, fait quelquefois au désert."61 Gazettes like the London Mercure britannique and the Hamburg Spectateur du Nord found an audience among émigrés in Great Britain and, ultimately all over Europe, within the République des lettres.62
Programmatic émigré writings like Jacques Mallet du Pan's (1749–1800) Considérations sur la nature de la révolution de France (1793) were translated into various languages, sometimes more than once, and even read in France itself. Trophime-Gérard de Lally-Tollendal's (1751–1830) Défense des émigrés, for example, appeared in Paris in 1797 in an edition of 40,000 copies.63 Key literary works included Gabriel Sénac de Meilhan's (1736–1803) novel L'Émigre (1797) and Stéphanie Félicité de Genlis's (1746–1830) Les petits émigrés (1798). Conversely, émigrés became a beloved subject especially in German and English fiction.64 As reviews and critical responses also show, the emigration had a substantial presence in the European public sphere, corresponding with situation on the ground in the host countries. With the question: "Wer unter den gebildeten Classen kennt nicht Ausgewanderte, für die er sich persönlich interessirt ...?",65 the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, the leading German review organ, justified paying attention to émigré writings. The émigrés also used their journalistic presence politically, for example to put pressure on governments or the exile monarchy, as diplomatic lobbying was flanked by journalistic campaigns.66
In general, the transfer processes of the French emigration were highly dynamic and versatile. Émigrés reacted with flexibility to different conditions in various exile territories and to changing attitudes in the same location. As for the host societies, it was clear to them that the émigrés' presence was of limited duration and that relationships with émigrés were for the most part not permanent. As Sophie von Schardt (1755–1819) of Weimar put it: "Ce fut cela qui me fit naître une idée bien triste. Dans un an d'ici peut-être, me dis-je, toutes ces personnes seront loin d'ici".67
Return to France and the aftermath
With the end of the Terreur, the emigration had passed its apogee. Under the Directory (1795–1799), the first émigrés returned after their names were stricken from the émigré lists or thanks to personal connections. This meant primarily constitutionnels, who were best able to come to terms with the Republican regime. Nevertheless, a new wave of expulsions after the Coup of 18 Fructidor68 in 1797, directed at opponents of the Directory and repatriates, showed yet again that the process of rapprochement was not linear. After the Coup of 18 Brumaire69 in 1799, Napoléon Bonaparte, as First Consul, swiftly had the émigré lists closed. Being stricken from the lists, however, still required an official proceeding. Only in 1802 was a wide-ranging amnesty declared; only ca. 1,000 émigrés, especially the exile monarchy and its orbit, were excepted from repatriation.70 Accordingly, the vast majority of émigrés returned to France under the Consulate, including groups supposedly loyal to the Bourbons such as the royalistes. As long as it had not been sold, they recovered their confiscated property. Former émigrés quickly found employment in the Napoleonic administration and army. Yet the history of French emigration did not end either in 1802 or in 1814/1815. As to the question of political, mental and material reintegration during the French Empire as well as in the Restoration period, a great deal of research remains to be done. This applies no less to the émigrés who remained permanently in exile territories, who for example could pursue brilliant careers at the Viennese court.71
After the return of the Bourbons, the emigration remained a controversial topic in both foreign and domestic politics. On the one hand, the period of emigration seemed to repeat itself during Napoleon's Cent-Jours72 in 1815, as the royal family and several thousand supporters settled in Flemish Ghent as an émigré colony with clear parallels to the 1790s.73 On the other hand, the property transfers of the Revolution, embodied in what had been done with émigré property, contributed decisively to political polarisation in the 1820s. In 1825, both legislative houses passed a law that renounced property restitution but still recognized the émigrés' material claims in the form of indemnification payments.74 The related debate over perpetrator and victim status during the Revolution was not limited to France, as can be seen in the concomitant reparations rules for former plantation owners from then independent Haiti, as well as for surviving Swiss Guards who had once been in French service.75
After their return, émigrés began to make sense of their experiences in memoirs, which, however, were decisively shaped by the political conflicts of the present. They thus tended to nationalise individual biographies and to put a strong emphasis on French identity, such that these sources are often not very helpful when investigating the long-term impacts of the trans-national exile experience between 1789 and 1814.76 To understand just how important this experience was, one need look no further than the life trajectories of the last ruling Bourbon monarchs. Charles X and Louis-Philippe (1773–1850) each went into exile three times between 1789 and 1848, and there they were able to resume their political and social habits to a limited extent without averting their attention from France. As early as 1794, the émigré revolutionary general Charles François Dumouriez (1739–1823) urged his fellow exiles to consider that:
L'exil, ainsi que toutes les autres positions de la vie humaine, a ses avantages: il nous présente des objets de comparaison, dont nous n'avions jamais eu l'idée ; il nous donne des lumières ; il développe notre énergie par des privations ; il nous rend indulgens et sociables ; il établit entre nous et nos hôtes une expansion de sensibilité et de la bienfaisance. L'homme droit, sage et réfléchi rapporte de ce pèlerinage forcé une somme de vertus mâles et douces, qui le rendent plus propre à servir sa patrie, et le conduisent à une philanthropie universelle, qui diminue les terribles effets de l'égoïsme national.77
Along with the historical analysis of the Revolution and its dissemination in media, and along with the wide-reaching political mobilisation of European societies and the effects of the Revolution's wars, French emigration is one of the decisive factors in Europe's experience with revolution in the final decade of the 18th century. For European societies, the impact of the French Revolution was immediately felt at home. The émigrés had to secure their everyday survival. They acted as politicians and diplomats, as agents in cultural transfer. As part of larger migration movements in the "Age of Revolutions", they established networks with other émigré groups. They thus cannot be reduced to the role of historical losers, as they were seen by adherents of the Revolution and have been seen by some historians. On the contrary, exile provided an alternative to the ever radicalising Revolution and presented a mutual challenge to émigrés and their host societies alike.