Barnave, Duport and Lameth - The Triumvirate

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Adrien Duport, Antoine Barnave and Alexandre de Lameth were known in the earliest days of the revolution as 'the triumvirate'. They were influential members of the Club des Bretons, then of the Jacobin Club, as it became. It was when the Jacobins veered further left with the influx of sans-culottes and the lower middle-classes, that these constitutional monarchists split away from the radicals and formed their own club, the moderate Feuillants.

Barnave, Antoine (1761-1793)

This precociously successful young lawyer under the Ancien Regime was elected in 1789 to the estates-general, representing the Dauphiné in central-eastern France. Along with Lameth and Duport he was a leading member of the Jacobin club in it's early months, providing the chief opposition to Mirabeau. An excellent and spirited orator, often speaking without notes, he came, with his fellow 'triumvirs' Lameth and Duport, to lead the opposition against Mirabeau, now the champion of the king's cause.

It was Barnave, too, who established the rules of the Jacobin club and in October 1790 he was elected president of the Assembly. After VarennesLINK Barnave tried to go back on his steps and became one of the main supporters of a constitutional monarchy, blocked at every step by rising stars Robespierre and Petion.

In January 1792 his popularity had waned to such an extent that he withdrew to the Dauphiné. On August 15th of the same year the Legislative Assembly had him arrested and he remained in prison until finally appearing before the revolutionary tribunal on November 28th 1793. The tribunal was no less ruthlessly efficient in carrying out sentence on this former radical and leader of the revolution and Antoine Barnave was publicly executed the next day.

Adrien Duport (1759-1798)

Duport was also a brilliant lawyer under the Ancien Regime and an influential Free Mason. He was elected to the estates-general by the Paris nobility. Along with Barnave and de Lameth, Duport led the revolution towards it's more radical turn in August 1789, being especially influential in the sphere of the re-organisation of the judiciary system. When the balance of power in the Jacobin club shifted in favour of Brissot and the more radical Girondin deputies in the Assembly, Duport and his friends left to form their own club, the Feuillants. Even their, though, they had to struggle with La Fayette for supremacy.

After the arrest of the Royal Family at Varennes Duport rallyed to the king's cause and tried to return to him some of the powers that he and his friends had been so instrumental in taking from him. After the August 10th insurrection in Paris he fled to Switzerland where he died of tuberculosis, alone and unmourned.

Alexandre Théodore Victor de Lameth (1760-1829)

The Three Lameth brothers had all taken part in the War of American Independence and had returned imbued with the new ideas of democratic government and a just society. Most importantly the refusal to tamely accept the status quo. The most famous of the three is Alexander, who was one of the early leaders of the revolution and specifically remembered for his role in the abolition of the privilege system on the night of August 4th 1789.

Alexandre Théodore Victor de Lameth (1760-1829) Elut par la noblesse de Péronne aux Etats Généraux. il se rallie au tiers état et se signale par son ardeur durant la nuit du 4 août. Il s'oppose au veto absolu et dénonce les liens de Mirabeau avec la cour. Voyant s'effondrée la monarchie après Varennes il tente de se rapprocher du roi et finalement se livre avec La Fayette aux Autrichiens. Après le coup d'état de Bonaparte il revient en France et sert dans l'administration préfectorale. Fait Baron d'Empire par Napoléon, Louis XVIII le rejette et il finit sa carrière comme député de l'opposition libérale.

This entry is part of the French Revolution University Project.

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