European Ancestors – Understanding France (11) Calendar

Courtesy of Wikipedia
Flag adopted 15 Feb 1794

This post is part of a series about genealogy in France. You can read the complete series HERE.

The period from 1792 until 1806 is challenging for genealogists researching in France. During this period two things happened

  1. “Revolutionary” calendar introduced
  2. Some town names changed

The calendar was created in October 1793, but set to begin 22 September 1792, which was the day the French Republic was created. Napoleon stopped this and the calendar reverted to “normal” on 1 January 1806.

The year was divided into four seasons, with each of the months within a particular season having different endings:

  • SPRING – ending in al
  • SUMMER – ending in dor
  • AUTUMN – ending in aire
  • WINTER – ending in ose

All months were 30 days long, but that did not make a full year, so there was an additional 5 days to include, or 6 in leap years.

In records, Revoluntary dates are written in full letters. When the dates are written as numbers, Roman Numerals are used for the year.

A tool has been made available by the Archives of Pas de Calais which converts the Gregorian calendar to the Revolutionary calendar, you can access this HERE.

A reverse tool, converting Revolutionary calendar back to the Gregorian calendar can be found HERE

During this period some communes changed their name, removing any signs of Royalty, Nobility or religion. New names were selected based on the principles of the Republic or on geographical features. There is a list of communes that changed their name on Wikipedia, which can be found HERE. Most towns reverted to their original name in 1814, but even so it can be problematic to researchers.

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
This entry was posted in European Ancestors, France, Understanding France Series. Bookmark the permalink.

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