Marxists Internet Archive: History Archive: France: France 1802-1838

Chronology of the French Workers’ Movement

Written: by Stéphane Sirot, Michel Cordillot, René Lemarquis & Claude Pennetier;
Translated: for by Andy Blunden.


Bonaparte restores the Chambers of Commerce.


12 April. Law on the regulation of work in factories and workshops, and the prohibition of the workers’ combinations renewed.

1st December. Creation of the workers’ passbook, allowing the police and employers to know the exact situation of each workman. Any worker found travelling without his passbook is deemed a vagrant and convicted as such.


21 March. Code civil (article 1781): in the event of wages litigation, the word of the Master overrides that of the worker before the courts. This article will be abolished only in 1866.


18 March. Creation of the Council of the Conciliation Board to settle the disputes at work. Unskilled workers are excluded. First Council meets in Lyon.


11 June. Decree supplementing the law of the 18 March 1806.


February. Articles 291, 292, 414, 415 & 416 of the Penal Code making any association of more than twenty people subject to government approval and severely repressing any union attempting industrial action or wage agitation.


2 March. Food riots in Caen; ordinance to distribute soup to 2 million .


3 January. Decree fixing at ten the age from which the children can go down the mines.


Saint-Simon, Auguste Comte, On the Reorganisation of European Society.


Béranger, Songs.


February. Peasant disorders in Brie and Champagne.

8 June. Insurrectionary movement in Lyon and its surrounds.

13 June. First executions of workers in Lyon by the Provost’s Court.

20 September. Elections in which the progress of the Left allows the formation of a Party of Independents in the Chamber of Deputies.

October. Trial of the June insurgents before the Provost Court in Lyon.


20-26 October. By-elections; the Independents win 20 seats.


11-20 September. Success of the Left in the elections.


3 June. Disorders in Paris at the time of the debate of a law which gave a “double vote” to the more privileged. The student Nicolas Lallemand is killed by a royal guard.

9 June. At the funeral of Nicolas Lallemand, the demonstration along the Boulevards of Paris, is joined by many workers from the suburb of Saint-Anthony.

19 August. Attempted insurrection in Paris, known as the French Bazaar; other attempts take place simultaneously in Lyon and Colmar.


1st May. The creation, in Paris, of the Charbonnerie – a revolutionary secret society – by Philippe Buchez, Saint-Amand Bazard and Jacques-Thomas Flotard.


Failure of insurrectionary attempts of Charbonnerie in Belfort (January and July), Thouars and Saumur (February), culminating in September in the execution in Paris of the “Quatre Sergents de La Rochelle.”
Publication of the Treatise of the Domestic-agricultural Association of Charles Fourier. The Fourierist movement begins to gather some disciples, but quickly develops from the beginning of the 1830s, under the impetus of Victor Considerant.


6-8 August. Strikes and demonstrations of more than 1,500 cotton spinners in Houlmes, and workers in the surrounding district demanding the same wages and working conditions in all companies in the area.


19 May. Death of Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon, author of the Catéchisme des industriels et du Nouveau Christianisme. If he had such a feeble audience while he was alive, his ideas would be quickly popularized by his disciples Olinde Rodrigues, Prosper Enfantin and Saint-Amand Bazard, who between 1826 and 1830, gathered around them a brilliant and active school.

1st October. Publication of the first number of Producteur saint-simonien ; the last issue was published on 12 December.


1st November. Beginning of the publication of the Gazette des tribunaux.

30 November. Tumultuous funeral of General Foy.


30 March. Funeral of La Rochefoucault-Liancourt, which turns into a riot.

29 April. Republican demonstration against the laws on the press. Dissolution of the Parisian National Guard.

24 August. In Paris, a Republican demonstration of 100,000 people to the Père-Lachaise on the occasion of the funeral of the liberal Deputy Manuel.

September. Founding, by the royalist Pierre Charnier, of the Society of Mutualists in Lyon, under the name of “Société de surveillance et indication mutuelle.” It will transform itself into the “Société d’indication et assistance mutuelle,” before disappearing one 6 April 1828.

17-20 November. After the opposition’s victory in the election, there are violent demonstrations, especially in Paris, and the repression is no less violent. As a result there are many dead, primarily amongst the workers. For the first time since the Fronde [a 17th century civil war in France], barricades are erected.

30 November. The Society for Mutual Aid in Lyon, founded by Jacques Lacombe, is authorised by the Mayor.


Saint-Amand Bazard publishing the Doctrine of Saint-Simon: Exposition. Buonarroti publishes his history of the Conspiracy of Equals in Bruxelles. His activity, as well as the success of the work itself, will be the origin of the emergence, after 1830, of a Neo-Babouvist communist movement, which will inspire the secret societies of the first decade of the July Monarchy, and then develop during the second decade.


June. Publication of La Jeune France.

8 June. Publication of La Tribune des Départements.

August. Publication of L’Organisateur saint-simonien.

December. Recommencement of La Tribune, after an interuption of two months.


February. Publication of La Révolution, by J. Fazy and Antony Thouret.

26 February. Creation of workshops for unemployed workers.

27-28-29 July. The “Three Glorious Days.” Barricades in Paris. Louis-Philippe will replace Charles X in August.

30 July. Creation of the Society of the Friends of the People (SAP).

31 July. The last attempt to prevent Lafayette from handing power to Louis-Philippe of Orleans fails.

July-November. Strikes for wage increases and reductions in the working day in Rouen, Darnetal, Paris, Roubaix, Limoges. Brings on acts of Luddism (printing works, weaving).

17-20 October. Serious disorders in Paris, at the time of the swearing in of Charles X’s ministers. New outbreak of posters in workers’ districts, inciting citizens to arm themselves and reconquer the rights which had been taken from them.

December. The journal Le Globe passes to the Saint-Simonists at the instigation of Pierre Leroux.

20-22 December. New upsurge and posting of proclamations “To the People” calling the faubourgs to action and calling for an assembly representing the faubourgs, recallable every year. Demonstrations of workers and students are very violent, and followed by numerous arrests.


January. The affair of the Academic Council, denounced by students as like a Provost’s court. Violent demonstrations. Arrests of the student leaders (Auguste Blanqui, Jean-François Danton, Plocque, Sambuc).

8 February. Le Globe publishes the “Petition for a Proletarian Chamber of Deputies” by the clockmaker Charles Béranger.

14-15 February. Popular riots against the Church and the Legitimists, in Paris and then in the Provinces.

March-June. Demonstrations against the introduction of machines in Nantes, Saint-Étienne, Bordeaux, Le Havre.

6-10 April. Trial of the 19 republicans accused after the December riots; they are acquitted by the jury. Numerous popular demonsrations.

9-12 April. Riot by the silk workers in Lyons.

June. Serious disorders and riots in the suburb of Saint-Denis, due to the economic situation. Very severe repression. Many victims.

1st June. Creation of the Philanthropic Society of Tailors in Paris.

1st July. First issue of the SAP publication, Au Peuple.

14 July. Popular riots. Attempt to plant a Tree of Equality in the place de la Bastille. More than 1,500 demonstrators are dispersed by police officers disguised as workers. Seizure of Au Peuple.

7 September. Demonstration by 1,500 textile workers, followed by riots in Paris which last until 17 September.

October. Saint-Simonnist demonstration, accompanied by vigorous propaganda in the provinces.

30 October. First number of L’Écho de la Fabrique (Lyons).

November. Split in the Saint-Simonist school. The last of the faithful will follow Prosper Enfantin to Egypt. Other disciples, like Abel Transon and Jules Lechevalier, will publicly adopt the Fourierism.

20-22 November. Revolt by silk workers in Lyons. Negotiations by the Prefect fail; insurrection; tough repression by Soult. The revolt ends on 3 December.


January. Trial of “The Fifteen,” leaders of the SAP. The accused (Auguste Blanqui, Bonnias, François, Guillaume Gervais, François, Vincent Raspail, Antony Thouret) defend themselves; they are found guilty and condemned on 27 February. The SAP is offically dissolved but continues its activities.

February. A number of newspapers put on trial. Creation of a workers’ commission within the SAP (Auguste Caunes senior, Gaussuron-Despréaux, François Sugier). Pierre Leroux and Jean Reynaud take over editorship of the Revue encyclopédique, organ of the Neo-Saint-simonists.

29 March. Official announcement of a cholera epidemic in Paris.

1st April. Revolt by prisoners at Sainte-Pélagie, supported by several sections of the SAP. One death. Beginning of a riot by Parisian chiffoniers (rag collectors).

End April. Creation, within SAP, of Commissions for the Rights of Man. End of the Globe (20 April).

5-6 June. Popular insurrection in Paris on the occasion of the funeral of General Lamarque. The last group of insurgents fight heroically around the cloisters of Saint-Merry. Casualities are very heavy: at least 150 killed on the side of the insurgents, more than 400 wounded and more than 1,500 arrested; 134 deaths and 326 wounded on the side of the police.

Summer. Birth of the Society for the Rights of Man (SDH).

27-28 August. Trial of the Saint-Simonists in the Court of Assizes in Paris. Prosper Enfantin, Michel Chevalier and Charles Duveyrier are sentenced to one year in prison.

23-31 October. Trial of the insurgents of the cloisters of Saint-Merry. C. Jeanne, who led the struggle, is sentenced to be deported.

November-December. Several detachments of Saint-Simonist missionaries (forty people altogether) leave Paris for Lyon, where they aim to form “the peaceful army of the workers.”

15 December. Opening of the trial of “The Association of Rights” against the SAP. The SAP is definitively dissolved, but the acquittal of the accused enables it to survive for some time.


25 January. La Tribune publishes the list of five great “patriotic” associations in Paris, into which the SAP and the SDH dissolve. Apart from the society “The sky helps him who helps himself,” rather far from the workers movement, the others, the associations for free public education and for the freedom of the press, played a considerable part.

1st February. Imprisoned in Sainte-Pélagie, Laponneraye publishes her Lettre aux prolétaires. It wil be followed by Deuxième lettre aux prolétaires dated 26 March. (The first of these letters will see the author be condemned on 27 June following).

20 May. Insurrection of the miners of Anzin.

July. Publication of the newspaper of Étienne Cabet, Le Populaire.

September-October. Reorganization of the SDH with the extreme left predominant, after several months of internal conflicts between the “Girondists” (with Francois, Vincent Raspail) and “Montagnards” (with Napoleon Lebon). Within the Society, a Propaganda Committee in charge of education and organisation of workers, is founded. It gathers Neo-Babouvists like Napoleon Lebon, Buonarroti and Marc Voyer d’Argenson, as well as workers like the tailor Alphonse Grignon and shoemaker Z Efrahem. Several of its members will be imprisoned in November as “instigators of combinations of workmen.” Important movements of the carpenters in Paris, tailors (who create a “national workshop” to provide work for the strikers), shoemakers and bakers. Creation of a Lyons section of the SDH. The SDH publishes its “Manifesto” in the La Tribune. Publication of Reflections of a Tailor by Alphonse Grignon, and On the Association of Workers of all Trades by Z Efrahem.

1st October. Creation of the Philanthropic Society of Tailors in Nantes. It will play an important part in the creation of a network of correspondents from Brittany to Bordeaux, as in Marseille. The Philanthropic Society of Tailors in Nantes is destroyed on 20 February 1837.

11-12 December. “Trial of the 27” (leaders of the SDH) accused of having planned a riot in July, marking the third anniversary of the “Three Glorious Days.”


Founding of the Association of Goldsmiths, which will continue to exist until 1873.

January. Law prepressing town criers.

February. Strike of Mutualist workers in Lyon, following a reduction in wages. The general strike will last approximately 10 days.

2 February. The first and only number of Libérateur, journal of Auguste Blanqui.

22 February. Following the strike of Mutualist workers in Lyon, adoption of a law prohibiting associations organised in branches of less than 20 persons.

9-14 April. Insurrection, initially of workers in Lyon and Saint-Étienne, and of a diverse character in Arbois, Épinal, Lunéville, Chalon, Grenoble, Vienne, Clermont-Ferrand, Marseille, Toulon. On the 11th, in Lyon, massacre in rue Projetée. On the 12th, in Paris, the arrest of 150 republicans, including the leaders of the SDH. La Tribune cannot appear. On the 14th, in Paris, massacre in rue Transnonain. In Paris as elsewhere, riots are quickly repressed and casualities are very heavy: more than 300 dead and 600 wounded in Lyon, scores dead in Paris; 2,500 arrested, of which half are in Paris, more than 2,300 charged.

10 April. Passing of law on associations, which requires official approval for associations split into branches of less than 20 persons.

June-September. Disorders and revolts in Sainte-Pélagie.

July-August. Creation of the Société des Familles by Hadot-Desages.

8 October. Publication of the first number of Réformateur of François, Vincent Raspail.

11 October. La Tribune reappears.


6 February. Members of the Cour des Pairs sign arrest warrants for more than 420 persons. The defense organised itself. Parisians appoint a committee (Godefroy Cavaignac, Guinard, Auguste Blanqui, Vignerte.), the Lyonnais another (Baune, Lagrange, Caussidière..). Dissension between those which preach a traditional defense (Jules Favre, Ledru-Rollin) and those who want instead to build a movement. On 17 April the list of the defenders chosen by the defendants appears in the press.

5 May. First session of the “April Trial”: after the withdrawal of charges, according to the Tableau drawn up by Caussidière and the Inventaire, 164 insurgents of April 1834 (including 87 Lyoneses) will appear before the Cour des Pairs. Defendants meet at Auguste Blanqui’s place.

8 May. Publication of the defendants’ protest.

11 May. Publication of the Lettre des défenseurs aux accusés d’April.

29 May-4 June. Trial of the defendants before the Chamber of Peers. They are convicted: Ulysse Trélat very severely, Michel de Bourges a little less, and some others.

12 July. Escape of at least 25 prisoners from Sainte-Pélagie.

28 July. Fieschi’s arrest.

3-8 August. First trial for the production of explosives (Eustache Beaufour).

13 August. Judgment of the Cour des Pairs on those accused in Lyon (72 convictions).

9 September. Law of September. Freedom of the press if forcefully restricted and it is made an offence to declare oneself a republican.

7 and 28 December. Judgment of the Cour des Pairs on those accused in Lunéville, Saint-Étienne, Grenoble, Marseille, Arbois and Besançon (25 convictions).


23 January. End of the “April” trial. 40 Parisians are condemned.

30 January-15 February. Trial of Fieschi.

19 February. Execution of Fieschi, Pépin, Morey.

8 March. Discovery of the “Explosives Conspiracy”; Armand Barbès and d’Auguste Blanqui arrested on the 11th.

25 June-11 July. Arrest, trial, execution of Alibaud.

2-10 August. “Explosives Conspiracy Trial.” Armand Barbès and Auguste Blanqui sentenced to prison.

17-23 October. “Explosives Conspiracy Trial” appeal. The majority of the setences are confirmed.


April-July. Inflammatory post campaign, with 7 proclamations from the “Printworks of the Republic,” the first being entitled Au Peuple. Arrests (Antoine Fomberteaux). Reorganization of the Société des Familles is reorganised under the name of “Pelotons” and launches publication of the Moniteur républicain.

8 May. Amnesty to mark the marriage of the Duc d’Orléans, but missing or escaped prisoners are excluded.

June.Les Saisons” replaces the “Familles.”

November. First number of the Moniteur républicain, dated “3 Frimaire year XLVI” according to the Republican calendar The 8th and last number is published in July.

8 November. Discovery of a plot against the King (Aloys Huber, Laure Grouvelle, convicted in May 1838).


August-September. Publication of four numbers of L’Homme libre, followed by the arrest of the printers (Eugène Fomberteaux, Jean-Baptiste Guillemin, Lecomte Minor). Trial in June 1839, accompanied by a new publication which is swiftly repressed (Joseph Béchet, Stanilas Vilcoq, trial in November 1839).