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The history of Avignon
French revolution and Empire

Avignon la nuit
Avignon © José Nicolas


The Revolution and the Empire

In the light of this situation , the French revolution acted as a detonator. Avignon rose up, imposing the election of a new municipality, expelling the vice-legate (June 17, 1790) and demanding the city's integration in France. The National Assembly twice refused to ratify annexation (August 22 and November 20, 1790).

During this time, the agitation transformed itself into a civil war between revolutionary Avignon and papist Venaissin. The National Assembly sent mediators (May 1791) who assembled, in Bedarrides, delegates from the communes of the Comtat and Avignon. On August 18, 1791, they voted by a large majority integration into France, ratified by the National Assembly on September 14, 1791.

Avignon became the county seat of the district of Vaucluse, changed to a department in 1793. But agitation was not calmed. The disorder culminated in the "massacre de la glaciere". The barbarous excesses of the terror conjured a bloody reaction. Calm was finally restored under the Consulate of Napoleon Bonaparte. The pope accepted, with the Treaty of Tolentino (February 19, 1797) the definite unification of Avignon and the County of Venaissin.

The arrival of Napoleon in power brought peace to the country and the beginning of economic recovery..For all of that, the imperial regime was unpopular. After his first abdication, on his way to Elba, Napoleon stopped in Avignon on April 25, 1814, where he narrowly escaped being torn to pieces by the masses.

The Vaucluse

During the restoration, disorder reined again in the form of a new "White Terror". The Marshal Brune was assassinated in the Royal palace and his body thrown into the Rhone.


The White Terror : an ultra-royalist reaction against the Bonapartistes and the Republicans. In Avignon, Marechal Brune, hero of the Empire, was assassinated by the masses and his body thrown into the Rhône.

Guillaume Brune
Guillaume Brune


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