For those doing research in the province of Zeeland, it is important to understand the French Republican Calendar, as civil registration started earlier in the province of Zeeland than it did in the other provinces. When reading documents from 1796 until about 1 January 1806, the researcher is going to encounter strange names for months, a different start of the year, and a different beginning of each month.
The French Republican Calendar had 12 months of 30 days each. At the end of the year there were 5 extra days used for vacation and festival. The first day of this calendar was 22 September 1792, but the calendar was not established by law until 5 October 1793. The official end, by law, was 1 January 1806, but the unoffical end was 11 September 1805.
First will be given the names of the months used with this calendar.
- Vendemiare (vintage) = Sept. 22 - Oct. 21
- Brumaire (mist) = Oct. 22 - Nov. 20
- Frimaire (frost) = Nov. 21 - Dec. 20
- Nivose (snow) = Dec. 21 - January 19
- Pluviose (rain) = Jan. 20 - Feb. 18
- Ventose (wind) = Feb. 19 - March 20
- Germinal (seedtime) = March 21 - April 19
- Floreal (blossom) = April 20 - May 19
- Prairial (meadow) = May 20 - June 18
- Messidor (harvest) = June 19 - July 18
- Thermidor (heat) = July 19 - August 17
- Fructidor (fruit) = August 18 - Sept. 16
The years were designated by Roman numerals. The first day of the Republic was 22 Sept. 1792, and was 1 vendemiaire of year I. (An I in French) Since the calendar was not established by law until 5 October 1793, year I was actually not used at all. Following are the years and what dates were encompassed in each year. Remember that when you see these records, they will be in French very likely, so Year II will be designated An II. "An" is the French word for year.
- Year II started 1 vendemiaire (22 Sept. 1793) and had 5 extra days
- Year III started 22 Sept. 1794 and had 6 extra days
- Year IV started 23 Sept. 1795 and had 5 extra days (with 29 February = 9 pluviose)
- Year V started 22 Sept. 1796 and had 5 extra days
- Year VI started 22 Sept. 1797 and had 5 extra days
- Year VII started 22 Sept. 1798 and had 6 extra days
- Year VIII started 23 Sept. 1799 and had 5 extra days
- Year IX started 23 Sept. 1800 and had 5 extra days
- Year X started 23 Sept. 1801 and had 5 extra days
- Year XI started 23 Sept. 1802 and had 6 extra days
- Year XII started 24 Sept. 1803 and had 5 extra days with 29 February = 9 pluviose
- Year XIII started 23 Sept. 1804 and had 5 extra days.
The calendar was unofficially abolished 24 fructidor XIII. (11 Sept. 1805) and officially 1 January 1806.
Some examples of dates are:
- 17 germinal V = 6 April 1797
- 24 fructidor VII = 10 Sept. 1799
- 22 brumaire X = 13 November 1801
If you are looking for the easy method of converting dates in your documents, be sure to visit the Calendar Conversions Home Page