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The French in the Neapolitan Republic of 1799

Zaytseva Daria

In January 1799, shortly after the flight of the Neapolitan king Ferdinand IV and his court to Sicily, French troops under the command of General Jean-Etienne Championnet occupied Naples, proclaiming a Republic based on the principles of equality and fraternity in the occupied territory. A few weeks before the capture of Naples, Championnet's assistant Marc-Antoine Jullien presented the general with an essay in which he outlined his views on the policy that the French should follow in the conquered territory in order to gain the confidence of the locals. The Provisional Government established by Championnet began to carry out reforms, partially implementing Jullien's project, but these transformations could not strengthen the authority of the new authorities. The French faced resistance from the Neapolitans, since French values turned out to be alien to the local population, and only a narrow circle of local enlightened elites shared them. In addition, the French behaved in the conquered territory more like invaders than liberators, engaging in robbery, looting and violence, which caused discontent among the Neapolitans. The lack of proper discipline and numerous abuses against the local population by the French army displeased the Neapolitans and prompted members of the Provisional Government to address the French with a lengthy letter outlining their grievances against the “liberators”.  As a result, the lack of mass support for the French among the Neapolitan population led to the fact that the Republic turned out to be extremely unstable and fell under the blows of the Sanfedismo insurrectionary movement, ceasing to exist by June 1799.

Keywords: Southern Italy, French Revolution, Neapolitan Republic, Jean-Étienne Championnet, Marc-Antoine Jullien
Link: Zaytseva D. The French in the Neapolitan Republic of 1799 // Annual of French Studies 2023: War and Society.М. P. 97-115.

The study is sponsored by the Russian Science Foundation, grant № 23–18–00011 (


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