Barras, Jean-Nicolas-Paul-François de

b. 30 June 1755, Fox-Amphoux (Var)

d. 29 January 1829, Chaillot

Joined the regiment of Languedoc as a gentleman-cadet at the age of 16 years. In June 1776 he went to India as an officer in the regiment of Pondichery. He was captured by the English in 1778, but managed to return to France in June 1780. Barras took part in another colonial expedition beginning in 1781, but returned to France in May 1783. He resigned his commission, and lived in Paris for a while. He was involved in some of the early events of the Revolution, including the storming of the Bastille. A member of the Jacobin club, he was able to obtain positions within the government administration. In 1792, he was a commissioner with the Army of Italy, and took part in the occupation of Nice. On 7 September 1792 he was elected deputy to the Convention for the Var, which position he took up in November. At the trial of King Louis, he voted for the death penalty. He did not remain in Paris, and on 9 March 1793 he went 'en mission' with Fréron to the south-east of France. On 30 April 1793, he became government representative with the Army of Italy. In this role he was at the siege of Toulon, where Bonaparte met him. After the town was taken, Fréron and Barras directed the repression, which was severe. Some 1,100 people were executed. On returning to Paris, Barras was not well received by Robespierre, and believing himself in danger, became, together with Tallien and Fouché, one of the of the most important conspirators against him. Having helped bring about Robespierre's fall, Barras became secretary to the Convention. Then, when this was replaced by the Directory after the royalist uprising of October 1795, he became one of the five 'Directors' who governed France. Eventually, with the coup of 18 brumaire, the Directory was replaced by the Consulate, with Bonaparte at its head, and Barras withdrew from public life. In Year IX he was forced to move to Brussels, and was then exiled to Rome, not returning to France until after the fall of Napoleon. Sources: Balteau, J. and others. Dictionnaire de biographie française, 1933-, vol V, p. 554-5; Michaud. Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, 1843-?, vol. 3, pp. 136-46. (This gives the same forenames in a different order, and the date of birth as 20 June.)

No biography in Bouvier, F. Bonaparte en Italie, 1796, 1899.

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