Conférence de Simon Macdonald, résident de l'IEA de Paris dans le cadre du séminaire franco-britannique d'histoire de l'Université Paris IV-Sorbonne (HDEA & Centre Roland Mousnier – UMR 8596), en partenariat avec l'Institute of Historical Research (Londres), AGORA (Cergy Pontoise), le CREA (Paris Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense), CREW (Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle), le LARCA (Paris-Diderot) et la Maison française d’Oxford.
With declining diplomatic relations between Britain and revolutionary France, and then with outright war in 1793, British and Irish subjects living in France became key objects of suspicion to the governments on both sides of the Channel. This paper examines the ensuing crisis moment in the summer and autumn of 1793, when a series of allegations unfolded in France regarding British spying and subversion. The French government treated this ‘plot’ as an unprecedented and insidious assault which upending the more delimited Old Regime norms of interstate conflict. Its countermeasures were at least as radical, culminating with a National Convention decree in October 1793 which ordered the arrest of British and Irish persons living in France. The rising tide of suspicion regarding foreigners had already seen the revolutionary authorities pass a series of increasingly pointed legislation targeting them. But this particular legislative action aimed at British and Irish subjects was especially spectacular in both its broad scope and its unusually thoroughgoing enactment. In exploring these dynamics, this paper argues that British and Irish expatriates in France found themselves on the frontline of revolutionary experiments in the rethinking and extension of state power.
Discutant: Jean-François Dunyach, Paris Sorbonne