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Antoine Pierre Joseph Marie Barnave (22 October 1761 29 November 1793) was a French

politician, and, together with Honor Mirabeau, one of the most influential orators of the early
part of the French Revolution. He is most notable for correspondence with Marie Antoinette in
an attempt to set up a constitutional monarchy and for being one of the founding members of the
Feuillants.
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Early life
He was born at Grenoble in Dauphin, of a Protestant family. His father was an advocate at the
Parlement of Grenoble, and his mother was an upper-class educated woman. Because they were
a Protestant family, Antoine could not attend local schools, and his mother educated him herself.
Barnave was prepared for a career in law, and at the age of twenty-two made himself known by a
speech pronounced before the local Parlement on the division of political powers.
Dauphin was one of the first of the provinces of France to be touched by revolutionary ideals.
After being heavily influenced by the Day of the Tiles (French: Journe des Tuiles) in Grenoble,
Barnave became actively revolutionary. He explained his political position in a pamphlet entitled
Esprit des ds enregistrs militairement le 20 mai 1788. He was immediately elected deputy,
with his father, to the states of Dauphin, and played a prominent role in their debates.
Estates-General and Assemblies
A few months later he became better known, when the Estates-General of 1789 convened at the
Palace of Versailles for 5 May 1789, and Barnave was chosen to be a deputy of the Third Estate
for his native province of Dauphin.
He soon rose to prominence in the National Assembly, becoming the friend of most of the
leaders of the party originating in the Third Estate, and formed with Adrien Duport and
Alexandre Lameth the group known during the Constituent Assembly as "the triumvirate".
Together these three would later be principal figures in the formation of the Feuillants, the
breakaway party from the Jacobin Club dedicated to a moderate course supporting constitutional
monarchy. Barnave took part in the conference on the claims of the three orders, drew up the
first address to King Louis XVI, and supported the proposal of Emmanuel Joseph Sieys that the
Assembly should declare itself "National". Until 1791, he was one of the main members of the
club known later as the Jacobins, of which he drew up the manifesto and first rulebook.
Political Views


Bust of Antoine Barnave, Museum of Grenoble
Although a partisan of political freedoms, he hoped to preserve revolutionary liberties together
while maintaining the ruling House of Bourbon. Barnave felt that a constitutional monarchy
would solve the problems facing France without being a complete upheaval of the government.
This does not mean he was entirely in favor of the monarchy, however. Subject to the more
radical forces, Barnave took part in the attacks on the monarchy, on the clergy, on Roman
Catholic Church property, and on the provincial Parlements. On several occasions he stood in
opposition to Mirabeau. After the storming of the Bastille, he saw the power of the masses as a
possibly leading to political chaos and wished to avoid this by saving the throne. He advocated
the suspensory veto, and the establishment of trial by jury in civil causes, but voted with the Left
against the system of two chambers.
His conflict with Mirabeau on the question of assigning to the King the right to make peace or
war (from 16 to 23 May 1790) was one of the main episodes of the Assembly's mandate. In August
1790, after a vehement debate, he fought a duel with Jacques Antoine Marie de Cazals, in which the
latter was slightly wounded. About the close of October 1790, Barnave was called to the presidency
of the Assembly. On the death of Mirabeau a few months later, Barnave paid a high tribute to his
worth and public services, designating him the "William Shakespeare of oratory".