Sister republic

For the revolutionary government, see revolutionary republic.
France and sister republics in 1798.

A sister republic (French: république sœur) was a republic established by invading French armies or by local revolutionaries and assisted by the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars.


Ideals favored by the National Convention and Robespierre during the period were popular sovereignty, rule of law and representative democracy. The republicans also borrowed ideas and values from Whiggism and Enlightenment philosophers.

The French Republic supported the spread of republican principles in Europe, but most of these sister republics became a means of controlling occupied lands through a mix of French and local power as client states.[1] The republican governments promoted nationalism over the monarchy, primarily the Bourbons and Habsburgs.

In France, Revolutionary Republicanism was, in part, based on limiting corruption and greed. The revolutionaries saw these vices as endemic at the time, but were more readily preventable in a popular republic. A virtuous citizen was defined as one who ignored monetary compensation and made a commitment to resist and eradicate corruption. The Republic was sacred; therefore, it was necessary to serve the state in a truly representative way, ignoring self-interest and individual will.

Republicanism required supporters who were willing to give up their own interests for a common good. According to Bernard Bailyn, "The preservation of liberty rested on the ability of the people to maintain effective checks on wielders of power and hence in the last analysis rested on the vigilance and moral stamina of the people." Virtuous citizens needed to be strong defenders of liberty and challenge the corruption and greed in government. The duty of the virtuous citizen became a foundation for the American Revolution.[2] The French Revolution looked to incorporate these founding ideals and to export them throughout Europe. However, most of these French client republics were short-lived. As the revolutionary republic became the Napoleonic Empire, they were often annexed to France proper or subsumed into more openly French puppet regimes.

French sister republics of Italy

1796: Northern Italy before
the French invasion
1803: Sister Republics
in Northern Italy
1806: Sister Republics
replaced by monarchies

Other French sister republics

1799 caricature, in which the Prussian, Austrian and Russian monarchs watch how republics spring up like mushrooms around France.

See also


  1. Van Wie, Paul D. (1999). Image, History, and Politics: The Coinage of Modern Europe. pp. 116–7. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  2. Bailyn, Bernard (1 November 2012). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-07666-2.
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