The Impossible Émigré: Moving People and Moving Borders in the Annexed Territories of Revolutionary France

  • Mary Ashburn MillerEmail author
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750 –1850 book series (WCS)


This chapter examines how legislation regarding emigration from Belgium, annexed by the French Republic in 1795, challenged definitions of the émigré. For most of the revolutionary period, legislators established legal distinctions between individuals who crossed France’s borders with an intention to emigrate and those who were traveling for legitimate reasons. But the legal debates about, and lived experience of, émigrés in annexed territories, who often found themselves crossing borders they did not know existed, problematized the status of intention and will in the definition of the émigré and, by extension, the citizen. The very definition of a nation as a contractual body of willing citizens, so crucial to revolutionary ideas of sovereignty, was tested and ultimately undermined by the circumstances of alleged émigrés from annexed territories.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Reed CollegePortlandUSA

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