Armand-Gaston Camus (1740 – 1804) [Biography]

Armand-Gaston Camus

[Described by Edwin Bannon as “a diehard Jansenist [who] … harboured a smouldering resentment against the papacy because of Clement XI’s … ‘Unigenitus’”, Armand-Gaston Camus was a French lawyer who played a role in forming the Civil Constitution of the Clergy during the Revolution.]

[“Camus was a strongly pronounced and bigoted Jansenist. Professedly a Catholic, he was withal a determined enemy of Ultramontanism and the absolutist maxims of the Roman Curia; and to abolish the direct jurisdiction which the Pope had exercised for ages in the government of particular or national churches was the foremost object for which he was prepared to agitate. His persona] piety was formed upon the stern pattern of St. Cyran and other Port-Royalist celebrities, and was undoubtedly sincere.” – The Gallican Church and the Revolution: A Sequel to the “History of the Church of France from the Concordat of Bologna to the Revolution” by W. H. Jervis]

Birth: April 2, 1740 in Paris – Death: November 2, 1804 in Montmorency (Val-d’Oise).


Académie royale des inscriptions et belles-lettres: Member, 1785-1793.
Institut national: Member of the Classe de Littérature et Beaux-Arts (section des Antiquités et Monuments), 1790-1803, Member of the Classe d’Histoire et Littérature ancienne, 1803-1804., 1790-1803


Lawyer, jurist, and French politician. He carried out his activity throughout the Revolution. Armand-Gaston Camus was elected deputy of the third estate in the Estates General by the city of Paris, May 13, 1789, and was one of the first to take the Tennis Court Oath. Elected president of the constituent assembly on October 28, 1789, he retained this role until November 11 of the same year. Nominated archivist of the Commission des archives de l’assemblée constituante on August 14, 1789, he was the origin of the creation of the Archives nationales. He maintained the roles of national archivist and librarian of the legislative body until his death. He discovered and communicated to his colleagues the Red Book [King Louis XVI’s personal account book] containing the list of pensions paid by the Royal Treasury. Elected to the Convention by the department of Haute-Loire on September 5, 1792, he was absent [en mission] at the time of Louis XVI’s judgement, but he wrote on January 13, 1793, that he voted [for] “death without appeal and without delay”.  On his return, he was named a member of the Committee of Public Safety. Elected to the Council of Five Hundred, he refused the ministry of Finance and Police that was proposed to him. He was a member of the Académie royale des inscriptions et belles lettres (1785).

[Biographical sources- L.-F. – Alfred Maury, Les académies d’autrefois. L’ancienne Académie des inscriptions et belles lettres, Paris, 1864, Gallica, Bibliothèque nationale de France, p. 341, 387, 388, 397, 399, 401. Bruno Delmas, “Camus (Armand Gaston”, Les archives nationales, des lieux pour l’histoire de France, Paris, Somogy, 2008, p. 319-320 – Marie-Nicolas Bouillet et Alexis Chassang (dir.),Dictionnaire universel d’histoire et de géographie, 1878. – Charles de Franqueville, Le premier siècle de l’Institut de France, t. I, Paris, Rothschild, 1895, n°135. Une notice sur sa vie a été lue par Dacier, dans la séance de la troisième Classe de l’Institut du 3 juillet 1807.]