Augustine Spiga

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Augustine Spiga
Director-General of France
In office
19 January 1795 – 30 March 1814
President of the States-General
In office
9 October 1794 – 19 January 1795
MonarchHenry, Duke of Aquitaine
Personal details
Born14 March 1757
Port of Toulon, France
Died16 November 1817
San Cipriano, Genoa
(age 60)
  • Quirico Spiga (father)
  • Elisa Spiga (mother)

Augustine Spiga ([ˈəɡəˌstiːn spiːkə]; 14 March 1757 – 16 November 1817; Italian: Agostino Spiga) was a French statesman and admiral who was Director-General of France from 1793 to 1814. He led his country throughout the French Revolution and eponymous Augustine Wars, eventually sustaining defeat and being forcibly discharged to the Genoese Republic with the 1814 Treaty of Vienna. As a political leader and international ideological icon, he played a pivotal role in the development of national republicanism, the dismantlement of monarchy in Europe, and the global expansion of the French colonial empire.


The son of prominent a Sardinian political family, Augustine Spiga was born during the Sardinian Independence War. In late 1756, the pro-French Spiga family had fled to the port city of Toulon in southern France in order to avoid prosecution by Sardinian nationalist revolutionaries. On 14 March 1757, Quirico and Elisa Spiga welcomed their first and only son Augustine. As a child, his name was alternatively spelled Augustin, Auguste, Agostino, and Austinu; a diversity reflected in historical records of the period.

As the Viceroy of Sardinia, Charles Boyer, had been kidnapped in September 1756, Quirico Spiga became one of the principal leaders of the Kingdom of Sardinia-in-exile. As a boy, his father insisted that Augustine and his siblings Josselyne and Barthélemy fraternize with members of powerful families, such as the lesser princes and princess of the Bourbon dynasty, Genoese aristocrats, and Grimaldi royals. This vigorous socialization prepared the Spigas for vibrant political careers from a young age.

In the States-General: 1790–1795

Official appointment and Rossignol's grip

With the death of the Duke of Aquitaine on 18 January 1795, Spiga was temporarily appointed Interrex ('between kings') by the French States-General at around 11 a.m. The next day, Spiga mobilized his political connections across northern France along with the Clavians, a militia affiliated with the Society of the Friends of Liberty (Société des Amateurs de la Liberté). By the afternoon, the Clavians had infiltrated another convention of the States at the Hôtel du Duc. Victor des Mousseaux, an anti-monarchist banker and one of the most powerful individuals of the early Revolution, subsequently succumbed to the pressure applied by the Society and appointed Augustine Spiga as Director-General (Directeur général) the same day. Shortly after, the States-General was unequivocally renamed the National Assembly of France on 3 February.

Jacques Rossignol, a longtime colleague and friend of Spiga, was appointed Marshal of France in early March. He soon became one of the Council of Ten, an executive advisory body formed under the early directory. Using his tenuous history with Spiga prior to the French Revolution, Rossignol exerted immense influence over the French government, pushing for the militarization of the Republic.

See also