Early Life and the RevolutionPaul Francois vicomte de Barras was born in 1755 to a family of Provencal aristocrats and joined the army as a youth. However his career stalled and he became frustrated with the old regime. Consequently, when French began to experience the revolution of 1789 he joined the revolutionaries and was one of the first members of the Jacobin Club. When he left Paris to gain election to the Legislative Assembly on behalf of Var he failed, but when he went back to Paris in 1792 he was elected to the National Convention.
Barras was dispatched to keep an eye on the Army of Italy, and aided the defeat of royalists in Var. He was a regicide (he voted for the king’s death), and was then dispatched to assist the forces of the revolution against the British incursion into Toulon. Here he met Napoleon Bonaparte, and earned great fame among the leaders of France for the successful campaign. As France slid into Terror, Barras kept carefully neutral until he was able to act with others in the coup of Thermidor, which removed Robespierre. Barras was promoted to head of the Army of the Interior, and he leveraged success here into other leading roles.