→Before and After the French Revolution
Prior to the French Revolution, France had begun developing elaborate spy networks that spanned Russia to the East and England to the North. Famous spies included Chevalier d'Éon, who had androgynous characteristics, making him also suitable as a female spy. In fact, he was known as a woman for over 33 years and penetrated the Russian court as a female spy. However, in other aspects, the Chevalier performed as a male spy and soldier.
During the French Revolution, many spies, often working for multiple sides, arose. The French Revolution was, on the one hand, a great fear for the monarchies in Europe, but on the other hand also an opportunity to infiltrate France by outside powers. One such spy was Emmanuel Henri Louis Alexandre. He initially supported the French Revolution and became an early member of the National Constitutional Assembly that formed after the deposing of the French (Bourbon) monarchy. He famously changed his mind, after Marie Antoinette, a former love interest, was seized by the revolutionaries. The Jacobines, a radical group in the French revolutionaries, were often most worried about spies and create counter spies to look out for any counter-revolutionaries. Their paranoia, however, likely led to the demise of many innocent people. The fear of spying, in effect, helped lead to the downfall of the revolutionaries, who became to be seen as oppressive and not holding up the ideals of the revolution. That paved the way for Napoleon's takeover.
After the takeover by Napoleon, plots involving various international and national spies were devised to depose Napoleon. This included the Plot of the rue Saint-Nicaise in 1800, led by Pierre Robinault de Saint-Régeant and others, that attempted to blow up a bomb as Napoleon passed by.