|Pierre Bouillon, The trial of Marie-Antoinette, 1793, Musée Carnavalet|
Chauveau-Lagarde can be recognised seated at the table behind the Queen
|The Musée du Barreau display relating to the trial of Marie-Antoinette|
|Lock to Marie-Antoinette's cell at the|
Conciergerie- not sure
how the Museum obtained this!
|Commission d'office dated 12th October |
1793 appointing Chauveau-Lagarde as
According to his 1816 memoir, the two defence lawyers had barely a moment to confer before they were called to speak. They divided the chief heads of accusation between them, Tronson du Coudray answering the charge of internal conspiracy, whilst he, Chauveau-Lagarde, addressed the twin charges of financial depredation and conspiracy with external enemies. As he emphasises, they were obliged to speak virtually "without preparation". Chauveau-Lagarde's oration lasted almost three hours.
The preliminary exordium occupies the greater part of the manuscript, since the latter part of the speech was almost entirely improvised. Chauveau-Lagarde rested his case primarily on the absence of proof and confessions to establish Marie-Antoinette's relations with the enemies of France. The events which transpired could be explained without recourse to conspiracy. Specifically the declaration of war against the king of Bohemia and Hungary was not the decision of the accused but a decree of the Assembly on the proposition of the king. Similarly the evacuation of Belgium by the French army was the result of the treason of Dumouriez. Yves Ozanam transcribes the opening passages from the notes, in which Chauveau appeals to the jury to show objectivity. Here is a (rough) translation:
Citizens jurers. Marie-Antoinette, former Queen of France stands before you accused of conspiring at home and abroad for the downfall of Frenchmen - both before and after the Revolution which gave them liberty. It might be supposed that so extraordinary an accusation must be answered by an equally extraordinary defence. Yet her counsel, of whom I am one, were charged by the Tribunal only at the time she appeared before you; we have scarcely had time to peruse the acts of accusation that form the basis of the charges.
What an appalling task! What a terrifying mission this would be for a man of conscience, were I not reassured by your justice and intelligence. Fortunately the proceedings of this great trial have demonstrated that the more fearsome the accusations, the less substantial are the proofs - a least the areas I have been called upon to defend.
In sum, Citizen Jurors, have you been presented with proof that the accused, before the Revolution, squandered public finances and exhausted the treasury by sending incalculable sums to the Emperor? Or that she entered into counter-revolutionary intelligence with the enemies of the Republic and informed them of military plans discussed in Council?
I do not doubt, Citizen Jurors, that you will make every effort to guard against a prejudice which is as dangerous towards justice for the innocent as it is honorable for Republicans. The accused has had the misfortune to be Queen and this alone makes Republicans suspicious. You may be tempted, despite yourselves, to leave behind that impartiality which is fitting to your sacred character....
I ask you therefore citizens to put aside these prejudices and to confine yourselves to the acts of accusation before you...
|The Widow Capet before the Revolutionary Tribunal, print Bibl. Nationale|
Though crude, this representation, with Marie Antoinette on a platform
flanked by her counsel, is possibly a more accurate depiction
Following the defence summation, the Queen was taken to an ante-room whilst Herman summed up for the jurors. The verdict was, of course, a foregone conclusion. Herman brushed aside issues of evidence to concentrate on the revolutionary significance of the trial. As consort of Louis XVI: "It is the French people which accuses Antoinette, all the political events of the last five years testify against her". No further evidence was necessary since the material proof already found among the papers of Louis XVI sufficed to condemn his queen. According to Chauveau-Lagarde, Marie-Antoinette herself was still convinced that she might be ransomed and sent abroad since nothing had been proved against her. She was brought back into the courtroom and handed the verdict, then Fouquier-Tinville requested, and was granted, the death penalty. Asked if she had anything to say Marie-Antoinette simply shook her head. It showed true courage,remarked Chauveau-Lagarde, not to admit for a moment the shock that she felt.
Chauveau-Lagarde, Claude François. Note Historique sur les procès de Marie-Antoinette.... Paris: 1816.
Yves Ozanam, "Comment défendre Marie-Antoinette ? La reine devant le Tribunal criminel révolutionnaire" (1793) La Grande Bibliothèque du Droit .
" Le procès de Marie-Antoinette" Ministère de la Justice (2011)
See also the article in Le Figaro for 19 June 2010
"Les ténors du barreau" - counsels of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette Guillotine forum: entries of March/April 2013:http://guillotine.cultureforum.net/t2465p15-le-metier-d-avocat