Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Revolution in Lyon in the archives

Documents of the Terror in Lyon:

1. DECREE OF THE NATIONAL CONVENTION, 12th October 1793 commanding the destruction of Lyon.

"Lyon n'est plus"
Decree of the National Convention,
 21 vendémiaire an II (12 octobre 1793)

Lyon, Archives municipales, 936 WP 1 p.128
"From the transcript of the meeting of the National Convention of the 21st day of the first month of the year II of the French Republic, one and indivisible.

The National Convention, after having heard the report of the Committee of Public Safety, decrees:

Article I  Upon presentation by the Committee of Public Safety, there shall be named by the National Convention an extraordinary commission composed of five members to militarily and without delay punish the counter-revolutionaries of Lyon.

Article II  All the inhabitants of Lyon shall be disarmed.
All their arms shall be immediately distributed to the defenders of the Republic.
A portion shall be handed over to the patriots of Lyon, who were oppressed by the rich and the counter-revolutionaries.

Article III The city of Lyon shall be destroyed; any building inhabited by the wealthy shall be demolished. All that shall be left will be the houses of the poor, the residences of patriots either outlawed or led astray, the buildings especially employed by industry, and those monuments dedicated to humanity and public instruction.

Article IV The name of Lyon shall be erased from the list cities of the Republic.
The gathering of the houses that remain shall henceforth bear the name of Ville Affranchie [Liberated City].

Article V There shall be raised over the ruins of Lyon a column that will attest to posterity the crimes and punishment of the royalists of that city, with this inscription: Lyon made war on Liberty; Lyon is no more.

The 18th day of the first month of the second year of the French Republic, one and indivisible.

Article VI  The representatives of the people shall immediately select the commissioners who will draw up the list of all those properties that belonged to the rich and the counterrevolutionaries of Lyon so the Convention can immediately decide upon the means of execution of the decree of _______which set aside these properties for the indemnification of patriots.

Sealed by the inspector, signed S.L. Monnet

Confirmed in conformity with the original by we the secretaries of the Convention, in Paris, the 22nd day of the first month of the year II of the Republic.

Gr. Jagot, secretary, 
Louis, of the Lower Rhine, secretary

Translation from]

2. Documents from the Lyon Municipal Archives

On July 2005 the Municipal Archives acquired nine documents dating from August 1793 to August 1794 which serve to exemplify the period of the seige and savage repression:
  • Letter from a Revolutionary soldier, dated 25th August 1793:  "We are camped in the ditches and tonight, instead of sleeping, I went up to high ground to see the effect of the bombardment of Kellermann's army on the rebels, and the treacherous town of Lyon... the guns rained down on the anarchists and flames sprang up in several places;  I was surprised that they did not surrender to this firing, which we could not watch with sang-froid knowing that many patriots were among its victims."
  • Letter dated 4th September from Jean Marie Hérault de Séchelles  to Couthon, enjoining him to hurry to Lyon to finish the seige and punish the city.  Red wax seal, depicting a phrygian bonnet crushing a crown and the device "death to kings"

  • Decree of Joseph Fouché declaring the "Commune Affranchie" in a state of revolutionary war (signed by Fouché, Collot d’Herbois et Albitte, 23 novembre 1793)

  • Various  orders signed and annotated by Fouché, and in some cases by Collot d'Herbois, organising various aspects of the repression, imposing dechristianisation and preparing for the Fête de l’Egalité (7th March 1794).  On the destruction of the city: "Demolition proceeds too slowly, we must find faster means to satisfy Republican impatience;  only the explosion of mines and the devouring might of flames can express the power of the must have the effects of thunder" (17th November 1793).  Also included is an order by the Representative Jacques Reverchon signalling the return to normal commerce after the Fall of Robespierre.

Archives en ligne: Histoire de Lyon: 1793-1794 : Lyon, Commune Affranchie  

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