Friday 23 June 2017

Saint-Just - Angel of Death?

By Jean-Baptiste Greuze, oil on canvas, 1,44 m x 1,20 m
Musée de Saint-Omer

The following is (mostly) taken from the opening chapter of Bernard Vinot's biography of Saint-Just, the  French text  of which is available on Google Books.

The physical appearance of a man of state has rarely assumed such importance as it has in the case of Saint-Just.  History is facinated by the image of Saint-Just as the ruthless angel of the Revolution, by his androgynous beauty.  But was he really so handsome?

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Celebrating Saint-Just

The little market town of Blérancourt in the department of Aisne in Hauts-de-France in northern France is gearing up to celebrate the 250th anniversary of its most famous son, Louis-Antoine de Saint-Just, born on 25th August 1767.  Last Saturday (17th June), the festivities kicked off with the planting of a Tree of Liberty on the Place du Général-Leclerc, situated  right outside the surviving gateway to what was once the feudal château which dominated the village (now the museum of Franco-American co-operation). 13th July will see the reopening of Saint-Just's childhood home, now a museum to his memory.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Lyon - the Revolution in pictures cont.

Here are more plates:  from the second volume of Alphonse Balleydier's Histoire politique et militaire du peuple de Lyon pendant la Révolution française, 1789-1795, 3 vols. 1845-6.

 ‎Benoît Gingenne, brave defender of Lyon

Every conflict, even the grim internecine struggle of the Lyon insurrection, needs its dashing hero. ‎ Benoît Gingenne was a native of Lyon, born in the parish of St. Georges on 13 October 1755. Before the Revolution he had been a career soldier.  In 1773 at the age of eighteen he had joined the grenadier regiment of "la Couronne" and in 1775 was one of two thousand guardsmen who had attended the coronation of Louis XVI.   In 1781, having reached the rank of sergeant, he obtained his discharge, returned to Lyon and became a pork butcher.  At the beginning of the Revolution, when the Lyon militia was suppressed, he rallied to the cause and became commander of the batallion of grenadiers in the section of rue Royale.  In the events following the King's execution, his batallion had attempted to suppress pillaging of shops by the women of Lyon;  the Jacobins despoiled his premises and he was temporarily forced to go into hiding.

Gingenne was a prominent participant in the famous journée of the 29 May 1793, commanding a column which marched against the Hôtel de Ville. His horse was shot from under him and he was forced to retreat to the place des Cordeliers, but rallied his men and joined the command of Madinier who entered the Hôtel de Ville the next day.  He was named adjutant general of the rebel National Guard.

Under the comte de Précy, he was given command of 1200 men who left for Saint-Étienne to seize control of the arms manufactory.  He returned with a dozen waggons of guns and took charge of forces stationed in the Carmelites convent.  When the rebel forces fell back to the Croix-Rousse, Gingenne was took command of the strategically important post in the gardens of the maison Combe, which came to bear his name, "the inpregnable Gingenne". His six companies of grenadiers and six pieces of artillery valiantly defended the plain against the neighbouring battery in the maison Panthod which had fallen to the Convention.  After fifty days of combat, on the morning of 27 September, a ball pierced the wall of Gingenne's command room and shattered his leg.  He was taken to the infirmary at the Archbishop's Palace where his leg was amputed, an ordeal which he faced with great sang-froid. There is no shortage of legs in la Grenette (Lyon's woodturning district), he quipped.

After the fall of Lyon Gingenne managed to escape to Switzerland.  He lived in Constance for two years, before returning to Lyon in 1795.  Not until 1814 did he receive his reward, when the comte d'Artois made him Chevalier of the Order of St Louis and gave him a pension.  He died in October 1825 at the age of 70 and was  buried in the Cimetière de Loyasse with full military hoonours.  

The devotion Gingenne inspired in his men was legendary;  Dubois-Crancé was heard to have lamented that such a man belonged to the muscadins.  Précy called him the "Saint-Peter of la Croix-Rousse" since he held the keys of the door in his hand. (This compliment though was too sophisticated for the brave Gingenne who had to have it explained)

Obituary of Gingenne,  Archives historiques et statistiques du département du Rhône, Volume 2 (1825), p.455 

General Précy

The crossing of the Rhône by Dujast and Larençon

This picture depicts another conspicuous episode of heroism on the part of the defenders of Lyon.  A great deal of damaged was being inflicted by enemy retrenchments on the left bank of the Rhône which were protected by great pieces of wood. Under the watchful eye of Précy a military engineer had tried in vain to cross in a boat and  set them on fire. Two youngful Lyonnais soldiers, Larençon et Barthélémy Dujast then took up the challenge. They bravely swam across the river by night, set the fortifications alight  and returned under a rain of enemy bullets.  Dujast was carried by the current to the pont de la Guillotière but, taking courage from a prayer to the Virgin that his mother had taught him, finally managed to gain the shore.  The young men steadfastly refused to accept any reward for their exploit.

The death of M and Mme de Visagué

This scene serves to demonstrate the ferocity shown by the Jacobins in the final stages of the conflict. Following the capture of the rebel-held château de Chazelles, Republican troops were said to have murdered Madame de Visague, a young woman of seventeen who would not abandon the body of her husband.

The arrival of the Montbrisonnais

On 5 September 1793, in the final stages of the siege, the remnants of the Departmental Army arrived in Lyon from Montbrison in Le Forez. A column some four kilometres long comprising 800 men, accompanied by waggons and civilians, crossed the Saône via the pont du Change to the enthusiastic welcome of the defenders.  Despite courageous engagements, notably the capture of the loge du Change, the reinforcements could do little to prevent the fall of the city on 9th October.

Joseph Barou,"Les Foréziens de l'Armée départementale de Rhône-et-Loire (9 juillet - 9 octobre 1793)" on the website Forez Histoire

Portrait of Barthélémy Dujast in 1851, by his nephew the painter Louis Janmot 

Janmot wished to recall to the Lyonnais " names and the features of their heroic ancesters, defenders of their town against the invasion of the barbarians and executioners of 1793" .

Michel Biard reviews a modern study of the Dujast family which still perpetuates an "unnuanced hostility to the French Revolution" Michel Biard, "Familles lyonnaise victimes du siège de Lyon en 1793" Annales historiques de laRévolution française, 339 | 2005, 170-172

Journée of 29 September

By the end of September 1793 Lyon was surrounded by  60,000 enemy troops.  On 29th the forces of the Convention launched a series of attacks on the fortified perimeter.  The Lyonnais successfully repelled assaults at La Mulatière, Perrache et les Brotteaux, but with heavy losses.  Realising that the situation was hopeless, Précy now prepared his troops to break out from the city and retreat.

Pierre-Baptiste Guillemot,   "La sortie de l'armée lyonnaise, 9 octobre 1793" ,  Atelier numérique de l’histoire 

A Mass is held for the defeated Lyonnais

At five o'clock on the morning of 9th October Précy joined fifty officers and men in a cellar in the place croix-Paquet to celebrate a Catholic Mass before their departure from Lyon.  The priest, a volunteer in the army, took off his uniform to officiate and an altar was improvised from drums.

Madame Loras and her family before Couthon

Jean-Mathias Loras, member of the rebel municipality, was among the first to be executed by the victorious Jacobins.  Madame Loras, with her eleven children, pleaded on his behalf to Couthon but to no avail. The Revolutionary Tribunal reportedly gave her what she thought was a letter of reprieve but which turned out to be an order for her husband's execution.  In reality, as an active insurgent, Loras can scarcely have hoped for clemency.

One of the eleven children later became the first Catholic Bishop of Dubuque in Iowa
More details are supplied in an article on

Mitraillades at Les Brotteaux

Colonel Chenelette

Jean-Baptiste Agniel de Chenelette (1739-1823), a former noble and career army officer, was the chief architect of the defences of Lyon during the siege.

"Chenelette, l’artilleur du siège de Lyon", Musée d’Histoire Militaire

The death of the lawyer Balleydier

Jean Louis Balleydier, a 30 years old lawyer, was among several men denounced to the Revolutionary Tribunal in Bourg en Bresse as royalists and guillotined in Lyon on 14th February 1794.  In the confusion preceding the execution, his fiancée was able to throw upon her beloved and promised very movingly to join him soon; two months later she was dead.

Arrest of M. de Tours and M. Stéphanois

The episode depicted is the transfer of prisoners from St-Étienne, Montbrison and Feurs to Lyon for imprisonment and execution in January 1793.  It is not quite certain who is depicted:  M. Gerbes de Tours was a lawyer from St-Étienne.  The picture is sometimes alternatively said to represent a M. Delours whose eighteen-year old daughter followed the entourage from Feurs.

List  of artists

Sunday 18 June 2017

Lyon - the Revolution in pictures

Here are a few memorable events and personalities from the Revolutionary era in Lyon as depicted in Alphonse Balleydier's Histoire politique et militaire du peuple de Lyon pendant la Révolution française, 1789-1795, 3 vols. 1845-6.  I found this particular set on the website of the  LYNA Lin Yu-Nu Art Foundation an Art consultancy that operates in Paris, Beijin and Taipei, but the three volumes with their illustrations are also available on Internet Archive. 

The Military federation, 30th March 1790

On 30 May 1790 the municipality of Lyon organised a huge civic fête on the plain of Les Brotteaux, involving twenty-eight batallions of the Lyon National Guard and delegates from neighbouring departments.  For the occasion Cochet constructed a temple of Concord and a Rocher de la Fédération surmounted by a statue of liberty, the plans for which still exist in the Lyon municipal archives.

Paul Feuga, "À propos de la Révolution et de deux dessins de Claude Cochet", Muncipal archives of Lyons.

Joseph Chalier, leader of the Lyon Jacobins

The plate illustrates the contradictory character of the excitable Chalier:
 He trembled with joy before a model of the guillotine, he fell into ecstasy before a flower, the leaf of a tree, a blade of grass;  he wanted to wash his hands in the blood of aristocrats, yet he would kiss the beak of a pet dove, which he called his best friend after his mistress;  he declaimed against the absurdities of the Catholic church, but forced his brethren to kiss a stone from debris of the Bastille or a scrap of Mirabeau's clothing. (Balleydier, vol.i , p.32)

The taking of the château de Poleymieux, 26th June 1790

The medieval château of Poleymieux was owned by Aimé Guillin Dumontet, who had retired there in 1785 after an illustrious career in the navy and Compagnie des Indes.  His brother had been implicated in the Counterrevolutionary Lyon Plot and the local population suspected that Dumontet himself had assisted in the flight to Varennes.  On 26th June 1791 delegates from the municipalities of Poleymieux, Quincieux and Chausselay arrived at the château with 400 National Guard to search for arms. They were later joined by a considerable crowd. Guillin, resisted, firing potshots, the situation escalated and he was finally lynched.  It was said that a local butcher dismembered his body; his head was carried to Couzon and his heart to Neuville-sur-Saône where it was eaten in an auberge. The château itself was burned down and never rebuilt.  Today only a few stones and the former dovecote(the tour Rysler) remain.

"Notice sur Guillin Dumontet", in Revue des Lyonnais, vol. 3 (1836)

Camille Jordan

Camille Jordan (1771-1821) was a prominent Lyon writers and politician, who escaped to Switzerland after victory of the Convention, and later served as deputy to the Conseil des Cinq-Cents.  In one of his first publications, La Loi et la religion vengées (1792) the young Jordan protested against attempts in Lyon to impose the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.

Heads of the murdered officers of the Royal-Pologne regiment are shown to the audience in the Théâtre des Célestins, 9th September 1792.

On 9th September 1792, in response to rumours of the prison massacres in Paris, eight officers of the regiment of Royal-Pologne who had been detained in the fortress of Pierre-Scize, were seized and killed, together with three refractory priests.  Their severed heads were paraded around the city.  In the evening, the grisly relics were presented by torchlight to terrified theatregoers in the Théâtre des Célestins.

Journée of the 13th January 1793 - the citizens of Lyon are forced to sign a petition demanding the execution of the King.

On 13th January 1793 the administration of the department met in the Hôtel de Ville  to vote an address to the Convention in support of the execution of Louis XVI.  In the following days many reluctant citizens of Lyon were coerced by the Jacobins of the Sections into signing a petition for the King's death.

Chalier harangues the Jacobins of Lyon

The violence of the Jacobin Sautemouche

The splendidly named Sautemouche was a officer of the Jacobin municipality, who gained a reputation for brutality.  He exacted forced contributions armed with a great sabre, which he referred to as "the instrument of the law".  The two demoiselles Cognet, shown in the picture, were so terrified by his depradations, that one died of fright the next day and the other lost her mind. After 29th May the rebel municipality let Sautemouche have his freedom but he was set upon by a band of muscadins in a tavern and stabbed to death.

 General Kellermann

Camp of Dubois-Crancé, Representative on mission to the Army of the Alps

The courage of Madame Chappuis

 This episode shows the human side of Dubois-Crancé, who was later recalled by the Convention for his lack of Revolutionary zeal.  A  young matron called Madame Chappuis was brought before him accused of writing a letter in which she condemned the "bloody hoards" of the Convention and wished Dubois-Crancé himself dead. So impressed was Dubois-Crancé with the courage of the muscadine lyonnaise that he let her go, commenting wrily, "We are in Sparta here, citizens!"

To be continued.

Saturday 17 June 2017

Songs of the Lyon insurrection

The insurrection of the Lyonnais is remembered in its songs, of which La Ligue noire, the song of the Lyon Infantry, is the best known and (to judge from Youtube) the only one much performed today.

The mid 19th-century history by Alphonse Balleydier has a few paragraphs on the background to the military songs.  The rebel army, he tells us, marched into the line of fire with gaiety, repeating the songs that their poets had composed in the bivouacs. The infantry and the cavalry had their war songs, which they sang before and after battle and sometimes even during the action.  Those that tradition has preserved are marked by the colour of the times, characterised by their wild bravado, and "laisser-aller du style".  The Song of the Infantry was composed by a chasseur from the  Bataillon de la Déserte and set to the air "Aussitôt que la lumière", a drinking song from the beginning of 17th century which supplied the tune for a number of revolutionary songs (such as "Est-il bien vrai que je veille", and "Le réveil du père Duchêne").  In the recording it sounds more like a dirge than a battle hymn, but there are more up-beat versions on Youtube -  less authentic in instrumentation but possibly closer in spirit; see, for example,
I expect 18th-century soldiers could muster the drums if not the electric guitars!

I haven't been able to find an English translation of the lyrics.  Loosely, despite the forces ranged against them, the infantrymen will drink and fight and not give a f...;  anyone who dies for la patrie and for liberty, will have lived enough.  Widows must not tolerate the courtship of  cowards, for a man who who trembles in battle is useless as a lover ("jean-foutre en amour")   There will be no more peace until all the brigands of the world are dead at the feet of the Lyonnais. Under the leadership of Précy, they will be known from the Rhône to the Ganges as a band of brothers with Mars for their father.

The Song of the Lyonnais Cavalry, which is similar in vein, has a nice little story to go with it.

The composer was a mysterious cavalryman, known only as Petit-Frédéric,  who seemed to have appeared in Lyon out of nowhere.  He was, we are told, a small man of noble but undoubted military bearing, with an air of melancholy and an imperturbable sang-froid.  A recent scar extended down one side of his face.  Speculation had it that he was a Swiss Guard in disguise or an agent of the emigré court.  In the early days of the siege he  was seen in long conversation with Précy in the vestibule of the Hôtel de Ville;  the general offered him a lieutenancy his privileged personal regiment but he preferred to serve as a simple soldier.

On the night which Frédéric composed his song, his detachment found themselves defending the advanced post in Les Tupiniers-Grézieu. Dubois-Crancé's troops charged twice and were twice repulsed by the Lyonnais bayonets and by fire from the battery of four canons.  On third advance, they were about to dismantle the battery, when the Lyonnais infantry engaged their flank and allowed the cavalry to charge, pistols and sabres in hand and turn back the enemy column.

Following the action, the night was tranquil; the Republican campfires could be seen in the distance and the cries of their sentries could be heard,  along with snatches of song.  Frédéric did not sleep but instead set himself the task of composing a warsong as beautiful and consoling as the strains of the Marseillaise which could be heard drifting from the the enemy camp.  He had no knowledge of music but a tumpeter took down the tune which he composed.

Finally, Alphonse Balleydier tells us, the gunners too would have had their song, but Crécy forbade it due to its overt royalism ("Let us swear love of Kings / Death to their assassins")

Alphonse Balleydier, Histoire politique et militaire du peuple de Lyon pendant la Révolution ...vol.1 (1845), p.377-83.

Song of the Lyonnais prisoners

The memoirs of Antoine Delandine capture the note of resigned bravado which existed among the prisoners of Lyon awaiting the verdict of the implacable Commission Révolution. Those sentenced to detention in particular wiled away the time with songs and charades, and bouts, rimés, and enigmas.  The English traveller Anne Plumptre translated several, including the song which Delandine himself composed, "Le bateau" .  It is a sentimental little piece, counselling the patriot to quiet acceptance of his storm-tossed fate.

Cheerly, my friends, in prison pent!
  If from our present sufferings grows
Advantage to the state, content
  Each patriot will sustain his woes.
Let dungeons yawn, let scaffolds rise,
A thankless people's jealousies
  My ready pardon gain;
And smoothly down life's rapid tide
I leave my little boat to glide
 To Fate's eternal main.

Cheerly, my friends! soon brisk and gay
  Joy shall again our virtues bless; 
Or if we sink, blind Error's prey, 
  Calm let us wait our last distress. 
For his lov'd country proud to fall, 
The patriot's soul no fears appall, 
  His pangs our envy gain; 
Then smoothly down life's rapid tide-
Leave we our little boat to glide 
To Fate's eternal main.

Anne Plumptre,  A Narrative of Three Year's Residence in France (vol. 1, 1810) p.304

Songs of the Jacobins

The insurgents by no means had the monopoly on songs.
The Commission Temporaire orchestrated a whole calendar of Revolutionary celebrations and ordered "civic hymns" to be printed and distributed to their "brothers the sans-culottes".
Among standard Revolutionary fare, is to be found a hymn to the "immortal memory" of Joseph Chalier. It is stirring stuff: 
To arms, Citizens, all of us: up to its very name/ Swear, swear to annihilate infamous Lyon.
Here is a translation of the Hymn to Chalier from the Marxist archive: 

Thursday 15 June 2017

The Temporary Commission of Commune-Affranchie

The Convention's victory in Lyon in 1793 made of the departments of Rhône and Loire "a cultural laboratory" for the implementation of Jacobin revolution throughout France. The Commission temporaire de surveillance républicaine was set up by the Representatives to concentrate revolutionary initiative into a single body and bring into line  the sectional comités de surveillance: it was to ensure that the constituted authorities  "walk with a firm and bold step on the revolutionary road and that all measures for public safety will be promptly and severely accomplished" (decree of 20 brumaire, Year II; 10th November 1793, signed by Fouché, Collot d’Herbois and Sébastien Laporte)

The Commission furnished acts of accusation to the revolutionary tribunal ("Commission révolutionnaire) and was endowed with  sweeping powers of sequestration, taxation and control of markets.

There were twenty members in all, divided into two equal sections, one of which sat in permanent session in Lyon whilst the other provided roving commissioners  empowered to act  in the name of the Representatives in the surrounding towns and countryside. 
Though their office was a civil one, the commissioners reinforced their authority by wearing a flamboyant uniform, with tricolour plumed hat, deerskin breeches, plus "kid gloves à l'espagnole, boots à l'américaine, bronzed spurs, saddle pistols and a hussar's sabre". The citizens of Lyon were even formally forbidden from wearing blue, the revolutionaries' chosen colour. 

According to Takashi Koï, members were drawn exclusively from outside the Lyon area, from Paris and Moulins and their average age was only 33 years.  Half were lawyers, doctors or merchants by profession and none conformed to the artisan or worker background of the stereotypical sans-culotte.  In other words they represented the youthful radical intelligentia of the Revolution. (The judges of the Commission Revolutionnaire were similar in profile;  only Joseph Fernex, who was later lynched, was a native of Lyon).

The commission was presided over first briefly by Gaillard, a friend of Chalier, who committed suicide at the end of 1793, then by Jean-Baptiste Marino, who before the Revolution painted and sold porcelain in the galleries of the Palais-royal. He was said to be a brutal man given to coarse sarcasm (Delandine recounts him quipping to prisoners that they would soon be saved the trouble of shaving, thanks to the "national razor").  Another president, Pascal-Antoine Grimaud, the subject of a biography by Philippe Bourdin, was a former priest and trusted ally of Fouché.

Table of members of the Commission temporaire ,  1793.  Digitised from Lyon Public Library
The Instruction of the Temporary Commission, issued in November 1793,  is one of the iconic documents of the Terror.

The Commission calls for permanent revolution in the name of the "immense class of the poor" against the "bourgeois aristocracy" and the "financial aristocracy", which are identified with the former ruling elite of Lyon.  Sequestration and execution must be delivered to rebels  - priests, nobles, functionaries, but also those who, without being named in the decrees, "cannot love revolution since it is contrary to their prejudices": singled out are the lawyers, charaterised as "running dogs of feudalism".  There can be no exemption from taxation, which is not a matter of mathematical exactitude but demands everything a citizen has over his immediate needs.  A long section, furnished by the pen of Fouché, denounces Christianity and its priesthood.

Revolution is not a matter of externals but a permanent process of moral regeneration: 

"There is no other divinity but the fatherland; the Republican is essentially religious because he is good, just, and courageous;to be truly republican each citizen must experience within himself a revolution equal to that which has changed the face of France"


"Commission temporaire de surveillance républicaine" in  Histoire des tribunaux révolutionnaires de Lyon (1879)

Philippe Bourdin, "La terreur et la mort" Les cahiers de médiologie, 2002/1 (N° 13), p.79-89
See  also, Bruno  Benoît,  Summary and review of Bourdin's, Le noir et le rouge (2000), Cahiers d'histoire [En ligne], 46-1 | 2001  

In 1957 Richard Cobb published a detailed study of the personnel of the Commission, but this article now seems unavailable.

[Richard Cobb, "La commission temporaire de Commune-Affranchie", Reprinted in Terreur et subsistances, 1793-1795, Paris, Clavreuil, 1965, p. 55-94.]

 Letter from the Commission to the comité révolutionnaire of the section de Pierre-Scize, concerning taxation of the rich. December 1793.  L'Atelier numérique de l’histoire.

Order signed by members of the Commission.

Instruction addressed to the Constituted Authorities of the Departments of Rhône and the Temporary Committee of Republican Surveillance  (1793)


The goal of the Revolution is the happiness of the people.

Paragraph I: Concerning the Revolutionary Spirit

The Revolution is made for the people; the happiness of the people is its goal; love of the people is the touchstone of the revolutionary spirit.
It is easy to understand that by "the people" we do not mean that class privileged by its riches which has usurped all the pleasures of life and all its assets from society. "The people" is the universality of French citizens; "the people" is above all the immense class of the poor, that class which gives men to the Patrie, defenders to our frontiers, which maintains society by its labours, embellishes it by its talents, which adorns it and honors it by its virtues.

The Revolution would be a political and moral monstrosity if its end was to assure the happiness of a few hundred individuals and to consolidate the misery of twenty-four million citizens. ...

Republicans, to be worthy of that name, begin by feeling your dignity.  Hold high your head with pride and let men read in your eyes that you know who you are and what the Republic is.   Do not be mistaken, to be truly republican each citizen must experience within himself a revolution equal to that which has changed the face of France. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in common between the slave of a tyrant and the inhabitant of a free state: the customs of the latter, his principles, his sentiments, his actions must all be new. You were oppressed; you must crush your oppressors. You were the slaves of superstition; you must no longer worship anything except liberty; you must have no other morality than that of nature. You were strangers to military offices; henceforth all Frenchmen are soldiers. You lived in ignorance; to assure the conquest of your rights, you must be instructed. You knew no Patrie [Fatherland], never had its sweet voice echoed in your hearts; today, you must know nothing apart from it; you must see it, hear it, and adore it in everything.

The magistrate is vigilant, the farmer sows his fields, the soldier fights, the citizen breathes only for the Patrie!  Its sacred image mingles in all his actions, adds to his pleasures, rewards him for his pains. Long live the Republic! Long live the people! There is his rallying cry, the expression of his joy, the solace of his sorrows. Any man to whom this enthusiasm is foreign, who knows other pleasures, other cares than the happiness of the people ... any man who doesn't feel his blood boil at the very name of tyranny, slavery, or opulence; any man who has tears to shed for the enemies of the people, who doesn't reserve all his compassion for the victims of despotism, and for the martyrs of liberty, all such men who dare to call themselves Republicans have lied against nature and in their hearts. Let them flee the soil of liberty: they will soon be recognized and will water it with their impure blood.

 The Republic wants only free men within its bosom; it is determined to exterminate all others and to recognize as its children only those who know how to live, fight and die for it. ...

Paragraph III: The Revolutionary Tax on the Rich

The expenses of the war must be defrayed, and the costs of the Revolution met. Who will come to the help of the Patrie in its need if it is not the rich? If they are aristocrats, it is just that they should pay for a war to which they and their supporters alone have given rise; if they are patriots, you will be anticipating their desires by asking them to put their riches to the only use fit for Republicans; that is to say, a purpose useful to the Republic. Thus, nothing can excuse you from establishing this tax promptly. No exemptions are necessary; any man who has more than he needs must participate in this extraordinary assistance. This tax must be proportioned to the great needs of the Patrie, so you must begin by deciding in a grand and truly revolutionary manner the sum that each individual must put in common for the public welfare. This isn't a case for mathematical exactitude nor for the timid scruple which must be employed to apportion the public taxes; it is an extraordinary measure which must exhibit the character of the times which compel it. Operate, then, on a large scale; take all that a citizen has that is unnecessary; for superfluity is an evident and gratuitous violation of the rights of the people. Any man who has more than his needs cannot use it, he can only abuse it; thus, if he is left what is strictly necessary, all the rest belongs to the Republic and to its unfortunate members. ...

Paragraph V : The Eradication of Fanaticism

Priests are the sole cause of the misfortunes of France; it is they who for thirteen hundred years have raised, by degrees, the edifice of our slavery and have adorned it with all the sacred baubles which could conceal flaws from the eye of reason. ...

First of all, Citizens, relations between God and man are a purely private matter and, to be sincere, have no need of display in worship and the visible monuments of superstition. You will begin by sending to the treasury of the Republic all the vases, all the gold and silver ornaments which may flatter the vanity of priests but which are nothing to the truly religious man and to the Being whom he claims to honour. ...

... The Republican has no other divinity than his Patrie, no other idol than liberty. The Republican is essentially religious because he is good, just, and courageous; the patriot honors virtue, respects age, consoles misfortune, comforts indigence and punishes treachery. What better homage for the Divinity! The patriot isn't foolish enough to claim to worship him by practices useless to humanity and bad for himself; he does not condemn himself to an apparent celibacy in order to give himself up the more freely to debauchery. Worthy son of nature and useful member of society, he gives happiness to a virtuous wife and raises his numerous children according to the severe principles of morality and republicanism. ...

Republicans ... be on guard, you have great wrongs to expiate; the crimes of the rebellious Lyonnais are yours. ... Regain then, and promptly, in liberty's way, all the ground that you have lost, and win again by your virtues and patriotic efforts the esteem and confidence of France. The National Convention, the representatives of the people, are watching you and your magistrates; the account that they demand of you will be all the stricter because you have faults to be pardoned. And we, who are intermediaries between them and you, we whom they have charged to watch over you and instruct you, we swear that our glance will not leave you for an instant and that we will use with severity all the authority committed to us and that we will punish as treachery what in other circumstances you might have called dilatoriness, weakness or negligence. The time for half-measures and for beating about the bush is past. Help us to strike great blows or you will be the first to feel them. Liberty or death: reflect and choose.

[Signed by the Commission and approved by the deputies on mission, Collot d'Herbois and Fouché, members of the Committee of Public Safety.]

Temporary Committee of Republican Surveillance in Lyons, in D. I. Wright, ed., The French Revolution: Introductory Documents (Newcastle, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1974), 194-197.

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