Friday, 21 May 2021

Tissot on Robespierre

Here is an analysis of Robespierre's career and the events of Thermidor taken from P.-F. Tissot's history of the Revolution, published in 1835.  Tissot was a committed Revolutionary and an assiduous political observer, who must have known many of the participants personally: as he himself writes, "An inquisitive, attentive and impassioned witness, I did not cease for a moment to study and follow the Revolution."  It is interesting to note how close Tissot's view of Robespierre is to that of modern biographers like Hervé Leuwers and Peter McPhee.

Max Adamo, Fall of Robespierre in the Convention on 27th July 1794 (1870)  Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
File:Max Adamo Sturz Robespierres.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

Robespierre's early career

Tissot begins with the question which has recently exercised Jean-Clément Martin among others; how was it that the Fall of Robespierre came to be regarded as such a turning point in the Revolution?  The Thermidoreans themselves deserved no credit, since they wanted only to save their own necks and were content to continue the regime of terror. So was there something about Robespierre himself that linked the fate of the Revolution to his person?

Tissot begins with an examination of Robespierre's Revolutionary career.  Like J.-C.M he depicts  Robespierre as a relative unimportant deputy who succeeded in creating his own political persona and carving out a role for himself. 

   Compared to Cazalès, Maury, Barnave or Mirabeau,  Robespierre was a lawyer without talent, who pleased no-one.  Disappointed, but not put off by his reversals at the tribune, he worked hard, and when he reappeared towards the end of the Constituent Assembly, he  brought about a favourable change.  The deplorable intrigue of the revision provided him with the opportunity to throw spark into vehement attacks against men who appeared to sacrifice the interests of liberty to royal authority. His popularity grew greatly at this time,  and the title of "incorruptible", added to his name, gave him influence over public opinion.  He grew in reputation during  the conflicts in the assembly  and in the debates at the Jacobins,  his home ground where he took on all  comers.  Nor were his rivals - Brissot, Louvet, Vergniaud - mean orators.  Thanks to the simplicity of his manner, his modest way of life, his distance from intrigue...his reputation was almost the only one to remain intact in the minds of revolutionaries.  Ardent patriots did not even reproach his lack of participation in the great journées.  He had his role; he played it well.  He never failed to defend principles;  he always supported the cause of the friends of liberty;  he was vigilant against the common enemy;  he desired the good of the people and inspired popular confidence for the general cause.  Let us be content with these precious qualities which set a man apart; for extraordinary circumstances we have Danton: that, without saying it, was what was thought. The 10 August put Danton in high favour among revolutionaries, yet Robespierre, who had neither conspired nor fought,  eclipsed his rival, whose reputation was tainted on several counts...

In September 1792, Robespierre, who was privy to neither the planning nor the execution of the crimes committed, gained moral advantage over the members of the Commune and Danton.  Even fanatics who approved such acts were happy to join forces against their enemies with a man who had no taint of complicity. When the Convention met, the Girondins, who sought to dominate the assembly, attacked not Danton but Robespierre. [Louvet denounced him] as master of the Jacobins, arbiter of the Commune, director of the people and future dictator of France: "Je t'accuse d'avoir évidemment marché au pouvoir suprême." This harangue put Robespierre on a pedestal, and provided him with a resounding victory which compromised the entire Girondin faction.  He rallied round him all those Revolutionaries who felt themselves attacked by the party of orators  who recognised Vergniaud as their master.  During the king's trial, the relentless and thunderous speech of Robespierre was a work of talent that Condorcet admired and Vergniaud could not equal. Vergniaud, who had intended to save Louis XVI, was seized with fear at the tribune and condemned him to death.  Robespierre demanded the same penalty out of profound conviction.  Which of the two judges merits the greater reproach?  Robespierre was  implacable towards the Girondins, but they had wanted his head, and gravely compromised the destiny of the Republic.  After their fall, Robespierre, who had become even more powerful, fought with rare courage against the faults of his own party;  he endeavoured to suppress excesses and maintain order by the authority of his words, both at the Jacobins and at the tribunal of the Convention.  He gave even greater services as a member of the Committee of Public Safety.

Even the leaders of opinion most opposed to the Revolution - de Maistre, Chateaubriand, all the heads of Europe, Napoleon himself... - agree that Revolutionary government saved France from being carved up by foreign enemies or pulled apart by internal dissension... We all felt this at the time.  As a vast democracy, without cohesion, without harmony, without unity, France was likely to perish through the multiplicity of disorganised efforts to save her. The Committee of Public Safety, resting on Revolutionary government, seized the helm with a strong hand...That is how we came to triumph over the powers of Europe which were ranged against us.

Revolutionary government, of which terror was the principal instrument, produced a phenomenon which was extraordinary, though it has been little remarked upon.  Far from freezing the spirit of the people,  it exalted it; instead of discouraging zeal it inflamed it....Without the Jacobin Club and its network of societies, without the Commune of Paris, the Convention would perhaps have never brought about the triumph of the Revolution.... It was from the bosom of of the Jacobins that an electric spark spread out to ignite all of France... The Jacobins and the societies are normally regarded as agents of reversal and instruments of disorder...but they were the most useful and necessary institutions of the epoch... Who really gave the Jacobins to the government?  Who was the orator who ceaselessly rallied them, anticipating or suppressing their wanderings and divisions?  It was above all Robespierre;  Robespierre was the supreme moderator of the Jacobins;  through them he regulated all the other societies and exercised over the whole French people an ascendency that Danton had lost, or perhaps had never obtained to the same degree.

Robespierre - the conciliatory politician

The moderate, the conciliator - this too tends to be the modern view of Robespierre's conduct, certainly in the earlier part of his career. 

......Robespierre was a Revolutionary and not a obscurantist or a traitor who wanted only to create trouble.  In all his speeches from the opening of the Convention he promoted ideas of order, principles of moderation; he strove to attain a government that would bring together all the elements of the social body.  No-one else showed such consistency, such boldness in restraining his own party and in braving opinion in order to combat propositions dangerous to the common cause; whilst seeking to retain the favour of the people, he resisted them face to face and told them hard and useful truths. As if it were possible to do such things and be a mediocrity without  talent or vision!  I smile at those who - contrary to the opinion of clever Cambacérès or the considered judgment of Napoleon on Saint-Helena -  wish to reduce Maximilien to someone of vulgar capacities.

Maxime Faivre, Robespierre with his friend the carpenter Duplay, painting of c.1900 Musée de Vizille.
Robespierre chez son ami le menuisier Duplay Portail des collections Département de l'Isère (

Robespierre - the normal man

Nature made Robespierre neither spiteful nor cruel. No trait of his childhood, no memory of his youth reveals any odious inclinations. He loved tenderly the brother who wanted to die with him;  his sister, who is still living, defends his memory with a heartfelt zeal and the voice of conviction. The letters of Camille Desmoulins's wife, testify that Robespierre took pleasure in the happiness of their union and liked to play with their child.  Madame Roland, for whom he held no attraction, still received him with pleasure; she recognised the sincerity of his patriotism and his integrity.  Apparently she judged him susceptible to persuasion, for it was to him alone that she appealed from the depths of her prison.  The modest family, with whom he took refuge, said at the time, and still do, that once he was free of politics, which made him angry and depressed, he was easy to talk to and would give way readily to gaiety.  He had conceived a virtuous love for his host's daughter, whose gentle manners and elevated spirit no-one has ever denied.  The arts touched Robespierre;  he admired David and applauded the talent of Talma. He was a just, though severe, judge of the theatre.  He took his admiration for Rousseau to the point of enthusiasm and never ceased to study the great write. He despised Machiavelli as a corrupter of public morality. When a man appeared to him to be an honest and sincere patriot, he gave him employment and defended him against all attacks.

 Robespierre at the Jacobins on 8 Thermidor, Engraving after Auguste Raffet, 1834 Musée Carnavalet
File:Robespierre à la Société des Jacobins - Auguste Raffet.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Robespierre -  scapegoat for the Terror

How did such a character end up by bringing down on his head such a storm of abuse, that it will perhaps echo for all posterity? The answer to this question lies in the irresistible power of a revolution which overthrows an empire and excites all the wildest passions of the human heart...When a people becomes angry, its leaders do too, and soon that passion...becomes a contagion.   When the double goal of revolution is the reconquest of liberty and the improved destiny of peoples, the sanctity of the end, as Mirabeau said, seems to justify any means....

Compared to all the other men who have figured in the first rank, from the dawn of insurrection in 1789, Robespierre was one of the least violent.   It was not he, but Mirabeau, who first roused the people to anger....Robespierre did not topple the throne on 10th August; he was absent on 2nd September.  He was not responsible for the insurrection of 31st May.  He cannot be reproached with  cruelties, or scandalous conduct, like Tallien, Fréron, Barras, Collot d'Herbois, Fouché in Nantes, and so many other proconsuls.   His most vehement philippics lacked the delirium and fury with which several of his adversaries  brought dishonour to liberty itself.  His collected speeches, give him this advantage over his adversaries - that they seem by comparison barbarians who talk like the lieutenants of Attila. 

It may be noted, in passing, that the deputy Louis Louchet, who was the first to move the arrest of Robespierre, supported the maintenance of Terror in 1795 and evoked the authority of Marat.  Almost all those who wanted his fall as much "moderates" as this apologist of the Friend of the People.  

The dictator was overthrown because he favoured moderation; because he wanted to soften the regime of terror and gradually disarm "national vengeance"; because he wanted to curb, even punish, the excesses committed in the departments by odious proconsuls.  The Right preferred Robespierre to his enemies, and wanted to sacrifice them to him.  It was their intimate persuasion that he had decided to revert to a more gentle system, to give probity back its  place of honour. To borrow Danton's phrase, Robespierre was afraid of money; he nourished an impeccable hatred of corruption.

Napoleon said that Robespierre was the scapegoat ("le bouc émissaire") of the Revolution. Guilty men, who had deserted Republican morality, burdened his memory with all their iniquities.   But history... has already given them back responsibility for their works; in particular,  it was during the six weeks of Robespierre's withdrawal from public life that executions multiplied with such frightening rapidity. 

Robespierre's personal failings

Despite his enthusiasm for the Revolution, Tissot was not one of those who thought that  Revolutionary imperatives somehow overrode ordinary standards of decent behaviour.  He judged Robespierre by stern standards of personal virtue, courage and, above all, compassion - and ultimately found him wanting:

In all truth, certain grave accusation will always be laid against Robespierre.  He was as merciless towards Louis XVI as though he were a terrible tyrant, and behaved barbarically towards Marie-Antoinette.  Although others called for the death of the Girondins, he demanded it with particular fury. He deserted in a cowardly fashion Desmoulins, his friend and supporter, whom he had formerly defended with courage.  Out of some sort of puritanical rigour, he sacrificed the head of Danton...he insulted him after his death and did not even allow him to rest in peace.  He had not been party to most of the laws of terror, drawn up with such severity by moderate men... but  he lost the credit for this non-complicity by the law of 22 Prairial, which he defended with a sort of  frenzy....  He seems to have exercised a culpable influence over the Revolutionary Tribunal.  Tradition tells us that he placed his creatures in the Tribunal, that juries took their orders from him and trembled in his presence if they went against his wishes.  I do not want to excuse or justify Robespierre; however, it must be said that many men, who have since been represented as models of humanity, made light of the idea of the scaffold; in the midst of such passions, dangers, and  a war to the death with Europe, the fall of heads had little effect on the multitude.

According to all those who knew him, Robespierre was driven by fear.  This passion exaggerated his feelings of hatred and instilled in him a certain cruelty. He experienced satisfaction at the fall of his enemies, whose death brought him security. Pity never seemed to move him; he never showed that generosity of spirit which inspires a man to forego vengeance and to offer forgiveness to his enemies. He never uttered one word of concern for the Girondins; no expression of regret for Camille Desmoulins,  nor any gentleness for Danton. Perhaps it was  as punishment for this insensitivity, that at the supreme moment, in the shadow of the scaffold, Maximilien was unable to pronounce any of those sublime words which  serve by themselves to immortalise Vergniaud or Danton.

 Pierre-François Tissot,  Histoire complète de la révolution française Vol. 5, (1835), p.331-341
Histoire complète de la révolution française : Pierre-François Tissot  Internet Archive

Valery Jacobi, "9 Thermidor", painting of 1864,  Tretyakov Gallery 

Here is Tissot's depiction of Robespierre's last hours.  It is convincingly and sympathetically observed, though it should be remembered that Tissot himself was not an eyewitness to these events. 

At the news that Maximilien lay dying in the Committee room, several deputies, through intense curiosity, went to see him.  They had laid him out on a table;  several boxes supported his head.  He remained conscious and appeared unmoved.  He was wearing a blue coat, the same one that he had worn at the Festival of the Supreme Being.  His face was covered with linen napkins;  he wiped the blood from his wounds with the cover from a pistol.  A number of people without character, among them some deputies, hurled insults at him. One of them, who ought to have known better, observed loudly, "If he weren't a scoundrel, we would treat his wounds".  He was exposed in this way for several hours to all sorts of injuries, but he showed no emotion. When a surgeon arrived to tend him, he rose by himself, got down from the table and sat in an armchair where he submitted without  complaint to the pain of having his wound dressed.  He had long prepared for death, as his speeches testify;  now the courage with which he endured proved that his words to Couthon  inside the Hôtel de Ville had not been empty ones: "It is for us to suffer our fate, whatever it might be."

Alfred Mouillard, Robespierre and Saint-Just depart for the guillotine (1884), Musée Carnavalet 
File:Alfred Mouillard - Robespierre partant à la guillotine.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

..... Having left the Conciergerie,  the cortege carrying Robespierre and his companions travelled along part of the rue Saint-Denis, the rue de la Féronnerie, and then  the entire length of the rue saint-Honoré to the place of execution.  All the crossroad were adorned with women dressed for a fete, seated on velvet cushions or leaning on balconies with brilliant hangings; they shouted terrible insults as the condemned passed by.  In place of "Long Live the Republic!", there were cries of "A la mort! à la mort! à la guillotine!"  In some places there was clapping of hands... Robespierre was brought to a halt in front of the house where he lived; here women, or rather furies, danced around the tumbril.....

During this final journey, Robespierre's head was swathed in bloody linen, so that you could only just see his pale, ghastly face. The horsemen in the escort pointed him out with the point of their sabres to those eager to see him in that dreadful state.  When he arrived at the scaffold, the executioners pulled off the bandage that supported his lower jaw; the intense pain snatched from him the only cry that he uttered throughout his long ordeal.  This man, whom his enemies constantly represented as timorous, even cowardly, preserved his firmness of spirit to the end, and fell beneath the blade of the guillotine without the slightest sign of fear.  Saint-Just, whom Robespierre had dragged with him into perdition, also died with complete constancy. None of the condemned men showed weakness. At each fall of the blade, the applause bore witness to the fierce joy of spectators, who were all too accustomed to scenes of carnage.  Maximilien Robespierre was thirty-five years old, Saint-Just twenty-six, the younger Robespierre the same age.

 Pierre-François Tissot,  Histoire complète de la Révolution française Vol. 5, (1835), p.323-6.
Histoire complète de la révolution française : Pierre-François Tissot  Internet Archive

Friday, 14 May 2021

Madame Goujon

It is always satisfying to be able to put a picture in context. Here, is a portrait auctioned in 2012 of Madame Goujon, née Jeanne Marguerite Nicole Ricard (1745-1802), the mother of  Jean-Marie Goujon. It is the work of the Parisian portrait painter, Adèle Varillat. who signs it on the left-hand side of the canvas, "Me Varillat".  From the costume, the image probably dates from the later Revolutionary period;  perhaps from the time when Madame Goujon's life had already been marked by the grief of her son's condemnation and suicide. 

File:Madame Varillat - Portrait of Madame Goujon (Jeanne Marguerite Nicole Ricard, 1745-1802).jpg - Wikimedia Commons 
Oil on canvas, 65cm x 54cm

Sold by Drouot in Paris, "Meubles et objets d'art", 12th December 2012. lot 87.

The Sitter

 Nicole Ricard was the daughter of Joseph Ricard, first secretary to the Intendant of Bourgogne in Dijon.  According to Goujon's 19th-century biographer Jarrin, the family may have had property or relations in Bourg-en-Bresse, where Jeanne Marguerite Nicole lived after her marriage.  Her mother, née Marie Durocher,  was buried in the church of Notre-Dame de Bourg in December 1761.  

Images d’Art (

There survives a striking pastel  portrait of the infant Nicole ascribed to Quentin La Tour.

 According to  family tradition, La Tour had presented the portrait to Nicole's father in recompense for some service he had been rendered. It was acquired from the Goujon family in 1898 by the Marquise Arcanati Visconti and presented to the Louvre in 1913.  

 Nowadays the portrait  is usually attributed to either Simon-Bernard Lenoir (1729-1789) [by Neil Jeffares and Xavier Salmon]  or to Jacques-Charles Allais (1704-c.1759). [More recently by Jeffares in the online Dictionary of pastellist]

On 9th February 1762, at the age of only seventeen, Nicole married Alexandre Claude Goujon, a senior administrator in the  Ferme des aides.  Their daughter Perrine-Claudine-Sophie was born in 1763 and their oldest son  Jean-Marie in 1766. Two further sons followed, Alexandre-Marie, born in Dijon in 1776, and Antoine, born in 1784.  On the death of her husband, Nicole  retired with her children to a family property in  Auxerre.  In 1793 they moved to Versailles, where Sophie married her brother's friend Pierre-François  Tissot.   In 1795 two defences of Goujon were published in the name of the "Widow Goujon", but these are almost certainly the work of Tissot rather than Nicole herself - they emphasise that the deputy's private life was as virtuous as his public conduct.  After Goujon's death, Tissot supported the entire household.  In later years the family settled in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, where Tissot owned a factory making lanterns.  I can find nothing more regarding Madame Goujon herself, who died in 1802.  Alexandre Goujon became a cavalry officer in Napoleon's army; he fought at Iena, and was author of several works, including "Thoughts of a soldier at the tomb of Napoleon".  He died in 1823 as a result of a fall sustained at Eylau.  In the early 20th-century the  daughter and granddaughter of Antoine Goujon, inheritors of the papers of the Conventionnel,  were still living in Paris, at 62 rue de Babylone.

The Artist

Adèle Varillat, née Tourezy (1769-1860) is described as a portrait painter in Paris, pupil of Regnault and Lethière.  She exhibited in the Paris Salons of  1795 and 1833. During the Restoration she emigrated to England, exhibiting  at the Royal Academy between 1816 and 1820.  Françoise Brunel lists three portraits by Mme Varillet which belonged to the Goujon family: the sitters are Goujon's father (?);  his mother (no doubt the picture auctioned in 2012); and, thirdly, Sophie Tissot with Alexandre Goujon's wife, Sophie de Saint-André, who was Tissot's niece and adoptive daughter [Les martyrs de Prairial, p.87].  This third picture was sold by auction in 2007: here it is on Wikipedia:

File:Portrait de Mme Tissot (née Sophie Perrine Goujon) et Mme Goujon (née Sophie de Saint-André).jpg - Wikimedia Commons 
Oil on canvas, 73cm x 92 cm

"Veuve Goujon" by Boilly

File:Louis-Leopold Boilly -
Portrait de la veuve Goujon.jpg - Wikimedia Common

Oil on canvas, 21.5cm x 16.5 cm

This portrait  of the "Veuve Goujon" by Boilly was sold by Aguttes at Neuilly in December 2018.

There is no clue as to the identity of the sitter. She seems  too young, at the date suggested by the clothing, to be "our" Widow Goujon.  However, a miniature portrait  set in the frame, which  presumably depicts her late husband, seems to show a man of the Ancien régime, in a long lawyer's wig.


Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Two friends: Goujon & Tissot

You will see how two young and ardent minds who throw themselves into a career without counting the obstacles, may change the face of the world and lift themselves by virtue above all other beings.  
Letter of Goujon to Tissot, 1792

The late 18th century was the great age of sentimental Rousseauism, of romantic love affairs, family affection and emotionally charged friendships. The same attitudes, translated to the public stage,  contributed to the Revolution era its peculiar strand of fervent idealism  This phenomenon is perfectly illustrated in the lives of the two friends, Pierre François Tissot and the ill-fated Goujon, "martyr of Prairial".  There is an overwhelming amount of  detail available about Goujon's public career, so I have just tried to pick out some of the more personal aspects.

Two miserable clerks

The two young men first met in 1786 in the offices of Maître Soutez, procureur to the Châtelet Court, where they were both clerks. 

GOUJON, the elder by two years, had been born in Bourg-en-Bresse on 13th April 1766. His father was  director of "les droit-réunis" for the Ferme des aides, which had 278 bureaux across France administering an assortment of indirect taxes and duties on behalf of the Crown;  later he was to move to directorships in Poivins (1772) and  Orléans (1778).  This places the family among the respectable well-to-do bourgeoisie of provincial society, though by no means among the monied elite.  When Goujon was only twelve, he was sent to Saint-Domingue where a relative who was a rich plantation owner offered  him the chance of a career in the colonies. In later years Goujon seldom talked about this time -  the shy teenager met a lot of people but made no friends: "I saw many faces in very few years...but rarely anyone who was true, who had moral principles, in whom the voice of humanity could be heard." [Letter of Goujon  to his mother of 14th March 1789, Guyot & Thénard. p.3-4]

He also failed signally to make his fortune;  in 1786 his father died and he returned home.  His mother, sister, and two small brothers were now lived in Auxerre in straited circumstances, reliant on a modest income from rents and a pension from a  rich aunt, tante Cottin, in Paris.  Goujon's position with Maître Soutez represented a hope of financial security for the whole family. 

Engraving by Bonneville after Isabey
File:Bonneville Jean-Marie Goujon.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
According to an article by Antoinette Ehrard, the  Musée de Brou in Bourg-en-Bresse possesses the original oil painting on which this engraving is based. Until 1957 it hung in the town hall. It is attributed to Isabey, though it is neither signed nor dated.    
See: Antoinette Ehrard,"La mémoire des 'Martyrs de Prairial' dans l'espace public." AHRF 304 (1996): p.434-5.

TISSOT  was born in Versailles on 10th March 1768, the oldest of six children.  His social origins were more privileged.  His father, originally from Savoy, was a dealer in perfumes with premises in the rue Vieux-Versailles and in central Paris in the precinct of the Abbey Saint-Germain-des-Prés.   As an official supplier to the Court, he accumulated several imposing titles, including Merchant Perfumer to the King  and valet de chambre to Madame the Duchess of Provence.  Tissot himself gain entry to fêtes at the Trianon  -  he met Madame Elisabeth on several occasions. He received an extensive literary education, finishing in Paris at  the Collège Montaigu.  His first introduction to progressive ideas probably dated from his earlier schooldays, when he boarded in the pension in the rue Saint-Louis in Verssailles, run by Antoine-Joseph Gorsas, the future Revolutionary journalist and Girondin deputy.  Among Gorsas's visitors at this time were Laurent Lecointre and Marat, then  médecin des écuries.  In later years Tissot was to keep in touch with Gorsas, and those who lodged with him in Paris. For the moment, however, his enthusiasms focused on Rousseau and Virgil. At the age of eighteen, in 1786  he  was packed off to the procureur's office to learn legal procedures, and his literary ambitions confined to spare time. Whereas Goujon comes across as  gauche, Tissot was a poised and personable young man. 

Both Goujon and Tissot thoroughly hated life in the lawyer's office. 

Goujon's letters give a glimpse of the long hours and monotonous work of a legal clerk in the age of quill pens and handwritten ledgers.   He recounts to his mother how he laboured from eight in the morning until half-past nine in the evening; copying petitions.  "Sometimes the dullness of this task, the desire to learn something I want to know...or to read the books that I have so little time for....fills me with boredom, resentment and impatience."  [Letter of 14th March 1789,  Guyot & Thénard. p.3-4]

To Tissot he wrote: 

You are lucky, dear friend, to have escaped for an instant this miserable scribbling.  It becomes more distasteful to me every day.   I am persuaded that there are few galley slaves who find their chains more heavy than I do mine...When I have been writing all day long,  I find only an immense emptiness in my mind. [Letter of 4th February 1789,  Jarrin, p.8]

Goujon would stay up late after supper, or perhaps he would rise early, to work on his own projects.  An earnest and self-righteous young man, he had little taste for pleasures such as dancing or the theatre. He found other youths frivolous and  preferred the company of older, more serious men.  Among his acquaintances was the archaeologist  Antoine Mongez,  canon of Sainte-Geneviève, later the friend of David and Marat.  He  complains  to his mother that he was bored by his aunt and her circle of  elderly ladies and matchmaking mothers who considered him honest and incapable of deceiving anyone, "which in their language means un peu bête"  This disillusionment passes easily into a general criticism of social corruption: "Souls have fallen into vileness and the most gentle and beautiful sentiments are regarded as belonging to the feeble-minded or as imaginary virtues that none can possess". Goujon sententiously dedicates himself to Rousseau's ideal of virtuous simplicity: "If I was offered my greatest wish... I would ask to be the most virtuous man in the world.. " [Goujon to his mother, 14th March 1789, Guyot & Thénard. p.3-4]

An interlude at Meudon

In 1790, as Paris settled down after the momentous events of 1789, the friends finally staged a rebellion of their own.  Unbeknownst to their families they left their jobs and moved to Meudon where they rented a little house on the banks of the Seine near the edge of the wood. Their savings were meagre and they lived in Rousseauesque simplicity, with little furniture or linen and the minimal services of a housekeeper.   Tissot could reach Versailles on foot in two hours and Goujon could visit Mongez to collect his correspondence.  What better place to find oneself!  With the self-possession of youth, Tissot continued his attempts at tragedy and Goujon devoted himself to study.

Letter of Tissot to his father.  

In June 1790 Tissot wrote a letter of self-justification to his discontented father; he explains that he had always followed the set course; but when he "looked inside himself" and "appreciated his true worth" he found he was deeply unhappy.  He did not wish to become a procureur, a profession now dishonoured in the public mind.  He had retired to the country with his companion in order to exercise the physical and moral faculties which he had previously sacrificed entirely for the sum of 400 livres a year!

Like many young people in later times, Tissot expressed his defiance of parental values with a style statement - in this case a fashionably short coiffure à la Titus.  As might be imagined, this did not go down well with the Versailles parfumier:  

Now we must come to my haircut. I must admit that the distress it causes you astonishes me.  It never entered my head that you would place such importance on it, but it is only because of other people; you fear the charge of oddity.  But before knowing if it is odd, you must know whether it is good - Yes, without doubt, for it is the most natural, the most simple, the most clean, and the most convenient both for oneself and others .... 

Tissot refuses to see those who are displeased by his haircut. He ends with a swipe at the social hierarchy.  He wants neither favours nor position from the nobility.  If he ever gains fortune or consideration, it must be by the fruit of his own labours, not through the caprices of  "ces fripons titrés".  [Letter of June 1790.  Quoted, Fromageot, p.228-9]

A political education

Goujon fancied himself from early days as an essayist and orator.  His interest in politics was nurtured by Mongez whom he visited in the library at Sainte-Geneviève at least once a week whilst he was in Paris. The two would spend whole Sunday afternoons in fervent discussion of public law and history.   Mongez guided Goujon's reading of Montesquieu, Rousseau and Raynal and encouraged him to try his hand at an essay competition set by the Academy of Dijon at the end of 1788, on the "influence of the morality of governments on people".  The entries were adjudicated in August 1790; the prize was not awarded but Goujon received an "honorable mention". (The essay was published by Tissot his Souvenirs on Prairial in 1797). Goujon argues that Man is naturally good, but corrupted by ignorance, prejudice and despotic governments. If  the people regained its rightful place, just laws and liberty would inevitably follow.  Inevitably, he was a  ready revolutionary: as he wrote to his mother at the time of the opening of the Estates-General: " My studies have convinced me  that our laws, our moral values, and our political system, create a real obstacle for those among us who are truly virtuous citizens". (Letter of 14th May 1789, Guyot & Thénard, p.5) 

We can follow the events of the early Revolution through the prism of Goujon's enthusiasm: in July 1790 the Fête de la Fédération provokes a quasi-religious response:

My dear Maman, 

I went to see the Federation, and I ran no risk.  I did not detect the slightest sign of disorder or discontent among the People, who are made out to be so untrustworthy.  I saw five hundred thousand men assemble together, arms outstretched to the Supreme Being, souls elevated, free and worthy of virtue! I saw them;  I joined with them;  my heart sought in nature a still more beautiful title than that of French citizen, and I gloried in what I found reserved for me.  I could not say a word, but the tears that escaped from my eyes bore witness to the feelings in the depths of my heart....Drunk with virtue, I felt myself transported into a new universe:  I felt worthy to be called a Man.  Ah! I made a pledge which I will never forget...  I will live in freedom or die!   [Letter of 15th July 1790., Guyot & Thénard,  p.12]

In defiance of his mother's anxious efforts to find him new gainful employment, he  now espoused the vocation of political publicist.: 

I can have no doubt about my inclination.  I am tormented by my love for public law and all fields of knowledge related to Man, his conduct, his happiness. I feel myself drawn towards this subject by an irresistible force.  Sometimes I am seduced enough to  see men made a little more happy by my efforts to find the truth, demonstrate it to them and force them to recognise it.  I know that all this is perhaps the chimera of a simple soul, but as long as this idea pursues me, I will not be capable of anything else.  [Letter of 5th June 1790, Guyot & Thénard ,p.11]

She, understandably, was less convinced.

An early 19th-century engraving of Tissot F.ois Tissot  (

Two Revolutionary administrators

Tissot and Goujon returned to Versailles in mid-1791; Goujon continued to make a name for himself as a orator and commentator, with an Éloge de Mirabeau (April 1791) and a  published letter in reply to the abbé Raynal (May 1791). He was soon involved in local politics and administration; indeed, "until October 1793 the biography of Goujon confounds itself with the history of the department of Seine-et-Oise"; He became an elector in June 1791 and was nominated to the Conseil Général of the department in September 1791.  On 21st September 1792 he became "Procureur général syndic".  Tissot too held municipal office. Both were active in the Jacobin Club.  In July 1792 the two faced their first major test when they were both in Versailles during the massacre of  the prisoners from Orléans. Like his colleagues,  including the mayor Richaud, Goujon "showed neither complicity nor weakness" but "neglected to take sufficient precaution". [see the review by Pierre Caron, L. Thénard et R. Guyot. Le conventionnel Goujon (1766-1793), 1908 - Persée (]

Romantic idylls

From September 1791 Goujon lived with an aunt of Tissot, who treated the two young men as if they were her own children. Goujon was anxious to pay his way and in 1792 his Aunt Cottin left him 25,000 livres, but he was obliged go to Tours to contest the legacy with other inheritors. (He was unsuccessful.) It was during the trial that he met his future wife, Lise Corméry (1771-1843) the twenty-one year old daughter of an administrator for the department of Indre-et-Loire.  He first struck up a friendship with Corméry himself - by the end of a week he was in love with his daughter.  He approach Corméry for her hand, but the father allowed the girl to decide. She accepted and  over the next five months the two exchanged long, cloyingly sentimental love letters.  Goujon could have given Rousseau himself a run for his money; here is a short excerpt from his marriage proposal:

I do not know if I should let my heart find rest in the the tumult that surrounds me; I do not know if I should ask someone else to share a life that might run its course in the midst of storms... But a force stronger than cold reason impels me.  I have seen many women but you are the first to awake in me the desire to marry.  I am not carried away by mere ephemeral sentiments.  I have learned to spurn cleverness, beauty, riches.   I have searched among mankind, without hope, for a truly just and sensitive soul to join with mine in pure and enduring felicity.  That simplicity, elevation and purity of soul, that echo of  Antique morality,  I find in you; they awakened in me a profound and tender sentiment that absence cannot diminished.  
Letter of 17th September 1792; Goyot & Thénard, Pt 2, p.51-53]

In the final months of 1792 and 1793 Goujon remained in Versailles.  His mother and siblings sold up the house in Auxerre and came to join him.  On 5th March 1793 Tissot married Goujon's sister Perrine-Claudine-Sophie. The wedding took place in the Mairie, with Goujon singing a song he had composed for the occasion. The couple had not a sou, for Tissot's father, the parfumier, had been ruined by the Revolution. Goujon himself married hastily at the end of March. The whole family lodged together in the rue de Chancellerie.

At the end of November Goujon was reelected to the departmental Council,  though he himself would have preferred more leisure to taste "the savage simplicity of nature and the precious charm of tender love". [Goyot & Thénard, p.53].

Later Revolutionary careers

Shortly after his marriage, in May 1793, Tissot was forced to leave his young wife to accompany the 11th Battalion of Volunteers of Seine-et-Oise to the Vendée.  He had been elected quartermaster, but in effect served as secretary to Citizen Rodanger, the principal civilian commissart with the battalion.

In May to end July 1793, the correspondence of Tissot relates the  peripheries of the campaign around Nantes. On 21st July he reports that Rodanger, and a major of the company had been captured by the enemy. After three months the volunteers from Versailles were anxious to return home.  When a new delegate from Versailles replaced the unfortunate Rodanger, Tissot was charged with inspiring the battalion with "republican energy".  The efforts were to no avail, and the troop returned to Versailles in August.

On 5th September 1792 Goujon was elected to the Convention  as sixth (and final)  suppléant for Seine-et-Oise. He was given  an important role as one of the three members of the Commission for Subsistance, charged with applying the Maximum of 22nd October 1793, and in April 1794 took his seat in the assembly to replace Hérault de Séchelles.  In July 1794 he was en mission with the Army of the Moselle.  During this period Tissot seems to have contented himself with  a support role, acting as Secretary to the Commission for Subsistance and accompanying his friend to the Rhineland. When they returned in August, both protested against the excesses of the Thermidorean reaction, but Tissot was not pursued. 

Tissot's later life

Goujon's condemnation and suicide left Tissot sole responsibility  for  the entire extended family.  Removed from all public office,  he was reduced for a time to working as a factory hand.  With some courage,  as early as November 1795, barely five months after the condemnations of Prairial,  he set about publishing and circulating Goujon's defence and his final letters to his wife.  In the preface to his 1799 Souvenirs de Prairial, he affirms his determination to vindicate his friend in the eyes of posterity:

p.i-ii:  Goujon, my brother and my friend, entrusted to me on his death, the care of his memory:  it is without blemish for all  who knew him: it should come down without distortion to all those who might think themselves worthy to imitate him.  It is in order to keep his memory pure, as he himself was in life, that I publish his thoughts.  I received almost the last wishes of those generous victims who shared his faith; I fulfill their hopes and my promises.

Whatever the vagaries and fury of party might say to the contrary, the innocence of the deputies slaughtered in Prairial, the courageous sacrifice that they made together of their lives, is something which will forever honour the Revolution... everything which illustrates the terrible struggle of liberty against tyranny, of equality against the pride and usurpations of the aristocracy,  seems to me useful and necessary to publish.

Having worked for a short time in the Ministry of Police, Tissot retired to Tours to devote himself to literature.  Under the Consulate he moved back to Paris, to the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, where he built up a successful business manufacturing lanterns. His later career as a writer was to be long and distinguished.  He rallied to Napoleon and after 1830 received many honours; he became professor of Latin poetry at the Collège de France and, in 1833, was elected to the Académie Française.  Tissot always remained faithful to the ideals of the Revolution as he saw them.  He lived to see the Second Empire. He died on 7th April 1854,  aged eighty-six, almost six decades after the suicide of his brother-in-law and friend Goujon.


CH Jarrin, Alexandre Goujon (1886) 
Bound with: Suicide de Nicolas Beaurepaire - Google Books

R. Guyot, F. Thénard, Le Conventionnel Goujon (1908).  Published in instalments in Revue Historique, 1906-7 On JStor.  Or (with pages omitted) on Forgotten Books

Entry for Tissot in Françoise Huguet et Boris Noguès, Les professeurs des facultées des lettres et des sciences en France au XIXe siècle (1808-1880)  

Paul Fromageot,  "Pierre François Tissot (1768–1854)",  Revue de l'histoire de Versailles et de Seine-et-Oise, 1901, p.225–267. 

Friday, 7 May 2021

The Martyrs of Prairial - epilogue

Louis Coquelet. Mort des derniers montagnards., Musée National de l'Éducation (

In the years following Prairial, the improbable rumour grew up in patriot circles that Romme and Goujon had not in fact died at all.  It was said that  Romme had been able to prepare a poison which  prevented too great an effusion of blood and produced a simulacrum of death.  He had been revived and been able to escape to Russia, where he found refuge with his former pupil, the comte de Strogonoff.  The  Rapporteur républicain for  17 Vendémiaire Year VI (8th October 1797) even carried a notice predicting his return to France.  In the years which followed, he was regularly  said to have been glimpsed, phantomlike in his old Representative's coat, during the great Revolutionary journées of Paris, right down to 18 Brumaire.

Not unnaturally, the families of the dead men were deeply disturbed by these stories. 

Disappearing coffins

In 1905  Armand Delpy, a magistrate from Riom, published  further details taken from the voluminous correspondence of Romme's nephew, the avocat Jean-Baptiste Tailhand (1771-1849).  His findings were  publicised in a short article by Lenotre  which appeared in Le Temps in 1906.  The key piece of evidence was a letter, dated 24 Floréal, year IV (13th May 1796), from the architect Nouvion, who had been Romme's close friend.  Nouvion reports the findings of his own investigations. The evidence for survival was slim: the hands of the corpses, seen briefly by a patriotic doctor, "did not resemble those of dead men"; the coffins were said to have mysteriously disappeared from the cemetery:

On 29 Prairial  Romme left the bloody tribunal and went with his colleagues into the room where he died.  It was Goujon who stabbed himself first on the staircase, in spite of having already taken poison before he appeared in front of his assassins.  Romme hastened to follow his example;  but when he saw that his friend had not died outright, he supported him so that he would not fall.  He led him to a corner of the room, sat him down on the floor, embraced him, then stabbed himself with two swift blows, saying "I die for the Republic".  The others did the same.

Many unknown patriots had attended throughout the hearings.  The gendarmes who guarded the prisoners, among them those who witnessed their deaths, were Jacobins. They had not foreseen what was about to happen.  They noticed a great commotion; the bodies of Romme and Goujon were placed one on top of the other and covered with a carpet;  the other men were taken to the scaffold.

During this interval, a patriotic surgeon presented himself to try and see the two bodies.  He was not allowed near them, but he noticed particularly that the hands of Romme and Goujon were in good condition, full of colour, and  no way resembled those of dead men.  It should be noted that the hands of Duquesnoy were purple and violet. 

A few moments later, the section took charge of the bodies and proceeded immediately to their burial in the Cimetière de Monceau, beyond the city walls.  Some patriots followed at a distance; but when they arrived at the cemetery they were not allowed in; the gates were closed.  However, one man was sufficiently persistent to remain in the vicinity, as did several of the women; they noticed that, after twenty four hours, the two coffins were still by the side of the communal grave.  It was impossible to get into the cemetery.  Finally the caskets disappeared. (Delphy, p.278-9)

An unknown visitor

 More intriguingly, Goujon's mother received a visit from a young man who asked her to pack up a parcel of clothes for her son.  He never kept the rendezvous that had been arranged.  The family's enquiries progressed no further: at Errancis the concierge (the splendid Joly perhaps?) refused adamantly to open the graves.

The following day at three or four o'clock in the afternoon, a young man appeared at the door of the Citizeness Goujon, the deputy's mother. He was well-dressed, with trousers, nankeen waistcoat and round hat, his hair cut in Jacobin style.  His manner seemed very awkward.  He managed to gain entry into the apartment, and, in the presence of several servants and the brothers and sisters of Goujon,  he asked to speak particularly to his mother.   The latter appeared, still drowned in her grief.   Fear seized her;  she believed they had come to arrest her.  The young man seemed as moved as she was, and again demanded to speak to her alone.

Since he was insistent, she invited him down into the dining room.  He followed her; once inside, she shut the door and asked him what he wanted.   The others in the house, fearful of this mysterious interview, followed as far as the stairs;  the children even pressed against the door of the room.

- Do you have clothes, the young man asked, which are suitable for  man?

- Yes, certainly.

- In that case, make a parcel of stockings, breeches, coat, shoes etc. and be ready to follow me this evening at nine o'clock precisely.  I will come and find you, but you must come with me on your own.

With some difficulty, she consented and gave her word.  She asked for information, but the young man seemed ill at ease;  and would only say:

- You must follow me on your own, at nine o'clock; do you understand?

He opened the door quickly and disappeared like lightning....

Goujon's mother came out of the room, filled with cruel reflections and did not dare to share her secret with anyone.  However, she confided in her son-in-law and her daughter...The package was made up, and they waited for nine o'clock with impatience.  Ten, eleven, midnight sounded, but no-one appeared.  Since that time they have heard nothing more.  

Doctors and surgeons have claimed that, in Goujon's case, loss of blood could have halted the effect of the poison.  

Several days later, Mme Goujon, her daughter and son-in-law visited the gravedigger of the Monceau cemetery.  He refused, even for gold or silver,  to have the coffins dug up so that they could verify the presence of the bodies.  This resistance, from a patriotic gravedigger, gave rise to suspicion.  But they could take the matter no further.

A short time later, a young man catching sight of Goujon's brother-in-law,  approached him , shook his hand, and whispered, "Is Goujon really dead?",  then disappeared.  The latter, absorbed in his own thoughts, did not even have time to answer. (p.279-281).

Dilemmas in the Auvergne

Far away from the capital, in the commune of Gimeaux just outside Riom, Romme's elderly mother, Marie Anne Desnier (1714-1800), who now lived alone, clung to the hope her youngest son might yet  be restored to her.  The rumours were at their most persistent in 1797.  The old lady wrote to  Mme d'Harville, a faithful friend, who replied encouragingly: "After all the information in your letter seems that you are right, that your son was saved and is in Russia" [Letter of 16 Pluviose Year VI (3rd February 1798)].

Engraving after a miniature of 1788 in the Musée Mandet, Riom
Overnia, Bibliothèque numérique du patrimoine (

See: Antoinette Ehrard, "La mémoire des 'Martyrs de Prairial' dans l'espace public" , Annales historiques de la Révolution française  Année 1996  304  p.434.  The most widespread image of Romme, which shows a plumper man, in fact represents his  brother Charles.  Aimé Jourdan commented that Romme was as small and ugly as Marat, but without his comic grotesqueness.

 For Romme's widow, Marie-Madeleine, a young woman of twenty-five at the time of his death, the rumours threatened a cruel dilemma.  Romme had married her less than a year before his death, having patriotically determined to take on the wife of a fallen Republican soldier. Their daughter, Marie Anne Philippe was born four months after her father's execution. Now twice widowed, and marooned with her mother-in-law, Marie-Madeleine remarried in March 1797. Her third husband,  Charles Dulin, was the twenty-year old son of a lawyer from Combronde, two leagues from Riom.  Delphy reproduces a concerned letter from Dulin père, who now faced the prospect of preparing the young people for Romme's  reappearance: the letter, to Tailhand, is dated  21 vendémiaire Year VI, 13th October 1797.

Rumours abound  that Romme is still alive.  If you have any proofs, it is important for the honour of both family that they are communicated to me. Uncertainty is more of a burden than any outcome, whatever it might be. Whilst I would rejoice at the return of Romme, I would need to console my son; at least I would have my part to play - that of sane philosophy;  Please let me know what you think of these rumours, so that I can begin to prepare the minds of those who will be directly affected. (Delpy, p.285)

In the event, the new household was not destined to be disturbed.  The couple went on to enjoy a long married life and have five children together.  

Above: old photograph of  Romme's mother's house in Gimeaux .  Below: portrait miniature of Madame Romme.  From a 1945 book on ebay
Le Conventionnel Riomois Gilbert Romme - Son disciple le comte Paul Strogonof | eBay

These images give a good idea of the remoteness of the location - I can't find an unwatermarked version of the portrait, which is probably among those in the musée Mandet in Riom.

The story of Romme's marriage is given by his 19th-century biographer, Vissac, p. 189:

Romme wished to democratise his conjugal union and to"sans-culottise" love. 

He asked his section to select for him the widow of a defender of the fatherland, who had died without children, in order to make her his compagne.  The section chose Marie-Madeleine Chaulin, born 17th March 1700 at Carrouges in the department of the Orne, daughter of Marie Couvé  and Jean Chaulin.  Her first husband lay on one of the battlefields of the Republic.

Romme lived with her from 27 vendémiaire to 18 ventôse Year III without being married.  It was a free union in a free state....On 18 ventôse he married her in Paris to give a name to the child she was carrying.

Corroborating details can be found on Geneanet.  Marie-Madeleine's first husband,  whom she married on 7th March 1791 was Gervais Machereaux,  killed on 23rd September 1793 at Saint-Fulgent near Poitou.  She married Gilbert Romme on 8th March 1795 and Charles Dulin (1777-1844) on  9 March 1797..  Her daughter by Romme, Marie Anne Philippe was born  Brumaire Year IV (24th October 1795) and died at Combronde on 21st March 1812, not yet aged seventeen. Marie-Madeleine Chaulin : Family tree by Pierre de LAUBIER (pdelaubier) - Geneanet

Lenotre  caricatures Marie-Madeleine as a shallow young woman, "une gaillarde de vingt-quatre ans".   Despite her "obscure origins" she had some education and sought distraction in frivolous reading ("If you have the Délassements de l'homme sensible or les Epreuves du sentiment, please send them to me;  in any case send me what you have, above all the works of Florian".)  So rapidly was she consoled, that after sixteen months of widowhood, she took a new husband, "a child of twenty years old". Lenotre probably does her a disservice.  Her marriage to Romme was not a love match, but it was marked by affection and shared Revolutionary commitment. On 3 floréal, Year 4 (22nd April 1796), Nouvion wrote to her in tones of friendship, asking for news of herself, her daughter and mother-in-law.  He describes the volatile political situation Paris in detail and sends  copies of the patriotic journal L'orateur plébéien.  In a letter to Tailhand she relays an anecdote concerning the uncompromising Romme who had refused to eat bread for a month "not wanting to buy it at 16 livres the pound and aid the devaluation of the assignat"; he had even made his pregnant wife  take some bread that she had bought back to the baker. (quoted Delpy, p.294).  Although there was  some ill-feeling at the time of her marriage, her relations with Tailhand later resumed;  Among their letters is one in which Marie-Madeleine  requests Romme's deputy's uniform to display at a patriotic fête at Combronde in which their three-year-old daughter was taking part. [Letter of 19 Nivôse,  8th January 1798]

An encounter with Sanson

An 1850 Éloge of Tailhand, contains what purports to be a first-hand account of inquiries made by Tailhand himself  into the fate of his uncle.  It is known that Tailhand visited Paris in July 1796.   Tailhand first meets Sanson, then visits the Cimitière de Clamart where the gravedigger shows him  a spot where "900 heads" lie buried. The scenario seems improbable.  Romme's family knew that he had not been guillotined; and why go to the wrong cemetery?  Presumably the account was among Tailhand's papers, so perhaps he envisaged a fictionalised memoir?  The piece is worth quoting for its memorable depiction of Sanson's famous gentility: 

When I entered Sanson's house, my ears were greeted by sounds of musical harmony.   A woman's voice accompanied a harpsichord.  Music in such a place and in the home of such a man!  I thought that  I had made a mistake with the address; but I was not in error.  This was indeed the  abode of the man on whose coat the blood of Louis XVI  mingled with that of his judges; the imagination of Dante could not have done better....

I was introduced by an official.  At that time no-one had a valet, even an executioner.  The salon in which I was received had none of the attributes of the master of the house.... there  were mirrors, elegant sofas, a fine carriage clock and engravings of rustic scenes; all the drama took place in the streets; the salon was a pastoral refuge ...

A young girl was playing the harpsichord; an older woman appeared to be giving her a music lesson;  I found myself face to face with the wife and daughter of Sanson...

Sanson was in his cabinet.  The executioner was in his dressing gown,  reading and meditating.  You would have mistaken him for a  man of letters...

- It is without doubt Citizen Sanson whom I have the honour of addressing?

- Yes Citizen; how can I be of service?  The response was polite but it made me feel ill.

- Citizen,  I have come to seek information... Can I ask whether you presided over the execution of the condemned of Prarial?

Sanson considered for an instant then replied:  I think that I did preside over that execution. 

- In that case could you tell me whether the deputy Gilbert Romme was beheaded with his colleagues?

-Sanson again considered.

-  Young man, he said to meafter a few seconds, my memory is too confused to give you a definite answer; but here is a register that will be able to satisfy your curiosity. Sanson searched the letter R;  the name of Romme was not mentioned.  This discovery was important, but not decisive, for Sanson admitted that the book had not been kept with great regularity, since the hand of his secretary was more adept at catching heads than maintaining this lugubrious catalogue.  An eyewitness was needed as confirmation. 

Simon pulled his bell-pull.  The official appeared - Have the chef de service called.  This functionary used to be called the valet of the executioner.  The order was carried out.  The chef de service appeared before his superior.  

- Citizen, said Santon, do you remember if you guillotined the Representative Gilbert Romme?

Gilbert Romme? is possible but so many citizens passed under the national razor that I cannot remember all their names.

This interrogation left the facts as obscure as ever.  My investigation did not stop there.  Sanson advised me  to address myself to the concierge at the Clamart Cemetery.

I ran to the cemetery and  saw the concierge who led me to a spot shaded by some willow trees.  Beneath our feet, he said, are more than nine hundred human heads,  culled by the blade of the executioner.  Do  you think that by excavating this ossuary you will be able to recognise that of your relative?

That was my last visit.  I left convinced that it it does does not belong, even to the gravediggers of Shakespeare, to understand the great enigma that is death. 

Quoted fro Éloge biographique  de M. J.-B. Tailhand (1850).  Vissac, p.234-236 


Armand Delpy, "Romme le Montagnard: documents inédits", Revue d'Auvergne, t.22, 1905, p.277-296
Revue d'Auvergne : Société des amis de l'Université de Clermont: Internet Archive 

G. Lenotre, "La Petite-Histoire:  Romme le Montagnard",  Le Temps, 7th February 1906
Le Temps | 1906-02-07 | Gallica (

Marc de Baron Vissac, Un conventionnel du Puy-de-Domme: Romme le Montagnard (1883)

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

The Martyrs of Prairial

Although my body is subject to the law, my soul remains independent and cannot be crushed. 
Defence of Gilbert Romme, deputy to the Convention and designer of the Republican Calendar

We will find each other once more; we will all see each other again; eternal justice still has something to accomplish when it leaves me under the weight of ignominy.  
Letter of the deputy Goujon to his wife, written three days before his suicide. 

The Republican tradition has long honoured the memory of Romme and his companions: they are the "martyrs of Prairial".  They rank among those men whom concern for the common good,  faithfulness to principles, and a devotion, perhaps arrogant but total, to the Revolution led to the supreme sacrifice....
Albert Soboul, writing in 1966.

Charles Ronot, Les derniers Montagnards, 1882.   (Oil,  315cm x 202cm)
Musée de la Révolution française, Vizille
Les derniers montagnardsPortail des collections Département de l'Isère (

On 29 Prairial, Year III, 17th June 1795, the mathematician Gilbert Romme, and five of his fellow Montagnard deputies, were sentenced to death by the Military Commission set up after the uprising of  Prairial.  Rather than submit to the Thermidorean state, the deputies chose to take their own lives in an act of collective suicide. It was a crude and desperate affair.  Shortly after the sentence was handed down, they stabbed themselves with makeshift weapons - two concealed knives and the blade from some scissors, which they passed from one to another. Three managed to kill themselves outright;  a third was dead by the time he reached the guillotine.

In the years which followed, the "martyrs of Prairial" rapidly earned a hallowed place in the radical Republican tradition, particularly through the work of Pierre-François Tissot, the brother-in-law of Goujon, who in 1799 published a volume of moving letters and documents relating to the case. More grandiose commemorations, like Ronot's picture above, are mostly the product of the Third Republic in the 1880s. (Ronot's canvas, at over 3 metres high, is truly colossal)

Who were the Martyrs of Prairial?

Gilbert Romme, aged forty-nine, deputy for Puy de Dôme.
Jean-Michel Duroy, aged forty one, deputy for Eure
Jean-Marie Claude Alexandre Goujon, aged twenty-nine, deputy for Seine-et-Oise
Pierre Bourbotte, aged thirty-two, deputy for Yonne
Ernest Dominique Duquesnoy, aged forty-seven, deputy for Pas-de-Calais
Pierre Aimable Soubrany, aged forty-two, deputy for Puy de Dôme.


The prelude to Prairial

Why were these six men singled out for death?

Anxious as they were to avoid charges of conspiracy, the six denied that they knew known each other. However, this was not entirely true.  Certainly Romme and Soubrany, both natives of Riom, were firm friends. Their close intellectual ties are attested by Soubrany's correspondence which was published in 1867. Goujon, on mission with the Army of the Rhine, co-signed letters with Bourbotte.  All six had been out of Paris "on mission" at the time of the fall of Robespierre and returned to the Convention to find the political situation vastly changed.  Soubrany exemplified a general determination to hold fast to Jacobin principles: "Several of my colleagues, returning from mission, aware of the new system, had the weakness, from fear of being attacked, not to go back to the Mountain;  I would have been ashamed to stoop to such a measure". [Soubrany, Dix-neuf lettres, p.45].

Françoise Brunel, historian of the "Last Montagnards", observes that the glorification of the "martyrs of Prairial" -  a tradition which goes back to Tissot and Buonarroti - has tended to isolate the men from their political context.  Her researches on the composition of the Convention in the post-Thermidor period, suggest there were perhaps a hundred or so deputies associated with the extreme Left ("les crêtois", ie. the crest of the Mountain).  In the months before Prairial the six were not necessarily more active than other radical deputies, although they did make notable interventions: on 11-12 Fructidor (28th-29th August 1794) Goujon denounced Tallien's speech on the Terror and opposed Le Cointre's accusations against members of the Committees of Year II: "terror" had not been the system of Robespierre but the policy of the Convention.  In later retellings, he cuts a conspicuous figure - only twenty-nine and six-feet tall, with long flowing hair, he combined Romantic good looks with "the presence of a Spartan".  In Brumaire  Romme, was chosen by lot as one of the Commission of Twenty-One charged with examining the case against Carrier. He cast doubt on the documentary evidence against Carrier and questioned the good faith of his denunciators.  Bourbotte, who had just returned from twenty months on mission, stated that, if Carrier had committed crimes, it was only through error and "delirious patriotism" During the insurrection of 12 Germinal  Romme, Soubrany and Bourbotte were among the 51 signatories to the demand for an appel nominal against the proscription of Barère, Billot, Collot and Vadier.  From then on, radical deputies were obliged to lay low - this was true even of  Romme who was a member of the Commission of Sixteen charged with implementing the 1793 Constitution.  According to Tissot, "The patriots, menaced from all sides, incarcerated or slaughtered, could not meet together for any enterprise. Wealth, journals, power, public opinion, were all in the control of their enemies(...) From 12 Germinal to the 1 Prairial, Goujon was unable to utter a word in the Assembly" [Tissot, Vie de Goujon, quoted by Françoise Brunel]

The events of 1er Prairal, however, were to seal the deputies' fate.

The events of Prairial

On 1er Prairial Year III (20 May 1795) an angry and volatile crowd of demonstrators invaded the Convention, demanding "Bread and the Constitution of '93". In the course of the ensuring confrontation, the head of the deputy Feraud was paraded threateningly in front of the president, Boissy d'Anglas.  The deputies had been in their seats at ten in the morning; by the evening they were at breaking point. At seven o'clock, at the insistence of the crowds, it was finally agreed that the representatives of the Mountain should descend to the lower benches to deliberate. Now, irrevocably, the radicals of the Left gave voice to their convictions. 

It is impossible to say, in the ensuring chaos, whether the deputies were consumed with enthusiasm or merely carried along by events.  The six maintained afterwards, that they had sought only to preserve the Assembly from popular anarchy.  Proposals flew to and fro. After several hours of commotion, Romme demanded the release of the patriots arrested on 12 Germinal.  He also proposed that there should  be only one sort of bread (le pain d'égalité) and that domiciliary visits should be carried out to find stores of grain and flour.   Bourbotte demanded the arrest of reactionaries. More coupably still,  Soubrany proposed the nomination of an extraordinary commission of four to replace the government committees.  Duquesnoy, Prieur de la Marne, Bourbotte and Duroy were duly nominated as the members.  The sections were to remain in permanent session.

This time, of course, the popular agenda was destined not to prevail.  By midnight the troops of Legendre, Auguis and Kervélégan, had put down the insurrection with sabres and bayonets. Order was restored to the Convention and the members of the Mountain stood accused of orchestrating the revolt.

DETENTION:  In the Château du Taureau - a suicide pact 

There was some initial hesitation about which deputies would be singled out for proscription.  At the close of the session on 1er Prairial, the arrest of fourteen deputies was decreed.  However, only eight - the six later condemned to death and two others - were subsequently taken into detention;  Philippe Rühl and Prieur de la Marne were held in house arrest, others were released;  Antoine Albitte later managed to evade capture.

The six were apprehended on the spot - only Soubrany had left the building, but he elected to return and share the fate of his friend Romme. They had time only to scribble a few lines to their families - Romme's note of farewell to his pregnant wife is dated "from the Committee of General Security, 2 Prairial, between 3 and 4 in the morning" (reproduced Vissac, p.199)

With Paris in a state of insurrection, it was considered imperative to remove the prisoners to a safe distance as quickly as possible. The Adjutant General Margaron escorted them out of Paris, bound for the Château du Taureau, a forbidding fortress in the waters of the Baie de Morlaix off the coast of Finistère, 500 kilometres away. The journey was to take eight days.  They were first taken on foot through the capital then, at the Porte-du-Point-du-Jour, loaded on to hospital carts, without springs and without benches, or even straw, to sit on. A captain and ten gendarmes formed the guard.  At Dreux the postmaster's cabriolet was requisitioned.  After Caen the convoy slowed down.  It was threatened at several points by armed bands.  More hurried letters mark the stages of the prisoners' progress west; as a surviving note of Goujon's testifies, they were obliged to leave their letters at the roadside with a plea to the finder to deliver them.  

 Finally, on the evening of 9 Prairial, the men reached Château du Taureau.  As political prisoners, the they were treated relatively well during their brief stay.  They were allowed to remain together and take their meals at the same table. They were also furnished with spare linen, allowed newspapers and given the wherewithal to write.

Meanwhile, on 8 Prairial it was formally decreed that the accused deputies, together with Rühl, Prieur de la Marne and  Antoine Albitte, should stand trial before the Military Commission. Tissot,  in a pamphlet written in the name of the "Widow Goujon" protested in vain against this violation of the immunity of the people's representatives.   Rühl  anticipated the six by stabbing himself to death in his lodgings;  Prieur and Albitte fled into hiding.  On 10 Prairial, eighteen other deputies, including David, were also arrested. 

Six days after their arrival the commander of the fort brought news of their impending trial to the prisoners.  They were under no illusion as to the likely outcome.  Tissot recounts that they gathered in Romme's chamber and agreed to commit suicide rather than submit to execution:  "They swore to stab themselves in the tribunal and to lend their hand to assist any among them surprised at the last moment by weakness" ("Vie de Goujon", quoted by Françoise Brunel).  Later historians add, probably fancifully, that they cemented their vow by singing a patriotic hymn which Goujon had composed in prison (subsequently published by Tissot).

Hymne des prisonniers du Château du Taureau

Goujon's "Hymn" had in fact originally been written for a civic festival at Bourg-en-Brest in 1789. It was reproduced by Tissot in his Souvenirs de prairial in 1799. If you are feeling brave you can listen to it on YouTube (sung by Rosalie Dubois):

This is an early edition from collections of the musée de Bretagne in Rennes.

Their written defences reveal the rationale behind the decision to take their own lives. The language of these writings is throroughly Stoic.  Romme asserted "although my body is subject to the law, my soul remains independent and cannot be crushed".  His colleagues,  Soubrany, Goujon and  Bourbotte similarly used the rhetoric of Epictetus and Seneca, and invoked the example of Cato the Younger. The deputy Marc-Antoine Baudot  was later to refer to the six as "the last of the Romans" (M.-A.  Baudot, Notes historiques sur la Convention nationale (1893) p.153)

The journey back from Brittany was rapid.  On 20 prairial at eight in the evening, seven  of the representatives detained in the Taureau (Forestier was substituted for one of the eight), arrived in Paris where they were held in the Prison des Quatre-Nations in the rue Mazarine. Here they were kept under strict surveillance, though relatives were allowed limited access.  When Romme's wife visited him, she found him dining with Soubrany on chicken and veal: they are fattening us up to kill us, Soubrany quipped, to which Romme remarked plaintively that he would prefer to be at home with only bread and water.



 The trial began on 24 Prairial (12th June 1795). The transfer of the prisoners to the Maison d'arrêt of the Commission, which sat in the former mairie at 174 rue Neuves-des-Capuchines, took place at three in the morning under strictest security. A force of a hundred cavalrymen provided the escort and the National Guard patrolled neighbouring streets. By daylight a crowd had gathered, but despite rumours of insurrection, the onlookers were silent and subdued.  

The Commission refused to allow the accused to speak in their own defence; they were permitted only to submit written depositions.  Each man was subject to a prolonged individual interrogation, then  made  to "confront" the witnesses for the prosecution. The fullest account was published in the Moniteur for 4 Messidor (22nd June). The writer, Aimé Jourdan, was himself a key witness for the prosecution since he had been responsible for the Moniteur's record of events in the Convention on 1er Prairial.  He reports that he attended the trial assiduously for two days, and was personally confronted by the defendants for nine hours.  He leaves a memorable pen-portrait of individuals under extreme stress.  According to Jourdain, each man behaved differently:  Romme and Duquesnoy denied all the charges, whereas Duroy approached the confrontation with an air of submission and concentrated on defending his conduct during his missions in Calvados and the Bas-Rhin. Whilst Goujon preserved a morose sang-froid, Romme was visibly terrified.  Soubrany abandoned the haughty air he had always maintained in the Convention, to answer with frankness.  However, it was Bourbotte, a young man of thirty-two, who clearly impressed Jourdan most.  He responded with calm and grace, bowed  to the judge, and addressed himself frequently to the women in the audience; his tension was betrayed only by because he fidgeted ceaselessly with his snuffbox. 

The defendants were allowed to nominate witnesses for the defence but the majority, who were members of the Convention, declined to appear.  Lajuinais, to whom Goujon had appealed, left only a short written deposition.  By three o'clock on the afternoon of 28 Prairial the proceedings were finally completed and the Commission retired to consider its verdict.  At two in the morning of 29 Prarial Sansom received the instruction to have the guillotine erected on the place de la Révolution and a cart made ready to transport six persons. 

The accused had been advised that they could  receive their relatives for one last time on the morning of the 27 Prarial.  Goujon's mother arrived, accompanied by her younger sons, Alexandre and Antoine.  According to family tradition, Antoine, a little boy of eleven, had the fatal knife concealed in his clothing.  Goujon entrusted his mother with a final letter; despite repeated appeals the family were not to be allowed to appear before the Commission or to see Goujon again.  On the morning before the verdict was delivered, the accused wrote their farewell notes.  Bourbotte  drew up a will: "Bourbotte, convinced in advance he is to be assassinated, wrote these lines a few hours before his death.....:" (see Guyon, p. 258).


At midday on 29 Prairial, the men were brought in to have the verdict read. They stood in front of the judge separated by a table, with six grenadiers at each end.  Goujon, in his deputy's coat, with his long hair, was a head taller than the soldiers. The six were condemned to death and the seventh man Peyssard to deportation; the case against Forestier was dismissed due to lack of proof, though he was to remain held in prison.

Philippe-Auguste Hennequin, The suicide of the Crêtois, c.1831, Musée Carnavalet 
Suicide des Crêtois après leur condamnation à mort le 1er Prairial de l'an III (20 mai 1795). | Paris Musées

The most reliable account of what followed comes again from Aimé Jordan in the Moniteur. He notes that he had gone to unusual trouble not only to record what he saw but to seek clarification from other witnesses.  Although by no means sympathetic to their political views, Jourdan was clearly impressed by the bravery of the six deputies and disgusted at their fate: 

After the judgment was read, Forestier laughed.  Goujon placed a portrait of himself on the table requesting it to be given to his wife.  Duquesnoy handed over a letter containing his farewells to his wife and friends. "I  want my blood to be the last innocent blood to be spilled; let us hope it will serve to consolidate the Republic.  Long live the Republic!"

The enemies of liberty were the only ones who wanted my life; said Bourbotte; my last vow, my dying breath will be for my country." 

The condemned men placed on the desk their identity cards as deputies, their pocketbooks etc. to be handed over to their families.

They were taken out.

Going down the stairs, they stabbed themselves with knives and scissors.   It was reported that Bourbotte exclaimed, as he stabbed himself, "This is how a man of courage finishes his life!".

The men had only two knives and an old pair of scissors between them, which they took turns to use, one after the other. They were taken into a room on the ground floor which had formerly served as their prison.

An officer of the gendarmes  brought the president of the Commission the knife which Bourbotte had used to stab himself.  Soon afterwards it was announced that the five others had also stabbed themselves.  The second knife and the scissors were brought in. 

The president read out the Commission's order that the men  were to be searched, on the evening before and again on the morning of the judgment, in order to remove their knives, scissors, and any other sharp objects; even  their beds were to be checked.  It was believed that the weapons had been concealed in the lining of their coats.  

The commander of the guard was immediately arrested.

A medical officer was summoned to assess the state of the condemned men and to ascertain whether they could be transported from the prison to the place of execution.  He reported that Romme, Goujon and Duquesnoy were dead.  It seemed that Romme had stabbed himself not only in the body, but in the throat, and even the face; the amount of blood with which he was covered, rendered him unrecognisable.

Goujon seemed to have suffered some sort of spasm in death, since his face, and particularly his lips were strikingly contracted.

Tissot's Souvenirs of 1799 provides a few more details, though whether these are absolutely accurate is hard to say. He reports that it was  Goujon, the youngest of the men, who stabbed himself first, shouting out,  "I die for the people and for equality!"  Romme and Duquesnoy followed, snatching the knife from the chest of  their colleague.  Soubrany and Duroy, both severely wounded, implored the guards to finish them off. 

Tissot specifies that Bourbotte,  who had remained behind his colleagues, stabbed himself on the steps of the vestibule, in full view of the gendarmes and the crowd of onlookers who had gathered in the courtyard. He plunged into his chest a dagger which he had concealed under his coat. As he collapsed into the arms of the surrounding gendarmes, he cried out out: "Here is how a free man escapes from the scafford of tyranny!".  He was then carried into the room on the ground floor where his colleagues lay dead or dying; he was still able to give them words of encouragement: "My poor Duroy, I see that you suffer badly, but it is for the Republic"  (Tissot, Souvenirs, p.xiv and  note).  

Jules Claretie, author of Les dernier Montagnards (1874), had seen for himself the two knives which the men had used, preserved with the dossier in the Archives. The first, which had been employed by Bourbotte, was  22 centimetres long with a white and black bone handle, the blade two-and-a-half centimetres wide.  The second, which had served the other five, was  two centimetres longer, and still blood-stained;  this was a more vicious weapon - "une vraie lame de bistouri" (p.227 nt).  

Michel Biard, in his study of the deaths of deputies of the Convention, notes that guns or blades were the preferred method of suicide.  The weapons were easily to hand, lent themselves to  dramatic effect, and were considered masculine and honourable.  Of sixteen successful suicides among the deputies, eight involved guns and five daggers or knives.  To kill oneself with a blade, particularly a makeshift weapon, was no easy matter. In the  18th century  it was not common practice to slit one's wrists or throat;  a dramatic plunge through the heart was required, a feat which required not only a strong nerve but a certain amount of expertise. Those who managed successfully usually had a military background - as, for example, the Girondin Valazé, or Duquesnoy, who was a former dragoon.  Of the six martyrs of Prairial, only three managed to kill themselves outright - Romme it seems succeeded only though sheer determined frenzy.

Claretie  reproduces the report of the medical officer who confirmed that the three dead men were wounded "through the nipple" on the left-hand side of the chest.  Soubrany, who was almost dead, and Bourbotte, who was dying, also had wounds to the chest.  Duroy had evidently missed his target and aimed too low.  The officer reported that he had staunched the bleeding of those still alive.  Duroy could have been tended and his life saved, but there was no point as he was about to be executed.(p.255) 

Charles-Edmond Chabrillac, Mort de Goujon, c.1830 (Oil sketch, 19.8 cm x 18.8 cm c.1830)
"They killed themselves with the same knife that they passed from one to the other, crying out "Vive la République
La mort de Goujon Portail des collections Département de l'Isère 


Aimé Jourdan continues: 

Of the three taken out to be executed, Soubrany seemed the most severely injured.  His wound was in his side, and he was bleeding profusely.  He was very weak from loss of blood and lay flat in the cart. 

Duroy appeared normal.  

Bourbotte was the one who showed the greatest courage.  He sat up and looked around him.  

In the courtyard before they left, Duroy exclaimed, "Let the assassins enjoy their work...I am sorry to miss it.  How is it that these hand are bound by the bourreau!  Rejoice, messieurs les aristocrates!

He then hurled insults at several people in the courtyard.   

Soubrany said, "Let me die". 

When they arrived at the place de la Révolution, they had to carry Soubrany to the scaffold.  Bourbotte, who died last,  was required to give further proof of the courage which had never deserted him throughout the trial.  As they strapped him down, he was still talking to the people next to the scaffold.  But at the moment when he was lowered to receive the fatal blow, it was noticed that the blade had not been hoisted back up.  He had to be removed to reset the instrument.  He used the time to carry on speaking to those around him.  He is reported to have said that he died an innocent man and that he wanted the Republic to prosper.

The number of people who attended the execution was small; the condemned men were escorted by a regiment of cavalry.  A battalion of infantry was on watch in the Champs-Elysées and another stationed on the pont de la Révolution.

Such was the end of these men. 

Love of truth alone, and the desire leave a record for posterity, has persuaded me to linger so long over this painful subject and to seek information to supplement what I myself witnessed.

Happily I have no more to say.  All men of sensibility who read these details will surely think, like me that, whatever the crimes of the guilty, such spectacles  fatigue the  imagination, sadden the spirit and offend one's sense of humanity.

The men were brought to hear the verdict at midday.  By two o'clock in the afternoon they were all dead.


From the final letter of Goujon, entrusted to his mother, three days before his death. 

I have lived for liberty. I have always done what I believed to be good, just and useful to my country. My conduct has always been dictated by probity. I repent nothing; I will repent nothing even if it costs me my life. In the same circumstances, I would say and do the same things; for I have always believed that one should act, not according to personal advantage, but only as duty dictates. My life is in the hands of other men; it is the plaything of their passions; but the memory I leave behind does not belong to them, but to posterity; it is the heritage of all just men in all times, of sensitive and generous hearts, of true friends of the Fatherland, of Liberty, of Equality. (Tissot, Souvenirs, p.149)

The autograph manuscript of Goujon's last letter was sold by Piasa in May 2005.  The details don't quite tally: according to the lot essay,  it is addressed to his wife, and dated 29 Prairial, ie. the actual day of his death.  

Jean-Marie-Claude-Alexandre GOUJON (1766-1795) L.A.S., [29 prairial III (17 juin 1795)] | lot 691 | "Révolution Française", Faïences, Estampes, Souvenirs Historiques, Autographes chez Piasa |


From the last letter of Bourbotte, written a few hours before his death
I declare that I die innocent, pure, virtuous, always faithful to my country,  assassinated by tyrants who wish to oppress and enslave it. I forgive those who, by error, have helped them snatch away my life;  I give it up without regret because I am convinced that my sacrifice will be useful to liberty. I am honoured to be one of its martyrs.  I love liberty with passion, I uphold it with the courage of a man who defends the object of his greatest affections.....

Oh my country!  All my actions, all my vows, are devoted to your happiness.
Oh liberty! I live only for you and by you.
Oh Republic! You have no more faithful friend than me.   I die because I wanted to defend you....

Virtuous Cato,  no longer will it be your example alone that teaches  free men how to  escape the scaffold of tyranny.  Live forever, Liberty, Equality, and the one and indivisible French Republic!
Signed: Pierre Bourbotte, representative of the people. (Tissot, Souvenirs, p.195)

The aftermath

The execution had been carried out amidst high-security but in the end passed without incident; the crowd had been small and subdued, the prevailing mood one of nausée de guillotine.  The Commission asked for instruction from the Committee of General Security about how to dispose of the bodies of the dead men (The corpses of previous suicides, Valazé and Lebas had been ritually guillotined).  They were told to give them an ordinary burial.  The following day two gravediggers from the section place Vendôme, were charged with the burial of Romme, Goujon and Duquesnoy in the Cimetière des Errancis ;  subsequently they formally deposited the blade from a pair of scissors which had been concealed in the shoe of one of the men.  Claretie reproduces the catalogue of clothing and personal items removed from bodies (p.255).  The clothes were all carefully washed.  All three men were dressed in similar, modest outfits -  the blue coats of representatives with their uniform buttons, waistcoats, white cotton stockings, laced shoes and round hats;  Gomme wore yellow woolen breeches whilst Goujon, the younger man, had blue trousers.  In addition, the gravediggers collected a moving set of personal effects: papers, wallets and loose change, combs, pinboxes, Romme's wedding ring, and on Goujon a little copy of the works of the abbé Saint-Réal. 

On 14 Thermidor, the Military Committee, which was shortly to be wound up,  handed over the belongings to the families.  Among the claimants listed were Marie-Madeleine Chaulin, widow of Romme,  Marie-Louise Cormery, widow of Goujon and Marguerite Du Boys, mother and sole heir of Soubrany.  In Arras Duquesnoy's widow Marie-Anne Logez was obliged to make provision to  have her husband's clothes sold off in order to pay his debts.(Claretie p. 235).


Lettres écrites par Goujon à sa familles, depuis la jour de son arrestation jusqu'à la veille de sa mort edited by Tissot (1795)

Pierre-François Tissot,  Souvenirs de la journée du 1er prairial, an III. Year 8 (1799)

Les Martyrs de prairial : textes et documents inédits by Françoise Brunel and Sylvain Goujon (1992).  Contains Tissot's Vie de Goujon. Review by Raymonde Monnier: 

Histoire Parlementaire de la Révolution française, vol.36 (1838).  Contains the account from the Moniteur and various other texts.

Dix-neuf lettres de Soubrany, ed Henri Doniol (1867)

Jules Claretie, Les derniers Montagnards. Histoire de l’insurrection de prairial an III (1874)
Les derniers Montagnards - Google Books

E. Champion, Pierre Bourbotte, membre de la Convention (1877)

Marc de Baron Vissac, Un conventionnel du Puy-de-Domme: Romme le Montagnard (1883)

R. Guyon, F. Thénard, "Le Conventionnel Goujon" (suite), Revue HistoriqueRevue Historique
T. 93, Fasc. 2 (1907), pp. 240-261;  T. 94, Fasc. 2 (1907), pp. 249-271

Modern works

Pascal Dupuy, "Les martyrs de prairial", Histoire par l'image.

Gilbert Romme (1750-1795) et son temps. Colloque tenu à Riom et à Clermont, les 10-11 juin 1965.ed. Jean Ehrard, 1966

Gilbert Romme. Actes du colloque de Riom (19-20 mai 1995)
Annales historiques de la Révolution française, n°304, 1996. Gilbert Romme. Actes du colloque de Riom (19-20 mai 1995) - Persée (

Françoise Brunel, "Les derniers Montagnards et l'unité révolutionnaire", Annales historiques de la Révolution française  Année 1977  229  pp. 385-404

........,"Pourquoi ces « six » parmi les « derniers montagnards » ? Annales historiques de la Révolution française  1996  304  pp. 401-413

Michel Biard, La liberté ou la mort, mourir en député, 1792-1795 (2015)
La liberté ou la mort, mourir en député, 1792-1795 - Google Books

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