Saturday 14 August 2021

The end of the Girondins in St-Émilion

[cont. from previous post]

Those who harboured the Girondin fugitives in Saint-Émilion lived under constant threat of retribution. At the beginning of October the Representative of the Convention Tallien had marched into the little town, replacing the municipal government and placed several officials under arrest. Summary executions now took place in nearby Libourne, The Bouquey household was subject to repeated searches and, according to Louvet, an "intimate friend" of Guadet -  identity unknown  - had  signaled his intention to betray the fugitives' whereabouts.  Madame Bouquey was finally pressurised by her relatives into relinquishing her guests.  In the early hours of 13th November 1793 they said their tearful farewells. Valady made for Périgueux where he had relatives (he was later captured and guillotined) and Louvet, the sole member of the group to survive, subsequently set out for Paris.  The rest remained in the local area.  Guadet and Salles  returned to Saint-Émilion where they hid in Guadet's father's house, whilst Madame Bouquet secured Buzot, Barbaroux and Pétion  a new refuge with a wigmaker in the town. 

The Arrest of Guadet and Salle

In the following months the manhunt intensified.  In February 1794 Tallien was replaced as Representative in Bordeaux by Marc-Antoine Jullien, who pursued the search with renewed vigour. Volunteers were enlisted, particularly from the Protestant community of  nearby Sainte-Foy.  The quarries and underground passages around Saint-Émilion were searched using the fearsome local "dogues".  (Vatel met the son of the butcher Marcon, who reported that his father, one of the search party members, had bred "enormous and terrible" dogs, famed in the region for fighting.)

When this strategy failed, the pursuers turned their attention again to the Maison Guadet, which was situated just outside the town walls on the road from Lussac to Montagne.   On 17th June 1794 Guadet and Salle were found hiding  in an attic room.  It was said that they were placed in irons and left in a cabaret in Saint-Émilion.  Guadet père, his sister and two of the servants were confined under guard.  Robert Bouquey, Madame Bouquey, her father aged seventy-seven, and their servant Anne Bérard were  also arrested as accomplices, their house searched and the underground refuge discovered.  At about half-past two that same afternoon the prisoners were all loaded onto a cart to be taken to Libourne.  The elder Guadet was seen to comfort his son, who was distraught at having compromised his family:  "If we die, it is for a good cause" (see Vatel, vol. 3, p.702) The two deputies were executed in Bordeaux  on 19th June 1793 and the members of the Guadet family on 20th July, just seven days before the fall of Robespierre.  Guadet's brother, Saint-Brice Guadet initially escaped arrest, but was apprehended and guillotined on the 21st June.

The arrest of Guadet in Saint-Émilion; engraving by Duplessis-Bertaux
The vineyard, Saint-Julien Château Guadet on the site of the Maison Guadet has been owned by the Lignac family since 1844.  I am not quite sure whether the 18th-century house still survives, but Élie Guadet himself  is remembered in the Château Guadet label.

Friday 13 August 2021

The Well of the Girondins

  She was like a mother in the midst of her children, for whose sake she was sacrificing herself. 
Louvet on Madame Bouquey

The proscription and hunting down of the Girondin deputies in 1793 is a particularly bleak episode in the Revolution and has left little in the way of "places of memory".  One of the few which has caught the imagination is famous "well of the Girondins" in the picturesque wine town of Saint-Émilion, north-east of Bordeaux.

Physionotrace portrait of Élie Guadet, reproduced in
Vatel," Excursion à Saint-Émilion", facing p.257 

Thursday 12 August 2021

Joseph Cange

Pierre-Nicolas Legrand de Sérant (1758-1829)
Portrait of Joseph Cange, clerk of the Saint-Lazare Prison, Paris, 1794
oil on canvas 70cm
 x 56cm

Musée de la Révolution française, Vizille, Isère (MRF 1989-11)

This beautiful and sympathetic Revolutionary portrait  by Pierre-Nicolas Legrand de Sérant, was acquired by the Museum of the French Revolution in Vizille in 1989.  Its subject, Joseph Cange, and the story of his charitable actions, briefly fired the imagination of Thermidorian France, which was hungry for sentimental tales of reconciliation and humanity as a counterpoise to the violence and treachery of the recent past.

Print Friendly and PDF