At the lantern!

At the lantern!


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  • Speech of the Lantern to the Parisians.

  • The torture of Foulon at the Place de Grève, July 23 [22] 1789.

    BERTHAULT Pierre Gabriel (1737 - 1831)

  • General Dalton pursued by patriotic lampposts.

  • Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette with the lantern.

To close

Title: Speech of the Lantern to the Parisians.

Author :

Creation date : 1789

Date shown: 1789

Dimensions: Height 14.1 - Width 9.9

Technique and other indications: Speech of the Lantern to the Parisians, the Attorney General speaking. Frontispiece of the Speech of the Lantern to the Parisians by Camille Desmoulins.

Storage location: Historic Center of the National Archives website

Contact copyright: © Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

Picture reference: Bibl. hist. PEY 582

Speech of the Lantern to the Parisians.

© Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

To close

Title: The torture of Foulon at the Place de Grève, July 23 [22] 1789.

Author : BERTHAULT Pierre Gabriel (1737 - 1831)

Creation date : 1789

Date shown: July 23, 1789

Dimensions: Height 24 - Width 29

Technique and other indications: Etching and burin. Engraving by Pierre Gabriel Berthault, after Jean Louis Prieur

Storage location: Carnavalet museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo library of the Museums of the City of Paris - Cliché Degraces

Picture reference: 2004 CAR 0141 NB / HIST PC 006 BIS B / Inv G 27878

The torture of Foulon at the Place de Grève, July 23 [22] 1789.

© Photo library of the Museums of the City of Paris - Cliché Degraces

To close

Title: General Dalton pursued by patriotic lampposts.

Author :

Creation date : 1790

Date shown: 1790

Dimensions: Height 13 - Width 9

Technique and other indications: Posted in Revolutions of France and Brabant Volume 2 p 48 v ° N ° 15

Storage location: Historic Center of the National Archives website

Contact copyright: © Historic Center of the National Archives - Photo workshop website

Picture reference: AD XX / A 528

General Dalton pursued by patriotic lampposts.

© Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

To close

Title: Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette with the lantern.

Author :

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: The Traitor Louis XVI, engraving, at VilleneuveH. 25.5 x L. 19.5 cm On the lamppost: This suspension is well worth a forfeiture. In title and caption: The Traitor Louis XVI vows to contempt and to the execration of the French nation in its most remote posterity: August 10, 1792 was even more dreadful than August 24, 1572, and Louis XVI, much different monster than Charles IX ... The Austrian Panther, engraving, at VilleneuveH. 29 x L. 20 cmThe Austrian Panther doomed to contempt and execration of the French nation in its most remote posterity, this dreadful Messaline, fruit of one of the most licentious concubinage, is made up of heterogeneous matter, made of several races, partly Lorraine, German , Austrian, Bohemian, etc.

Storage location: Carnavalet museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo library of the Museums of the City of Paris - Louis XVI: Cliché Lafermann / Marie-Antoinnette: Cliché Ladet

Picture reference: G 623065 / G 623064

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette with the lantern.

© Photo library of the Museums of the City of Paris - Louis XVI: Cliché Lafermann / Marie-Antoinnette: Cliché Ladet

Publication date: May 2005

Historical context

The rise of violence in July 1789

The dismissal of Necker by the king, in July 1789, appears in the anguished and agitated context of the capital as the signal of bankruptcy and counter-revolution. The generalized disturbances reveal as much the vital threat felt by the community to its existence as the weakening of the State because, until now, its power was asserted by its capacity to ensure the monopoly of the exercise of violence. .

An archaic tradition of massacre is then reborn; all it takes is a rumor of a plot, imaginary or real, and the crowd ignites to punish the "guilty", in a preventive way. On July 22, Foulon de Doué, who replaced Necker in Finance, and the intendant of Paris Bertier de Sauvigny, his son-in-law, are wanted, lynched and hanged by the crowd from a lantern on the Place de Grève, because they are considered to be agents of a counter-revolutionary policy.

Anonymous pamphlets stir up these popular movements and push for expeditious justice. It is only from the beginning of 1791 that this popular practice will be taken up by the lower echelons of power, who will appropriate the methods of breaking down opposition.

Image Analysis

The lantern, symbol of popular justice

Speech of the Lantern to Parisians

Camille Desmoulins (1760-1794), who called for the insurrection of July 12, 1789 at the Palais-Royal, revived his popularity thanks to the Speech of the Lantern to Parisians, pamphlet published shortly after the summary execution of Foulon and Bertier de Sauvigny (July 22).

From the first page, an engraving portrays him under the nickname "Procurator General of the Lantern". Surrounded by an attentive and peaceful audience of Parisians from all walks of life, he addresses this fatal lantern. Located on the Place de Grève, in front of the Hôtel de Ville, it is simply placed above a bust of Louis XIV, at the corner of a grocer's shop, druggist and chocolate maker. With the lamppost removed, only the iron branch remains, below which the rioters screamed and dragged the men they wanted to hang. The dismal cry "By the lantern! »Date of these summary executions.

The amiable staging of the engraving which incenses the lantern as a beneficial symbol of expeditious popular justice goes hand in hand with the sinister project of the Speech : justify in writing the lynching by the populace. The pamphlet puts on the ironic and brilliant apostrophes, justifying them a posteriori by a dubious plot and by the effectiveness of the action. Desmoulins sympathizes not only with the enthusiasm, but also with the violence and cruelty of the Parisian crowds, and pays abominable homage to their excesses.

From the outset the epigraph displays its irresistible humor: the well-known verse of the Gospel according to John "he who does evil hates the light" (III, 20) - attributed in derision to Saint Matthew - is provided with a translation iconoclast: “The rascals don't want a lantern. "To mock religion is fashionable, in the face of the cracked power of the Church. Soon the people will invest the old convents and the disused churches to create clubs and neighborhood sections.

The torture of Foulon, after Jean-Louis Prieur

Prieur's drawing reveals the reality of the event. While he doesn't pay much attention to Foulon's ordeal shown from afar, the charge of anger and vengeance that drives the huge crowd exalts a savage, unpredictable and dangerous freedom. Few of the works portray revolutionary crowds and the ritualized forms appropriated by popular justice. This first lantern hanging took place on Place de Grève, in front of the Town Hall, in the setting where the tortures pronounced by the royal justice took place for centuries. This dramatic past gave meaning under the Revolution to this place from which originated, or towards which converged, the great sacrificial movements tending to signify the supremacy of the mass against the constituted bodies and the laws.

General Dalton pursued by patriotic lampposts

Desmoulins launches, in November 1789, The Revolutions of France and Brabant, a newspaper which should spread new ideas beyond borders, in "Brabant, Liège and foreign countries which, like France, sporting the cockade and demanding a national assembly, will deserve to occupy a place in our leaves ”. Next to the lion, emblem of Brabant (more or less present-day Belgium), General Richard Dalton (1715-1790), responsible for massacres, is pursued by patriotic lampposts. The idea of ​​the supremacy of expeditious popular justice circulates under the symbol of the lantern. Desmoulins made it the leitmotif of his newspaper, and it would soon be the most widespread of revolutionary symbols: an ironic, provocative and threatening reminder of the vigilance of the people.

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette with a lantern

After the king's suspension, on August 10, 1792, two engravings appeared at Villeneuve's house showing the heads of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette suspended in lanterns. The guillotine has been in operation since April 25, 1792, but while hanging is no longer in use, the lantern symbol unequivocally signifies the death sentence for sovereigns. "This suspension is well worth a decline", ironically the engraving of Louis XVI; that of Marie-Antoinette covers her with insults, likening her to Messaline and a Medici in terms close to her indictment (October 12, 1793).

Interpretation

To form the public mind or to flatter public opinion?

In July 1789, the popular feeling is that the political power must see clearly, be vigilant, unmask the traitors and punish them. Desmoulins was able to give it with the lantern a symbol that corresponds well to the new role that the nation must assume at the dawn of the Revolution.

A brilliant journalist and pamphleteer, he is eager to merge hesitant opinion into public mind. Does he hope to reconcile the People's Revolution, which then takes the form of savage jerks, indiscipline and street executions, with that which the intellectual class is leading according to the evidence of reason?

Desmoulins, who called for clemency in 1794, showed no pity in 1789 but flattered those who made him famous, without perhaps measuring the consequences. Robespierre described it as "a bizarre compound of truths and lies, politics and absurdities, sane views and chimerical and peculiar plans."

  • Constituent Assembly
  • Desmoulins (Camille)
  • execution
  • revolutionary days
  • Louis XVI
  • Marie Antoinette
  • Paris
  • Terror

Bibliography

Daniel ARASSE, The Guillotine and the Imagination of Terror, Paris, Flammarion, 1987. Jean-Paul BERTAUD, The Press and the power from Louis XIII to Napoleon I, Paris, Perrin, 2000 Patrice GUENIFFEY, The Politics of Terror: Essay on Revolutionary Violence, 1789-1939, Paris, Fayard, 2000.

To cite this article

Luce-Marie ALBIGÈS, “At the lantern! "


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