The King’s Swiss Guard


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Jacques_Bertaux_-_Prise_du_palais_des_Tuileries_-_1793 (4)

Capture of the Tuileries Palace 
Jean Duplessis-Bertaux (1747–1819) (Photo credit:


Officier des Gardes suisses, lithographie du 18e siècle (Photo credit: Fr Wikipedia)

On 10 August 1792, Count Pierre Louis Roederer (15 February 1754 – 17 December 1835) went to the Tuileries Palace to lead the Royal family out of a building that had been both their prison and their refuge, since the Women’s March on Versailles (5-6 October 1789).  Louis XVI was expecting Antoine Galiot Mandat de Grancy. Why had monsieur Roederer come to the Tuileries? Roederer replied that monsieur Mandat, Lafayette’s replacement, had been killed the night before. Lafayette had left Paris on 30 June 1792, denounced by Robespierre. As a result, the National Guard no longer had a commander and the revolutionaries had inflammed the Paris Commune. The king told Roederer that, alone, his Garde suisse could not protect him.

The Insurrection of 10 August 1792 was organized on 9 August, by revolutionaries led by Georges Danton. They took possession of the Hôtel de Ville and were recognized as the legal government of Paris on 10 August 1792, the next day.

The Bastille housed seven prisoners. Matters differed on 10 August 1792. The king and his family lived in the Tuileries Palace.

Roederer proposed that the king review his National Guard, whom, he believed, were still serving the king, but they were defecting. They were joining 1) the sans-culottes, wearing pants, not knee breeches, and sabots, clogs, as in sabotage, 2) the fédérés who had come to Paris from Marseille and Brittany to celebrate the Fête de la Fédération (= fédéré), the festival commemorating the Storming of the Bastille and 3) the insurrectional Paris commune 

Twenty-thousand fédérés were in Paris and the prospect of a république was no doubt inebriating for many of them. La Marseillaise, France’s National Anthem, first used as a “Chant de guerre pour l’Armée du Rhin,” was composed in 1792 by 32 year-old Claude-Joseph Rouget de L’Isle. It had been sung, for the first time, on 25 April 1792, in Strasbourg. (See La Marseillaise, and the Timeline of the Revolution,

In short, the only protection afforded the king was his Swiss Guard and his only shelter, the National Legislative Assembly, which would be suspended on 10 August 1792, as well as the authority of the king.

Karl Josef von Bachmann.jpg

Karl Josef von Bachmann, commander of the Swiss Guards who defended the Tuileries Palace on the 10th August 1792. (Caption and photo credit:

800px-Tuileries_Henri_MotteSwiss Guards on the grand staircase of the palace during the storming of the Tuileries by Henri-Paul Motte (Photo credit:

Karl Josef von Bachmann

Commanding the Swiss Guards, the day of the Insurrection of 10 August 1792, was Karl Josef von Bachmann. He accompanied Pierre-Louis Roederer who was leading the king and his family to the National Assembly. (He is not shown in the video I have inserted, which is otherwise excellent). When Louis heard shots, he sent a note instructing his Garde suisse to run to safety. They didn’t.

As for the king and his family, if the National Assembly was their only refuge, they had no refuge. The king told his son that, from then on, France no longer had a king.

Out of a total of 900 men, 600 Swiss Guards were killed or fatally wounded on 10 August 1792.  Karl Josef von Bachmann was tried and guillotined on 3 September 1792. Other Swiss guards were also guillotined.

Karl Josef von Bachmann‘s trial was interrupted by the September Massacres, a prelude to the Reign of Terror. Fearing prisoners would join an invading army, radicals decided they should be killed. Swiss Guards were also killed.

By 6 September, half the prison population of Paris had been summarily executed: some 1200 to 1400 prisoners. Of these, 233 were nonjuring  Catholic priests who refused to submit to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.

(See September Massacres,


The French Revolution was a turning-point in both the history of France and that of other European countries. In 1806, there would no longer be a Holy Roman Empire.

As noted above, I have inserted a video. It is a French-language video showing Roederer speaking to the king and to Marie-Antoinette. It also shows the king’s failed attempt to review the National Guard, and the Royal family being led to the National Assembly by Pierre Louis Roederer. Roederer was accompanied by Karl Josef von Bachmann, the commander of the king’s Swiss Guard who is not featured in the video I have selected.

There is more to tell about the Swiss Guard. They were in North America during the War of 1812. Many settled in Lord Selkirk‘s Red River Colony.

The Lion Monument, in Lucerne, is the work of Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (19 November 1770 – 24 March 1844).

Love to everyone 


The  Lion Monument in Lucerne. The incised Latin may be translated, To the loyalty and courage of the Swiss. ( 

© Micheline Walker
14 September 2018



The Kingdom of France, 1791-1792


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Couder_Stati_generaliEstates General by Auguste Couder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Louis XVI convenes the Estates-General

NOTRE AMÉ ET FÉAL, nous avons besoin du concours de nos fidèles sujets pour nous aider à surmonter toutes les difficultés où nous nous trouvons, relativement à l’état de nos finances, et pour établir, suivant nos vœux, un ordre constant et invariable dans toutes les parties du gouvernement qui intéressent le bonheur de nos sujets et la prospérité de notre royaume. Ces grands motifs nous ont déterminé à convoquer l’assemblée des Etats de toutes les provinces de notre obéissance, tant pour nous conseiller et nous assister dans toutes les choses qui nous seront mises sous les yeux, que pour faire connaître les souhaits et les doléances de nos peuples : de manière que, par une mutuelle confiance et par un amour réciproque entre le souverain et ses sujets, il soit apporté le plus promptement possible un remède efficace aux maux de l’Etat, et que les abus de tout genre soient réformés et prévenus par de bons et solides moyens qui assurent la félicité publique, et qui nous rendent à nous, particulièrement, le calme et la tranquillité dont nous sommes privés depuis si longtemps.

OUR BELOVED AND LOYAL, we need the participation of our faithful subjects to help us overcome all the difficulties we are facing with respect to the state of our finances and to establish, according to our [everyone] wishes, lasting and steady order in every aspect of government that concern happiness and prosperity in our realm. These important motives have led us to convene a meeting of the Estates of each province under our rule, both to advise and assist us in every area that will be brought before our eyes, as well as to let us know the wishes and grievances of our people, so that, through mutual trust and deep affection [amour] between the king and his subjects, a remedy may be found, as promptly as possible, to the ills of the land and reforms may be effected that will prevent abuses of all kinds using good and solid means that will ensure the satisfaction [félicité] of the public and give us [the king] the calm and tranquillity we have been denied for such a long time.
(24 January 1789)

The above translation is mine. It is not an official translation. Louis XVI wrote his Notice of Meeting on 24 January 1789, which seems a late date. However, Étienne-Charles de Loménie de Brienne, the king’s minister of finance in 1788, had announced this meeting of the Estates-General on 8 August 1788 and set the opening of the Estates-General for 5 May 1789.


The Estates-General

In the last quarter of the 18th century, France was on the brink of bankrupty. It had incurred debts that could not be paid unless taxes were levied from the First and Second Estates, the clergy and the nobility. The king appointed various finance ministers, all of whom were serious individuals and some extremely competent. Each came to the conclusion that France had to levy taxes from sources other than the Third Estate.

France was an absolute monarchy, but the Parlements (appelate courts, not parliaments), the Parlement of Paris particularly, opposed tax reforms. Parlements consisted of members of the noblesse de robenobles of the gown, and members of the prestigious  noblesse d’épée, nobles of the sword.

France may have been an absolute monarchy, but once absolutism reached Louis XVI, it was diluted. The king and his finance ministers could not circumvent the Parlements.

The beginning of the proposed radical changes began with the Protests of the Parlement of Paris addressed to Louis XVI in March 1776, in which the Second Estate, the nobility, resisted the beginning of certain reforms that would remove their privileges, notably their exemption from taxes. The objections made to the Parlement of Paris were in reaction to the essay, Réflexions sur la formation et la distribution des richesses (Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Wealth) by Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot.

(See Parlement of Paris,

Louis XVI also acted on the advice of his Council:

One of the established principles of the French monarchy was that the king could not act without the advice of his council.

(See Conseil du Roi,

Finally, as we have seen, the sale of offices had turned a significant segment of the population of France into a bourgeoisie: petitemoyenne (middle) and haute bourgeoisie. Many bourgeois were rich and some worked at court. I have mentioned that Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a bourgeois, was Louis XIV’s Minister of Finances, from 1661 to 1683. So l’abbé Sieyès’ Third Estate differed from the Third Estate that was convened in the Estates-General of 1614, 175 years before 1789. France had changed.

In short, Louis XVI should not have been compelled to convene the three estates. But he and his ministers of finance were ruled, and overruled, by the Parlement of Paris.

[The] Parlement of Paris, though no more in fact than a small, selfish, proud and venal oligarchy, regarded itself, and was regarded by public opinion, as the guardian of the constitutional liberties of France. [I underlined constitutional.] [1]

(See Parlement of Paris,


Le Serment du Jeu de paumehaut-relief [high relief] en bronze de Léopold MoriceMonument à la Républiqueplace de la République, Paris, 1883 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matters of Representation

When delegates arrived at Versailles, there was confusion. Would they sit by ordre (estates), or would estates be mixed? Would they vote by ordre (estate), or by head? Delegates got so bogged down in such matters as representation that Louis would no longer hear them. On 20 June 1789, the king had the doors to the rooms where delegates met locked down. The deputies were not focussing on replenishing France’s empty coffers, the matter that so preoccupied Louis XVI.

We are familiar with the rest. Finding that the doors to Versailles had been locked, delegates met in a neighbouring Tennis Court, where 576 out of 577 delegates swore:

“not to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the kingdom is established.”
(See The Tennis Court Oath,

The only delegate who did not take the oath was Joseph Martin-Dauch (26 May 1741 – 5 July 1801), from Castelnaudary, “who would only execute decisions made by the king.” (See Joseph Martin-Dauch,

Could it be that Joseph Martin-Dauch was the only deputy who looked upon the Assembly as a self-appointed government?

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Mirabeau’s defiance in front of the marquis de Dreux-Brézé on 23 June 1789 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Confrontation and Recognition” 

By 17 June 1789, delegates had started calling themselves the National Assembly, on a proposal of l’abbé Sieyès. In fact, on 13-14 June, nine priests had joined the Assembly. Therefore, the self-proclaimed National Assembly lasted from 13 June to 9 July 1789, but was replaced by another Assembly. Henceforth, underlying the problematic of the French Revolution was the co-existence of a monarchy and an assembly, which the creation of a Kingdom of France confirms.

As noted above, I suspect that delegate Martin-Dauch voted differently than other delegates because he looked upon the monarchy as the government. The Estates-General had not been convened since 1614, but it existed. So did the Assembly of Notables, who had come to Versailles in 1787. Finally, France had its Parlements. Not only was the assembly self-proclaimed but its relationship with the king was confrontational which may have caused the king to invalidate decisions made by the Assembly that he would recognize a few days later. I have borrowed the words “confrontation” and “recognition” from wiki2’s entry on the National Assembly.

For instance, on 23 June 1789, the king invalidated decisions made by the Assembly, which led the comte de Mirabeau to shout, defiantly:

“[W]e are assembled here by the will of the people” and will “leave only at the point of a bayonet.” (See Timeline of the French Revolution,

“The will of the people?”

Under the National Assembly entry (, Mirabeau is quoted as follows:

“A military force surrounds the assembly! Where are the enemies of the nation? Is Catiline at our gates? I demand, investing yourselves with your dignity, with your legislative power, you inclose yourselves within the religion of your oath. It does not permit you to separate till you have formed a constitution.” (See National Assembly,

Therefore, on 27 June 1789, “Louis XVI reverses course, instructs the nobility and clergy to meet with the other estates, and recognizes the new Assembly. At the same time, he orders reliable military units, largely composed of Swiss and German mercenaries, to Paris.” (See Timeline of the French Revolution,

In the meantime, on 25 June 1789, 48 nobles had joined the Assembly. The group’s leader was Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, or Philippe Égalité, Louis XVI’s first cousin who would vote in favour of the King’s execution.

The Kingdom of France

But the Assembly itself was of two minds. On 17 July 1791, after the flight to Varennes (20-21 June 1791), the National Constituent Assembly issued a decree that the king, Louis XVI, would retain his throne under a constitutional monarchy. In other words, the Assembly had decided that Louis XVI was “inviolable.” He could not be tried. Royalists had won a victory.

However, Republicans, in the unicameral Assembly, demanded the removal of the king. A petition was signed by 6,000 persons and 50 persons were killed when Lafayette quelled the demonstration. This event is remembered as the Champ de Mars Massacre.  (See 17 July, Timeline of the French Revolution,  Moreover, on 16 May 1791, “on a proposal of Robespierre, the Assembly [had voted] to forbid members of the current Assembly to become candidates for the next Assembly,” (See 16 May, Timeline of the French Revolution, which suggests that Robespierre opposed supporters of a reformed French Monarchy.

Louis XVI was forced to sign the Constitution of 1791, but for one year the National Legislative Assembly ran concurrently with the Kingdom of France. Louis XVI found fault with the new Constitution. For, instance, it was unicameral (one chamber), rather than bicameral, thus differing from Britain’s Constitutional Monarchy, which had been the model. The king also bemoaned the removal of his right to veto. How would he protect émigrésMadame Adélaïde and Madame Victoire, the king’s aunts had left for Rome. During the French Revolution, Republicans forever asked that those who had left  be forced to return home. Under the Constitution of 1791, all the king could do was choose his ministers, which was viewed as a separation of powers. However, on 13-14 September 1791, the king accepted the new Constitution formerly.

But sovereignty effectively resided in the legislative branch, to consist of a single house, the Legislative Assembly, elected by a system of indirect voting. (‘The people or the nation can have only one voice, that of the national legislature,’ wrote Sieyès. ‘The people can speak and act only through its representatives.’) [2]

“Dismayed at what he deemed the ill-considered radicalism of such decisions, Jean-Joseph Mounier, a leading patriot deputy in the summer of 1789 and author of the Tennis Court Oath, resigned from the Assembly in October.”

A similar view was expressed in the 20th century by François Furet (27 March 1927 – 12/13 July 1997, go to restructuring France) of the French Academy. (Also see François Furet,

They [persons who drafted the new constitution] effectively transferred political power from the monarchy and the privileged estates to the general body of propertied citizens. [3]


Under this system about two-thirds of adult males had the right to vote for electors and to choose certain local officials directly. Although it favoured wealthier citizens, the system was vastly more democratic than Britain’s. [4] 


Louis XVI convened the Estates-General because he wanted the people of France to allow its government to effect tax reforms so a debt would be eliminated. But the comte de Mirabeau was not part of the people whose help the king needed? He was a self-agrandizing agitator.

“[W]e are assembled here by the will of the people” and will “leave only at the point of a bayonet.” (See Timeline of the French Revolution,

He, Mirabeau, was the people.

Regarding the flight to Varennes, it has been suggested

[t]hat royalists should have seen in this escape the means [of] placing the King in safety, and of crushing the Revolution at the same time, was but natural. [5]

The Third Estate needed to be something. Privilege, tax exemption particularly, had to be revised. As well, the time had come to declare the rights of citizens. But regicide and the Terreur? Radicals took over.


Sources and Resources

F. A. M. Mignet’s History of the French Revolution is Gutenberg’s [EBook #9602]
Turgot‘s Reflections on the Formation and the Distribution of Riches is a Wikisource publication

Love to everyone 

[1] Alfred Cobban (1957). A History of France. 1. p. 63. see also Cobban, “The Parlements of France in the eighteenth century.” History (1950) 35#123 pp 64-80. (Quoted under Parlement,

[2]  Isser WolochJohn N. Tuppen and Others (See All Contributors), “France” Encyclopædia Britannica

[3] François BernardJean F. P. Blondel and Others (See All Contributors), “France” Encyclopædia Britannica]

[4] Loc. cit.

[5] Peter Kropotkin, The Flight of the KingChapter 29The Great French Revolution, 1789-1793 

Gossec – Triomphe de la République – Dans le temps de notre jeunesse


Idealized sans-culottes by Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761–1845)

© Micheline Walker
10 September 2018





About my Brother


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fructidor (1)

August, the Revolutionary Calendar (Google)

I’ve tried to work, but unsuccessfully. I therefore apologize.

My brother, Jean-Pierre, was operated on. They removed his bladder and parts of the body located near the bladder. He must now undergo chemotherapy because no one knows if the cancer has been fully removed. The cancer has metastasized.

In the meantime, he has to learn a new way of life. He has a loving wife who will be helping him.

He also has three devoted children, two of whom live nearby. They are very fine human beings.

Persons who have children often love life more those who have not had children. My brother’s bungalow is like grand central station. The children are always dropping in and discuss what problem they may be experiencing with their father.

My brother is non judgemental and he is forgiving.  He is also very generous.

No, he is not an intellectual. He is in the clean energy business and has many customers in Africa. He has therefore travelled to Africa several times where he has many friends. But he started out in the Air Force. He was interested in the military.

At that time, he was in a car accident. There were five persons in the car. Four died, but he thought he was fine. He did not realize that a piece of glass had penetrated his forehead. When symptoms appeared, the piece of glass was removed at the Montreal Neurological Institute. He recovered fully, but the accident may have ended his career in the military.

What has united my brother and me more than anything else is the death of several siblings. There is a congenital blood disease in my family. So we lost fourteen brothers and sisters. An Armenian doctor, whose family settled in Sherbrooke, found a cure. My brother and I could not understand why our family was not like other families.

I don’t think I will see my brother until he returns home. We will speak on the phone. He has asked to be left alone. He has to learn how to function without a bladder and needs rest before his second round of chemotherapy. A few months ago, my brother saw a specialist who did not diagnose cancer.

1280px-Etats_Généraux_-_gravés_par_Lamotte (2)

Mirabeau répondant à Dreux-Brézé (1889) Burin gravé par Alphonse Lamotte d’après le haut-relief de Jules Dalou (Salon de 1883) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the French Republican Calendar we are in Fructidor until 16 September.

I’m still working on the French Revolution. There is a problem. On the day of the Tennis Court Oath (20 June 1789), one person, Joseph Martin-Dauch, out of 577, would not take the collective vote. Why?

Mikhail Pletnev plays Tchaikovsky Children’s Album op. 39 – video 1986

Related image

Tchaikovsky (

© Micheline Walker
30 August 2018





Sunday Morning


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Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci, 1489–90, National Museum, Kraków, Poland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been working on the French Revolution, but slowly. I have a brother who was diagnosed with cancer, a few months ago and underwent treatment, a horrible experience. He collapsed about ten days ago and he has since been in intensive care. The cancer has metastasized.

He is twice my size and very strong, so none of this seems possible. The poor fellow.

My first memory of him is the two of us playing in the train that took us down to Athol, Massachusetts. My father had not seen his father in twenty years, so we went to meet him. After this initial visit, we were travelling back and forth between Quebec and the farm in Massachusetts.

My grandfather was different. He had seven cats, two of whom were blind, but Freddy the Great, the largest cat, took care of the whole group. Nanny, his wife I believe, and my mother just loved one another. They went shopping together.

It was a strange situation. My grandfather bought the farm from Nanny, but he asked where she would live. She didn’t know. So he invited her to stay in her house and keep her furniture and belongings. He was alone and he didn’t have anything, but he was a gardener, hence the farm.

My brother loved his grandfather. We will talk about him often.

I love Leonardo’s Lady with an Ermine.

I wish you a happy Sunday and I am returning to my post.

Love to everyone

File:Leonardo da vinci, Head of a woman 01.jpg

Head of a Woman Leonardo da Vinci (Wikimedia Commons)

© Micheline Walker
26 August 2018





A Photograph



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Micheline Walker

The picture located on my page until today, was taken when I was about 65. I am now 74. My hair used to be black. Well, that’s gone. I am petite and slender, which I have been most of my life.

My ancestry is mostly French and Irish.

My nom de plume is Micheline Bourbeau-Walker. Bourbeau is my mother’s name.

Love to everyone 

© Micheline Walker
21 August 2018


France: the Revolutionary Wars


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Painting of the Battle of Valmy by Horace Vernet from 1826. The white-uniformed infantry to the right are regulars while the blue-coated ranks to the left represent the citizen volunteers of 1791. (Caption and photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Brunswick Manifesto

On 27 August 1791, after the French Royal family’s failed attempt to leave France, the flight to Varennes, Marie-Antoinette’s brother, Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor (5 May 1747 – 1 March 1792) and Frederick William II of Prussia declared their joint support of the French Royal family. Leopold II died on 1st March 1792 and so did the Declaration of Pillnitz.

On 25 July 1792, the Duke of Brunswick threatened to harm the French, should its Royal family be harmed. He attacked France on 20 September 1792, but he was defeated at Battle of Valmy. On 22 September 1792, France was a Republic.


Anonymous caricature depicting the treatment given to the Brunswick Manifesto by the French population (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The September Massacres

The September Massacres (2 – 7 September 1792), which occurred more than a year after the flight to Varennes (20–21 June 1791), also reflected fear of an invasion. Although the French mocked the Brunswick Manifesto, the revolutionaries ordered the slaughter of prisoners, to prevent their joining an invading army. In Paris, some 1 200 to 1 400 prisoners were killed including 233 nonjuring Catholic priests, priests who would not submit to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.

The French Revolutionary Wars

On 20 April on 1792, France’s Legislative Assembly declared war on Austria. In other words, there were Revolutionary Wars. The Battle of Valmy, a defeat for the Duke of Brunswick, is also labelled the War of the First the Coalition. The coalition would fight Napoleon Bonaparte until 1815. (See French Revolutionary Wars, Wikipedia.)

The Republic also fought Royalists and Catholics:

(See Levée en Masse [Mass Conscription], 23 August 1793.)


Napoleon Bonaparte‘s quelling of the Royalist revolt, 13 Vendémiaire (5 October 1795), in front of the Église Saint-Roch, Saint-Honoré Street, Paris.
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)


The French Revolution includes armed conflicts. The end of the Revolution overlaps the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, the huge levée en masse (Mass conscription) occurred during the Terror. Levées en masse would give Bonaparte his grande armée.

What happened to the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment? The philosophes had envisaged a Constitutional Monarchy, not regicide, nor war, nor a self-proclaimed Emperor.  Napoleon wanted to conquer, at any cost. Talleyrand[1] once took him to a battlefield where thousands were dead or dying, but Napoleon expressed no compassion.

And what happened to the sans-culottes (without knee breeches)? The sans-culottes wore un pantalon or trousers and had supported the goals of the philosophes. They turned into a mob.

In fact, what happened to Robespierre, “l‘Incorruptible” (The Incorruptible)? Could it be that Louis XVI was too weak? L’abbé Sieyès, who championed greater political power for the bourgeoisie, had to flee, or die. He was a priest.

There are times when everything goes wrong. How can one explain that Donald Trump was elected to the Presidency of the United States? As for the French Revolution, we know the causes, but how can we make sense of the Reign of Terror?

Apologies. I pressed on the publish button accidentally and too soon.

Love to everyone 
[1] André Castelot, Talleyrand ou le Cynisme (Paris: Librairie académique Perrin, 1980)


Two lines, written by poet Louis Aragon, keep coming to my mind. They are part of a poem set to music by the legendary Léo Ferré, entitled Est-ce ainsi que les hommes vivent? (Is this how humans live?). But the interpretation I know best is Yves Montand‘s (please click on Yves Montand’s name to hear the song).

C’était un temps déraisonnable     It was a time unreasonable
On avait mis les morts à table      They’d sat the dead at table

13 Vendémiaire Year 4 (5 October 1795)


Idealised sans-culottes by Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761–1845) (Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
20 August 2018








The Momentous Flight to Varennes


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Louis XVI and his family, dressed as bourgeois, arrested in Varennes. Picture by Thomas Falcon Marshall (1854)

Flight to Varennes

During the night of 20–21 June 1791, French King Louis XVI (1754 – 1793), his wife, Marie-Antoinette (1755 – 1793), their children, Louis-Charles (1785 – 1795), the dauphin, or heir apparent, and his sister Marie-Thérèse (1778 – 1851), the king’s sister Élisabeth of France (1764 – 1794) attempted to escape France. The Marquise de Tourzelle, the children’s governess, from 1789 until 1792, accompanied the royal family. As for the king’s brothers, Louis XVIII (17 November 1755 – 16 September 1824) and Charles X, they had fled. Despite their bourgeois clothing, the Royal family was recognized one stop before Varennes and arrested at Varennes. By 25 June 1789, they had returned to Paris. (See Flight to Varennes, Wikipedia.)

We know that Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette would be guillotined during the Reign of Terror, 1793 – 1794), as well as Élisabeth de France, the king’s younger sister. Moreover, Louis-Philippe II, Duc d’Orléans (13 April 1747 – 6 November 1793), of the House of Orleans, a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon, would also be guillotined, on 6 November 1793. Consequently, hindsight invites approval of the Royal family’s attempt to flee what seemed imminent danger.

Hindsight is also forgiving. We can understand why Louis-Philippe II, Duc d’Orléans  changed his name to Philippe Égalité. He was afraid. But did he have to vote in favour of his cousin’s execution?

But weighing against Louis XVI – Marie-Antoinette, mainly, was “collusion with the invaders,” a view supported by the flight to Varennes. (See The Trial of Louis XVI, Wikipedia.)


The return of the royal family to Paris on 25 June 1791: colored copperplate after a drawing of Jean-Louis Prieur (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

La Fayette and the National Guard

  • 11 July 1789: Necker dismissed
  • 13 July 1789: a Bourgeois militia is formed
  • 14 July 1789: the Storming of the Bastille
  • 15 July 1789: Lafayette elected commander of the militia (The National Guard)
  • 16 July 1789: Necker reinstated

After the Tennis Court Oath, the National Assembly itself feared disorder. By and large, the French trusted Jacques Necker (30 September 1732 – 9 April 1804), but he had been replaced by the Marquis de Breteuil, on 11 July 1789. King Louis XVI’s faux pas led to immediate unrest.

On 13 July 1789, fearing disorder, the National Assembly created a Bourgeois militia and, on 15 July 1789, Lafayette (6 September 1757 – 20 May 1834) was elected to the post of commander of the Bourgeois militia, which would become the National Guard.

Gendarmes were required. Mobs stormed the Bastille (see The Storming of the Bastille, Wikipedia). Necker was reinstated on 16 July 1789 and would not leave France until 3 September 1790.

On 6 October 1789, were it not for the intervention of the National Guard, commanded by Lafayette, a mob may have killed members of the Royal family when Louis XVI’s family was forcibly removed from Versailles. (See The Women’s March on Versailles, Wikipedia.)

Emigration & the Day of the Daggers

  • 28 February 1791: the Day of the Daggers
  • the King asks Royalists to leave the Tuileries

The Royal family had been taken to the Tuileries Palace, in Paris, a royal residence. But Louis’ aunts, Madame Adélaïde and Madame Victoire, had fled to Rome, as though Royalists could not protect them and as though the Royals needed protection. On The Day of the Daggers, 28 February 1791, Royalists, carrying concealed daggers, tried to enter the Tuileries to save Louis XVI and his family. Louis himself asked them to leave and those who would not leave were forcibly removed. The Royalists were dismayed.

The Champ de Mars Massacre

  • 17 June 1791: the Champ de Mars Massacre
  • 20 June 1791: the Flight to Varennes
  • 15 July 1791: the King declared inviolable

On 17 June 1791, a crowd of 50,000 gathered at the Champ de Mars to sign a petition asking for the king’s removal. The National Guard under Lafayette, opened fire. The crowd returned later in the day, led by Danton and Camille Desmoulins. The National Guard fired again, killing as many as 15.

On 20 June 1791, the Royal family attempted to flee France, but were arrested at Varennes and taken back to the Tuileries Palace. However, on 15 July 1791, the National Assembly or Legislative Assembly declared the King inviolable until the ratification of a new Constitution.

The Assembly of Notables, revisited

A Constitutional Monarchy might have saved the French monarchy, but Louis did not know what a Constitutional Monarchy was. The delegates to the Assembly of Notables would not accept a land-value tax, but they were prepared to institute changes. If accurate, I believe it is, the following quotation is very revealing:

Yet what was truly astonishing about the debates of the Assembly is that they were marked by a conspicuous acceptance of principles like fiscal equality that even a few years before would have been unthinkable….Where disagreement occurred, it was not because Calonne had shocked the Notables with his announcement of a new fiscal and political world; it was either because he had not gone far enough or because they disliked the operational methods built into the program.[1]

(See Assembly of Notables, Wikipedia.)

The Notables knew that France was nearly bankrupt and that insolvency would bring not only the downfall of France, but also their own downfall. It was to their advantage to pay taxes. Louis XVI was not as fortunate as Louis XIV. Louis XIV’s Conseil d’en haut, the King’s Council, was very small, but it consisted of bourgeois. Moreover, they met en haut, i.e. upstairs, next to the King’s chamber, at Versailles. The King did not fear them. Louis XIV feared no one except the princes du sang, the Princes of the Blood.

The Storming of the Tuileries

  • 10 August 1792: the storming of the Tuileries
  • 10 August 1792: the National Guard turns against the Royalty
  • Lafayette flees France

After the flight to Varennes, Marie-Antoinette‘s idea mostly, Louis XVI was closely guarded in the Tuileries, home to the National Assembly and, later, to the National Constituent Assembly. The Legislative Assembly was the legislature of France from 1 October 1791 to 20 September 1792. King Louis XVI had “betrayed the French.” The Storming of the Tuileries, on 10 August 1792, would undo the King. Britannica uses the word “irresolution.”[2] But, additionally, the National Guard had turned against the Royalty and they were joined by sans-culottes and the fédérés, marseillais (from Marseilles, hence the title of the French national anthem La Marseillaise). Militants had come to Paris for the Fête de la Fédération, 14 July 1791. Lafayette, their commander, fled France.

The Collapse of the Monarchy

  • 13 August 1792: Royal family imprisoned in the Temple
  • 20 September 1792: the Battle of Valmy
  • 21 September 1792: proclamation of the abolition of the monarchy
  • 22 September 1792: declaration of the First Republic

On 13 August 1792, the Royal family was imprisoned in the Temple, a fortress built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century. There was an invasion. On 20 September 1792, the Duke of Brunswick did attack the French, but he was defeated. The Battle of Valmy was a French victory. The Monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792. (See Proclamation of the abolition of the monarchy, Wikipedia.) and France was declared a republic, the First Republic, on 22 September 1792.

“Collusion with the invaders”

As I wrote above, weighing against Louis XVI, or Marie-Antoinette, was “collusion with the invaders.” (See The Trial of Louis XVI, Wikipedia.) Louis XVI was executed on the grounds that he was a traitor. The King had tried to flee France, but could he tell that leaving France could be construed as treason, the worst of crimes. Revolutionaries did fear intervention from Royal families outside France and the flight to Varennes led to the Brunswick Manifesto (25 July 1792) and the Declaration of Pillnitz (27 August 1791). Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor (5 May 1747 – 1 March 1792), the Declaration’s main author, was Marie-Antoinette’s brother. Leopold may have wished to rescue his sister. She had attempted to leave France. Leopold II died on 1st March 1792.


The flight to Varennes sealed the Royal family’s fate. King Louis XVI had attempted to flee France, which the King of France could not do. One can understand King Louis XVI’s fears and Marie-Antoinette was adamant. But can one understand the Reign of Terror?

Love to everyone 

Tour_du_Temple_circa_1795_Ecole_Francaise_18th_century (1)

The Temple, a view of the Grosse Tour-circa 1795, École Française 18th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Abbey Sieyès’ The Third Estate (6 August 2018)
Cleric, Knight and Workman (31 July 2018)
The Tennis Court Oath (8 February 2014)
The Church of France & French Revolution (cont’d) (6 May 2014)
The Church of France during the French Revolution (2 May 2014)

Sources and Resources

Britannica, various entries
Wikipedia Timeline of the French Revolution & other entries
Chronology of the French Revolution (online)
Proclamation of the Duke of Brunswick or Brunswick Manifesto (online)
Major Events in the French Revolution (
Hilaire Belloc’s French Revolution (Internet Archive)
Thomas Carlisle’s The French Revolution is Gutenberg’s [EBook #1301]
M. Mignet’s History of the French Revolution from 1789 – 1814 is Gutenberg’s [EBook #9602]
… .


Below are the names of members of the Royal family who were executed and the date on which each one died.

House of Bourbon
Louis XVI: 21 January 1793, aged 38
Marie-Antoinette: 16 Otober 1793, aged 37
Elisabeth de France: 10 May 1794, aged 30

House of Orleans
Louis-Philippe II, duc d’Orléans: 6 November 1793, aged 46

[1] See Note 7 in Assembly of Notables, Wikipedia
[2] “Louis XVI,” Albert Goodwin and Jeremy David Popkin, Encyclopædia Britannica

Gabriel Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine (words & translation)

Tour_du_Temple_circa_1795_Ecole_Francaise_18th_century (1)

Le Temple, Paris

© Micheline Walker
16 August 2018


The Last Few Days: Details


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Les Ursulines, Jean-Paul Lemieux, Wikiart

It’s Sunday, which remains a sacred day for me. Other days serve different purposes and have an origin. Saturday is Saturn as in Saturnalia, a Roman festival taking place on the day of the longest night: Christmas. Humanity has always cherished symbols, but these change from culture to culture. They attach a story to things otherwise “ordinary.”

Jean-Paul Lemieux

To decorate my post, I chose Jean-Paul Lemieux (18 November 1904 – 7 December 1990) who lived in Berkeley, California for several years. His family may have wished to escape cold winters. He and Leclerc were born the same year and were good persons. Lemieux returned to Québec, despite the cold, the snow, various ice storms and numerous heat waves.

Félix Leclerc

Félix Leclerc (2 August 1914 – 8 August 1988), was born in La Tuque, Quebec and studied at the University of Ottawa until the Great Depression. There was no money. He then found work in radio stations, as speaker or writer. In 1939, he was employed by Ici Radio-Canada, the French counterpart of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the CBC. He may have written radio dramas, which my father did, at approximately the same time in the history of Quebec.

After the war, Félix Leclerc, and his guitar, went to France where he took courses. He met kindred spirits, such as Boris Vian. In 1950, at the age of 36, he was discovered by French impresario Jacques Canetti. His daughter says that he divided his life between l’île d’Orléans, where he owned a house, and Paris.

In Le Tour de l’île, Leclerc also mentions a blue-eyed grandfather standing guard, which reminds me of Octave Crémazie‘s poem, entitled « Le Vieux Soldat canadien » . The first French ship to sail down the Saint Lawrence after the “Conquest” was La Capricieuse, in 1855.[1]

Other Quebec Singer-Songwriters

Félix Leclerc was the first of a group of Quebec singer-songwriters. These include Raymond Lévesque who wrote “Quand les hommes vivront d’amour,” Claude Léveillée  who wrote songs for Édith Piaf, and also wrote Frédéric (1961), is also a major singer-songwriter. So are Jean-Pierre Ferland, the composer of Fais du feu dans la cheminée, Robert Charlebois, the author of Ordinaire, and Diane Dufresne. The best performers were Monique Leyrac and Pauline Julien. (Please click on the title of songs I have chosen to hear it.)

However, the most celebrated Québecois singer-songwriter is Gilles Vigneault. Vigneault wrote: “Mon Pays.”


You will have noticed that Leclerc mentions independence. As paradoxical as this may seem, I believe Québécois have their own country, albeit informally. But, their country is in Canada, where it is probably a safer and more stable place than outside Canada. Québec has yet to sign the Patriated Constitution (1982).

Lemieux’ Ursulines

Les Ursulines are a teaching order founded by Marie de l’Incarnation (née Marie Guyart), in 1639. The Ursulines’ main monastery, built in Quebec City, is the oldest institution of learning for women in North America. As a religious order, the Ursulines were founded in Italy.


I have worked on the Battle of Quebec and grouped the lines differently. Folklore has its rules, but the “Battle of Quebec” is a challenge. Lines vary in length.  The French lines would be called “octaves.” The words “La Danaé” would be at the end of each octave.The English lines (4 stanzas containing 4 lines) seem a response.

La Récréation (playtime)

Before the Révolution tranquille, teachers were nuns and school girls wore a navy blue pinafore dress over a white blouse.

Related image

Jean-Paul Lemieux, 1957 (Galerie d’Art Michel Bigué)












Le peintre Jean-Paul Lemieux. Le musicien Philippe Lauters.


Sources and Resources


[1] Jacques Portes, “Visite de la Capricieuse en 1855: point tournant des relations France-Canada,” l’Encyclopédie du Patrimoine culturel de l’Amérique française





Félix Leclerc chante “Le Tour de l’île”


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Québec, vue de l’île d’Orléans, Jean-Paul Lemieux, 1963 (Wikiart)

La Récréation, Jean-Paul Lemieux, 1961 (Wikiart)

Paroles de la chanson « Le Tour de l’île »

Félix Leclerc (1914-1988)

Pour supporter     To bear
Le difficile     The difficult
Et l’inutile      And the useless
Y a l’tour de l’île     There’s the island to go round
Quarante-deux milles     Forty-two miles (67 km)
De choses tranquilles     Of things quiet
Pour oublier     To forget
Grande blessure     Gaping wounds
Dessous l’armure     ‘neath the shield
Eté, hiver     Summer, winter
Y a l’tour de l’île     There’s the island to go round
L’Ile d’Orléans      L’île d’Orléans

L’Île c’est comme Chartres     The island’s like Chartres
C’est haut et propre     It’s high and clean
Avec des nefs      With naves
Avec des arcs     With arches
Des corridors     Corridors
Et des falaises     And cliffs

En février     In February
La neige est rose     The snow is pink
Comme chair de femme     Like a woman’s flesh
Et en juillet     And in July
Le fleuve est tiède     The river’s tepid
Sur les battures     On the sandbars
Au mois de mai     In the month of May
A marée basse     At low tide
Voilà les oies     Here come the geese
Depuis des siècles     For centuries
Au mois de juin     In the month of June
Parties les oies     The geese have gone
Mais nous les gens     But we the people
Les descendants     Descendants of people
De La Rochelle     From La Rochelle
Présents tout l’temps     We’re here all the time
Surtout l’hiver     In winter mostly
Comme les arbres      Like trees

Mais c’est pas vrai      But it’s not true
Ben oui c’est vrai      Well, yes it’s true
Écoute encore     Listen again

Maisons de bois     Wooden houses
Maisons de pierre     Stone houses
Clochers pointus     Pointed bell towers
Et dans les fonds     And in the back
Des pâturages     Grazing fields
De silence     Of silence
Des enfants blonds     Blond children
Nourris d’azur     Fed by the sky
Comme les anges     Like angels
Jouent à la guerre     Play war
Imaginaire     War imaginary  

Imaginons     Let’s imagine
L’Ile d’Orléans    L’île d’Orléans
Un dépotoir     A dump
Un cimetière     A cemetery
Parcs à vidanges     Parks of sewage
Boîte à déchets    A box of waste
U. S. parkings     U. S. parking
On veut la mettre     They want to put her
En mini-jupe     In a mini-skirt
And speak English     And speak English
Faire ça à elle     Do that to her
L’Ile d’Orléans     L’île d’Orléans
Notre fleur de lys     Our fleur de lys

Mais c’est pas vrai     But it’s not true
Ben oui c’est vrai     Well, yes it’s true
Raconte encore     Tell me again

Sous un nuage     Under a cloud
Près d’un cours d’eau     Near a stream
C’est un berceau     It’s a cradle
Et un grand-père     And a blue-eyed
Au regard bleu     Grandfather
Qui monte la garde     Stands guard
Il sait pas trop     He doesn’t quite know
Ce qu’on dit dans     What they say
Les capitales     In large cities (capitals)
L’œil vers le golfe     Looking towards the gulf
Ou Montréal     Or Montréal
Guette le signal     He watches for the signal

Pour célébrer    To celebrate
L’indépendance     Independence
Quand on y pense     When one thinks about it
C’est-y en France     Is it in France
C’est comme en France     It’s like France
Le tour de l’île    Round the island
Quarante-deux milles     Forty-two miles
Comme des vagues    Like waves
Les montagnes     Mountains
Les fruits sont mûrs    The fruit is ripe
Dans les vergers     In the orchards
De mon pays     Of my land

Ça signifie     It means
L’heure est venue     The hour has come
Si t’as compris     If you understood

Related image

Jeune Fille, Jean-Paul Lemieux, 1957 (Galerie d’Art Michel Bigué)

© Micheline Walker
11 August 2018