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9 - After the bloody field: commentaries, narratives and dissent

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

David Andress
Affiliation:
University of Portsmouth
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Summary

The initial perception of the journalist Gorsas, that the massacre signified a fundamental breach in the body politic, could not be sustained for long within the prevailing political climate. By 19 July as we saw, he would be driven to recant his initial suspicions of the Guard fulsomely, by which time other journals had already developed multiple levels in their arguments for an explanation based on brigandage. The Feuille du Jour was already taking the argument a stage further on that day: ‘All appear convinced that the movements which agitate us are fomented by outside instigators.’ Such ‘missionaries of all the powers’ apparently filled Paris, scattering gold and sowing discord. According to the Patriote François on the 20th, the affair was a plot among such agents, including ‘the jew Ephraim … an emissary of Prussia’, and various aristocratic officers, a plot concerning which the municipality and comité des recherches ‘have a great deal of information’.

This more convoluted plot construction seems to have been peripheral to the general understanding of the massacre, but the theme of brigandage ran through all sides' accounts. To reiterate the extent to which this was true even of the radical press, here again is how Marat put it in his own fashion on the 20th:

They had to use trickery, to make them appear to be so many mutineers, seditionaries, rebels, assassins. For that, a crowd of cut-throats, paid by Mottié, had taken the lead, and mixed with the citizens in a corner of the Champ de Mars. On the arrival of the cavalry and the armed henchmen, they threw stones at them, and fired a few blank pistol-shots at them.

Type
Chapter
Information
Massacre at the Champ de Mars
Popular Dissent and Political Culture in the French Revolution
, pp. 191 - 212
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2000

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