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2 - Aristocrats, priests and brigands: January–February 1791

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

David Andress
Affiliation:
University of Portsmouth
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Summary

In January 1791 Parisian politics were already seething with doubt and fear, most of which was directed towards what had already become the Revolution's principal enemies – the aristocracy and the clergy. Around this time, former monarchiens and other royalist elements in the National Assembly coalesced under the leadership of Stanislas de Clermont-Tonnerre to form the ‘Society of Friends of the Monarchical Constitution’, commonly called the Club monarchique, and which in the first weeks of its existence had already become the preferred target of radical accusations concerning aristocratic conspiracy of all types. Meanwhile, in the face of clerical resistance to their new place in the Constitution, the National Assembly had decreed that all clergy should take what amounted to an oath of loyalty to the Revolution and its works – an oath refused by the vast majority of the bishops sitting in the Assembly itself. Across the country this would be one of the great polarising moments of the Revolution, and its effect within the city was no less significant.

The parochial clergy of Paris were to take this oath at their Sunday services in the first two weeks of January. The level of local tension aroused by the potential and actual resistance of the clergy is evident from the circular sent to Section officials on two occasions from the central police administration. On 9 and 14 January, police commissaires were asked to patrol their local lodging-houses on the following Saturday evening, to watch for ‘extraordinary movements’, and to remain at home ready to take action on the Sunday morning.

Type
Chapter
Information
Massacre at the Champ de Mars
Popular Dissent and Political Culture in the French Revolution
, pp. 39 - 60
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2000

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