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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

David Andress
Affiliation:
University of Portsmouth
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Summary

On 12 November 1793, a day of wet, numbing cold, a grim and unique ceremony took place on the Champ de Mars, the open space in south-western Paris where the Festival of Federation had been celebrated in 1790, and where today stands the Eiffel Tower. In 1793, for that one day alone, the centre of this vast space was occupied by the guillotine. A single victim journeyed there in the executioner's cart from prison in central Paris, reviled along the route by screaming crowds that twice attempted to break through the cordon of guards and seize him. Jean-Sylvain Bailly, astronomer, academician, doyen of the Third Estate in the Estates-General of 1789 and mayor of Paris from July of that year until November 1791, perished on that dank day for the crimes that the Republic laid against him, crimes that occurred in the summer of 1791.

Bailly was accused of orchestrating, with Queen Marie-Antoinette, executed a scant four weeks earlier, the attempted escape of the royal family in the ‘Flight to Varennes’ of 21 June 1791. Further, and decisively, he was charged with plotting the massacre of ‘patriots’ which ensued on 17 July 1791, as they attempted to meet on the Champ de Mars to protest against the National Assembly's decision to reinstate the recaptured monarch. Hence the site of his execution. The tribunal's verdict on his guilt had noted that Bailly had ‘thirst[ed] for the blood of the people’.

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Chapter
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Massacre at the Champ de Mars
Popular Dissent and Political Culture in the French Revolution
, pp. 1 - 18
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2000

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  • Introduction
  • David Andress, University of Portsmouth
  • Book: Massacre at the Champ de Mars
  • Online publication: 12 September 2012
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  • Introduction
  • David Andress, University of Portsmouth
  • Book: Massacre at the Champ de Mars
  • Online publication: 12 September 2012
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • David Andress, University of Portsmouth
  • Book: Massacre at the Champ de Mars
  • Online publication: 12 September 2012
Available formats
×