College prizes

Thursday, 23 October 2014 13:35
montagnarde1793: (Default)
Over four years ago, I discussed this topic in a comment thread at the community revolution_fr. I figure I should post it here to make it more findable, as I think I had originally intended to do anyway. And here, is, of course, the source.

It's a question of the academic competitions between the different colleges of the University of Paris and the prizes various revolutionary figures won in them. For those curious as to why there are fewer first prizes among the revolutionary generation than previous generations, it's not, contrary to what some have suggested, a symptom of the former's relative mediocrity. In previous generations, each college awarded its own prizes, whereas in the decades preceding the Revolution, all the colleges were competing for the same prizes.

Let's start with Robespierre:

Maximilianus Maria Isidorus de Robespierre
Atrebas (né à Arras)
e collegio Ludovici Magni

Maximilien Marie Isidore de Robespierre
Atrebas (born in Arras)
From the collège Louis-le-Grand

Concours de 1771
Classe de quatrième
6e accessit de version latine

Competition of 1771
Fourth Class [Robespierre entered Louis-le-Grand in the Fifth but won no prize that year. The easiest class was the Seventh, then the Sixth, and so on to the Second. Students in these classes were called Grammarians. Next came Rhetoric, and then Philosophy, which included Math, Physics, Logic, Metaphysics and Ethics. This is where secondary education ended. Students could then go on to study Theology, Medicine or Law. Robespierre chose the latter--to clarify, not all scholarships allowed students to choose; some only covered one or two of the higher faculties, most often Theology.]
6th honorable mention - Latin translation ["Accessits" are something akin to "honorable mentions." There were only two prizes awarded, after which these  honorable mentions began.]

Concours de 1772
Classe de quatrième (vétérans)
2e prix de thème latin
6e accessit de version latine

Competition of 1772
Fourth Class (veterans) [Repeating classes does not always indicate failure the first time around. Students repeated classes (especially rhetoric, but also others, as can be seen here) for a variety of reasons, typically most importantly because a given subject was important to them and they wanted to make sure they had as firm a grounding as possible in it. Students would have to repeat classes if they did not pass the exams given at the end of each year, as in the case of La Revellière-Lépeaux, who had to repeat his Second before he could move on to Rhetoric for that reason, but given that Robespierre had won a prize the first time around, this does not seem to be case here.]
2nd prize - Latin theme [A composition in Latin on a given topic.]
6th honorable mention - Latin translation

Concours de 1774
Classe de seconde
4e accessit de vers latins
4e accessit de version latine

Competition of 1774 [Robespierre won no prizes in the Third]
Second Class
4th honorable mention  - Latin verse [Students would have to take a Latin prose piece and recompose it into verse, poetically and in keeping with the meter]
4th honorable mention - Latin translation

Concours de 1775
Classe de rhétorique (nouveaux)
2e prix de vers latins
2e prix de version latine
4e accessit de version grecque

Competition of 1775
Rhetoric Class (new students)
2nd prize - Latin verse
2nd prize - Latin translation
4th honorable mention - Greek translation

Concours de 1776
Classe de rhétorique (vétérans)
3e accessit de version latine.

Competition of 1776
Rhetoric Class (veterans)
3rd honorable mention - Latin translation

And now for some contemporaries:

Joannes Maria Hérault de Séchelles
ex Harcurio (collège d'Harcourt)
(Hérault de Séchelles, le conventionnel)

Jean-Marie Hérault de Séchelles
From the collège d'Harcourt
(Hérault de Séchelles, the member of the Convention)

Concours de 1770
Classe de troisième
4e accessit de vers latins

Competition of 1770
Third Class
4th honorable mention - Latin verse

Concours de 1771
Classe de seconde
2e prix de version latine

Competition of 1771
Second Class
2nd prize - Latin translation

Andreas Maria de Chénier
e Regia Navarra (collège de Navarre)

André-Marie de Chénier
Born in Constantinople
From the collège de Navarre

Concours de 1778
Classe de rhétorique (nouveaux)
1er prix de discours français
1er accessit de version latine

Competition of 1778 [Someone who knows more about Chénier will have to let me know whether the reason we have only prizes for one year is because this is the only year he attended collège in Paris, or whether he attended other years without winning anything - which seems unlikely, given his success in the year we do have information for.]
Rhetoric Class (new students)
1st prize - French discourse
1st honorable mention - Latin translation

Lucius Simplicius Camilla Benedictus des Moulins
Guisius Laudunensis (né à Guise)
e collegio Ludovici Magni

Lucien-Simplice-Camille-Benoist Desmoulins
Born in Guise
From the collège Louis-le-Grand

Concours de 1774
Classe de cinquième
2e prix de version latine

Competition of 1774
Fifth Class
2nd prize - Latin translation

Concours de 1775
Classe de quatrième
2e prix de thème latin
1er prix de version latine

Competition of 1775
Fourth Class
2nd prize - Latin theme
1st prize - Latin translation

Concours de 1778
Classe de rhétorique
9e accessit de discours français

Competition of 1778
Rhetoric Class
9th honorable mention - French discourse

montagnarde1793: (I did it for the lulz)

M. Cottret claims (Tuer le tyran ? p. 344) that Robespierre was out sick on the day of Saint-Just's first speech calling for Louis Capet's execution, but she doesn't give a source. (It's possible that it also comes from Vinot, since she cites him a few lines previously, but it's hard to tell.) Does anyone know what the source might be?

Because if it's true - and I doubt M. Cottret would say so if she at least didn't have good reason to believe it - then that rather puts a damper on all those awful, cliché scenes in fiction where Robespierre is either putting him up to it or suddenly inspired to turn into an evil fanatic while hearing the speech. And anything that would prove the logical impossibility of such scenes, would make my evening.

montagnarde1793: (Maxime enfant)

I want to see this movie and now it's too late. ;_____;

Granted, I have no idea if it's any good, and until now I didn't even know it existed, let alone that they were putting it on in Arras last weekend. But still, how can this film exist without my having seen it? The worst is, there are a lot of things I would like to see that I'm too late for - the Revolution, for one - but generally they're things it would have been impossible for me to see anyway (I can't exactly will myself to be born more than 200 years earlier), but this is different. Seeing this movie was temporally and spatially within my grasp and I didn't see it. Instead, I caught up on my reading. I can do that any time. Why, universe, why? D: D: D:

montagnarde1793: (citoyen)
Dear stupid Americans* who believe that (political) virtue is some sinister fanatical concept invented by the evil, befanged, seagreen, viriginal Robespierre,

Allow me to cite one of your precious "Founding Fathers":

"To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea."

 - James Madison, 20 June 1788.

Please note that Madison is using "virtue" in much the same way Robespierre would. Now, granted, Robespierre would say that the people is inherently virtuous, but Madison, though he implies that it is possible for the people not to be virtuous, nevertheless bases his entire political system on the virtue of the people.**
Therefore, consider that success or failure of the republic rests on your virtue. And then, if you please, consider trying to have some.

              No love,

*ie, those Americans who are stupid. I'm not implying that all Americans are stupid. Just to clarify.
**In the same speech Madison also says the following: "But I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom [as their representatives] [...] we do not depend on their virtue [that of the representatives], or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them."
montagnarde1793: (République française)

So I just read this article which I have several problems with. Don't get me wrong; I see where the author is coming from. He's pointing out the difference between mistakes and intentional changes to the historical record in history. This is an important distinction to make. However, I must differ with his idea that this is the fundamental distinction to be made in the matter of historical accuracy in historical fiction. If fiction existed in a vacuum then yes, any intentional changes made by novelists (or playwrights, or filmmakers, or what have you) in the service of their storytelling would be fine. (We're assuming, for the sake of argument, that said changes actually improve the story, though we know well that they often do the opposite.)

I've said it before, I know, and doubtless the author of this piece would accuse me of being one of those fussy historians who think "the facts are the story" - I, of course, would say that the facts are often the story, but not always - but I think the spinner of historical fictions has a duty both to the people, events, ideas even that s/he writes about and to his or her audience. As such, a minor mistake such as a miscount of priests, unless it happens so often that it's clear the author either did no research and thus does not respect his or her readers, matters much less to me than a deliberate historical manipulation. Turning a real historical figure into the opposite of what they were - which, by the way, happens much more often for political than for entertainment reasons - shows a level of disrespect to the past and to one's audience that I for one cannot abide.

Shakespeare (whoever he was), as one commenter points out, is not a good role model in this case. I know little enough about Richard III, other than he was a king and that for this alone he has earned from me a certain base level of contempt, and that Shakespeare wants me to despise him, because the Tudors want me to despise him. I understand in terms of Shakespeare's own historical context, why he portrayed Richard, or really any of the characters in his history plays the way he did. That doesn't mean because Shakespeare did it, the best literary decisions are made based on political expediency. Lying to blacken or whitewash a historical figure tends to make less interesting reading/viewing in any case. History, apart from its own merits, tends to provide one with nuanced characters, and in that sense, yes the story *is* in the facts.

Does this mean that a novel needs to get bogged down in a bunch of little facts? That I've sinned against history if I don't quote a speech in full or describe in detail all the disgusting things lying in the street every time someone goes outside? Of course not. But if I rearrange that speech so that it says the opposite of what the original conveyed or if I claim that the streets were squeaky clean in centuries past? Well, then I've done both history and my readers a disservice.

Which brings me to what I think is the real point to be made about historical accuracy: not mistakes vs. intentional changes, but the letter vs. the spirit.

If I need to change the day on which some minor event happened for the purposes of my plot, I've violated the letter of historical accuracy; if I deliberately misrepresent the character and/or opinions of a historical figure, I've transgressed against the spirit. To me, that's an important component of historical accuracy. Doing your research matters. The author of this article is right about that. But that's not all there is to it.

(I should note, by the way, that saying "I'm writing a historical AU" changes the situation somewhat. But not entirely. An AU is asking "what if" and there are only so many what ifs a story can take and retain credibility. If you have more than one, they should probably be a result of one another. In other words, you can either start from the premise that there were unicorns in 18th century France or that France won the Seven Years War or that France won the Seven Years War because of the unicorns. Don't ask, "what if there were unicorns in 18th century France" and "what if France won the Seven Years War" if those two questions are unrelated. And certainly keep scrupulously within the realm of historical accuracy for other unrelated details, or why the hell are you writing an AU and not just a fantasy novel?)

(I should also note that I'm not among those who thinks that history should be used as pure entertainment or that things that are "just for entertainment" should be beyond the reach of critique, but if you're going to write some such historically inaccurate work would it kill you to put a disclaimer on it instead of proclaiming what you've written to be history or even historical fiction in the traditional sense?)

...And after all that, I still fine myself agreeing to a large extent with this commenter (though I would put in that I don't think it necessarily has to be that way).

Actually though, this whole post was just an excuse to reply to this comment. While it's nice to know we're not the only ones who have a problem with Mantel's misogyny, and I obviously agree that manipulating history to make "some wicked, wicked woman," in the commenter's words the root cause of every historical event (especially the negative ones) is helpful for nothing, least of all for making for a more interesting plot... "humane yet corrupt indulgence" vs. "idealistic but ruthless virtue"? Seriously? Did this person get his or her history for Wajda? Because, honestly, I don't think setting up these sorts of dichotomies is a much more evolved explanation than "it was all the fault of those evil wimmens." Because, I don't know about you, but if I can't think of any time when Robespierre was corrupt, I can certainly think of many times when he was humane and it could be argued that there were times he was even indulgent. Likewise, there are certainly times when Danton can be argued to have been idealistic, ruthless, and even virtuous, depending on how you read his actions. But Supreme Being forbid a novelist should explore these nuances and abandon a perfectly good opportunity to regale us with the dangers of virtue and idealism.

In other news, I have my visa now, and it is shiny and amazing. And it also has the nifty feature that if I were to decide I wanted to renew it for another year (not that I'm planning on doing that at the moment) I wouldn't even have to leave France to do it. I love it to death. ♥

10 Thermidor

Wednesday, 28 July 2010 16:25
montagnarde1793: (maximebust)

Requiescant in pace les Robespierristes. Not just the famous ones, and not just those who died 216 years ago today, but to all the victims of the Thermidorian reaction.

In related news, I decided that, since everyone is always citing it, it might be a good idea for me to take a break from the six books I'm currently reading to read Françoise Brunel's Thermidor. You know, in commemoration. I don't know if anyone else on my f-list has read it (I seem to remember [ profile] maelicia saying she had, but I could be misremembering) but if anyone has, were you at all disappointed with it? Because I was.
First with the conclusion - obviously, all the really reactionary after-effects happened in Year III, but that doesn't really make Thermidor a  non-event. I've always seen Thermidor as the turning-point that allowed those later events to take place, and after reading Brunel, for lack of a better explanation, I still think that. It's not a new observation that the Revolutionary government wasn't dismantled the second Robespierre was executed, nor that dismantling the Revolutionary government was not the intention of really any of the Thermidorians. That doesn't on its own make Thermidor insignificant. Unless I'm missing something (which is always quite possible)...

Second, with Brunel's assertion that there was no conspiracy. I can see where she's coming from in terms of the seemingly improvised character of the whole thing, but her proofs aren't really that convincing to me. She's at her best with her explanation of why someone like Billaud-Varenne (who shared most of Robespierre's core beliefs) would become a Thermidorian, but that explanation alone doesn't suffice. Let's say for a moment that there was no conspiracy - an idea that the concerted shouts of "à bas le tyran" alone would seem to invalidate, and one that is certainly not disproven by the absence of someone like Fouché from the list of speakers on 9 Thermidor, open contestation not being Fouché's modus operandi (and this is assuming the procès-verbaux, which we know were fabricated after the fact, to be accurate) - in the absence of a conspiracy, the feelings of alienation of a couple of Billaud-Varennes, even coupled with the tensions between the two Committees over the police bureau are not enough in themselves to make Thermidor happen...

Unless, as Brunel's account leaves us to infer, Robespierre just enjoyed randomly sabotaging himself for no reason. And this is probably the single biggest problem I have with this book: I've never seen an account in which Robespierre is simultaneously so absent from, and yet responsible for, his own fall. Yes, I get that Brunel was probably trying to avoid the approach which sees Thermidor as nothing but the last chapter in a biography of Robespierre, to look at its larger implications, but if Robespierre's point of view isn't examined at all, his actions make no sense. So the explanation becomes: Thermidor happened because Robespierre alienated his colleagues. Which may well have been, at least in part, the case. But then, it seems to me, you need to pose certain questions: Why did he do this? Did he realize he was doing it? What is his justification for his conduct? Do what extent do we believe his justification? And so on. I realize she's writing a short work of only a little over a hundred pages, but Brunel poses none of these questions, questions which are, however, fundamental not just to understanding why Robespierre acted as he did, but also, at least potentially, to understanding the role of certain Thermidorians as well. I mean, if the latter's post-Thermidorian justifications, dubious as they are, can be used as a historical source, surely the former's can as well...?

And we get that, briefly. Too briefly: if all you get out of Robespierre's last speech is a vague feeling that he was suicidal, you've nailed one angle of it and missed a hundred others, it seems to me. With no other explanation offered, one is left to infer that Robespierre, feeling suicidal, deliberately alienated his colleagues, thus backing them into a corner where they had no choice but to turn on him. Mind, though I disagree with it, this might be a valid argument if it were actually ever made. In fact, however, it's not made, just implied, which means that it never has to be defended - and why should I, the reader, believe in an implied argument that even its own author doesn't bother to defend? Am I missing something?

No, seriously: am I missing something? Because it seems to make sense enough to everyone cites it. Is it just assumed that people are already familiar enough with Robespierre's point of view that they can fill that part in for themselves? Am I just not sophisticated enough to grasp Brunel's argument? (Yes, that's a genuine question, because to be honest, at the moment I feel rather more like an idiot than "ah-ha! I have spotted the holes in your argument!" *so confused*)

montagnarde1793: (OMSBWTF?)
I repeat: Why does this exist?

I don't mean the blog, though I haven't yet read anything I thought was particularly insightful, despite the linkage from

First of all, why does the novel exist in the first place? (Don't answer that. There are probably several decent historical explanations for the phenomenon that is this book, but that would require a good deal more thought and research than a livejournal post has a right to demand.)  ...Stupid royalists.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, why on earth does the author of the post on it seem to find nothing wrong with or even internalize the book's discourse? If you think the best definition for Robespierre is "the infamous terrorist," you should really have a better explanation than, Royalists circa 1800 thought he was demonic! I mean, am I the only one who thinks that analyzing this book as historical evidence for what royalists either believed or wanted others to believe or somesuch c. 1800 about the Revolution and Robespierre might be slightly more useful than uncritically accepting the book's premise while patting oneself on the back for noticing a demonic face (not-so-)hidden in one of the illustrations?

...Any overreaction, real or perceived, is probably due to sleep deprivation.

And some advice: Never buy cookie dough if you are not planning on actually baking the cookies. It's just a very bad idea, trust me.
montagnarde1793: (l'an CCXVIII)
...But especially for that of [ profile] maelicia, I bring you a Carnot macro. Enjoy:

I don't know why it's so small. Hm. Hopefully it's still legible...?

Also, admire my new layout--and my new icon--for they are shiny.

ALSO, don't you hate it when you're minding your own business reading a biography of Robespierre and one of your friends comes up to you and starts talking about how interesting the subject of said biography is considering what a clinically insane, bloodthirsty dictator he was? Because this happened to me for the nth time yesterday, and everytime it happens I just want to say:

"Look, I have neither the time nor the energy to go into professor mode and give a lecture that you have neither the time nor the inclination to listen to explaining the entire history and historiography of the Revolution in order to give you enough background to allow you to understand why everything you just said is ignorant, reactionary, and just plain untrue. Moreover, you would probably attack me for attempting it the moment I open my mouth. So. Is this a subject you're genuinely interested in or were you just trying to be polite? Because if you're open-minded enough to really want to understand why I hold the opinions I do, I can recommend some books for you to read. Failing that, take this pamphlet [I still need to make some kind of handy pamphlet along the lines of "Robespierre and the French Revolution for Dummies"]. If you don't feel like reading it, that's fine, but kindly do not try to tell *me* what you learned in AP European History/The Scarlet Pimpernel/Simon Schama about Robespierre. I don't have the time."

Of course, what I really said was more like, "I don't believe that, but let's not argue. Have you done the Latin homework yet?"

montagnarde1793: (OMSBWTF?)

I've never actually seen the whole film, but judging by these youtube clips, I think Sacha Guitry must have been on crack.

Exhibit A:

I do not approve of the pear-headed king's taste in art. >:(

Exhibit B:

...Because I'm sure that Robespierre hung out with the royals, Lavoisier, and André Chénier all the time. Because that would make logical sense. And Robespierre is probably the only one at this gathering who actually supported the abolition of the death penalty, so WTF, really. Also, the actor playing him looks nothing like him.

Still, I kind of want to see it now....
montagnarde1793: (Je voudrais te dire...)

(And a happy belated birthday to [info]maelicia, too, of course!) That is not, however, the principal point of this post. Rather it is to point out that several older issues of the AHRF are available on, including this one from 1986, which points out a couple of things, for those of you who can't read the original:

1. Apparently the plaque dedicated to Robespierre in the Conciergerie was vandalized that year. D: It's since been replaced, obviously, but still. D: (One can't help imagining whoever did as someone who read some article by a revisionist and decided it was so scandalous that there should be a plaque dedicated to an Evil Bloodthirsty Tyrant (tm) that he had to take matters into his own hands...)

2. More helpfully, it solves the mystery regarding the Duplays' graves in Père Lachaise. I knew the other Duplays were supposed to be buried in Père Lachaise, and in the same division as Éléonore, but I wasn't sure where. Now I know that they were (logically enough) all buried in the same grave, despite what the marker says.

The notice also explains the weird modern tombstone--apparently it was put into place in 1985. Also, the article mentions three details about Éléonore herself, one of which confirms something I had read earlier, the other two of which confuse me somewhat. It does indeed seem that her full name was Marie-Éléonore (I'd say it's pretty obvious why that isn't mentioned more often), but the date of her death is here listed one day off from what I've read elsewhere, and so too her age when she died is a year more than it should be (25 July 1832 vs. 26 July 1832 and 65 vs. 64). I don't know quite what to make of it. Do they have other (better?) information than I do? Or is it just a typo...?

At any rate, the inscription the tombstone now bears is clearly not the one it was originally supposed to, if this notice is to be believed. It clearly reads, "Eléonore Duplay, 1768-1832" with possibly something else which is now illegible beneath, rather than "Duplay Marie-Eléonore, décédée le 25 juillet 1832, à l'âge de 65 ans" ("Duplay Marie-Eléonore, deceased 25 July 1832, at the age of 65").

Also, I am very annoyed that I can't go to the Archives nationales, especially since I found a book with a lot of specific information about when various people (the Duplays, Charlotte Robespierre, Couthon's family) were imprisoned post Thermidor (and where, and for how long, etc.) and which I would not ordinarily find trustworthy (see for yourself), but which, like few of its kind, actually cites archival sources. Still, I don't feel I can really trust the information coming from a source like that. I have to see for myself. And I can't. >.>;;

I should mention, too, that I'm going to be in Santa Fe for a few days, so all commenting and posting (and fic-writing) may have to cease during that time. But I'll be back Sunday, never fear.

montagnarde1793: (OMSBWTF?)

*sighs* I'm a bit afraid to read it. Browsing it has left me with a rather bad impression....but that shouldn't really surprise me, should it? Given the souce.

In other news, I don't know why they let Colin Lucas write the introductory article for the 1993 colloquium on Robespierre; the man is a revisionist sophist. (Because, clearly, when people talk about transparency in government, what they really mean is some kind of pseudo-Calvinist inquisition in which some people are inherently pure and only those people can tell whether others are pure or not. They obviously aren't talking about exposing the illicit or unethical actions of government officials to the People they are supposed to serve . D:<)

10 Thermidor

Tuesday, 28 July 2009 17:16
montagnarde1793: (maximebust)

Today marks the 215th anniversary of the deaths of Maximilien and Augustin Robespierre, Saint-Just, Couthon, Dumas, Fleuriot-Lescot, Hanriot, Lavalette, Payan, Jean-Claude Bernard, Charles-Jacques-Mathieu Bougon, Christophe Cochefer, Jean-Barnabé Dhazard, Jean-Étienne Forestier, Antoine Gency, Adrien-Nicolas Gobeau, Nicolas Guérin, Denis-Étienne Laurent, Jean-Marie Quenet, Antoine Simon, Nicolas-Joseph Vivier, and Jacques-Louis-Frédéric Wouarmé on the scaffold, and of Le Bas, by his own hand. Requiescant in pace.

With them died the Republic of the Rights of Man and Citizen, of justice and democracy, but not the dream behind it, as the song I am posting today in their honor, dating to the Directoire, attests:

Le Dix Thermidor

10 Thermidor


Ah ! pauvre peuple, adieu le siècle d’or,

N’attends plus que peine et misère :

Il est passé dès le dix thermidor,

Jour qu’on immola Robespierre.


Ah! Poor people, farewell golden age!

No longer expect anything but pain and poverty:

It has happened since 10 Thermidor,

The day they immolated Robespierre.


Quand il vivait, il allégeait nos maux,

Il avait toute notre estime :

Les décemvirs, pour perdre ce héros,

L’accusent de leur propre crime.

Ah ! pauvre peuple, adieu le siècle d’or…


While he lived, he lessened our ills,

He had all our esteem:

To destroy this hero, the decemvirs

Accuse him of their own crime.

Ah! Poor people, farewell golden age!


Commune, aussi, tu fus de leur complot,

Avec eux tu brisas le trône ;

Pour t’en punir, tu meurs sur l’échafaud,

Et c’est le Sénat qui l’ordonne.

Il nous ravit cet heureux siècle d’or

Et nous plonge dans la misère,

En égorgeant, aux jours de thermidor,

Nos magistrats et Robespierre.


Commune, you too were part of their plot,

With them you smashed the throne;

To punish you for it, you died on the scaffold,

And on the Senate’s orders!

It takes that happy golden age from us

And plunges us into poverty,

By cutting the throats of our magistrates

And Robespierre in the days of Thermidor.


Républicains qui, dans ces jours d’horreur,

Sûtes échapper au carnage,

Rallions-nous et, d’une même ardeur,

Jurons de venger tant d’outrages.

Reconquérons notre heureux siècle d’or,

Exécrons celui de misère ;

Vengeons la France, et du dix thermidor,

Et de la mort de Robespierre.


Republicans who, in those days of horror,

Were able to escape the carnage,

Let us rally, and with equal ardor,

Let us swear to avenge so many outrages.

Let us win back our happy golden age,

Let us execrate that of poverty;

Let us avenge France, and 10 Thermidor,

And the death of Robespierre.

montagnarde1793: (maximebust)

Hamel, sometimes you're a bit crazy (Robespierre =/= Jesus, really!), but I love you anyway. Here's why (from page 482 of the third tome of his Histoire de Robespierre):

"Tout en reprochant à son collègue [Carnot] de persécuter les généraux fidèles, Maximilien, paraît-il, faisait grand cas de ses talents. Carnot, nous dit-on, ne lui rendait pas la pareille. Cela dénote tout simplement chez lui une intelligence médiocre, quoi qu'en ait dit ses apologistes. Il fut, je le crois, extrêmement jaloux de la supériorité d'influence et de talent d'un collègue plus jeune que lui [ou Saint-Just, qu'Hamel vient de discuter, ou Robespierre] ; et, sous l'empire de ce sentiment, il se laissa facilement entraîner dans la conjuration thermidorienne. Au 9 thermidor, comme en 1815, le pauvre Carnot fut le jouet et la dupe de Fouché."

"All while reproaching his colleague [Carnot] for persecuting faithful generals, Maximilien, it seems, thought much of his talents. Carnot, we are told, did not think the same of him. This quite simply denotes his mediocre intellect, whatever his apologists might have said about it. He was, I believe, extremely jealous of the superiority in influence and talent of a colleague younger than himself [either Saint-Just, whom Hamel just discussed, or Robespierre]; and, under the influence of this sentiment, he let himself be easily dragged into the thermidorian conspiracy. On 9 Thermidor, as in 1815, Carnot was the plaything and the dupe of Fouché."


Also, thanks to Hamel, I have a new theory about the origin of the "55,000" people supposedly executed by "the State" according to the BBC:

Page 473 of the third tome of the Histoire de Robespierre:

"C'est ce Montjoie [le "citoyen Montjoie, que dis-je ! [le] sieur Félix-Christophe-Louis Ventre de Latouloubre de Galart de Montjoie, auteur d'une Histoire de la conjuration de Robespierre"] qui prête à Maximilien le mot suivant: 'Tout individu qui avait plus de quinze ans en 1789 doit être égorgé.' C'est encore lui qui porte à cinquante-quatre mille le chiffre des victimes mortes sur l'échafaud durant les six derniers mois du règne de Robespierre."

"It's this Montjoie [the "citizen Montjoie - what am I saying! - Monsieur Félix-Christophe-Louis Ventre de Latouloubre de Galart de Montjoie, author of a History of Robespierre's Conspiracy"] which attributes the following words to Maximilien: 'Every individual who was more than fifteen years old in 1789 must have his throat cut.' It is again he who brings the number of victims who died on the scaffold during the last six months of Robespierre's reign to fifty-four thousand."

Now, first of all, did it never occur to this Thermidorian libelliste that Robespierre was himself over 15 in 1789? Second, I think it's rather plausible that the BBC just took this number and added another thousand to account for the 4-odd months of the Terror (or even just to round off the figure). Which is just sad. As Hamel goes on to say: "Y a-t-il assez de mépris pour les gens capables de mentir avec une tell impudence ?" ["Is there enough contempt for people capable of lying with such impudence?"]

To the BBC, I shall reiterate: 

Is there enough contempt for people capable of lying with such impudence?
montagnarde1793: (maximebust)

I won't bother posting this in the original French, since that's already available in several places on the internet, but here are Robespierre's thoughts on the question of citizenship for Jews, as articulated in the Constituent Assembly on 23 December 1789:


"How is it that the persecutions of which they have been the victims among different peoples have been used to oppose the Jews? These are, on the contrary, national crimes that we must expiate by returning to them the imprescriptible rights of man, of which no human power could despoil them. Vices and prejudices are yet imputed to them; sectarian spirit and interest exaggerate them, but to what could we impute them, if not to our own injustices? After having excluded them from every honor, even from the rights to public esteem, we have left them only the objects of lucrative speculations? Return them to happiness, to the patrie, to virtue, by returning to them the dignity of men and citizens; let us consider that it can never be politic, whatever might be said, to condemn a multitude of men who live among us to degradation and oppression. How could the social interest be founded on the violation of the eternal principles of justice and reason, which are the bases of all human society?"

montagnarde1793: (Maxime enfant)
Actually, here he's pretty unequivocal, as E. Hamel reports (Tome III, p. 16 of his Histoire de Robespierre, if anyone's curious):

I believe this is from the session of 17 June 1793. )

Oh, and I'm home now, by the way. My Greek History final was, as I expected, pretty brutal. The Hellenistic period is so dull and confusing. How was I supposed to remember that Antigonus the One-Eyed was one of the five or ten different people who invaded Greece on the pretext of "freeing" the Greek poleis? >.>

But that's all over now, thankfully. For those of you whom I promised to let read my paper, I'll post it as soon as I've gotten it back (I have a thing about showing ungraded papers to people for purposes other than editing. Blame my paranoia. -_-;) In the meantime, I can post a translation of Maxime's defense of Jewish civil rights (qualified by literally every source I read that mentioned it, both French and English, as "eloquent" XD) if anyone would be interested...

Oh, and I voted for the first time this morning. Pity it was such an uninspiring election. Oh well, I did my duty as a citizen, at least. XD


Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:18
montagnarde1793: (maximebust)

....I'm going to kill something, I swear. I had a lovely entry all written about how I finished my essay (12 pages, after some fiddling with the margins, and 4,263 words) on Jews in the Revolution, and livejournal decided to eat it. D:<

I remain amused that I managed to use more sources (15, in all) than I wrote pages, and that I had 58 footnotes. How I do love you, footnotes! Let's run away together! ...or maybe not. XD

I also remain miffed that I didn't have enough space to talk about the Jewish National Guard who saved the Abbé Maury (opponent of civil and legal rights for Jews and all around rabid reactionary, for those not in the know) from being lanterned. Or the brothers Frey, for that matter. Oh well, more's the pity.

(I did, however, get to talk about how much Maxime pwns on two separate occasions. :D :D :D)

...And now, off to study for my Latin final. >.>

montagnarde1793: (Maxime enfant)

...And I may well have broken my ribs coughing (the x-ray has not come back yet), since it is Maxime's 251st birthday, I have made him another plaque:

Aww, Maxime. ♥


montagnarde1793: (maximebust)

So I have a few fun translation related things to share with you. ^__^ No, of course I'm not procrastinating on writing the paper I have due tomorrow or the laundry I have to do before [info]trf_chan  gets here. Why do you ask? >.>

The first is, I was in a translation symposium here at school on Tuesday, and I thought some of you might appreciate the poem I translated, as it's by Victor Hugo and has Revolutionary themes.

All it lacks is a title... )

Gah, I have a feeling I'm going to have a problem with formatting with that. Try to ignore it if it's strange, will you?

Next, while looking for a decent analysis of how the Revolutionaries related to Antiquity (I'm sure I've seen some books on the topic--off the top of your head, do any of you know of any good ones?), I found this little gem in a footnote to a collection of Robespierre's speeches from the 1880s. It almost makes me understand what people see in Camille. Almost. XD;

"Ce discours prononcé aux Jacobins provoqua un vif enthousiasme : 'Qui pourrait ne pas partarger [sic] la sainte indignation que Robespierre fit éclater aux Jacobins dans un discours admirable ?' s'écrie Camille Desmoulins dans les Révolutions de France et de Brabant. Ce discours fut aussitôt publié en brochure, et voici en quels termes l'annonce le même Camille Desmoulins: 'Discours sur l'organisation des gardes nationales, par Maximilien Robespierre (et non pas Robertspierre, comme affectent de le nommer des journalistes qui trouvent apparemment ce dernier nom plus noble et plus moelleux, et qui ignorent que ce député, quand même il se nommerait la bête comme Brutus, ou pois chiche comme Cicéron, porterait toujours le plus beau nom de la France.'"

"This speech provoked a keen enthousiasm when pronounced at the Jacobins: 'Who could not share the sacred indignation that Robespierre made to burst forth at the Jacobins in an admirable speech?' cries Camille Desmoulins in the Revolutions of France and Brabant. This speech was immediately published in pamphlet form, and here are the terms in which the same Camille Desmoulins announces it: 'Discourse on the Organization of the National Guards, by Maximilien Robespierre (and not Robertspierre, as journalists affect to name him who apparently find this last name nobler and more smooth, and who are unaware that this deputy, were he even to call himself the dim-witted, like Brutus, or chickpea, like Cicero, would still bear the finest name in France.'"

...Well, it at least has the merit of amusing me greatly.

Lastly, whilst I wait to decide whether or not I can like the historical Romans, I can at least enjoy the 18th century conception of them. And now you can too! (:D?) Because I've decided to post my translations of Marie-Joseph Chénier's "Brutus et Cassius, ou les derniers Romains" ("Brutus and Cassius, or the Last Romans") here, scene by scene. Unfortunately, this was never performed, but it's still a primary source from the Revolution, and though I know in many, if not most, circles it's considered sacrilege to say such a thing, I personally think it's an improvement on Shakespeare's version of the same events.

A couple of notes, before I post the beginning of the play itself:

1. The original can be found here, page 183.
2. If I've mistranslated the Latin quote introducing the piece, someone please correct me. I've only been studying Latin since January, after all.
3. You'll notice I've largely omitted Marie-Joseph's message to André. Why? While I'm sure it's fascinating (and I'm not saying that facetiously), it's longer than the play itself. If anyone who can't read French is dying to know what it says, I'd be happy to translate it as well, but I figure it's the play that's most important.


So, without further ado, I give you Act I, Scene I. )
montagnarde1793: (maximebust)

Margerit's series on the Revolution gets so much right, especially through the trial and execution of the Dantonistes - and even after that, in places. So the portrayal of pretty much everything involving Robespierre from that point on is extremely disappointing, to say the least. I finally finished the third book, which is the last one that takes place during the Revolution proper. I had thought, several chapters back, that as Margerit had done elsewhere, he was simply going to have his protagonist be mistaken on Robespierre's account. But apparently not.

And thus the last phrase this protagonist - Claude Mounier-Dupré - pronounces on his subject, is one of the most unfair and unjustified opinions I've heard on the subject (even the Thermidorians didn't actually believe this kind of thing, you'll notice):

"Vois-tu, dit-il, c'est son esprit obstinément et despotiquement religieux, c'est son caractère de prêtre manqué qui ont tué Maximilien. C'est ce caractère qui lui a fait détester des hommes comme Tallien, Barras, Fouché, Fréron, Collot, Billaud et leurs pareils. C'est son intolérance de prêtre sûr de son Dieu, c'est son acharnement de Grand Inquisiteur à remplacer les bûchers par la guillotine qui l'ont fait haïr et nous ont contraints à l'abattre. Il est mort parce que tout en désirant, comme certains entre nous, rénover la condition des hommes, établir l'égalité, la fraternité, la justice, il n'avait aucun sentiment de la liberté, il a voulu perpétuer l'antique esclavage des âmes. La Révolution ne pouvait s'achever avec lui. Mais, hélas, je crains qu'elle ne s'achève pas sans lui."

In translation: "You see," he said, "it's his obstinately and despotically religious spirit [or mind], it's his character of a priest manqué that killed Maximilien. It is this character that made men like Tallien, Barras, Fouché, Fréron, Collot, Billaud, and those like them, detest him. It's his priest-sure-of-his-God's intolerance, his Grand Inquisitor's determination to replace the stake by the guillotine that made him hated and forced us to bring him down. He died because, while he desired, like some of us, the renewal of the condition of men, the establishment of equality, fraternity, justice, he had no sentiment of liberty; he wanted to perpetuate the old enslavement of souls. The Revolution could not be completed with him. But, alas, I fear that it will not be completed without him."

The only full sentence that's accurate in all of that is the last one.

But I just don't know what to think; for the vast majority of the series Margerit seemed so reasonable where Robespierre was concerned - as he did in his diary from when he was writing the books, which I read in his entirety - and yet, in the last third of the third book, he has all his sympathetic characters express such sentiments as I quote above. I just don't understand... It's true he was incredibily rushed to finish this book and was researching as he went along (at a rather manic pace, to get the book done in time); he also confessed to trusting memoirists much more than historians, which accounts for many of the odd accounts throughout the books... Could it be he simply placed too much trust in Thermidorian accounts?


I have a headache.


montagnarde1793: (Default)

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