1793 Order for Compensation for Families of Soldiers Lost in the Champs de Mars Massacre10126
On offer is an excellent document that refers to one of the bloody massacres that occurred in the early days of the French Revolution and also has a connection to the American Revolution.
The document is a decree issued by the new Revolutionary government. It is dated 15 Brumaire Year II using the French revolutionary calendar – November 5th, 1793. This was about 11 months following the execution of the French King, Louis XVI.
The decree was a compensation order:
Relatif aux Recompences et Indemnites des veuves et enfans, pere et mere des Citoyens qui ont peri a la journee du Champs de Mars
[Translation: Relative to the Recompenses and Indemnities of the widows and children, father and mother of the Citizens who lost in the day of the Champs de Mars]
This refers to the event known as the Champs de Mars Massacre of July 17, 1791. Louis XVI and his family had attempted to flee Paris and the Revolution but were captured and returned to the capital. There, the National Government worked out an arrangement whereby Louis would keep his throne (and his head) but the monarchy would now be a constitutional monarchy subject to the rule of the National Assembly. Fervent revolutionaries violently opposed this and 2 days later began to gather on the Champs de Mars to protest. The Champs de Mars was a huge parade ground where the Eiffel Tower now stands.
As the restive crowd gathered, two men were apparently lynched and as a result, the Mayor of Paris declared martial law and called in the National Guard. The Guard was commanded by the Marquis de Lafayette. This is the self-same Lafayette who served with distinction in the American Revolution and is seen as an American hero.
When the crowd failed to disperse, Lafayette ordered his troops to open fire and they did, with disastrous effects for the crowds. This decree not only applies to widows and children generally but, unusually for a decree of this sort, also names some specifically:
Il sera paye a la citoyenne Marie-Madeline Bichard, veuve de Jacques Besse, mort par suite des blessures qu'il a recues a la journess de Champ de Mars, une pension annuelle et viagere de cent vingt-cinq livres, a comprer du dix-sept Juillet 1791, et pour l'avenir, de trois mois en trois mois, et par avance.
[Translation: It will be paid to the citizen Marie-Madeline Bichard, widow of Jacques Besse, dead as a result of the wounds which he received at the day of the Field of Mars, an annual and life pension of one hundred and twenty-five livres, starting from the seventeenth of July 1791, and for the future, from three months to three months, and by advance].
It is interesting to note that while revolutionary fervour led to the use of a new calendar, the date mentioned within the decree is printed using the traditional Gregorian calendar.
Lafayette had a very prominent reputation following his exploits in the American Revolution. However, it was badly hurt by the Champs de Mars massacre and never recovered. He eventually fled France in disgrace.
The Mayor of Paris was Jean Sylvain Bailly, the first post-revolution mayor. He fell from favour as a result of the massacre and eventually was guillotined.
For a collector of memorabilia from the early days of the French Revolution, this would be an excellent addition to a collection. It refers directly to a major event of the early days of the Revolution and touches on other historically significant events such as the American Revolution and prominent figures of the day.
The document measures 8.5 inches by 7.25 inches and is folded to form four pages. The text comprises three of the pages. The paper is in good condition with only slight staining or fading from age. It is printed and quite legible.
Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information or to request photos. (Kindly include the SKU, listed on this page above the price, in your e-mail so we can more easily answer your questions.)
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