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 Mirabeau 
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Post Mirabeau
An interesting man. What do you guys think about him? Could he have saved the monarchy? Did he betray it? What do you think would have happened if he had lived?


Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:37 am
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Post Re: Mirabeau
First, give me some basic info! :angel4:

I know for the writer Mirabeau.:oops:

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Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:28 pm
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Post Re: Mirabeau
Do they not mention him in biographies about Marie Antoinette? He was such an important figure for the monarchy in the early days of the Revolution! I really recommend a general history of the Revolution to provide a greater sense of context for that period of her life. (A nice short one is Christopher Hibbert's "Days of the French Revolution")

Condensed version: Gabriel Honoré Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau, was a nobleman who was elected to the Third Estate and was wildly popular during the early days of the Revolution. Before the Revolution he had led a wild life and was in prison for a few decades due to assorted lettres de cachet from his father. He was the one who, after the National Assembly was ordered to leave by the King, said, "We will only leave by the force of bayonets." He was a great orator and thus capable of drastically influencing public opinion.

He wanted to establish a constitutional monarchy with a strong ministry (and himself as a minister), a legislative assembly, and the King, who would retain the right of veto and executive powers (directed by the ministry), but more as a popular figurehead. He wanted the King to appeal to the people and acknowledge the reality of the limited power of the monarchy and the end of feudalism and absolutism. His plans dimished the monarchy too far to be palatable to Louis XVI and especially Marie Antoinette, whom he never could win around. It sometimes seems he was dealing with her more than Louis. She never accepted him, due to his plans for the dimished standing of the monarchy and his official allignment with the revolutionaries.

That said, Mirabeau was in the pay of the court. Especially as the Revolution radicalized (as much as it did between 89 and 91), Mirabeau worked harder and harder in secret to support the monarchy and to get the king to sign the constitution. In the Assembly he was loud and revolutionary on trivial matters, but more conservative on actual matters that affected the monarchy. Some people were already beginning to suspect him playing a double game at that time. However, he died in April, 1791 (poisoning? overwork? or just worn out from decades of hard living?). On his deathbed (I think I remember) he held a meeting between Danton and Lafayette to try to get them to cooperate to save the monarchy, that obviously didn't go well after.

He was buried in the Pantheon with great honors, but a few years later during the King's trial, when his role as an agent between the King and the revolutionaries, and the fact he took money for it, came out, he was discredited and his body was removed from the Pantheon.

Historians generally accept him as the one man who might have saved the constitutional monarchy, though he said of the King and Queen, "I risked destruction to save them, but they would not save themselves!" If they had been willing to trust him and follow his advice, perhaps France could have remained a constitutional monarchy. If he had lived and they held out, who knows how much longer he could have kept playing the double game. He was at heart a constitutional monarchist, which put him in a difficult position as some of his more radical colleagues rightly suspected him of intriguing with the court, while the King and Queen saw him as too radical and rejected his plans that might have saved them.


Sat Aug 23, 2008 5:34 am
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Post Re: Mirabeau
dreamoutloud wrote:
If they had been willing to trust him and follow his advice, perhaps France could have remained a constitutional monarchy. If he had lived and they


I agree. I think... he was such an untrustworthy man but he could save MA's life... and he'd been able to fix on constitutional monarchy.
I like him although he was really corrupt, imprudent and risk taker. I was thinking about what would happened if he had not died. Maybe he could pull the Royal Family from Tuileries and take back to power?? Leastways to half-power by deal...

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Sat Aug 23, 2008 3:53 pm
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Post Re: Mirabeau
Thank you so much dreamoutloud ! I have known more about his life before the Revolution. I didn’t know about the level of his political activity even I have read a lot about the days of the Revolution. Thank you. :angel10:

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Sat Aug 23, 2008 11:27 pm
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Post Re: Mirabeau
That's interesting that you know more about his early life, you usually don't see that brought up much beyond "he was in prison. A lot." Are you familiar with Claude Manceron's "Age of the French Revolution" series?

It's no surprise Marie Antoinette didn't like him. His past life would hardly have endeared him to her and he definitely was an untrustworthy figure in the sense that he was acting more radical than he actually was. Unfortunately, the king and queen didn't recognize that he was untrustworthy in their favor. I wonder if it even would have been possible for him to win Marie Antoinette around in the time when he was still powerful, because by the time of his death his influence was slipping. I say specifically Marie Antoinette because he's the one who quipped, "There is only one man at court now- The Queen." (I like that comment, he at least gives her credit for the strong political figure she had become by the Revolution.) But she refused to accept that the position of the monarchy had permanently changed for the worse, so in her eyes he was an untrustworthy upstart with a filthy past who wanted to degrade the monarchy. Her attitude is totally understandable, but it was fatal... I don't know if he could have won her over in time for the other revolutionaries to accept it. He's lucky he died before the flight to Varennes.


Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:10 am
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Post Re: Mirabeau
dreamoutloud wrote:
But she refused to accept that the position of the monarchy had permanently changed for the worse, so in her eyes he was an untrustworthy upstart with a filthy past who wanted to degrade the monarchy. Her attitude is totally understandable, but it was fatal...

Yes, that was a fatal mistake.

dreamoutloud wrote:
Are you familiar with Claude Manceron's "Age of the French Revolution" series?

Unfortunately no. My sources are books that are dialing with history of Europe but those books are from national authors. I search the internet a lot for the new information and then translate some interesting facts.

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Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:20 am
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Post Re: Mirabeau
Claude Manceron's series is a little inaccurately named, because it ends with the storming of the Bastille. I guess he had plans to do more, but they didn't pan out. It's basically a 5 book series of interwoven biographies from the American Revolution to the beginning of the French Revolution- mostly focused on French people, but some other nationalities as well. He really spends a LOT of time on Mirabeau's pre-revolutionary life. That's just why I wondered.


Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:30 am
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Post Re: Mirabeau
It mus be very interesting! Unluckily, I don't know them...
Thank you for your very interesting contributions!

I don't think Mirabeau could have saved the monarchy if he had lived...My impression is that the king and especially MA would have never accepted his idea of a costitutional monarchy, and this, together with the radicalizing of the Revolution would have led to Mirabeau's political failure.
I

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Fri Aug 29, 2008 7:19 pm
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