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 So who was guillotined? 
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Royalty
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
I also found it strange that there is nothing in the Place de la Concorde to commemorate the victims of the guillotine. I have read that the scaffold was erected on the spot where the obelisk stands today. I actually looked for something marking this spot when I was in Paris and was disappointed to find nothing. Another thing, I think that it's funny how the Concierge shows us the "reconstituted" cell of Marie Antoinette - Why not let the public SEE the true conditions she was forced to endure. (I know there was some reconstruction of the original area - but they could put it back in its original condition). Do you suppose that France might feel ashamed of these atrocities? They make so much money off the royals through tourism and everyone visiting these places - you'd think they could own up to this and acknowledge what has been done, instead of putting up a ferris wheel and pretending its a happy place.


Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:59 am
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
The few French citizens that I know personally hold contradictory feelings on the subject; they are at one and the same time proud of their revolution's accomplishments, and ashamed of its atrocities.


As to the original question: 'who was guillotined?' consider this;

At the beginning of the revolution (1789), there were 50,000 titled noblemen in France---10,000 of whom would fit our modern idea of an aristocrat.

A little over 2,000 people were guillotined in Paris during the terror, and most of them were priests, nuns, and commoners. So in reality, only a tiny fraction of the aristocracy were actually killed during the Revolution.

The same goes for the royal family. More of them escaped the guillotine (by my count, 9-to-3) than fell victim to it.

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Fri Nov 07, 2008 3:59 am
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
Are you saying that only slightly over 2000 people were killed during the Revolution? Paris was not the only place to set up a guillotine. The "Terror" was a part of the Revolution and the Revolution occured all over France, not only in Paris. What about all the people who were guillotined before and after the "Terror"? Also, the reason most of the Royal family escaped the guillotine is because they fled France. If they had stayed they'd have been beheaded with the rest. If the King and Queen had left too, their fate would have been different.
There were thousands more people who were killed by means other than the guillotine. I think that more than a "tiny" fraction of the aristocracy were killed. Although I do not have numbers. Does anyone else know?


Fri Nov 07, 2008 8:53 pm
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
No, I believe you are mistaken there. Really only a small number of aristocrats--as in titled nobility---were among the victims of the Revolution. Being an aristocrat in itself was not enough to be arrested and go to the guillotine. Indeed, there were quite a few who remained in France throughout the revolution and survived. The military leadership was full of them. A good example would be the Comte du Barry, Madame du Barry's legal husband. He lived at his country estate with his mistress throughout revolution without ever being arrested. Others would be the Marquis de Lafayette (who ended up fleeing late in the Revolution), the Marquis de Sade, the Comte de Genlis, the Duc de Biron, the Duc de LaTour-du-Pin, the Duc du Pont de Nemours---there are many examples..

The guillotine itself did not come into use until shortly before the period known as the "Terror." Nobody knows the actual number of victims of the Revolution, but estimates range between 20,000 and 50,000. It's true most of these were not killings in Paris, or by guillotine. There were terrible atrocities perpetrated in the provences, particularly the Vendee region, but these were not actions against the aristocracy. They were reprisals against various anti-revolution rebellions that took place throughout France.

In terms of a breakdown of victims: the largest single group were commoners, followed by clergy, and lastly the aristocracy. I agree that the other members of the royal family had to leave or die. But that does not hold true for all the nobility.

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Last edited by Christophe on Sat Nov 08, 2008 10:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:36 pm
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
The first time the guillotine was used was in 1792. Approx. a year before the "Reign of Terrror". You are correct that most of the people killed in this manner were the peasants and clergy. The numbers vary from source to source, that's why I said I did'nt have numbers. Some sources may say 80% of the estimated 40,000 were lower class -/- another says 8% of the 40-50,000 estimate were noble/aristcrats.That does not seem like a tiny number either way, still thousands of lives. But in comparison to the lower classes, definately a much, much smaller number!


Sat Nov 08, 2008 3:47 am
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
I disappear for the weekend and I miss interesting threads! Zut!

Regarding the Place de la Concorde... The guillotine didn't actually stand where the obelisk is today, but it was nearby. The obelisk is on the site of a former statue of Louis XV that was pulled down during the Revolution. Also, it was not the only place where people were executed, though it was the most famous. The guillotine moved around the city a fair amount. Naturally, it was at Place Grève for quite a long time too. The Place de la Corcorde was a rather problematic place after the Revolution. It was renamed "Place de la Concorde" during the Directory trying to evoke the spirit of a middle ground, as they didn't want to go back to Place Louis XV, but Place de la Révolution was too closely associated with the guillotine.

Also, at the Conciergerie they talk about their decision to recreate the cell of Marie Antoinette. The cell was destroyed and turned into an expiatory chapel by Louis XVIII. The official policy of the French Ministry of Culture is to leave a site in its most recent state of historical significance- which in this case is the chapel. However, they did want to show what Marie Antoinette's cell looked like, thus the recreation. I personally think it would have been more moving if they had left her original cell the way it was, but people didn't really think like that in the early 19th century, so I'm afraid you've got the Restoration to blame for altering her cell.

I posted something about the death toll of the Terror in another thread... The commonly cited statistics I have seen generally range from 18,000-40,000. In the book Incidence of the Terror during the French Revolution. A Statistical Interpretation, the historian Donald Greer went through and counted every recorded execution from the Terror and he came up with a number around 16,500. However, the line between battles, massacres, and execution in the provinces (especially the Vendée, but also Lyon and other rebel cities) could be kind of fuzzy, so there are certainly deaths that went unrecorded there. It is certainly higher when you count the people who died fighting in the civil wars (but then do you also count the Republican soldiers who died?), people who died in prison, etc., but by then you're not exactly talking executed anymore and it is basically impossible to ever know. Like Christophe said, the majority of the executions took place out of Paris in the rebellious provinces and cities and the guillotine was not the only means of execution used (mass drownings in Nantes and firing squads in Lyon being the other two that come to mind readily). And, yeah, 80-85% of the victims of the Terror were members of the Third Estate. Don't remember the exact stats for clergy and nobility, but I wouldn't be surprised if that 8% you cite is correct. Funny what people end up remembering.


Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:55 am
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
I have at last come across some reliable statistics relating to aristocratic deaths during the Revolution.

There were approximately 50,000 nobleman in France in 1789.

50,000 nobility.
-16,500 emigrated.
-1160 either executed or murdered.
=32,340. That's 65% who stayed and survived the Revolution, with only 2% going to their deaths.

Some more figures:
485 nobility guillotined in Paris.
79 in Bordeaux.
68 in Lyon.

Sort of shoots down the popular belief or what I call the "Dickenseque myth" of a mass purge of the nobility, doesn't it?

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"One grows accustomed to one's enemy, and by making it familiar one loses the desire to get rid of it...." Marquise de la Tour du Pin, in a letter to her friend Mme. de Duras.


Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:11 am
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
Thanks for these infos, Christophe! Actually, I thought of more toll among the nobility.

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Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:59 pm
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
Christophe wrote:
I have at last come across some reliable statistics relating to aristocratic deaths during the Revolution.

There were approximately 50,000 nobleman in France in 1789.

50,000 nobility.
-16,500 emigrated.
-1160 either executed or murdered.
=32,340. That's 65% who stayed and survived the Revolution, with only 2% going to their deaths.

Some more figures:
485 nobility guillotined in Paris.
79 in Bordeaux.
68 in Lyon.

Sort of shoots down the popular belief or what I call the "Dickenseque myth" of a mass purge of the nobility, doesn't it?




Where and who do these statistics come from?


Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:28 pm
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
I found them in Dancing to the Precipice, by Caroline Moorehead.

She gives her sources as the National Archives, London, files on refugees from the French Revolution 1789-1800; and the Archives Nationales, Series F1, F2 and F3, in Paris. She also lists a number of histories, including Le Mouvement des idees dans l'emigration francaise: 1789-1815, by Fernand Baldensperger; Terreur et subsistances:1793-1795, by Richard Cobb; and Historie Generale des emigres pendant la revolution francaise, 3 vols. by J. Ferneron.

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"One grows accustomed to one's enemy, and by making it familiar one loses the desire to get rid of it...." Marquise de la Tour du Pin, in a letter to her friend Mme. de Duras.


Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:33 pm
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
Thanks, Christophe! I have not yet read this book - I am going to look for it!


Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:52 pm
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
Lilly, I cannot recommend this book enough! Although it has some minor errors, reversal of dates, place names, etc---as if the author was in a hurry and did not proof, it is a delightful read. A biography of Lucie de La Tour du Pin nee Dillon, her primary sources are Lucie's famous memoirs, but also her many many letters written over a sixty year period, to which the author adds insights on the places, times, politics and people of which Lucie is writing.

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"One grows accustomed to one's enemy, and by making it familiar one loses the desire to get rid of it...." Marquise de la Tour du Pin, in a letter to her friend Mme. de Duras.


Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:39 pm
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
Ah, yes Christophe! I found a copy of the "Memoirs of Madame de La Tour du Pin" a couple years ago at a library sale, for one dollar! Your book sounds well worth reading as well - I'll order it. Thanks for the suggestion - I love a good read!


Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:10 pm
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
Christophe wrote:
Lilly, I cannot recommend this book enough! Although it has some minor errors, reversal of dates, place names, etc---as if the author was in a hurry and did not proof, it is a delightful read. A biography of Lucie de La Tour du Pin nee Dillon, her primary sources are Lucie's famous memoirs, but also her many many letters written over a sixty year period, to which the author adds insights on the places, times, politics and people of which Lucie is writing.


I am eager to read it, too! Thanks for the recommendation!

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Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:47 pm
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Post Re: So who was guillotined?
There are two volumes on Google Print listing many of the victims:

Dictionnaire des individus envoyés a la mort judiciarement ..., Louis Marie Prudhomme 1796

http://books.google.com/books?id=zkcUAA ... &q&f=false

http://books.google.com/books?id=mUIUAA ... &q&f=false

Certainly not complete - I've already found one famous person missing. But extensive, at the least.

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Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:51 pm
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