Tag Archives: French politics and government

Louis XVI on the cross

Here is one of the more arresting images I’ve come across in the French Revolution Collection (FRC): an engraving of Louis XVI being crucified between the clergy and the nobility.

Case FRC 27792

This messianic image accompanies the pamphlet La passion et la mort de Louis XVI, roi des juifs et des chretiens (Case FRC 27792 and Case FRC 22313).  The attribution to Jacques baron de Menou (1750-1810) on page 6 is fictitious, as is the place of publication: certainly not Jerusalem; most likely Paris.

Guy Thuillier recently published a brief discussion and a modern edition of the pamphlet, which is available through JSTOR (Guy Thuillier, “Un pamphlet de 1790 : La passion et la mort de Louis XVI, Roi des Juifs et des Chrétiens de Jean-François de Bourgoing,” La Revue administrative, 58e Année, No. 343 [January 2005], p. 18-24).  As Thuillier notes, the pamphlet is attributed to Bourgoing in Notice historique et généalogique sur la famille de Bourgoing by Georges de Soultrait (Lyon: Imprimerie de Louis Perrin, 1855) p. 34 [available via Gallica online].  Soultrait lays three other widely published writings  at the feet of Bourgoing: Domine salvum fac regem (1789), Pange lingua (1789), and Le cri de douleur, ou, la journee du 20 juin 1792.  All three of these — all of which are in FRC — are attributed by Martin & Walter to Jean-Gabriel Peltier.

Returning to the image, a very similar engraving — but colored and (assuming no inadvertent digital error) reversed — is held by the Musée Carnavalet in Paris, and available online via Bridgeman Art Library.

Louis XVI (1754-93) at his trial, crucified between the nobility and the clergy, c.1792 (coloured engraving), French School, (18th century) / Musée de la Ville de Paris, Musée Carnavalet, Paris, France / Archives Charmet / The Bridgeman Art Library

The magic lantern, la rareté merveilluse, fraai curieus!

Savoiardi colla Lanterna Magica, held by the British Museum (1890,0415.254)

If the language of cinema is universal, then one may say the same of the magic lantern show. The magic lantern, an early type of image projector, was a precursor to motion picture film projectors. Traveling magic lantern performers of the 18th and 19th centuries, also sometimes known as “Savoyards”, were a common sight in European cities. Often accompanied by an assistant who performed live music during the show, these performers projected hand-painted slides of popular tales in the darkened rooms of private homes using techniques borrowed from magic, pupeteering, and the theater.

One could also argue that political satire is universal. Both visual artists and pamphleteers of the 18th century co-opted the image of the magic lantern in acerbic works that satirized contemporary politics and culture. These often anonymous artists and authors acted, in a sense, as magic lantern projectionists and became the lens through which politics and society were examined and critiqued.

La Lanterne magique patriotique (Case FRC 17560)

Several pamphlets in the Newberry Library‘s French pamphlet collections are satires which build upon the theme and aesthetic of the magic lantern. One such example in the French Revolution Collection is La Lanterne magique patriotique, ou, Le Coup de grace de l’aristocratie by Antoine Dorfeuille (Case FRC 17560). Dorfeuille was a comedic actor, dramaturge, and revolutionary who was killed during counter-revolutionary violence in 1795 in the wake of the Reign of Terror. In this satire of the French aristocracy, Dorfeuille co-opts the language of the magic lantern showman to humorous effect.

Woodcut from La Lanterne magique patriotique (Case FRC 17560)

Included in this pamphlet is a crude woodcut of a magic lantern projecting an image of Lady Liberty. An English translation of the caption below the woodcut follows:

[Frenchmen, it's Lady Liberty!

"The print is very bad," the aristocracy will say;

"Yes, but the idea is good," Reason will say.]

Pasted in at p. 24 of this pamphlet is an expanded, alternate version of the text printed below it on Louis XVI and the aristocracy. This text pleads for the king to ignore the counsel of the coterie of aristocrats and diplomats, sometimes derisively called the comité autrichien (“Austrian Committee”), who surrounded him at court and harbored royalists sympathies that ran counter to many of the tenets of the French Revolution.

La Lanterne magique patriotique, p. 24 alternate text (Case FRC 17560)

[Do you see Louis XVI, who follows the cart on foot and seems to be pushing it along, all while the "Austrian Committee" throws rocks to impede his passage? Do you see the vertigo that overcomes him all of a sudden? ... Do you see the patriotism that awakens, that spurs ahead, that runs after him, that stops him, and that cries out to him, "Where are you going, monarch who has been led astray?" What better place is there than at the bosom of your people? ... Weak king, be brave; don't listen to bad counsel anymore, neither from  bad priests nor from your villainous wife: one little push and the machine will roll.]

The magic lantern also makes an appearance in the Pamfletten-Verzameling, a collection of mostly Dutch pamphlets at the Newberry that deal with the history of the Netherlands and this country’s relations with other European nations. Lanterne magique, of, Toverlantaern (F 46 .665 v. 26 no. 35) is a satirical Dutch periodical published in 20 issues in 1782 and 1783. It satirizes the politics of the day, including the strained relations between Great Britain and the Netherlands during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784), and makes many allusions to the newly formed United States, to which the Netherlands informally allied itself during the American Revolutionary War.

Lanterne magique, of, Toverlantaern (F 46 .655 v. 26 no. 35)

This periodical is written in the “Savoyard” language, or “Koeterwaals,” a comical gibberish mix of French and Dutch that was used by traveling magic lantern showmen from Wallonia. ( See media researcher Thomas Weynant’s Early Visual Media for translated excepts from the work of Dutch literary historian André Hanou on “Koeterwaals” and the relationship between satire, politics, and the magic lantern.)

It is not too late to experience an authentic magic lantern show. Magic lantern collector and performer Herman Bollaert has resurrected the art of the magic lantern show in Belgium, complete with “Koeterwaals,” in his live production, Magica Lanterna Galantee Show.

Liberty of the press and the Restoration

Case Wing Z658.F7 B46 1797 v. 1-2

Case Wing Z658.F7 B46 1797 v. 1-2, a collection of 49 French pamphlets concerning liberty of the press that was recently acquired with support from the Society of Collectors, complements the Library’s vast French Revolution Collection.  Only the first two items in v. 1, both dating from 1797, duplicate Newberry holdings.  The rest of the 49 pieces are new to the Library and, indeed, the vast majority had no English language records in OCLC World Cat (although French-language records were  previously created for some of the pamphlets).

They revolve around the provisions regarding freedom of the press found in the 1814 constitutional charter  set out at the beginning of the Bourbon Restoration. The pamphlets in the first volume deal directly with the law of 21 October 1814, instituting preemptive censorship of the press.  Those of the second volume consider the law of 28 February 1817, which liberalizes those policies.  The matter at hand in both cases revolves around article 8 of the charter:

Article 8. – Les Français ont le droit de publier et de faire imprimer leurs opinions, en se conformant aux lois qui doivent réprimer les abus de cette liberté.

(The French have the right to publish and to have published their opinions, in conformity with the laws which should curtail the abuse of this liberty.)

Pardon my translation; as such matters are wont to be, the meaning of the original French was itself at issue (viz.: the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution).  The charter in its entirety may be found here.

“Excusez l’état crasseux de ce mandement,” or, More ridicule from the margins

Last summer I wrote about a 1797 pamphlet covered in manuscript annotations taking the writer to task on issues of church and state.  Something similar from the dawn of the Revolution has just worked its way through the workflow.   Mandement de Monseigneur l’évêque de Périgueux, qui ordonne des prières publiques dans tout son diocese pendant la tenue des États généraux du royaume (Case folio FRC 26783) bears an apology on the cover:  “Excusez l’état crasseux de ce mandement.  Je le tiens d’un curé indecrassable”  (Excuse the execrable state of this mandement.  I think it’s written by an inexecrable prelate).

Case folio FRC 26783

The anonymous former reader/owner of the mandement has filled it with angry comments and rhetorical questions, numbered for your convenience.  Some of his concerns are spiritual, but just as often they are financial–after all, the Estates-General of 1789 were convened to address the realm’s dire financial problems.

Here are a few examples of the reader’s annotations.

"10. That's all well and good: but the deficit?" "11 But the deficit?" "12 So fathers are more pious than sons? Aeneas gives us an example of the contrary."

“15 A great vicar of Périgueux and secretary to the bishop died in 1777 with a fortune of more than 200000 that he earned trafficking in contraband tobacco”

Mixing and matching

Because our work is progressing so swiftly and efficiently on our French pamphlet collections, we have begun to catalog two additional collections at the Newberry, which up to this point had only been cataloged at the collection level.  The special strengths and backgrounds that our project team members bring to the table have allowed us both to maximize the efficiency of the project while maintaining an exceptional level of quality in our catalog records and to begin to process additional collections of scholarly importance that match their skill sets.

As both Jennifer D. and Shawn mentioned in previous posts below, they have begun to catalog the Howard Mayer Brown Libretto Collection (BLC), a collection comprised mostly of Italian and French opera libretti from the 16th to the 20th centuries bequeathed to the Newberry in 1993 by noted musicologist Howard Mayer Brown.  As musicologists, they are the ideal candidates to catalog this collection, which complements the Newberry’s large music collections.  Just as with the French Revolution Collection (FRC) and the Saint-Sulpice Collection, Shawn and Jennifer submit their cataloging work for a peer review.  For BLC, however, they submit their work to each other rather than to other members of the project team.  Because of their music knowledge, they are very familiar with helpful bibliographies and other reference sources and are able to bounce ideas off each other.

Pamphlet from the Pamfletten-Verzameling (not yet cataloged)

Pamphlet from the Pamfletten-Verzameling (not yet cataloged)

The other collection that we recently added to our project is the Pamfletten-Verzameling, a collection of 1,600 primarily Dutch pamphlets published between 1574 and 1849 and bound into 45 volumes.  Most deal with the history of the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, and Scandinavia, and especially with the relations between the Netherlands and England in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The pamphlets published during the late 18th century in particular are an essential complement to the French Revolutionary pamphlets in FRC.  Many of these pamphlets–such as the example pictured here, whose title translates in English to Europe Before the Bar of Justice, or, The Triumph of France –were published in French or espoused many of the revolutionary political ideas of the French Revolution.  This collection highlights the interconnectedness of all of European politics through many turbulent centuries.

David is the primary cataloger for this collection.  His facility with languages and adeptness at cataloging “bound-with” volumes are valuable assets.  He honed his skills cataloging bound-withs–volumes in which two or more separately published items have been bound together–with his fine work on cataloging the Saint-Sulpice Collection and assisting with other cataloging projects.  David’s work on collections of cartographic and travel materials have exposed him to plenty of publications in Dutch and German.  In order to ease into the Dutch language, he is cataloging this collection starting with the most recent publications and working back to the earliest.  In this way, he can avoid dealing with difficult Gothic typefaces present on older pamphlets until he has grown more accustomed to the Dutch language.

Stay tuned for more project management insights, cataloging banter, and new discoveries from all of our pamphlet collections.

reduce reuse recycle

Hidden within the folio materials of the French Revolutionary Collection is an assemblage of administrativa.  The bifolios with blank back pages make excellent file folders, and Case folio FRC is rife with examples of this reuse.

Case folio FRC suppl. 105, unfolded

 

Thus, the mild-mannered arrets and decrets that look like this on one side…

Case folio FRC suppl. 105 to 106 no. 5, front

look like this on the other….

Case folio FRC suppl. 105 to 106 no. 5, back

I imagine that these exemplars survived precisely because they were reused in this way, and that, once their secondary function had run its course, some enterprising bureaucrat saw that the recycled file folders could be reassembled as a collection of primary documents.  Among the loose ends of the FRC collection were two bundles of bifolios of just this type, except that all duplicate copies of the same law.  Interesting side-bars to this fascinating collection.

More laws. More assignats.

Case folio FRC suppl. 86

 

The laws continue apace.  This portfolio from the French Revolution Collection (FRC), Case folio FRC suppl. 86, consists largely of national laws promulgated on the departmental level, that department being Seine Inférieure.  A good many of these works are variants of pieces we have already cataloged or, in a few cases, of others in this very portfolio.  Take for instance these two pamphlets, nos. 51 and 52.  These are local and national versions of Loi relative aux assignats de cinq livres nouvellement fabriqués & prêts à être mis en émission [Law concerning five livre assignats newly made and ready for distribution].

Case folio FRC suppl. 86 nos. 51 and 52, title pages

 

The one on the left was published in Rouen by Louis Oursel, one of two official printers of the department.  The one on the right is a product of the Imprimerie royale in Paris.  The distinction is more apparent when we open them up:

Case folio FRC suppl. 86 nos. 51 and 52, interiors

 

The Rouen version, on the top in this photo, has additional language from the directoire of the Seine Inférieure (“Nous ADMINSTRATEURS du département de la Seine Inférieure…”).

The subject matter in this portfolio of 92 laws is focused largely on  assignats (cf. image below) and a smattering of other issues (cf. list that follows).  Given the well-trodden territory of this subject matter, I’ve been surprised and gratified by how many original records have been necessary.

Laws concerning assignats (Case folio FRC suppl. 86 nos. 78, 81-83)

 

 

What follows is a cross-section of titles, nos. 51-71 of this portfolio, some of which are variants (differentiated by their place of publication).  If this incremental feast of minutiae doesn’t strike your fancy, skip to dessert.  The post ends with a pair of images: one of no. 71, the other of one of the small-denomination assignats that resulted from that law.  Bon appetit!

No. 51. Loi relative aux assignats de cinq livres nouvellement fabriqués & prêts à être mis en émission. (Rouen) [Law concerning 5 livre assignats newly made and ready for distribution.]

No. 52. Loi relative aux assignats de cinq livres nouvellement fabriqués & prêts à être mis en émission. (Paris)

No. 53. Loi relative à la fabrication des assignats de cinq livres. (Rouen) [Law concerning the fabrication of five-livre assignats.]

No. 54. Loi relative aux estampilles destinées pour l’annullement des assignats. (Rouen) [Law concerning the hand stamps made for cancelling assignats.]

No. 55. Loi relative aux secours accordés aux employés supprimés, compris dans le décret du 31 juillet dernier. [Law concerning the aid given to employees whose jobs were eliminated in the decree of last July 31st.]

No. 56. Loi relative à la fabrication des assignats de cinq livres. (Paris)

No. 57. Loi relative aux estampilles destinées pour l’annullement des assignats. (Paris)

No. 58. Loi relative aux erreurs qui se trouvent dans les décrets de vente de biens nationaux, & aux moyens de les rectifier. [Law concerning errors found in the paperwork for the sale of national property, and the means of rectifying them.]

No. 59. Loi relative à la formation de nouveaux coins pour la fabrique des assignats de cent sous. [Law concerning the development of new dies for the fabrication of 100-sous assignats.]

No. 60. Loi qui ordonne un supplément de quinze millions en petits assignats de cinq livres, pour le service journalier des caisses de la Trésorerie nationale & de l’extraordinaire. (Rouen) [Law ordering a supplement of 15 million in small assignats of five livres, for the daily use in the tills of the Trésorerie nationale and the Caisse de l’extraordinaire.]

No. 61. Loi relative à la fabrication du papier destiné pour les assignats de dix & vingt-cinq livres [Law concerning the production of paper to be used for assignats of ten and twenty-five livres.]

No. 62. Loi qui ordonne un supplément de quinze millions en petits assignats de cinq livres, pour le service journalier des caisses de la Trésorerie nationale & de l’extraordinaire. (Paris)

No. 63. Loi relative à la police de la navigation & des ports de commerce. [Law concerning the oversight of navigation and commercial ports.]

No. 64. Loi relative au remplacement des officiers de l’Armée, dont les places se trouvent vacantes. [Law concerning the replacement of army officers whose posts are vacant.]

No. 65. Loi relative aux assignats de cinq livres que la Trésorerie nationale est autorisée à fournir à la Caisse des échanges. [Law concerning the five-livre assignats that the Trésorerie nationale is authorized to furnish to the Caisse des échanges.]

No. 66. Loi relative à une nouvelle fabrication d’assignats. [Law concerning a new production of assignats.]

No. 67. Loi relative à l’échange des petits assignats. [Law concerning the exchange of small assignats.]

No. 68. Loi relative à la rectification de l’article II du décret du 17 décembre dernier, sur les assignats. [Law concerning the correction of article II of the decree of last December 17th, on assignats.]

No. 69. Loi relative aux assignats provenant de la création du 29 juillet dernier. [Law concerning the assignats that resulted from the creation of last July 29th.]

No. 70. Loi relative aux bibliotheques des maisons religieuses et autres établissemens supprimés. [Law concerning the libraries of religious houses and other abolished establishments.]

No. 71. Loi relative à la fabrication des assignats de dix, quinze, vingt-cinq & cinquante sous. [Law concerning the production of assignats of 10, 15, 25, and 50 sous.] (See photo.)

Case folio FRC suppl. 86 no. 71. Loi relative à la fabrication des assignats de dix, quinze, vingt-cinq & cinquante sous.

25-sous assignat, made by order of the law of 4 janvier 1792 (date of the decree of the Assemblee nationale)

 What could you buy with one of these bills?  A brief price list of certain commodities, along with the crippling rate of inflation between 1790 and 1795, can be found here.

“Lecteur, prenez-garde,” or, Some duplicates do more than duplicate

As cataloging of the French Revolutionary Collection winds down, there are loose ends to gather up.  One such strand is to re-search the pamphlets flagged long ago as duplicates, so the non-duplicates can be cataloged.  In the batch that I searched, the number of titles already present in our catalog was surprisingly low, given how many pamphlets this project has churned through in two and a half years.

Not all duplicates are created equal, however, as librarians know.  A piece may be bibliographically identical but have unique value as an artifact.

FRC pamphlets set aside as duplicates, in the process of being rechecked

 

 

From my box of pamphlets, one such duplication-negating artifact emerged: a copy of the Décret de pacification proclamé par le Concile national de France  (duplicate of Case FRC suppl. 73 no. 8), filled to the brim with manuscript commentary.  For whatever reason, I opened to page 10 where my first glance landed on these words written at the foot of the page:

La religion chrétienne n’est point incompatible avec un gouvernement libre, il en existe des preuves; mais il est des gouvernements qui travaillent à la détruire et il ne couriant[?] point à ceux qui en sont ministres d’y [?] coopérer.

(The Christian religion is in no way compatible with a free government, the proof exists ; but it is the governments that works to destroy it [the church] and it is not up to those who are her ministers to cooperate.)

Annotations are fun. Annotations that enter into a dialogue with (rather than simply glossing) the text are interesting. Annotations that read like an articulate election-year blog comment are arresting. This pamphlet arrested me with a mixture of solace and sorrow that there is nothing new under the sun.

Every page of this gem is crowded with marginal notes responding to specific points in the text.  The annotator has even written his own caveat lector beside the caption title (photo below).

"Reader, beware" -- marginalia on duplicate of FRC suppl. 73 no. 8

Lecteur, prenez-garde—vous allez bien entendre la voix de Jacob, mais les mains que vous touchez sont les mains d’Ésaü, dont le Seigneur a dit : j’ai chéri Jacob et j’ai haï Esaü : vox quidem vox Jacob, manus autem sunt manus Esaü. Souvenez-vous toujours que vous devez vous défier des faux pasteurs qui se couvrent de la peau des brébis, mais qui ont la méchanceté des loups-ravissants.

(Reader, beware : you are going to hear the voice of Jacob but touch the hands of Esau, of whom the Lord said: I cherished Jacob and I hated Esaü / vox quidem vox Jacob, manus autem sunt manus Esaü. Remember always that you must defy the false pastors who dress in sheep’s clothing, but have the maliciousness of ravaging wolves.)

He’s speaking here of the French “constitutional clergy,” priests and bishops whose election had been taken out of the hands of the Catholic church.   The Concile national of 1797  reaffirmed this civil religion, and French reconciliation with the Holy See would have to wait for the Concordat of 1801.  Meanwhile, the one-sided “pacification”  presented in this 1797 pamphlet was not a reconciliation that the Catholic Church or French Catholics could live with, and it was roundly condemned in ways big and small… from the pope’s bully pulpit (as it were) and from the voices and pens of individuals like our anonymous commenter.

 

For favorites, pride goeth before a fall

For your consideration, two cautionary tales.

Royal favorites—whether confidants, lovers, or powerful political lieutenants—were magnets for controversy, their rise and fall followed closely by politicos and populace alike. In quick succession, the Saint Sulpice Collection has recently offered up pamphlets dealing with a couple of these characters.

The first, La disgrace de Baradas (Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 6 no. 6) of 1626, lambastes François de Baradas (1602-1684), the handsome officer of the royal household who was Louis XIII’s first love. Written as an allegory in the voice of “Maistre Bontemps,” La disgrace de Baradas mercilessly takes to task “ces petits Phaetonneax d’orgueil & d’ambition” (these little Phaëtons of pride and ambition) who overreach and get their comeuppance. It took only six months for Baradas to fall from favor, either for fighting an illegal duel or for taking other lovers; the sources disagree. This episode made “la fortune de Baradas” a French idiom for short-lived good fortune.

The second pamphlet, the Histoire admirable, et declin pitoyable aduenu en la personne d’vn fauory de la Cour d’Espagne (Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 12 no. 7), tells the tale of Rodrigo Calderón (1580s-1621), secretary to Francisco Gómez de Sandoval, Duke of Lerma, who was, in turn, the royal favorite or valido of King Philip III of Spain. Wielding enormous political power, Lerma left much of the work—and eventually its consequences—to his trusted secretary. The duke was savvy enough to seek out a cardinalship, giving him ecclesiastical immunity from prosecution, so when he fell from power in 1618 he couldn’t be touched. His enemies, instead, set upon Calderón, who was convicted of several murders and a host of lesser charges. The Histoire admirable is devoted mostly to the pitiable decline (ever the more interesting part), specifically Calderón’s torture and execution in 1621, along with details of what became of his wealth.

Like Baradas, Calderón contributed to his nation’s lexicon.  He took his death sentence with such bravery (bravado?), that even today a person who is immoderately proud is said to “tener más orgullo que Don Rodrigo en la horca” (be prouder than Don Rodrigo on the scaffold).

A day in the life, or, The subject kaleidoscope

One of the pleasures of cataloging the French Revolution Collection (FRC) is the daily encounter with a wide variety of subjects.  Of late, many of us are working on portfolios that consist almost entirely of legislation. These are generally one- to two-page affairs promulgating laws; they are the end product of all those projets de decret and rapports we’ve cataloged for so long.  Unlike the bulk of those proposals and reports (and other materials like plays, sermons, what have you)–which are organized alphabetically by author and can therefore have large swathes of pamphlets on similar subjects–the laws are organized numerically, giving a cross-section of what was on the mind and the docket of the government in a given period.

Laws from the portfolio Case folio FRC 9712-9756

Laws from the portfolio Case folio FRC 9712-9756

Since these pamphlets tend to be short and their structure is formulaic by definition, the cataloging experience can be topically kaleidoscopic. For fun, recently, I decided to jot down the gist* of every item I worked on for a day.  What follows is my highly unscientific gloss of a portion of FRC 10330: a portfolio of 107 individual decrees issued by the Convention nationale in the spring of 1793.

  • Cadavers and air quality (exhalaisons funestes)
  • Founding of the Tribunal revolutionnaire
  • Gunpowder and saltpeter import/export
  • Customs officials–salaries
  • Paris must sell flour cheap to bakeries
  • Guards troops for the Convention nationale, Tribunal de cassation, Ministère de la justice
  • Notaries… refugee property/acts
  • Certificates of residence
  • Abolition of the Maison royale de Saint-Louis
  • Death penalty for proposing subversive land tenure legislation
  • Émigré‘s property and aliens
  • Public welfare
  • Annexation of territory (Belgium and Germany)
  • “Payeurs de la guerre” are not to be drafted
  • Municipalities must plant the fallow land of émigrés
  • Restitution
  • Hotel de la monnaie de paris — inventory and mint
  • Planting unsowed émigré land
  • Slight emendation to some previous law
  • Legislators who were judges but left some decisions unsigned must figure out how to get that taken care of
  • Decrees against émigrés — civil death, etc.
  • Military enlistment, measures against desertion and illegal arms sales
  • Service du genie–recruiting from Ecole nationale des ponts et chaussées
  • Lifting embargo of Hansa town ships and abolishing privateering of same
  • Inventories for former civil listers and royal households
  • Sedition and punishment for printers, colporteurs, etc.
  • Freight tax on grain from Italy suspended
  • Passports of recognized foreign diplomats not suspended
  • Government sale of royal and church property
  • Repealing the law prohibiting legislators from being pamphleteers
  • Weapons industry employees exempt from draft
  • Transportation of rags; import tax on foods and other merchandise
  • Covering operating and maintenance cost for buildings and establishments from the former civil list
  • Where grain is too expensive, it will be supported with public funds lifted from the wealthiest
  • Argenterie–turning confiscated Belgian silverware into coin
  • Founding the Comité du salut public

This small sampling offers up some of their preoccupations: keeping people fed, dealing with the draft, filling the coffers, quashing sedition.  And, of course, alongside the quotidian and the bureaucratic is the momentous: the founding of the Tribunal revolutionnaire (Case folio FRC 10330 no. 19) and the Comité du salut public (Case folio FRC 10330 no. 54)–those embodiments of the Reign of Terror.

Decrets relatifs a la formation d'un tribunal criminel extraordinaire

Case folio FRC 10330 no. 19

Decrets relatifs a la formation & composition d'un comite de salut public

Case folio FRC 10330 no. 54

What these pamphlets lack in panache, they make up for in surprise encounters like these.  Taken collectively, they give a Cook’s tour of the halls of French government.

*Fear not, librarian friends: the Library of Congress Subject Headings in the actual records pass muster.