Tag Archives: royalists

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

Royalist snarkily defines the Révolution

Sorting out the context-specific meaning of terms employed in very particular ways by the pamphlet authors can be challenging for modern readers and catalogers alike. Apparently it was a source of confusion for readers contemporary to the pamphlets as well. I found a pamphlet whose author expressed a certain bewilderment about the “en vogue” terms being bandied about at the time, and he wrote a dictionary to explain these terms.  Granted, he’s writing from a strong royalist point of view, so the definitions are not always useful from a factual or truly explicative perspective, but most of the entries are intended to be quite humorous.  The entries on patriotisme and patriote are notable for their satire:

Case FRC 15500

Case FRC 15500

Patriote. Animal bipède qui fait peur aux honnêtes gens timides, et qui a peur des honnêtes gens courageux. [Patriot. Bipedal animal that frightens timid honnêtes gens, and who is afraid of courageous honnêtes gens.]

Patriotisme.  … Les grammairiens disent, que c’est le courage de sacrifier son intérêt particulier à sa patrie.  Les historiens qui se proposent d’écrire l’histoire de la révolution, disent, que c’est maintenant le courage de sacrifier sa patrie à son intérêt particulier. J’aime sincérement ma patrie; ce qui le prouve, c’est que je n’ai pas encore un seul acte de patriotisme à me reprocher. [Patriotism. ... The grammarians say that it's the courage to sacrifice one's own interest to his country. The historians who propose to write the history of the Revolution say that it is now the courage to sacrifice one's country to his own interest. I sincerely love my country; what that proves is that I still don't have a single act of patriotism for which to reproach myself.]

Buée, Adrien Quentin. Nouveau dictionnaire, pour servir à l’intelligence des termes mis en vogue par la Révolution. Paris: Crapart, 1792, p. 95 (Case FRC 15500).