Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Massacre of the Swiss Guards

August 10, 1792 saw the fall of the French monarchy. The Brunswick Manifesto, published earlier that month, issued a warning to the citizens of Paris that if the royal family were injured, the city would be invaded. The Manifesto only added to the unrest of the city, already agitated by Jacobin propaganda and the war against Austria. Hearing that the Tuileries palace was about to be attacked, Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and their family escaped across the gardens to the National Assembly, where they took refuge in the stenographer's box. Louis sent an order for the Swiss Guards to lay down their arms and retreat in order to save their lives. As British historian Nesta Webster says in her book Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette during the Revolution: "Could [Louis XVI] imagine...that the mob, not content with venting their fury on the Chateau, would massacre not only the Swiss Guard, men of the people who had remained at their posts, but even the luckless servants in the kitchens of the Palace? The horrors committed on this 10th of August were such as no human mind could possibly have conceived." 900 Swiss guards were brutally killed, many tortured, some roasted, mutilated, decapitated, with their limbs distributed throughout Paris. Children played ball in the streets with the heads of the brave Swiss, and the steps of the Tuileries ran with blood, like some gruesome altar of human sacrifice. People dipped bread into the blood of the victims. The massacre was only the beginning of the mass murder which already characterized the French Revolution; in September 1792, 2000 more people would be horribly killed, including priests, religious, small children, and the Queen's friend Princess de Lamballe. The statue of the Lion of Lucerne commemorates the fallen Swiss. Share


Anonymous said...

Sorry this comment is so long...

On 10 August 1792, His Majesty the King and his family are removed (escape is too kind a word) from the Tuileries by the National Guard and brought before the so called "National Assembly". Within minutes of the their departure, attackers, the mob, burst through the gates of the Tuileries and confront The Swiss Guards who are in formation on the grand staircase of the palace arrayed as for battle. Their bright red uniforms and white cross belts immaculate in the sunlight.

Shouts for the surrender arose from the crowd. One traitor who speaks German yells to the Swiss.

"Surrender to the Nation!"…

" We would think ourselves dishonoured! We are Swiss and we surrender only with our lives!" Comes the reply.

The crowd becomes angry and and increasingly violent attempting to pull the soldiers of the stair case with the hooks of halbards. They succeeded with five, removing their weapons and butchered them. Then 60 of the Guard form a hollow square and force the mob back down the street. Turning a piece of the National Gaurds artillery back on them they fire and have the attackers running down the street.

The King, secluded in a cramped stenographers box was told to have the Guard lay down its arms and return to the barracks. The King, who grieves at the thought of his subjects having their blood shed reluctantly agrees and orders the Guard to lay down its arms. Captain Durler of the Guard refuses to believe this order. It is madness. He asks for it in writing. He has just seen with his own eyes what the mob has done to 5 of his men moments before.

He knows surrender means death. The King gives him the order in writing.

Captain Durler orders his men to lay down their arms and return to the barracks. As they withdraw they are attacked, where ever they run, where ever they attempt to hide they are dragged out and murdered. No not murdered, that would be to kind a word for it, for they are hacked to pieces, women and children lustily calling for their death, whistling and cheering at each head piked, each arm severed. The heads of the guards are kicked like balls in the streets of Paris. 900 are killed in this way.

At the end of the day no street in Paris is without it's head on a pike.

THIS is the glory of which The French Republic is so proud. This is the true story of the Godless proto-communists and their anarchical government, begun in fear, savagery and repression, maintained by threats and the guillotine.

Let them be remembered.
"HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI" – "To the Loyalty and Courage of the Swiss".

A of the hero of the Vendee' is a witness to the atrocity of 10 August 1792. Henri de la Rochejaquelein is at the Tuileries to offer his services to the royal family. He arrives just as the Mob begins the massacre and escapes only by exchanging his coat with that of a republicain. The short coat and tricolour cockade probably don't fool as many people as the leg of a Swiss he carries over his shoulder.

Vive le Roi, "Brantigny"

Anonymous said...

Thank you for giving a link about the lion statue.
How gorgeous!
I like what Mark Twain called it, "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world!"
I think that says it all.
I hope everyone clicks on that link to see what i mean.
God bless you,

elena maria vidal said...

Monsieur, do not apologize. I could not find anything on the internet that tells of the horror so clearly and succinctly as your narrative. I am very grateful!

elena maria vidal said...

Thnak you, Beth! I am blessed to have a replica of the magnificent statue of the Lion of Lucerne on my dining room table - a gift from a dear cousin!

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Brantigny: Do not apologize for the lenght of your comment, it is a most valuable one and I, especially thank you so much for it. During very enjoyable long talks with my father since I was a young child, I learned his way of thinking about the French Revolution and the horrors committed by the fanatic leaders of the Convention Nationale and the Reign of Terror. He could not understand how the French people were so proud of that brutal episode in the history of Europe. He said that maybe because of the mmeasurable extent of these crimes, which are way too large and heavy to handle by their conscience, they have to cover that bloody mirror that would tell the whole truth, with pink paint, so they, as a nation, can keep going. But, could you tell me (or I should say write us) if there was an attempt to bring to trial to the remaining leaders of the Committe of Public Safety when this terrible period was over? Was there any attempt to bring to trial those who ordered the abuse on the martyr young King Louis XVII and her sister? And all the horrors of the "revolution" as La Vendeé and others? Thanks in advance for your reply.
P.S.- Our kind hostess, Ms. Vidal should set up a chat room so, by means of an appointment, one or two days a week, we could gather together and exchange views and narrations of this painful period of France which at the distance seem in no way to dimins the anguish and indignation. Thanks again,

elena maria vidal said...

You know, Maru, I do not think that any of the tormentors of the dauphin were ever brought to trial. I know that Simon was guillotined during the Terror, probably for being connected to Robespierre rather than anything he did to the little king. Former revolutionaries such as Talleyrand and Fouche were given high offices in Louis XVIII's government, but then the former Comte de Provence was then one they called "King Voltaire" and "The Crowned Jacobin" so what does that tell us....

A chat room would be a great idea....

Unknown said...

Never have I ever been as affected by any piece of art than by the Lion of Lucerne. The Lion is hauntingly mournful and beautiful at the same time. Mark Twain was correct in his assessment of the sculpture.