Armoire de fer

L'armoire de fer (French: 'iron chest') in general refers to an iron chest used to house important papers. A notable and frequent use of the term refers to a hiding place at the apartments of Louis XVI of France at the Tuileries Palace where some secret documents were kept. The existence of this iron cabinet, hidden behind wooden panelling, was publicly revealed in November 1792 to Roland, Girondin Minister of the Interior. The resulting scandal discredited the King.

Le squelette de Mirabeau sortant de l'armoire de fer
Skeleton of Mirabeau coming out of the armoire de fer


A locksmith by the name of François Gamain helped reveal these documents to the authorities, who rewarded him with a government pension. The cabinet hid correspondence between Louis XVI and, among others, Mirabeau, whose venality and duplicity were exposed. Also, the cabinet included the correspondence of the King with the financier Maximilien Radix de Sainte-Foix, an important secret advisor of the sovereign; with the bankers Joseph Duruey, and Tourteau de Septeuil; with Arnaud Laporte, a Royalist government minister who controlled large funds of money during the revolution; with François de Bonal, Bishop of Clermont, et al.

Most of the pieces of correspondence in the cabinet involved ministers of Louis XVI (Montmorin, Valdec Lessart, Bertrand de Molleville, Count of Narbonne, Cahier de Gerville, Charles François Dumouriez, et al.).

Other letters involved prominent figures of the Revolution, such as General Santerre, Lafayette, Antoine Rivarol, and Talleyrand. There were rumors that only selected documents were made public, and that certain other documents were destroyed. The Interior Minister Roland would have played a role in this regard, and may have destroyed documents involving his colleague Danton.

These documents, despite the likely gaps and pre-selection, showed the duplicity of advisers and ministers—at least those that Louis XVI trusted—who had set up parallel policies.


After the discovery of the armoire de fer, Mirabeau's remains were removed from the Pantheon. On 20 November 1792, Jean-Marie Roland filed these archives—at least what was left of them (which was considerable)—with the office of the National Convention, negating all maneuvers to prevent putting Louis XVI on trial.[1] By the order of the Convention of 6 December 1792, many of these documents were published by the national printing office in 1792–1793.


  1. ^ Albert Mathiez , La Révolution française, vol. 2: «La Gironde et la Montagne», Ch. 4 : «Le procès du roi»
  • This article is based on French Wikipedia.


  • Andrew Freeman, The Compromising of Louis XVI : the armoire de fer and the French Revolution, University of Exeter Press, collection « Exeter studies in history », 1989.
  • Olivier Blanc, La corruption sous la Terreur, Paris, Robert Laffont, collection « Les hommes et l'histoire », 1992.
  • Paul and Pierrette Girault de Coursac, Enquête sur le procès du Roi Louis XVI, La Table Ronde, 1982. Réédition : F.X. de Guibert, 1992.

External links

Antoine Barnave

Antoine Pierre Joseph Marie Barnave (22 October 1761 – 29 November 1793) was a French politician, and, together with Honoré Mirabeau, one of the most influential orators of the early part of the French Revolution. He is most notable for correspondence with Marie Antoinette in an attempt to set up a constitutional monarchy and for being one of the founding members of the Feuillants.

Constitutional Guard

When the National Constituent Assembly dissolved itself on 3 September 1791, it decreed as a final measure that King Louis XVI should have a Constitutional Guard, also known as the garde Brissac after its commander Louis Hercule Timolon de Cossé, duc de Brissac. This guard's formation was the only court reform to be put into effect, but it only lasted a few months, being superseded by the National Guard.

Flight to Varennes

The royal Flight to Varennes (French: Fuite à Varennes) during the night of 20–21 June 1791 was a significant episode in the French Revolution in which King Louis XVI of France, his queen Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family unsuccessfully attempted to escape from Paris in order to initiate a counter-revolution at the head of loyal troops under royalist officers concentrated at Montmédy near the frontier. They escaped only as far as the small town of Varennes, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould.

This incident was a turning point after which popular hostility towards the French monarchy as an institution, as well as towards the king and queen as individuals, became much more pronounced. The king's attempted flight provoked charges of treason that ultimately led to his execution in 1793.

The failure of the escape plans was due to a series of misadventures, delays, misinterpretations, and poor judgments. Much was due to the King's indecision; he repeatedly postponed the schedule, allowing small problems to become big ones. Furthermore, he misjudged popular support for the traditional monarchy. He thought that only radicals in Paris were promoting a revolution that the people as a whole rejected. He believed, mistakenly, that he was beloved by the rural peasants and the common people.

The king's flight was traumatic for France, inciting a wave of emotions that ranged from anxiety to violence and panic. Everyone was aware that foreign intervention was imminent. The realization that the king had effectually repudiated the revolutionary reforms made up to that point came as a shock to people who, until then, had seen him as a fundamentally well-meaning monarch who governed as a manifestation of God's will. Republicanism, from being merely a subject of coffeehouse debate, suddenly became the dominant ideal of revolutionary leaders.

Jean-Baptiste Robert Lindet

Jean-Baptiste Robert Lindet (2 May 1746 in Bernay, Eure – 17 February 1825) was a French politician of the Revolutionary period. His brother, Robert Thomas Lindet, became a constitutional bishop and member of the National Convention. Although his role may not have been spectacular, Jean-Baptiste Lindet came to be the embodiment of the growing middle class that came to dominate French politics during the Revolution.

Jean-Marie Roland de la Platière

Jean-Marie Roland, de la Platière (18 February 1734 – 15 November 1793) was a French inspector of manufactures in Lyon and became a leader of the Girondist faction in the French Revolution, largely influenced in this direction by his wife, Marie-Jeanne "Manon" Roland de la Platiere. He served as a minister of the interior in King Louis XVI's government in 1792.


The kilogram or kilogramme (symbol: kg) is the base unit of mass in the International System of Units (SI). Until 20 May 2019, it remains defined by a platinum alloy cylinder, the International Prototype Kilogram (informally Le Grand K or IPK), manufactured in 1889, and carefully stored in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris. After 20 May, it will be defined in terms of fundamental physical constants.

The kilogram was originally defined as the mass of a litre (cubic decimetre) of water. That was an inconvenient quantity to precisely replicate, so in 1799 a platinum artefact was fashioned to define the kilogram. That artefact, and the later IPK, have been the standard of the unit of mass for the metric system ever since.

In spite of best efforts to maintain it, the IPK has diverged from its replicas by approximately 50 micrograms since their manufacture late in the 19th century. This led to efforts to develop measurement technology precise enough to allow replacing the kilogram artifact with a definition based directly on physical phenomena, a process which is scheduled to finally take place in 2019.

The new definition is based on invariant constants of nature, in particular the Planck constant which will change to being defined rather than measured, thereby fixing the value of the kilogram in terms of the second and the metre, and eliminating the need for the IPK. The new definition was approved by the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) on 16 November 2018. The Planck constant relates a light particle’s energy, and hence mass, to its frequency. The new definition only became possible when instruments were devised to measure the Planck constant with sufficient accuracy based on the IPK definition of the kilogram.

Louis XVI of France

Louis XVI (French pronunciation: ​[lwi sɛːz]; 23 August 1754 – 21 January 1793), born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as Citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, son and heir apparent of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin of France. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he assumed the title "King of France and Navarre", which he used until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of "King of the French" until the monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792.

The first part of his reign was marked by attempts to reform the French government in accordance with Enlightenment ideas. These included efforts to abolish serfdom, remove the taille, and increase tolerance toward non-Catholics. The French nobility reacted to the proposed reforms with hostility, and successfully opposed their implementation. Louis implemented deregulation of the grain market, advocated by his economic liberal minister Turgot, but it resulted in an increase in bread prices. In periods of bad harvests, it would lead to food scarcity which would prompt the masses to revolt. From 1776, Louis XVI actively supported the North American colonists, who were seeking their independence from Great Britain, which was realised in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The ensuing debt and financial crisis contributed to the unpopularity of the Ancien Régime. This led to the convening of the Estates-General of 1789. Discontent among the members of France's middle and lower classes resulted in strengthened opposition to the French aristocracy and to the absolute monarchy, of which Louis and his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, were viewed as representatives. Increasing tensions and violence were marked by events such as the storming of the Bastille, during which riots in Paris forced Louis to definitively recognize the legislative authority of the National Assembly. Louis XVI was iniciated into masonic lodge Trois-Frères à l'Orient de la Cour.

Louis's indecisiveness and conservatism led some elements of the people of France to view him as a symbol of the perceived tyranny of the Ancien Régime, and his popularity deteriorated progressively. His disastrous flight to Varennes in June 1791, four months before the constitutional monarchy was declared, seemed to justify the rumors that the king tied his hopes of political salvation to the prospects of foreign intervention. The credibility of the king was deeply undermined, and the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic became an ever-increasing possibility. Despite his lack of popular approbation, Louis XVI did abolish the death penalty for deserters, as well as the labor tax, which had compelled the French lower classes to spend two weeks out of the year working on buildings and roads.In a context of civil and international war, Louis XVI was suspended and arrested at the time of the Insurrection of 10 August 1792; one month later, the absolute monarchy was abolished; the First French Republic was proclaimed on 21 September 1792. He was tried by the National Convention (self-instituted as a tribunal for the occasion), found guilty of high treason, and executed by guillotine on 21 January 1793, as a desacralized French citizen under the name of "Citizen Louis Capet," in reference to Hugh Capet, the founder of the Capetian dynasty – which the revolutionaries interpreted as Louis's family name. Louis XVI was the only King of France ever to be executed, and his death brought an end to more than a thousand years of continuous French monarchy. Both of his sons died in childhood, before the Bourbon Restoration; his only child to reach adulthood, Marie Therese, was given over to the Austrians in exchange for French prisoners of war, eventually dying childless in 1851.

Maximilien Radix de Sainte-Foix

Maximilien Radix de Sainte-Foix, born Charles-Pierre-Maximilien Radix de Sainte-Foix (13 June 1736, in Paris – 23 June 1810, in Bourbonne-les-Bains), was a noted French financier and politician. He held the position of Superintendent of Finance for the Comte d'Artois. Later, he headed the secret council of advisers for Louis XVI, while the latter was being detained at the Tuileries Palace. He played a big role in the counter-revolutionary circles of the time.

Musée des Archives Nationales

The Musée des Archives Nationales, formerly known as the Musée de l'Histoire de France (French ), is a state museum of French history operated by the Archives Nationales. The museum features exhibitions drawn from the collections of the government archives and aims to provide document-based perspective on France’s history and the evolution of French society. It is housed in the Hôtel de Soubise in the Marais neighborhood in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris, France. It was first established under Napoleon III in 1867 with the direction of Léon de Laborde.

Paris in the 18th century

Paris in the 18th century was the second-largest city in Europe, after London, with a population of about 600,000 people. The century saw the construction of Place Vendôme, the Place de la Concorde, the Champs-Élysées, the church of Les Invalides, and the Panthéon, and the founding of the Louvre Museum. Paris witnessed the end of the reign of Louis XIV, was the center stage of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, saw the first manned flight, and was the birthplace of high fashion and the modern restaurant.

Paul and Pierrette Girault de Coursac

Paul and Pierrette Girault de Coursac are two French historians who specialise in the lives of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.

Pierre Joseph Duhem

Pierre Joseph Duhem (8 July 1758 – 24 March 1807) was a French physician and politician.

Timeline of Paris

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Paris, France.

Timeline of the French Revolution

The following is a timeline of the French Revolution.

Tuileries Palace

The Tuileries Palace (French: Palais des Tuileries, IPA: [palɛ de tɥilʁi]) was a royal and imperial palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the River Seine. It was the usual Parisian residence of most French monarchs, from Henry IV to Napoleon III, until it was burned by the Paris Commune in 1871.

Built in 1564, it was gradually extended until it closed off the western end of the Louvre courtyard and displayed an immense façade of 266 metres. Since the destruction of the Tuileries, the Louvre courtyard has remained open and the site is now the location of the eastern end of the Tuileries Garden, forming an elevated terrace between the Place du Carrousel and the gardens proper.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.