Camille Desmoulins

Lucie-Simplice-Camille-Benoît Desmoulins (French: [kamij demulɛ̃]; 2 March 1760 – 5 April 1794) was a journalist and politician who played an important role in the French Revolution. He was a schoolmate of Maximilien Robespierre and a close friend and political ally of Georges Danton, who were influential figures in the French Revolution. Desmoulins was tried and executed alongside Danton when the Committee of Public Safety reacted against Dantonist opposition.[1]

Camille Desmoulins
Camille Desmoulins, Musée Carnavalet
Portrait of Camille Desmoulins
Deputy of the National Convention
In office
20 September 1792 – 5 April 1793
Personal details
Born2 March 1760
Guise, Picardy, France
Died5 April 1794 (aged 34)
Place de la Révolution, Paris, France
Political partyJacobin Club
Other political
The Mountain
Lucile Duplessis (m. 1790)
Camille Desmoulins's signature

Early life

Desmoulins was born at Guise, Picardy in the north of France. His father, Jean Benoît Nicolas Desmoulins, was a rural lawyer and lieutenant-general of the bailliage of Guise. Through the efforts of a friend, he obtained a scholarship for the fourteen-year-old Camille to enter the Collège Louis-le-Grand in Paris. Desmoulins proved an exceptional student even among such notable contemporaries as Maximilien Robespierre and Louis-Marie Stanislas Fréron. He excelled in the study of Classical literature and politics, and gained a particular affinity for Cicero, Tacitus and Livy.[2] He pursued law, and succeeded in gaining acceptance as an advocate of the parlement of Paris in 1785; however, his serious stammer and ferocious temper proved severe obstacles to success in this arena. Thus stymied, he turned towards writing as an alternative outlet for his talents; his interest in public affairs led him to a career as a political journalist.

In March 1789, Jean Benoît Nicolas Desmoulins was nominated as deputy to the Estates-General from the bailliage of Guise; however, due to illness, he failed to take his seat. Camille Desmoulins, himself limited to the role of spectator at the procession of the Estates-General on 5 May 1789, wrote a response to the event: Ode aux Etats Generaux. The Comte de Mirabeau, a powerful political figure within the Estates-General who positioned himself as a bridge between the aristocracy and the emerging reformist movement, briefly enlisted Desmoulins to write for his newspaper at this time, strengthening Desmoulins' reputation as a journalist .[3]

July 1789

Owing to his difficulties in establishing a career as a lawyer, Desmoulins' position in Paris was a precarious one, and he often lived in poverty. However, he was greatly inspired and enthused by the current of political reform that surrounded the summoning of the Estates-General. In letters to his father at the time, he rhapsodized over the procession of deputies entering the Palace of Versailles, and criticized the events surrounding the closing of the Salle des Menus Plaisirs to the deputies who had declared themselves the National Assembly – events which led to the famous swearing of the Tennis Court Oath.

The sudden dismissal of popular finance minister Jacques Necker by King Louis XVI on 11 July 1789 proved the spark that lit the fuse of Desmoulins' fame. On Sunday 12 July, spurred by the news of this politically unsettling dismissal, Desmoulins leapt onto a table outside the Cafe du Foy (one of many cafés in the garden of the Palais Royal frequented in large part by political dissidents) and delivered an impassioned call to arms. Shedding his customary stammer in the excitement, he urged the volatile crowd to "take up arms and adopt cockades by which we may know each other",[3] calling Necker's dismissal the tocsin of the St. Bartholomew of the patriots. The stationing of a large number of troops in Paris, many foreign, had led Desmoulins and other political radicals to believe that a massacre of dissidents in the city was indeed imminent. This was an idea that his audience also found plausible and threatening, and they were quick to embrace Desmoulins and take up arms in riots that spread throughout Paris rapidly.

The "cockades" worn by the crowd were initially green, a color associated with liberty, and made at first from the leaves of the trees that lined the Palais Royal. However, the color green was also associated with the Comte d'Artois, the reactionary and conservative brother of the King, and the cockades, therefore, were quickly replaced by others in the traditional colors of Paris: red and blue. The forces semi-organized under this banner attacked the Hôtel des Invalides to gain arms and, on 14 July, embarked upon the Storming of the Bastille.


Portrait by Joseph Boze

In May and June 1789, Desmoulins had written a radical pamphlet entitled La France Libre, which his publisher at that time had refused to print. The rioting surrounding the storming of the Bastille, however, and especially Desmoulins' personal and publicized involvement in it, altered the situation considerably. On 18 July, Desmoulins's work was finally issued. The politics of the pamphlet ran considerably in advance of public opinion; in it, Desmoulins called explicitly for a republic, stating, "... popular and democratic government is the only constitution which suits France, and all those who are worthy of the name of men."[4] La France Libre also examined and criticized in detail the role and rights of kings, of the nobility, and of the Roman Catholic clergy.

Desmoulins' renown as a radical pamphleteer was furthered by the publication, in September 1789, of his Discours de la lanterne aux Parisiens, which featured as its epigraph a quotation from the Gospel of John: Qui male agit odit lucem ("He who does evil hates the light")[5] This was understood to allude to the iron bracket of a lamppost at the corner of the Place de Grève and the Rue de la Vannerie, often used by rioters as a makeshift gallows for anti-revolutionaries and those accused of profiteering. A famous Revolutionary song, the Ça ira ("It shall be"), also immortalizes this lantern, in the lines, "Les aristocrates à la lanterne... Les aristocrates, on les pendra!" ("To the lantern with the aristocrats... The aristocrats, we'll hang them!")

The Discours de la lanterne, written from the perspective of the Place de Grève lamppost, was aggressive in its celebration of political violence, and attributed exalted qualities of loyalty and patriotism to the citizens who made up the Parisian mob. This hard-edged fervor found an appreciative audience in Paris, and Desmoulins, as a result of the pamphlet, became known as the "Procureur-général de la lanterne" ("the Lanterne Prosecutor" or "Lanterne Attorney").

In November 1789, Desmoulins issued the first number of a weekly publication, Histoire des Révolutions de France et de Brabant, which would run until the end of July 1791. This publication combined political reportage, revolutionary polemics, satire, and cultural commentary; "The universe and all its follies," Desmoulins had announced, "shall be included in the jurisdiction of this hypercritical journal."[6] The Révolutions de France et de Brabant proved extremely popular from its first to its last number. Desmoulins became notorious, and was able to leave behind the poverty that had marked his previous life in Paris.

The politics of the Révolutions de France et de Brabant were anti-royalist and pro-Revolutionary. The newspaper celebrated the Revolutionary zeal of "patriots" from the battlefields of Brabant to the Cordeliers district in Paris (home to the well-known and powerful revolutionary Club des Cordeliers, of which Desmoulins was a prominent member), and also criticized the excesses and inequities of, among a wide range of targets, the aristocratic regime. The savagery with which Desmoulins attacked those with whom he disagreed drew lawsuits, criticism, and reciprocal attacks. His previous friendships with powerful figures such as the Comte de Mirabeau and Baron Malouet, suffered. Both men, angered by what they perceived as libellous statements, declared that Desmoulins should be denounced and Malouet "went so far as to ask that Camille be certified insane." The Actes des Apôtres, the equally savage royalist newspaper that served as the Révolutions' opposite number, engaged in a continual war of insults with the Révolutions, and particularly with Desmoulins, whom it dubbed, in a satirical poem, "l'ânon des moulins" (the little jackass of the windmills).[7]

Upon the death of the Comte de Mirabeau in April 1791, Desmoulins (to whom Mirabeau had, at one time, been a great patron and friend) countered the predominantly sentimental and forgiving eulogies that appeared in the Parisian press by publishing a brutal attack in which he declared the late Mirabeau to be the "god of orators, liars, and thieves."[8] This presaged later about-face attacks against prominent and once-sympathetic Revolutionary figures, such as Jean Pierre Brissot, by Desmoulins - a method which would, ultimately, be turned against him by his own former friends.

On 16 July 1791, Desmoulins appeared before the Paris Commune as the head of a group petitioning for the deposition of Louis XVI, who had, in June of that year, briefly fled Paris with his family before being captured and escorted back to the city. The flight of the king had caused civil unrest, and the petition, presented a day before the anniversary of the Fête de la Fédération, contributed to this agitation. On July 17, a large crowd that had gathered at the Champs de Mars in support of the petition was fired upon by military forces under the command of the Marquis de Lafayette, an incident which became known as the Champs de Mars Massacre. Accounts differ as to whether or not Desmoulins was present at the Champs de Mars; in the subsequent upheaval, warrants for the arrest of himself and Georges Danton were issued. Danton fled Paris, and Desmoulins, though he remained in the city, and spoke on several occasions at the Jacobin Club, decreased his journalistic activities for a time.

Early in 1792, following a bitter quarrel with Jean Pierre Brissot over a legal case which Desmoulins had taken up and discussed in several broadsheets, Desmoulins published a pamphlet, Jean Pierre Brissot démasqué, which attacked Brissot savagely and personally. In it, Desmoulins claimed that the invented verb brissoter had taken on the meaning "to cheat," and accused Brissot of betraying republicanism. The case constructed against Brissot in this pamphlet was expanded and used to terrible and destructive effect in Desmoulins' later publication of 1793, Fragment de l'histoire secrète de la Révolution (also known as the Histoire des Brissotins), in which the Girondist political faction, of which Brissot was a prominent member, was accused of traitorous and counter-revolutionary activities. This "history," produced in response to calls by Brissot and his followers for the dissolution of the Paris Commune and of the Jacobins, contributed to the arrest and execution of many Girondist leaders, including Brissot himself, in October 1793. Desmoulins intensely regretted his role in the death of the Girondists; present at their trial, he was heard to lament, "O my God! my God! It is I who kill them!" He was seen to collapse in the courtroom when the public prosecutor pronounced the sentence of death.[9]

This growing remorse was accompanied by an element of recklessness. In the summer of 1793, General Arthur Dillon, a royalist and close friend of Desmoulins and his wife, was imprisoned. In an openly published Lettre au General Dillon, Desmoulins went far beyond the politically delicate act of defending Dillon, and attacked powerful members of the Committee of Public Safety - notably Saint-Just and Billaud-Varenne.

Beginning 5 December 1793, Desmoulins published the journal for which he would be best known and most celebrated: Le Vieux Cordelier. Even the title of this short-lived publication spoke of conflict with the current regime, implying that Desmoulins spoke on behalf of the "old" or original members of the Club des Cordeliers, in opposition to the more radical and extreme factions that had now come into power. In the seven issues that comprised the Vieux Cordelier, Desmoulins condemned the suspicion, brutality, and fear that had come to characterize the Revolution, comparing the ongoing Revolutionary Terror to the oppressive reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius and calling for the establishment of a "Committee of Clemency" to counter the climate of mercilessness fostered by the Committee of Public Safety. In the fourth number of the journal, Desmoulins addressed Robespierre directly, writing, "My dear Robespierre... my old school friend... Remember the lessons of history and philosophy: love is stronger, more lasting than fear."[10] The perceived counter-revolutionary tone in these calls for clemency led to Desmoulins' expulsion from the Club des Cordeliers and denunciation at the Jacobins, as well as, ultimately, to his arrest and execution.

Political career and downfall

Desmoulins took an active part in the 10 August 1792 attack on the Tuileries Palace. Immediately afterwards, as the Legislative Assembly (France) crumbled and various factions contended for control of the country, he was appointed Secretary-General to Georges Danton, who had assumed the role of Justice Minister. On 8 September, he was elected as a deputy from Paris to the new National Convention. He was affiliated with The Mountain, and voted for the establishment of the Republic and the Execution of Louis XVI. His political views were closely aligned with those of Danton and, initially, Robespierre.

The appearance of the Vieux Cordelier in December 1793, although it was dedicated to Robespierre along with Danton and called them both friends, marked the start of a rift between Desmoulins and Robespierre. Initially directed, with Robespierre's approval, against the excesses of the ultra-radical Hébertist faction, the journal rapidly expanded and intensified its criticisms of the Committee of Public Safety and the Revolutionary Tribunal. Desmoulins appealed to Robespierre to help steer these institutions in a more moderate direction. On 20 December, Robespierre had proposed the formation of a commission "to examine all detentions promptly and to free the innocent," an idea shot down by Billaud-Varenne,[11] and Desmoulins "seized on this and called for something more dramatic: a committee of clemency" to put an end to the Terror.[10]

On 7 January 1794, the Jacobin Club sought to expel Desmoulins from its number. Robespierre, seeking to protect Desmoulins, suggested as an alternative that the offending issues of the Vieux Cordelier be publicly burnt. Desmoulins' response,"Brûler n'est pas répondre" ("Burning is not answering"), echoed the cry of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the influential philosopher whose work was central to Robespierre's own vision of the Republic.[12] Robespierre persisted in his attempt to protect his childhood friend (his argument was that Desmoulins was a "spoilt child" whom others had led astray), but Desmoulins' refusal to renounce the Vieux Cordelier made it politically difficult for any tolerance to be extended to him.

Meanwhile, the participation of Danton's personal secretary, Fabre d'Églantine, in a financial scam with the East India Company became exposed and he was arrested for corruption and forgery.[13] This scandal cast doubt on Danton and his allies, and Robespierre now supported the expulsion of Desmoulins from the Jacobin club. After the condemnation and execution of the Hébertists in March 1794, the energies of the Montagnards (especially of Saint-Just) turned to the elimination of the indulgent faction headed by Danton and voiced by Desmoulins. They were accused of corruption and counter-revolutionary conspiracy, charges were brought before the Committee of Public Safety, and arrest warrants including for Desmoulins were finally issued on 31 March.

Trial and execution

Danton, Desmoulins, and many other actual or accused Dantonist associates were tried from April 3 through 5th before the Revolutionary Tribunal. The trial was less criminal in nature than political, and as such unfolded in an irregular fashion. The accused were prevented from defending themselves by a decree of the National Convention. This fact, together with confusing and often incidental denunciations (for instance, a report that Danton, while engaged in political work in Brussels, had appropriated a carriage filled with several hundred thousand livres of table linen)[14] and threats made by prosecutor Antoine Quentin Fouquier-Tinville (Desmoulins' cousin) towards members of the jury, helped to ensure a guilty verdict. Additionally, the accused were denied the right to have witnesses appear on their behalf, though they had submitted requests for several – including, in Desmoulins' case, Robespierre. The verdict was passed in the absence of the accused, who had been removed from the courtroom to prevent unrest among the trial's observers. Their execution was scheduled for the same day.

In a letter to his wife from the Luxembourg Prison, Desmoulins wrote,

[I]t is marvellous that I have walked for five years along the precipices of the Revolution without falling over them, and that I am still living; and I rest my head calmly upon the pillow of my writings... I have dreamed of a Republic such as all the world would have adored. I could never have believed that men could be so ferocious and so unjust.[15]

As Desmoulins was taken to the scaffold, he was informed of his wife's arrest and went mad. It took several men to get him to the tumbril. He struggled and tried to plead with the mob, ripping his shirt in the process. Lucile was also soon to be slated for execution and died only eight days later.[16] Of the group of fifteen who were guillotined together on 5 April 1794, including Marie Jean Hérault de Séchelles, Philippe Fabre d'Églantine and Pierre Philippeaux, Desmoulins died third, and Danton last.


On 29 December 1790 Desmoulins married Lucile Duplessis, whom he had known for many years, describing her as "small, graceful, coy, a real Greuze."[17] Lucile's father long denied permission for the marriage, believing that the life of a journalist could not support any sort of family. Eventually it was, of course, Desmoulins' journalistic profession that brought both of them to execution. Among the witnesses to the marriage were Robespierre, Brissot, and Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve. The wedding took place at the Saint-Sulpice Church in Paris. The Desmoulins' only child, Horace Camille, was born on 6 July 1792;[18] his godfather was Robespierre.[19]

Lucile Desmoulins was arrested mere days after her husband, and condemned to the guillotine on charges of conspiring to free her husband from prison and plotting the "ruin of the Republic." She was executed on 13 April 1794, the same day as the widow of Jacques Hébert. In a last note to her mother she wrote, "A tear falls from my eyes for you. I shall go to sleep in the calm of innocence. Lucile."[20]

Horace Camille Desmoulins was raised by Adèle and Annette Duplessis (the sister and mother of Lucile, respectively), who successfully petitioned the Comité de législation in February 1795 for the suspension of the sale of his father's belongings.[21] He married Zoë Villefranche and they had four children. He was later pensioned by the French government, and died in 1825 in Haiti.

In popular culture

Camille Desmoulins is among the central characters in the following works of fiction:

There is also a scene Jefferson in Paris (film; 1995) where Camille Desmoulins makes his famous call to arms in the start of the French revolution. Vincent Cassel plays the part of Desmoulins.

See also

  • Félix Charpentier. Sculptor of bronze statue of Camille Desmoulins in the place d'Armes in Guise


  1. ^ Beraud, Henri (1928). Twelve Portraits of the French Revolution. New York: Books for Library Press, Inc. p. 145.
  2. ^ Schama, 380.
  3. ^ a b Hartcup, 238.
  4. ^ Hammersley, 124.
  5. ^ John 3:20
  6. ^ Claretie, 77
  7. ^ Claretie, 91
  8. ^ Claretie, 104
  9. ^ Claretie, 248
  10. ^ a b Scurr, 298
  11. ^ McPhee, 179
  12. ^ Scurr, 299
  13. ^ Scurr, 301
  14. ^ Claretie, 313
  15. ^ Claretie, 303
  16. ^ Andress, David (2005). The Terror. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 275. ISBN 978-0-374-53073-0.
  17. ^ Beraud, Henri (1928). Twelve Portraits of the French Revolution. New York: Books for Library Press, Inc. p. 144.
  18. ^ Claretie, p. 171.
  19. ^ Scurr, p. 312.
  20. ^ Beraud, Henri (1928). Twelve Portraits of the French Revolution. New York: Books for Library Press, Inc. p. 155.
  21. ^ Fleischmann, Hector (2016). La Guillotine en 1793 - D'après des documents inédits des Archives nationales. Paris: Collection XIX.


  • Andress, David. The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004.
  • Claretie, Jules. Camille Desmoulins and His Wife: Passages from the History of the Dantonists. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1876.
  • Doyle, William. The Oxford History of the French Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.
  • Gilchrist, J.T., and Murray, W.J. The Press in the French Revolution: Selection of Documents taken from the Press of the Reovolution for the years 1789-1794. Melbourne: Cheshire, 1971.
  • Hartcup, John. "Camille Desmoulins", History Today 25-4 (1975), p. 238-245.
  • Hammersley, Rachel. "Camille Desmoulin’s ‘Le Vieux Cordelier’. A Link Between English and French Republicanism" History of European Ideas 27 (2001).
  • Linton, Marisa, Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship and Authenticity in the French Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Methley, Violet. Camille Desmoulins: A Biography. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1915.
  • Schama, Simon. Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.
  • Scurr, Ruth. Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution. New York: Owl Books, 2006.
  • Whaley, Leigh. "Revolutionary Networking 1789-1791," p. 41-51 in Revolutionary Culture, Politics and Science. Belfast: Queen's University, 1996.
  • McPhee, Peter.Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life. Yale University Press, 2012.
 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Desmoulins, Lucie Simplice Camille Benoist" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 8 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 99–101.

The Britannica gives the following references:

  • J. Claretie, Œuvres de Camille Desmoulins avec une étude biographique ... etc. (Paris, 1874), and Camille Desmoulins, Lucile Desmoulins, étude sur les Dantonistes (Paris, 1875; Eng. trans., London, 1876)
  • F. A. Aulard, Les Orateurs de la Législative et de la Convention (Paris, 1905, 2nd ed.)
  • G. Lenôtre, "La Maison de Camille Desmoulins" (Le Temps, March 25, 1899).

External links

1760 in France

Events from the year 1760 in France

1789 in France

Events from the year 1789 in France

1794 in France

The following lists events that happened during 1794 in the French Republic.

A Place of Greater Safety

A Place of Greater Safety is a 1992 novel by Hilary Mantel. It concerns the events of the French Revolution, focusing on the lives of Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins, and Maximilien Robespierre from their childhood through the execution of the Dantonists, and also featuring hundreds of other historical figures.

Adolphe Charlet

Adolphe Charlet (22 June 1908 - 20 March 2009) was a French sculptor. He won the Prix de Rome in Sculpture in 1938.

Champ de Mars Massacre

The Champ de Mars Massacre took place on 17 July 1791 in Paris against a crowd of republican protesters in the midst of the French Revolution. The event is named after the site of the massacre, the Champ de Mars. Two days before, the National Constituent Assembly issued a decree that the king, Louis XVI, would retain his throne under a constitutional monarchy. This decision came after Louis and his family had unsuccessfully tried to flee France in the Flight to Varennes the month before. Later that day, leaders of the republicans in France rallied against this decision, eventually leading royalist Lafayette to order the massacre.Jacques Pierre Brissot, editor and main writer of Le Patriote français and president of the Comité des Recherches of Paris, drew up a petition demanding the removal of the king. A crowd of 50,000 people gathered at the Champ de Mars on July 17 to sign the petition, with about 6,000 having signed the petition. However, earlier that day two suspicious people had been found hiding at the Champ de Mars, "possibly with the intention of getting a better view of the ladies' ankles", and were hanged by those who found them. Jean Sylvain Bailly, the mayor of Paris, used this incident to declare martial law. The Marquis de Lafayette and the National Guard, which was under his command, were able to disperse the crowd.

Later in the afternoon, the crowd, led by Danton and Camille Desmoulins, returned in even greater numbers. The larger crowd was also more determined than the first. Lafayette again tried to disperse it. In retaliation, the crowd threw stones at the National Guard. After firing unsuccessful warning shots, the National Guard opened fire directly on the crowd. The exact numbers of dead and wounded are unknown; estimates range from a dozen to fifty dead.

Danton (1983 film)

Danton (French pronunciation: ​[dɑ̃tɔ̃]) is a 1983 French language film depicting the last weeks of Georges Danton, one of the leaders of the French Revolution. It is an adaptation of the play The Danton Case by Stanisława Przybyszewska.

The film stars Gérard Depardieu in the title role, with Wojciech Pszoniak as Maximilien Robespierre, and Patrice Chéreau as Camille Desmoulins. It was directed by the Polish director Andrzej Wajda and was an international co-production between companies in France, Poland and West Germany. All supporters of Danton (with the exception of Bourdon, who would later betray him) are played by French actors, while Robespierre's allies are played by Poles.

Not always rigidly historical, the film draws continual parallels between the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution and the situation in contemporary Poland, in which the Solidarity movement was struggling against the oppression of the Soviet-backed Polish government. The film had 1,392,779 admissions in France.

Germinal (French Republican Calendar)

Germinal (French pronunciation: ​[ʒɛʁminal]) was the seventh month in the French Republican Calendar. The month was named after the Latin word germen, "germination". Germinal was the first month of the spring quarter (mois de printemps). It started March 21 or March 22, and ended April 19 or April 20. It follows Ventôse and precedes Floréal.

In the context of the French Revolution, Germinal sometimes refers to the downfall and execution of the Indulgents, Georges Danton and Camille Desmoulins, which took place during Germinal of 1794, four months before the Thermidorian Reaction in which Robespierre himself was executed. The events of Germinal 1794 signaled the beginning of the end of the Reign of Terror.

Joseph-François-Nicolas Dusaulchoy de Bergemont

Joseph-François-Nicolas Dusaulchoy de Bergemont (21 February 1760 – 25 July 1835) was a French playwright, writer and journalist.

Dusaulchoy first spent some time in Holland, where he cooperated with the editorial board of the Gazette d’Amsterdam. Back in France, he embraced with enthusiasm the principles of the French Revolution and wrote successively for the Courrier national, le Républicain, for Les Révolutions de France et de Brabant from July to December 1791 following the departure of Camille Desmoulins, for the Semaine politique et littéraire during the first trimester of 1792, then, under the 1st Républic, for le Batave or le Sans-culotte.

Jailed during the Reign of Terror, he was released after the Fall of Robespierre and towards the end of 1796, entered the offices of the police ministry where he was responsible for monitoring newspapers. After he was no longer in that position, he was attached to the direction of the Journal des arts, des sciences et de la littérature, then to that of the Courrier de l’Europe, which later was incorporated into the Journal de Paris.

Joseph Chalier

Joseph Chalier (1747 – 1793) was a French Revolutionist.

Chalier was born in Beaulard, Susa Valley, Piedmont. As a young man, Chalier's family hoped he would take a career in the church. But instead he became a partner in a law firm in Lyon. Because of his job with the firm, he traveled to Levant, Italy, Spain and Portugal. While living in Paris in 1789, he became acquainted with Marat, Camille Desmoulins and Robespierre. After returning to Lyon, Chalier was the first person to be named as a member of the municipal bureau. While in this position he organized the national guard, applied the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, and engineered the finances of the city so that the rich were heavily taxed and the poor relatively spared.

For making a nocturnal domiciliary perquisition, Chalier was denounced in front of the Legislative Assembly by the département of Rhône-et-Loire. However, the Assembly's bar did not disapprove of his conduct. Chalier later ran for mayor of Lyon in November 1792, but lost to the Royalist opposition. Soon after, Chalier became the leader of the Jacobins of Lyon, a move which ultimately led to his demise.

Working with other revolutionary clubs and communes in the city, he led the Jacobins to arrest a great number of Royalists during the nights of the 5th and 6 February 1793. This brought him into direct conflict with the mayor of Lyons, who had the support of the National Guard. Undeterred, Chalier demanded of the Convention an establishment of a revolutionary tribunal and a revolutionary army stationed in Lyon. The Convention refused and the anti-revolutionary party took action. On the 29th and 30 May 1793, the different sections of the Convention rose against him. The Jacobins were dispossessed of the municipality and Chalier was arrested. On the 15th of July, he was brought before the criminal tribunal of the Rhône-et-Loire, which condemned him to death. He was guillotined the next day in Lyon. Soon after, the revolutionary forces during the "reign of terror" held his memory in high esteem, as a martyr for Liberty.

Le Père Duchesne

Le Père Duchesne (French pronunciation: ​[lə pɛʁ dyʃɛːn]; "Old Man Duchesne" or "Father Duchesne") was an extreme radical newspaper during the French Revolution, edited by Jacques Hébert, who published 385 issues from September 1790 until eleven days before his death by guillotine, which took place on March 24, 1794.

Le Vieux Cordelier

Le Vieux Cordelier (French: [lə vjø kɔʁdəlje]) was a journal published in France between 5 December 1793 and 3 February 1794. Its radical criticism of ultra-revolutionary fervor and repression in France during the Reign of Terror contributed significantly to the downfall and execution of the Dantonists, among whom its author, the journalist Camille Desmoulins, numbered. It comprised seven numbers, of which six appeared; the seventh remained unpublished for some forty years.

Lucile Desmoulins

Anne-Lucile-Philippe Desmoulins, née Laridon-Duplessis (18 January 1770 in Paris – 13 April 1794) was the wife of the French revolutionary and journalist Camille Desmoulins. She was the daughter of Claude-Etienne Laridon-Duplessis, an official of the French Treasury, and Anne-Françoise-Marie Boisdeveix. Her sister, Adèle Duplessis, was briefly engaged to Maximilien Robespierre.

Though she would eventually marry Camille Desmoulins, the two first met when she was much younger and he was an admirer of her mother. She was headstrong and when she fell in love with Camille, ten years her senior, her father refused the marriage. In one of her journals, Lucile talks about what happened on Bastille Day."August 9th, 1792. What will become of us? I can endure no more. Camille, O my poor Camille, what will become of you? O God, if it be true that thou hast existence, save the men who are worthy of Thee. We want to be free. O God, the cost of it! As a climax to my misery, courage abandons me."Her father finally agreed to allow Camille to marry her on December 29, 1790, at the Church of Saint Sulpice in Paris. Signatories to their marriage included Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve, Jacques Pierre Brissot, and Maximilien Robespierre. The Desmoulins's only child, Horace Camille, was born July 6, 1792.

On April 5, 1794, Lucile Desmoulins was arrested on charges that she had conspired to free her husband (then imprisoned in the Luxembourg while on trial with Georges Danton) and for plotting the ruin of the republic. Camille Desmoulins was executed on the same day Lucile was arrested, and Lucile followed him to the guillotine on April 13, 1794. She is reported to have remarked, while awaiting her execution, "They have assassinated the best of men. If I did not hate them for that, I should bless them for the service they have done me this day."Following the deaths of his parents, Horace Camille Desmoulins was raised by Lucile's mother and sister. He migrated to Haiti in 1817, married and had four children, and died there in 1825.

Lycée Louis-le-Grand

The Lycée Louis-le-Grand (French pronunciation: ​[lise lwi lə gʁɑ̃]) is a prestigious secondary school located in Paris. Founded in 1563 by the Jesuits as the Collège de Clermont, it was renamed in King Louis XIV of France's honor after he extended his direct patronage to it in 1682. It offers both a sixth-form college curriculum (as a lycée or high school with 800 pupils), and a post-secondary-level curriculum (classes préparatoires with 900 students), preparing students for entrance to the elite Grandes écoles for research, such as the École normale supérieure (Paris), for engineering, such as the École Polytechnique, or for business, such as HEC Paris. Students at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand are called magnoludoviciens.

Louis-le-Grand, founded in 1563, is located in the heart of the Quartier Latin, the traditional student district of Paris. The lycée is situated opposite the Sorbonne and adjacent to the Collège de France. Its southern side opens onto the place du Panthéon, which is the location of its historical rival, the Lycée Henri-IV. These two lycées are home to the oldest preparatory classes in France, which are commonly viewed as the most selective in the country.

Because of this, Louis-le-Grand is considered to play an important role in the education of French elites. Many of its former pupils have become influential scientists, statesmen, diplomats, prelates, intellectuals and writers. "The Jesuit College of Paris", wrote Élie de Beaumont in 1862, "has for a long time been a state nursery, the most fertile in great men". Indeed, former students have included writers Molière, Victor Hugo and Charles Baudelaire, revolutionaries Robespierre, the Marquis de Sade and Camille Desmoulins, as well as seven former presidents of the French Republic and countless other ministers and prime ministers, philosophers such as Voltaire, Diderot, Emile Durkheim, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Cavaillès and Jacques Derrida, scientists Évariste Galois, Henri Poincaré and Laurent Schwartz, and artists Eugène Delacroix, Edgar Degas and Georges Méliès. Renowned foreign students of the lycée include King Nicholas I of Montenegro, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Saint Francis de Sales.

Admission to Louis-Le-Grand is very competitive; the strict selection process is based on academic grades, drawing from middle schools (for entry into high school) and high schools (for entry into the preparatory classes) throughout France. Its educational standards are highly rated and the working conditions are considered optimal due to its demanding recruitment of teachers. Louis-Le-Grand students generally achieve excellent results; topping national rankings for baccalauréat grades in high school and entry into the best grandes écoles in the preparatory classes.


During the French Revolution, modérantisme (French: [mɔdeʁɑ̃tism]) or the faction des modérés (faction of the moderates) was the name the Montagnards gave to their relatively more moderate opponents, first the Girondins and then the Dantonists. Modérantisme was denounced before the Jacobin and the Cordeliers clubs, who then led the first attacks on it in 1794.

Jacobin and Cordelier orators soon demanded that the guillotine be used against those they saw as trying to stop the Revolution. One day, Carrier shouted "The monsters! They want to break down the scaffolds - but, citizens, never forget, those who want no guillotines are those who should feel that they are worthy of the guillotine!". Camille Desmoulins, who came to found the newspaper le Vieux Cordelier in which he begged for clemency with Georges Danton's consent, from then on laid himself open to their hatred and vengeance.

On 5 April 1794, the leaders of the moderate party were guillotined and modérantisme was returned to power after Maximilien Robespierre's fall and its turn was to once again hold sway against the Montagnards who still supported Robespierre, with the Thermidorian Reaction done in the name of modérantisme. The crimes committed in Le Midi were also committed by men who claimed the title of modérés, though this did not stop them carrying out excessive acts of violence.

Paris Commune (French Revolution)

The Paris Commune during the French Revolution was the government of Paris from 1792 until 1795. Established in the Hôtel de Ville just after the storming of the Bastille, it consisted of 144 delegates elected by the 48 divisions of the city. The Paris Commune became insurrectionary in the summer of 1792, essentially refusing to take orders from the central French government. It took charge of routine civic functions but is best known for mobilizing extreme views and actions among the people and for its campaign to dechristianize the churches and the people. It lost much power in 1794 and was replaced in 1795.The first mayor was Jean Sylvain Bailly; he was succeeded on November 1791 by Pétion de Villeneuve after Bailly's unpopular use of the National Guard to disperse a riotous assembly in the Champ de Mars (17 July 1791).

In 1792, the Commune was dominated by those Jacobins who were not in the Legislative Assembly due to the Self-Denying Ordinance.

On the night of 9 August 1792 a new revolutionary Commune, led by Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins and Jacques Hébert took possession of the Hôtel de Ville; the next day insurgents assailed the Tuileries, where the royal family resided. During the ensuing constitutional crisis, the collapsing Legislative Assembly of France was heavily dependent on the Commune for the effective power that allowed it to continue to function as a legislature. The all-powerful Commune demanded custody of the royal family, imprisoning them in the Temple fortress. A list of "opponents of the Revolution" was drawn up, the gates to the city were sealed, and on 28 August the citizens were subjected to domiciliary visits, ostensibly in a search for muskets.

It was not until 1792 that the government had a formal cabinet in place, with the appointment of the Ministers of the French National Convention and the decision of the Commissioners of the Committee of Public Safety in 1794 to take charge of administrative departments.

The government of the republic was succeeded by the French Directory in November 1795.

The Gods Are Thirsty (Tanith Lee)

The Gods Are Thirsty is a 1996 historical novel by World Fantasy Award-winning author Tanith Lee set during the French Revolution. It follows the rise and fall of journalist Camille Desmoulins, who launches the Revolution and is eventually sent to the guillotine.

À la lanterne

Lanterne is a French word designating a lantern or lamp post. The word, or the slogan "À la lanterne!" (in English: To the Lamp Post!) gained special meaning and status in Paris and France during the early phase of the French Revolution, from the summer of 1789. Lamp posts served as an instrument to mobs to perform extemporised lynchings and executions in the streets of Paris during the revolution when the people of Paris occasionally hanged officials and aristocrats from the lamp posts. The English equivalent would be "String Them Up!" (British) or "Hang 'Em High!"(American)

La Lanterne became a symbol of popular or street justice in revolutionary France. The slogan "À la lanterne!" is referred to in such emblematic songs as Ça Ira ("les aristocrates à la lanterne!" means "aristocrats to the lamp-post!" in this context). Journalist Camille Desmoulins, who had earlier practiced law, designated himself "The Lantern Attorney." He wrote a pamphlet entitled (in translation) "The Lamp Post Speaks to Parisians," in which "la lantèrne" tells the people, "I've always been here. You could have been using me all along!". As the revolutionary government became established, lamp posts were no longer needed as execution instruments, being replaced by the guillotine which became infamous in Paris during 1792-1794, though all major French cities had their own.

Hanging people from lamp posts ceased to be a part of Paris rebellions in the 19th Century.

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