‘A man of mild manners’: Fouquier-Tinville joins the Tribunal Revolutionnaire

‘Selfish and wicked men’: the Committee of Public Safety

‘No exception or immunity’: the Law of Suspects and the Law of 22 Priarial

‘Plots and conspiracies’: the trial of Princess Elisabeth de Bourbon

‘Down with the tyrant’: Robespierre goes to the guillotine

‘That Monster’ falls: the denunciation of Fouquier-Tinville

Full Circle: Carrier is executed



‘Odious beyond its original perversion’: Fouquier-Tinville and the Tribunal Revolutionnaire of Paris

By Stephen Millar

“If the innocent are spared, too many of the guilty will escape.”

-- Jean-Marie Collot d’Herbois (19 June 1749 – 8 June 1796), member of the Committee of Public Safety, at Lyons, 1793[1]

“The rich, the merchants, are all monopolizers, all anti-revolutionists; denounce them to me, and I will have all their heads under the national razor. Tell me who the fanatics are that shut their shops on Sunday and I will have them guillotined.”

-- Jean-Baptiste Carrier (1756 – 16 November 1794), deputy of the National Convention, at Nantes, 1793[2]

“In Paris are now some Twelve Prisons; in France some Forty-four Thousand: thitherward, thick as brown leaves in Autumn, rustle and travel the suspect; shaken down by Revolutionary Committees, they are swept thitherward, as into their storehouse, to be consumed by Samson and Tinville.”

--Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution (1837)

Paris, August 1794: the height of the Reign of Terror. Above all other men, two lawyers are feared: the first is 36-year-old Maximilien de Robespierre, who dominates the Committee of Public Safety to denounce his – and the Revolution’s – many enemies; the second is 47-year-old Antoine-Quentin Fouquier-Tinville, the Revolutionary Tribunal’s public prosecutor, who demands jurors in the Palais de Justice to deliver retribution – the guillotine – on behalf of all citizens of the Republic.

Although more prisoners died at the hands of the Committee’s representatives in other French cities (4,800 citizens were drowned by Jean-Baptiste Carrier in Nantes and 1,876 citizens were shot by Jean-Marie Collot d’Herbois and Joseph Fouche in Lyons[3]), the Revolution’s great political show-trials were held in Paris at the Revolutionary Tribunal. Royalists, murderers, politicians and other citizens deemed  ‘a counter-revolutionary’ were condemned alongside Georges-Jacques Danton, Queen Marie-Antoinette, Charlotte Corday, Camille Desmoulins and, eventually, Fouquier-Tinville himself.

‘A man of mild manners’: Fouquier-Tinville joins the Tribunal Revolutionnaire

On 10 March 1793, the National Convention in Paris accepted a proposal by Georges-Jacques Danton[4] and Jean-Baptiste Carrier[5] to establish a five-judge criminal court to prosecute ‘political enemies’ of the Republic. Officially named the ‘Revolutionary Tribunal’ by a decree on 29 October, the court’s first president was Jacques-Bernard-Marie Montane[6], who held the presidency from 13 March – 23 August 1793 (some sources say Montane was replaced in October, 1793).

Elections for the position of public prosecutor for the new tribunal were held by the Convention on 13 March. Louis-Joseph Faure[7] was initially elected, with Antoine-Quentin Fouquier-Tinville [originally Fouquier de Tinville] and Jean-Baptiste-Edmond Fleuriot-Lescot[8] elected as substitutes. Faure declined the position, so Fouquier-Tinville was named public prosecutor in his place and Joseph-Francois-Ignace Donze de Verteuil[9] was added as the second substitute.

Born on 12 June 1746 at Herouel in the department of the Aisne, Fouquier-Tinville studied law, subsequently becoming a procurer (advocate) at the Chatatelet in Paris. He sold his office in 1783 after falling into debt; he then took a clerical position under the Lieutenant-General of Police. In 1792, through his family relationship with Lucie-Simplice-Camille-Benoist Desmoulins (his cousin),[10] Fouquier-Tinville became a jury foreman.

An account of an anonymous Englishwoman living in Revolutionary France gives her insight about the new public prosecutor:

“I have been told by a gentleman who was at school with Fouquier, and has had frequent occasions of observing him at different periods since, that he always appeared to him to be a man of mild manners, and by no means likely to become the instrument of these atrocities; but a strong addiction to gaming having involved him in embarrassments, he was induced to accept the office of Public Accuser to the Tribunal, and was progressively led on from administering to the iniquity of his employers, to find a gratification in it himself.”[11]

The Revolutionary Tribunal used two large rooms in the Palais de Justice, adjacent to the Conciergerie Prison. The rooms were renamed the ‘Chambre de la Liberte’ and the ‘Chambre de l’Egalite’. Its first session was held on 29 March and the tribunal’s early proceedings followed accepted legal procedures:

“Considering that this was an extraordinary tribunal, working under extreme tension, which tried persons against whom usually the evidence was pretty conclusive, its record for the first six months was not discreditable. Between April 6 and September 21, 1793, it rendered sixty-three sentences of death, thirteen of transportation, and thirty-eight acquittals. The trials were held patiently, testimony was heard, and the juries duly deliberated.”[12]

‘Selfish and wicked men’: the Committee of Public Safety

Less than a week after the tribunal began its trials, the National Convention created a second revolutionary organization – the infamous Committee of Public Safety. Its decree read:

“This committee will deliberate in secret. It will be charged with overseeing and speeding up the work of administration entrusted to the council of ministers…In cases of urgent need, it is authorized to undertake measures of domestic and foreign defense, and decrees signed by a majority of its members in consultation, which must not be less than two-thirds of the total, shall be carried out without delay.”[13]

Membership of this powerful body changed as vacancies occurred – Georges-Jacques Danton, for example, was voted off the committee on 10 July – but by 13 September, the 12 current members of the Committee of Public Safety elected by the National Convention were: Jean-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne (elected 6 September); Bertrand Barere de Vieuzac; Lazare-Nicholas-Marguerite Carnot (elected August 15); Jean-Marie Collot d’Herbois[14] (elected 6 September); Georges Couthon (elected 30 May); Marie-Jean Herault de Sechelles[15]; Jean-Baptiste-Robert Lindet; Pierre Prieur (dit ‘Prieur de la Marne’); Claude-Antoine Prieur-Duvernois (dit ‘Prieur de la Cote d’Or’); Maximilien-Francois-Marie-Isidore de Robespierre (elected 27 July); Jean Bon Saint-Andre[16] (elected 10 July); Antoine-Louis-Leon de Saint-Just.[17]

This powerful committee, along with the lesser-known Committee of General Security, jointly revised and signed lists of prisoners destined to appear before the Revolutionary Tribunal. The Committee of Public Safety accumulated vast powers; eventually, it made the National Convention a ‘rubber-stamp’ of its recommendations. On 30 April 1793, the un-named English woman wrote:

“The committee of Public Welfare is making rapid advances to an absolute concentration of the supreme power, and the [members of the] Convention, while they are the instruments of oppressing the whole country, are themselves becoming insignificant, and, perhaps, less secure than those over whom they tyrannize. They cease to debate, or even to speak; but if a member of the Committee ascends the tribune, they overwhelm him with applauses before they know what he has to say, and then pass all the decrees presented to them more implicitly than the most obsequious Parliament ever enregistered an arrete of the Court; happy if, by way of compensation, they attract a smile from Barere, or escape the ominous glances of Robespierre.”[18]

From the date of the passage of the Law of Suspects (17 September, 1793) to the fall of Robespierre (27 July 1794) – the ‘Reign of Terror’ – the men of the Committee of Public Safety evolved into the most feared in France . Some of their reputations, especially Robespierre’s and Carrier’s, would become horrific. The English woman observed:

“It is rare that a number of men, however well meaning, perfectly agree in the exercise of power; and the combinations of the selfish and wicked must be peculiarly subject to discord and dissolution. The Committee of Public Welfare, while it enslaved the Convention and the people, was torn by feuds, and undermined by the jealousies of its members. Robespierre, Couthon, and Saint-Just were opposed by Collot [d’Herbois] and Billaud-Varennes; while Barere [de Vieuzac] endeavoured to deceive both parties; and Carnot, Lindet, the two Prieurs and Saint-Andre laboured in the cause of the common tyranny, in the hope of still dividing it with the conquerors.”[19]

The Revolutionary Tribunal was the ‘judge, jury and executioner’ for the Committee of Public Safety. Conviction was often a foregone conclusion and there was no appeal from the tribunal’s decisions. Fouquier-Tinville rapidly developed a fearful reputation during the Reign of Terror:

“His activity during this time earned him the reputation of one of the most terrible and sinister figures of the Revolution. His function as public prosecutor was not so much to convict the guilty as to see that the proscriptions ordered by the faction for the time being in power were carried out with a due regard to a show of legality. He was as ruthless and as incorrupt as Robespierre himself; he could be moved from his purpose neither by pity nor by bribes…”[20]

Position in the national government or republican sympathies were no guarantee of safety. Marie-Jean Herault de Sechelles (the member of the Committee of Public Safety responsible for diplomatic affairs) was accused of treason by Robespierre; he was tried by the Revolutionary Tribunal and guillotined on 5 April 1794 (16 Germinal An II). Claude Basire, a former vice-president of the Committee of General Security, was also executed the same day. A week later, the former elected bishop of Paris, Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gobel,[21] was guillotined. Provincial revolutionary officials who were judged to lack sufficient zeal were also condemned:

[Paul-Francois-Jean-Nicolas, vicomte de] Barras and [Louis-Marie-Stanislas] Freron dispatch, from brigade to brigade, to the revolutionary Tribunal in Paris, the public prosecutor and president of the revolutionary Tribunal of Marseilles, for being indulgent to anti-revolutionaries, because, out of five hundred and twenty-eight prisoners, they guillotined only one hundred and sixty-two.[22]

‘No exception or immunity’: the Law of Suspects and the Law of 22 Priarial

The Revolutionary Tribunal prosecuted citizens using two pieces of legislation. The first, passed on 17 September, 1793, was called ‘The Law of Suspects,’ and provided authorities with the legal definition of a suspect. The first two parts of this law read:

“1. Immediately after the publication of the present decree, all suspected persons within the territory of the Republic and still at liberty shall be placed in custody.

“2. The following are deemed suspected persons: 1st, those who, by their conduct, associations, talk, or writings have shown themselves partisans of tyranny or federalism and enemies of liberty; 2nd, those who are unable to justify, in the manner prescribed by the decree of 21 March last, their means of existence and the performance of their civic duties; 3rd, those to whom certificates of patriotism have been refused; 4th, public functionaries suspended or dismissed from their positions by the National Convention or by its commissioners, and not reinstated, especially those who have been or are to be dismissed by virtue of decree of 14 August last; 5th, those former nobles, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, and agents of the emigres, who have not steadily manifested their devotion to the Revolution; 6th, those who have emigrated during the interval between 1 July, 1789, and the publication of the decree of 30 March – 8 April, 1792, even though they may have returned to France within the period established by said decree or prior thereto.”[23]

With such a broad definition of what a suspect was, the number of prisoners incarcerated (and subsequently executed) increased dramatically:

“…on September 17 the Law of Suspects was passed, enabling local authorities to arrest whom they pleased, and to detain him in prison even when acquitted. In Paris, where there had been 1,877 prisoners on September 13, there were 2,975 on October 20.”[24]

But the draconian Law of Suspects was only the first step for Robespierre and his supporters on the Committee of Public Safety. Plans were already underway to draft an additional law:

“One day in February, 1794, Scellier was at dinner with Robespierre, when Robespierre complained of the delays of the court. Scellier replied that without the observance of forms there could be no safety for the innocent. “Bah!” replied Robespierre, “you and your forms: wait; soon the Committee will obtain a law which will suppress forms, and then we shall see.” Scellier ventured no answer. Such a law was drafted by Couthon and actually passed on 22 Prairial (10 June 1794), and yet it altered little the methods of Fouquier-Tinville as prosecuting officer. Scellier having complained of this law of Prairial to Saint-Just, Saint-Just replied that if he were to report his words, or that he was flinching, to the Committee, Scellier would be arrested. As arrest was tantamount to sentence of death, Scellier continued his work.”[25]

This second piece of legislation – known to history as the ‘Law of 22 Prairial’ – forbade prisoners to employ counsel for their defence, suppressed the hearing of witnesses and made death the sole penalty.”[26] It has has been described as:

“…the most tyrannical of all the acts of the Revolution, and is not surpassed by anything in the records of absolute monarchy. For the decree of Prairial suppressed the formalities of law in political trials. It was said by Couthon, that delays may be useful where only private interests are at stake, but there must be none where the interest of the entire public is to be vindicated. The public enemy has only to be identified. The State dispatches him to save itself. Therefore the Committee was empowered to send whom it chose before the tribunal, and if the jury was satisfied, no time was to be lost with witnesses, written depositions, or arguments. Nobody whom Robespierre selected for execution would be allowed to delay judgment by defense; and that there might be no exception or immunity from arbitrary arrest and immediate sentence, all previous decrees in matter of procedure were revoked. That article contained the whole point, for it deprived the Convention of jurisdiction for the protection of its own members. Robespierre had only to send a deputy’s name to the public accuser, and he would be in his grave next day.”[27]

The Revolutionary Tribunal was also enlarged, as ‘a single tribunal, Fouquier-Tinville and a few jurymen, were not sufficient for the increase of victims the new law threatened to bring before it.”.[28] The details could be found in the introduction of the Law of 22 Prairial:

“The Revolutionary Tribunal shall divide itself into sections, composed of twelve members, to wit: three judges and nine jurors, which jurors may not pass judgment unless they are seven in number…The Revolutionary Tribunal is instituted to punish the enemies of the people…The enemies of the people are those who seek to destroy public liberty, either by force or by cunning.”[29]

The consequences of the Law of 22 Prairial were immediate: before it was enacted, “the Revolutionary Tribunal had pronounced 1,220 death-sentences in thirteen months; during the forty-nine days between the passing of the law and the fall of Robespierre, 1,376 persons were condemned, including many innocent victims.”[30]

Shortly after the passage of the Law of Suspects, Montane had been replaced as president of the tribunal by Martial-Joseph-Armand Herman, a judge from the tribunal in Arras.[31]  Other judges on the tribunal included Gabriel-Toussaint Scellier (vice-president), Pierre-Andre Coffinhal, Marie-Emmanuel-Joseph Lanne and Claude-Emmanuel Dobson.[32] Fouquier-Tinville was assisted by his deputy, Gilbert-Liendon.

‘Plots and conspiracies’: the trial of Princess Elisabeth de Bourbon

Prisoners were tried in groups before the Revolutionary Tribunal. A typical trial was that of Elisabeth-Philippine-Marie-Helen de Bourbon[33], Louis XVI’s youngest sister, on 10 May 1794. Twenty-five prisoners faced tribunal president Rene-Francois Dumas[34], judges Gabriel Deliege and Antoine Marie, and prosecutor Fouquier-Tinville. Dumas, a former priest turned revolutionary, has been described as a man who

“…displayed an excessive cruelty, which was whetted by an intense fear. He never went out without two loaded pistols, barricaded himself in his house, and only spoke to visitors through a wicket. His distrust of everybody, including his own wife, was absolute. He even imprisoned the latter, and was about to have her executed when Thermidor arrived.”[35]

At the start of the session, Gilbert-Liendon read the prisoners’ indictment to the tribunal. It began:

“Antoine-Quentin Fouquier, Public Prosecutor of the Revolutionary Tribunal, established in Paris by the decree of the National Assembly, March 10, 1793, year Two of the Republic, without recourse to any Court of Appeal, in virtue of the power given him by Article 2 of another decree of the said Convention given on the 5th of April following, to the effect the 'the Public Prosecutor of said Tribunal is authorized to arrest, try, and judge, on the denunciation of the constituted authorities, or of citizens’…

Herewith declares that the following persons have been, by various decrees of the Committee of general safety of the Convention, of the Revolutionary committees of the different sections of Paris, and of the department of the Yonne, and by virtue of warrants of arrest issued by the said Public Prosecutor, denounced to this Tribunal: 1st, Marie Elisabeth Capet, sister of Louis Capet, the last tyrant of the French, aged thirty, and born at Versailles…”[36]

The trial was fast and Princess Elisabeth was not given an opportunity to speak with her lawyer. After Fouquier-Tinville had finished and her lawyer made a short plea, Dumas addressed the court. He summed up the case against her, and then gave the jury a paper, which read:

“Plots and conspiracies have existed, formed by Capet, his wife, his family, his agents and his accomplices, in consequence of which external war on the part of a coalition of tyrants has been provoked, also civil war in the interior has been raised, succour in men and money have been furnished to the enemy, troops have been assembled, plans of campaign have been made, and leaders appointed to murder the people, annihilate liberty, and restore despotism…Is Elisabeth Capet an accomplice in these plots?”[37]

There was little doubt about what the outcome would be; after another night in the Temple Prison, she was guillotined the next morning – a week after her thirtieth birthday.

‘Down with the tyrant’: Robespierre goes to the guillotine

Robespierre, the executioner of so many citizens during the Terror, fell from power two months later. It was a suprisingly fast downfall, even by revolutionary standards. Seized by deputies inside the National Convention on 27 July 1794 (9 Thermidor An II), Robespierre, his brother Augustin, Couthon and Saint-Just were to be escorted by police to prison. Fleuriot-Lescot, the mayor of Paris and supporter of Robespierre, managed to divert the prisoners to City Hall.

Called on by supporters to form a provincial government, Robespierre hesitated. Although this proved to be his fatal mistake, Robespierre was probably aware that troops under Henriot had refused to open fire on the National Convention. Inside, Barras was given command of a few policemen by the deputies and ordered to take Robespierre back into custody. Robespierre had just decided to sign an ‘appeal to arms’ when Barras’ men arrived:

“He had written two letters of his name –"Ro"– when a section of police under Barras reached the City Hall. They were but a handful, but the door was unguarded. They mounted the stairs and as Robespierre finished the “o”, one of these men, named Merda, fired on him, breaking his jaw. The stain of blood is still on the paper where Robespierre’s head fell. They shot Couthon in the leg, they threw Henriot out of the window into a cesspool below where he wallowed all night, while Le Bas[38] blew out his brains…”[39]

The next morning, thousands of Parisians watched as Robespierre, architect of the Terror and manipulator of the Revolutionary Tribunal, went to his death:

“Twenty-one in all were condemned on the 10 Thermidor and taken in carts to the guillotine. An awful spectacle. There was Robespierre with his disfigured face, half dead, and Fleuriot, and Saint-Just, and Henriot next to Robespierre, his forehead gashed, his right eye hanging down his cheek, dripping with blood, and drenched with the filth of the sewer in which he had passed the night. Under their feet lay the cripple Couthon, who had been thrown in like a sack. Couthon was paralyzed, and he howled in agony as they wrenched him straight to fasten him to the guillotine. It took a quarter of an hour to finish with him, while the crowd exulted. A hundred thousand people saw the procession and not a voice or a hand was raised in protest.”[40]

The other citizens executed with Robespirre included eight members of the Commune (Antoine Geney, Jean-Etienne Forestier, Nicolas Guerin, Jean-Baptist Dhazard, Christophe Cochefer, Charles-Jacques Bougon, Jacques-Claude Bernard and Jean-Marie Quenet); another deputy of the National Convention (Augustin de Robespierre); two judges (Nicholas-Joseph Vivier and Rene-Francois Dumas); another army officer (Louis-Jean-Baptiste Lavalette); deputy public prosecutor Adrien-Nicolas Gobeau; Antoine Simon (the dauphin’s jailer); municipal official Denis-Etienne Laurent; Commerce Commision employee Jacques-Louis Wouarme; Claude-Francois Payan (agent of the commune).[41]

With the fall of Robespierre and his supporters, the bloodiest part of the Reign of Terror was over. Even though he had been a member of the Committee of Public Safety for only one year, Robespierre’s impact on the Revolution had been considerable. The Paris tribunal, however, had begun its sessions before Robespierre’s election to the committee, and tribunals in the provinces had been active as well:

“One hundred and seventy-eight tribunals,” says Taine, “of which 40 were perambulant, pronounced death sentences in all parts of the country, which were carried out instantly on the spot. Between the 16th of April, 1793, and the 9th of Thermidor in the year II. that of Paris guillotined 2,625 persons, and the provincial judges worked as hard as those of Paris. In the little town of Orange alone 331 persons were guillotined. In the city of Arras 299 men and 93 women were guillotined…In the city of Lyons alone the revolutionary commissioner admitted to 1,684 executions. . . . The total number of these murders has been put at 17,000, among whom were 1,200 women, of whom a number were octogenarians…Although the Revolutionary Tribunal of Paris claimed only 2,625 victims, it must not be forgotten that all the suspects had already been summarily massacred during the ‘days’ of September.”[42]

‘That Monster’ falls: the denunciation of Fouquier-Tinville

Although confirmed as public prosecutor by the Convention on the day of Robespierre’s execution, Fouquier-Tinville soon became the target of Louis-Marie-Stanislas Freron[43], one of its deputies:

“The revolutionary tribunal was an especial object of general horror. On the 11th Thermidor it was suspended; but Billaud-Varennes, in the same sitting, had the decree of suspension rescinded. He maintained that the accomplices of Robespierre alone were guilty, that the majority of the judges and jurors being men of integrity, it was desirable to retain them in their offices. Barere presented a decree to that effect: he urged that the triumvirs had done nothing for the revolutionary government; that they had often even opposed its measures; that their only care had been to place their creatures in it, and to give it a direction favourable to their own projects; he insisted, in order to strengthen that government, upon retaining the law des suspects and the tribunal, with its existing members, including Fouquier-Tinville. At this name a general murmur rose in the assembly. Freron, rendering himself the organ of the general indignation, exclaimed: "I demand that at last the earth be delivered from that monster, and that Fouquier be sent to hell, there to wallow in the blood he has shed." His proposition was applauded, and Fouquier's accusation decreed.”[44]

Fouquier-Tinville was imprisioned on 1 August 1794 (the Law of 22 Prairial – the great weapon of the tribunal – was repealed by the National Convention later the same month). On 4 October 1794, the anonymous Englishwoman summed up her feelings about the fallen public prosecutor:

“Fouquier-Tinville devoted a thousand innocent people to death in less time than it has already taken to bring him to a trial, where he will benefit by all those judicial forms which he has so often refused to others. This man, who is much the subject of conversation at present, was Public Accuser to the Revolutionary Tribunal – an office which, at best, in this instance, only served to give an air of regularity to assassination: but, by a sort of genius in turpitude, he contrived to render it odious beyond its original perversion, in giving to the most elaborate and revolting cruelties a turn of spontaneous pleasantry, or legal procedure. The prisoners were insulted with sarcasms, intimidated by threats, and still oftener silenced by arbitrary declarations, that they were not entitled to speak; and those who were taken to the scaffold, after no other ceremony than calling over their names, had less reason to complain, than if they had previously been exposed to the barbarities of such trials…Yet this wretch might, for a time at least, have escaped punishment, had he not, in defending himself, criminated the remains of the Committee, whom it was intended to screen. When he appeared at the bar of the Convention, every word he uttered seemed to fill its members with alarm, and he was ordered away before he could finish his declaration. It must be acknowledged, that, however he may be condemned by justice and humanity, nothing could legally attach to him: he was only the agent of the Convention, and the utmost horrors of the Tribunal were not merely sanctioned, but enjoined by specific decrees.”[45]

Like so many of his previous victims, Fouquier-Tinville waited months in prison before being sent for trial on 28 March 1795.  In a trial which lasted 41 days, the man who had condemned Queen Marie-Antoinette, Georges Danton, Elisabeth de Bourbon, Charlotte Corday and hundreds of other defendants, maintained he was only following the orders of the Convention and the Committee of Public Safety:

“It is not I who ought to be facing the tribunal, but the chiefs whose orders I have executed. I had only acted in the spirit of the laws passed by a Convention invested with all powers. Through the absence of its members [on trial], I find myself the head of a conspiracy I have never been aware of. Here I am facing slander, [facing] a people always eager to find others responsible.”[46]

He was was found guilty, and on 7 May 1795 (18 Floreal An III), Fouquier-Tinville – along with his colleagues Herman, Scellier and 12 others – was guillotined.

“Fouquier-Tinville died without understanding why he was condemned, and from the revolutionary point of view his condemnation was not justifiable. Had he not merely zealously executed the orders of his superiors? It is impossible to class him with the representatives who were sent into the provinces, who could not be supervised. The delegates of the Convention examined all his sentences and approved of them up to the last. If his cruelty and his summary fashion of trying the prisoners before him had not been encouraged by his chiefs, he could not have remained in power. In condemning Fouquier-Tinville, the Convention condemned its own frightful system of government. It understood this fact, and sent to the scaffold a number of Terrorists whom Fouquier-Tinville had merely served as a faithful agent.”[47]

Full Circle: Carrier is executed

The Revolutionary Tribunal was oficially supressed by the National Convention on 31 May 1795. From its creation in 1793 until the fall of Robespierre, the tribunal had handed down 2,596 death-sentences; it had condemned royalists, revolutionaries, scientists, ordinary citizens and many of its own members (Montane and Donze de Verteuil were among the survivors).

Several revolutionary politicians were, however, executed later that year. These individuals included Guislain-Francois-Joseph Lebon, a member of the Committee of General Security, who was guillotined on 14 October and Carrier, (instigator of the ‘noyades’ at Nantes and one of the creators of the Revolutionary Tribunal) who was guillotined on 16 November.

Unlike their counterparts in the Committee of Public Safety, most of the members of the Committee of Public Security survived the Terror. Among the survivors were: Jean-Pierre-Andre Amar (11 May 1755 – 21 December 1816); Joseph-Nicolas Barbeau du Barran (3 July 1761 – 16 May 1816); committee president Marc-Guillaume-Alexis Vadier (17 July 1736 – 14 December 1828) and the famous Napoleonic-era painter Jacques-Louis David (30 August 1748 – 29 December 1825).

Gilbert-Liendon (Fouquier-Tinville’s deputy) escaped execution after 9 Thermidor and continued his legal career as a judge under the First Empire.






























[1] http://www.fullbooks.com/The-French-Revolution-Volume-3-The-Origins5.htm

[2] Ibid

[3] http://home.c2i.net/w-217484/massacre.ht

[4] Georges-Jacques Danton (26 October 1759 – guillotined 5 April 1794) would later be a member of the Committee of Public Safety

[5] Jean-Baptiste Carrier (1756 – guillotined 16 November 1794), was later responsible for the ‘Noyades of Nantes’, during which large numbers of political prisoners held at Nantes were drowned in the Loire River

[6] Jacques-Bernard-Marie Montane (born 5 January 1751) survived the Reign of Terror but his date of death is unknown (it is usually cited in sources as being after 1805)

[7] Louis-Joseph Faure (5 March 1760 – 12 June 1837) held the position of public prosecutor for the criminal tribunal in the Departement de Paris.

[8] Jean-Baptiste-Edmond Fleuriot-Lescot (1761 – guillotined 28 July 1794) was appointed acting mayor of Paris on 10 May 1794.

[9] Joseph-Francois-Ignace Donze de Verteuil (1736 – 1818) was a former priest.

[10] Lucie-Simplice-Camille-Benoist Desmoulins was a journalist and deputy to the National Convention. Ironically, Fouquier-Tinville would later prosecute Desmoulins at the Revolutionary Tribunal (3-5 April 1794). Desmoulins was sentenced to death and guillotined the same day.

[11] http://www.fullbooks.com/A-Residence-in-France-During-the-Years-1792x13733.html

[12] http://www.authorama.com/theory-of-social-revolutions-5.html

[13] http://library.thinkquest.org/C006257/assets/events/dec_com.htm

[14] Jean-Marie Collot d’Herbois was exiled to French Guyana in April, 1795.

[15] Marie-Jean Herault de Sechelles (born 15 November 1759) was guillotined on 5 April 1794.

[16] Jean-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne (23 April 1756 – 13 June 1819), Bertrand Barere de Vieuzac (10 September 1755 – 13 January 1841), Lazare-Nicholas-Marguerite Carnot (13 May 1753 – 1823), Jean-Baptiste-Robert Lindet (2 May 1746 – 16 February 1825), Pierre Prieur (dit ‘Prieur de la Marne’) (1756 – 30 May 1827), Claude-Antoine Prieur-Duvernois (dit ‘Prieur de la Cote d’Or’) (22 September 1763 – 11 August 1832) and Jean Bon Saint-Andre (29 February 1749 – 10 December 1813) all survived the Reign of Terror.

[17] Georges Couthon (born 22 December 1755), Maximilien-Francois-Marie-Isidore de Robespierre (born 6 May 1758) and Antoine-Louis-Leon de Saint-Just (born 12 August 1767) were guillotined 28 July 1794.

[18] http://www.fullbooks.com/A-Residence-in-France-During-the-Years-1792x13732.html

[19] Ibid.

[20] http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Antoine_Quentin_Fouquier-Tinville

[21] Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gobel (1 September 1727 – 12 April 1794) had resigned his bishopric at the National Convention on 7 November 1793 (17 Brumaire An II).

[22] http://www.fullbooks.com/The-French-Revolution-Volume-3-The-Origins5.html

[23] http://sourcebook.fsc.edu/history/lawofsuspects.html


[25] http://www.authorama.com/theory-of-social-revolutions-5.html

[26] http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Revolutionary_Tribunal/


[28] http://www.fullbooks.com/History-of-the-French-Revolution-from-17895.html

[29] http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/439/

[30] http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Revolutionary_Tribunal/

[31] Martial-Joseph-Armand Herman (born 29 August 1749) was guillotined with Fouquier-Tinville on 7 May 1795.

[32] Gabriel-Toussaint Scellier (born 1756) and Marie-Emmanuel-Joseph Lanne (born 27 December 1762) were guillotined on 7 May 1795; Pierre-Andre Coffinhal (born 7 November 1762) was guillotined 6 August 1794; Claude-Emmanuel Dobson (born 23 December 1743) survived the Reign of Terror.

[33] Princess Elisabeth (born 3 May 1764) was unmarried. Her lesser-known illegitimate brother, Auguste Dadonville (born 2 October 1758), was guillotined on 25 June 1794.

[34] Rene-Francois Dumas (born 1757) was guillotined on 28 July 1794. He replaced Herman as president of the tribunal on 8 April.


[36] http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/wormeley/princess/princess-1-III.html

[37] Ibid.

[38] Philippe-Francois-Joseph Le Bas (born 4 November 1762) was a member of the Committee of General Security.

[39] http://www.authorama.com/theory-of-social-revolutions-5.html

[40] Ibid.

[41] http://www.rondelot.com/spip.php?article61

[42] http://www.fullbooks.com/The-Psychology-of-Revolution4.html

[43] Louis-Marie-Stanislas Freron (born 1754) died in Santo Domingo in 1802.

[44] http://historion.net/mignet-history-french-revolution-1789-1814/

[45] http://www.fullbooks.com/A-Residence-in-France-During-the-Years-1792x13733.html

[46] http://www.reference.com/search?q=fouquier-tinville



Placed on the Napoleon Series: November 2007