The day of August 10, 1792 is a little-known episode of the French Revolution. Yet it is the day that, with the capture of the Tuileries by the Parisians, causes the fall of the monarchy in France. Generator of two bodies that will decisively mark the evolution of the Revolution, the Insurrectionary Commune of Paris and the National Convention, this violent revolutionary day very quickly becomes one of the most discussed moments of this period. It nevertheless allowed the birth of the First Republic in France.
The King alone in the face of divided parties
Since his flight on June 20, 1791, Louis XVI has lost all his support and embarks on a warlike policy which, he thinks, will allow him to regain his throne once the Revolution has been crushed by foreign armies. The last aristocrats, supporters of absolute monarchy, have left France and partly meet in Coblentz, where they are preparing their return with the help of foreign courts. However, Louis XVI knows very well that this traditional nobility only wants to take power by force by keeping a puppet King or even forcing him to abdicate in favor of the young and easily influenced Dauphin.
The king can hardly count on the Feuillants (which brings together the supporters of the constitutional monarchy) who have gradually deprived the monarch of his powers since 1789, and who are very divided on the subject of war. The supporters of La Fayette vote for while those of Lameth refuse any conflict that risks fueling the revolutionary fire inside. Louis XVI's obstruction, they nevertheless approach it to escape possible reprisals from the Emigres. Lafayette, meanwhile, dreams of a return to the forefront of the political scene from which he is excluded.
Greatly encouraged by the King, the Legislative Assembly declared war on the King of Bohemia and Hungary on April 20, 1792. The Girondins, through the voice of Brissot and Roland, left wing of the Legislative Assembly, blindly launched into war . Defending a liberal economic policy, they expect significant benefits from the exploitation of the lands and ports of Northern Europe. Certain of the victory of the revolutionary troops, they saw it as a means of forcing the King to accept the Revolution or to drop the mask. They succeed by intimidation in imposing a Girondin ministry on the King, convinced that the sovereign will not dare to take a decision as serious as to fire his ministers if they do not grant him the countersignature necessary for the application of the veto.
On May 17, 1792, the Girondin ministry became aware of the intrigues of the Feuillants and Lafayette, who communicated with the Emperor and explicitly promised to march on Paris and shut down the Jacobins club. They also know that the general refuses to lead his armies to war. Lafayette and the Feuillants by these actions invite the King to the Resistance. The Girondins prefer to hide these maneuvers and negotiate with Lafayette.
Under these conditions, the King sees himself as the arbiter of the parties. Despite Brissot's confidence, the King dismissed the Gironde ministry on June 12. The Feuillants applaud; One of them, Adrien Duport, does not hesitate to advise the King on the Dictatorship after the Assembly has dissolved. But the King does not intend to give them power.
The homeland in danger
The Girondins, somewhat scalded by the excessive use that Louis XVI made of his right of veto, embarked on a vehement campaign against the King. Thanks to the mobilization and influence of Mayor Pétion and the head of the national guard Santerre, on June 20 they organized a demonstration at the Tuileries. Workers and craftsmen from the suburbs flock there in droves and violently demand from the King himself the suspension of his veto. Insulted, threatened, the King refuses and rejects the maneuver by his placidity.
At the same time, on the 29th, he refused the outstretched hand of Lafayette who proposed, under the pretext of a review of the National Guard, to proceed with nothing less than a coup d'etat. Subsequently, he had appeared before the Assembly and called for the dissolution of the Jacobins and measures against the "anarchists", the royalist reaction to the demonstrations of the 20th was so strong that he was acclaimed. In fact, Louis XVI is playing a reckless card, he is waiting for only one thing: the arrival of foreign troops in Paris despite the repeated proposals of the Feuillants. He therefore continues his policy of obstruction and intrigues, communicating with foreign courts.
Having missed his Dix-Huit Brumaire, Lafayette left Paris to join his army. His effigy is burnt at the Palais-Royal.
Faced with peril, the Jacobins united, Brissot and Robespierre demanded punishment against Lafayette, and, in the Legislative Assembly, the Girondins bypassed a new royal veto by calling on the Federates of all departments to celebrate July 14 in Paris. Already 500 Marseillais are setting out for the capital.
Faced with the advance of numerous troops towards the borders, on July 11 the Assembly then proclaimed “The Fatherland in danger”: the administrative bodies and the municipalities were permanently seated, new battalions of volunteers were raised and already 15,000 Parisians were seated. 'enlist. These exceptional measures aim to put popular and military pressure on the King, no one is fooled by his double game anymore. It is in an icy atmosphere that the royal couple attends the feast of the Federation on the 14th in front of thousands of Federates. Indeed, the leafy ministry, divided, preferred to resign. The weapons of immigrant families are burned there. No one shouts "Long live the King", but many spectators had chalked on their hats "Vive Pétion".
It is then that the Girondins will secretly enter into contact with the court hoping to recover the ministry now available. From then on, they will try to stifle "the regicidal factions which want to install the Republic". An unacceptable about-face for the people who feel betrayed as the enemy threatens and issues a very awkward ultimatum.
On July 25, the so-called Brunswick manifesto was published. In reality it is a text written by an émigré, the Marquis de Limon and advocated by Fersen. This pamphlet promises to reduce Paris to ashes if the King is endangered. It's a thunderclap ; indeed, even if the intrigues of the king made less and less doubt it is an admission of treason unequivocal. This will spark a strong popular reaction outside of party action. The Parisian sections are scolding and unanimously send minus one (ie 47 sections) Pétion to the Assembly to solemnly demand the king's downfall. The Girondins are trying in vain to stifle the wind of revolt which is becoming more and more insistent. The Quinze-Vingt section (that of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, one of the most revolutionary) threatens to ring the alarm bell on August 10 if the king's forfeiture is not pronounced. As for the king, he summons the Swiss guards from Rueil and Courbevoie to defend himself.
The Federates of all departments, made up of common people, come together in committees to coordinate their movement. They were encouraged to stay in Paris after July 14 to put pressure on the king. Their committee meets regularly with the carpenter Duplay, rue Saint-Honoré, where Robespierre lives, who is very active with them to find them lodgings with the patriots and thus bind them to the people who are revolting. The sections and the Federates are preparing to march together on the Tuileries. This popular insurrection took place independently of the parties even if, those who will soon be called the Montagnards, support them, encourage them to organize: Robespierre, Marat, who publishes a new appeal to the Federates urging them to action. No future or present political figure has actually participated directly in the insurgency. Danton is often cited as "the man of August 10," but he did not return to Paris from his house in Arcis-sur-Aube until the evening of August 9.
The Assembly is powerless on August 8 it had absolved Lafayette, on the 9 it dared not address the petition of the 47 sections on the deposition of the king and separated without debate at 7 p.m. In the sections the insurrectionary slogans are distributed and at 11 p.m. the alarm goes off ...
August 10, 1792: the capture of the Tuileries
During the night, Santerre lifts the Faubourg Saint-Antoine and Alexandre the Faubourg Saint-Marceau and the Fédéré marseillais are in turmoil. The sections send revolutionary commissioners to the Town Hall who deposit the legal municipality and found the Insurrectionary Commune, they ensure the passivity of Pétion and execute the Marquis de Mandat, commander of the National Guard which has recently been made up of inactive citizens (who do not pay sufficient tax to vote).
The Sans-culottes from all sections go to the Tuileries Palace, they fly the red flag for the first time, it is inscribed there: "Martial law of the Sovereign People against the rebellion of the executive power". It was a revenge of July 17, 1791, on this day Lafayette and Bailly had fired on the unarmed people who demanded the Republic. During this shooting which left 50 dead, the National Guard had raised the red flag of martial law.
Immediately, the National Guard and the gunners sided with the insurgents, only the Swiss Guards and a few aristocrats remained to defend the king. Despite attempts at fraternization with the Swiss, the zealous royalists force fire. The insurgents are furious at this ultimate betrayal and with the help of the Brest and Marseilles Federates they break the resistance of the defenders of the palace, which ends up falling. The insurgents count 1000 killed and wounded.
The end of the monarchy
When the demonstrators arrived, the royal family had fled the palace and surrendered to the Assembly for refuge. Embarrassed and powerless, the latter declared that they wanted to protect the “constituted authorities” before decreeing the suspension of the King of France under the pressure of the victorious insurgents. They voted to convene a National Convention so much demanded by Robespierre and decried by Brissot. The king's guard was entrusted to the Insurrectionary Commune which locked him up in the Temple.
Thus fell the throne after a thousand years of uninterrupted monarchy. But with the throne fell its last defenders, the minority nobility who had vowed to lead and tame this Revolution. But the Girondin party itself, which wanted to prevent this insurrection by negotiating at the last moment with the Court, was weakened. Passive citizens, proletarians and their spokespersons: the Montagnards had their revenge on July 17, they are the big winners of this day. August 10, 1792 is a Revolution in itself: it is the advent of the Republic. Judged for treason, Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were guillotined the following year.
-Mathiez, Albert, August 10, 1792, editions of the Passion, 1989.
- Soboul, Albert, The French Revolution, Gallimard, 1982.
- Bertaud, Jean-Paul, The French Revolution, Perrin, tempus collection, 2004
- Mathiez, Albert, La Révolution française volume 1: the fall of royalty, Armand Colin, 1933.