Sunday, June 30, 2013
Words and More Words
The Revolution was too complicated for me to understand, much less communicate. So many factors influenced its path: events and pressure from within and without of the city of Paris/ events and pressure from émigrés in Coblentz, Belgium, England and elsewhere/ events and pressure from Prussia, Austria and other countries. Equally, or perhaps more importantly, because they interpreted and reacted to the events and pressures, were the personalities of the major players in Paris. I suppose that's obvious and is the case in each and every of life's situations. The personalities of those involved always affect the eventual outcome. Obvious, but endlessly compelling to me.
The French Revolution is an especially riveting example of the influence of the media on popular thought. The rivalries and competition between the various journalists had their sway as well.
The demise of a relatively moderate, reasonable group of insurgents, the Girondins, (most of whom, for example, supported the end of the monarchy, but not the death of the King) is an example of both the constant flux of leadership, the influence of personalities, and the effect of the pen.
The Girondins (also known as the Brissotins, making use of the name of a prominent member, Jean Pierre Brissot) decried the September Massacres which had been prompted by, among other things, the inflammatory writings of Marat and the incitement of Georges-Jacques Danton. The September Massacres led to public criticism, led by the Girondins, of Camille's friend, Danton. Danton, Robespierre, Marat and other radicals sought the downfall of their fellow, less-militant, revolutionaries, the Girondins.
By the way, it was this persecution, if it can be so-called, that inspired Girondin-supporter Charlotte Corday to murder Marat as he soaked in his medicinal bath.
Camille Desmoulins, influenced by the (older) men, particularly Robespierre, became enmeshed in a public war of words with the Girondin leader, Jean Pierre Brissot, which led to Camille writing and publishing the pamphlet, Histoire des Brissotins, accusing Brissot and the other Girondins (AKA Brissotins) of counterrevolutionary, treasonous activities. The backlash quickly led to the trial of the Girondins. When they were sentenced to death, a remorse-filled Desmoulins cried out "Oh, my God, oh, my God. It is I who have killed them!" as he collapsed in the courtroom.
Twenty-one Girondins (including one who was already dead, having committed suicide, I believe, in the courtroom after being sentenced) were beheaded, one after another, on Oct. 31, 1793. Several of the group had escaped Paris and were either hunted down or committed suicide, as in the case of Jean Roland, whose wife who wrote her memoirs, in prison, before being executed.
With the moderate Girondins out of the picture, the way was paved for the Reign of Terror. Danton and Camille eventually became disgusted with the mad downward spiral and called for it's end which, in turn, led to their confrontations with Robespierre, their trial, their execution.
To make a long story short... and, hopefully, factual! My point is… that it seems to me that Camille got carried away with his pride in his writing skills, was influenced by others, and was sometimes sorry he did.