Saturday, January 11, 2014

Another reason to love Carnavalet: Georges Couthon's wheelchair

George Couthon was one of the twelve members of the Committee of Public Safety. The image of a trustworthy, polite, family man, as he is reputed to have been, is tough to reconcile with his actions as a member of the Committee of Public Safety, but maybe it will become more clear when I'm finished reading about him in Twelve Who Ruled.  He's redeemed somewhat because of his hesitation to follow the Committee's instruction to completely destroy the city of Lyon and to annihilate the rebellious Frenchmen that were her citizens.  Couthon dragged his feet and eventually forfeited the assignment to his colleague on the Committee, d'Herbois, who accomplished it with gusto. 

Couthon lost the use of his legs through a gradual paralysis which left him confined to a wheelchair.  Doctors attributed the paralysis to meningitis, but Couthon believed it to be a consequence of "freely indulging his sexual proclivities," as the book says.  This must be the cousin ailment to the blindness we've all heard about.