Grands Hommes et Grands Faits
la Révolution Française
(Great Men and Great Events of the French Revolution)
by Augustin Challamel and Désiré Lacroix
Editor: René Janray
et Gillet - FAC-AP
The original edition published by
Combet et Cie, Ancienne Librairie Furne:
The text has not been updated since the first edition; thus
many articles have mistakes and even typographical errors. The article
on Collot d'Herbois contains a number of factual mistakes. To start
with, his birth year is given as 1750 (should be 1749), and the date
of death is stated to be 18 January 1796 (should be 8 June 1796). Further,
the article states that Collot was at one time an 'oratorien', i.e.
a member of the Oratoire, an educational religious order. There
is no support or evidence for this claim.
Finally, the statement that Collot committed suicide on arrival
to Cayenne, is entirely without foundation. Collot d'Herbois died of
a fever on 8 June 1796, eleven months after his arrival in Guiana.
The portrait of Collot which accompanies the article is an
engraving (gravure sur bois) signed with initials H.
R. and E. T.
of the King at the National Convention, January 1793. Collot díHerbois
is shown in the uppermost row, on the benches occupied by the deputies
of the Mountain party, left bottom corner. Collot is leaning forward
to speak with Billaud-Varenne.
The demolitions were ordered by the decree of the Convention, as a "punishment" for the rebellious city of Lyon after it rose in arms against the Republic and its revolutionary government in Paris. Most of the buildings selected for demolition were ones that had been damaged by the artillery fire during the siege, so that they needed to be pulled down in any event. Pulling down the dangerously damaged buildings and clearing the rubble were important tasks that needed to be completed before the city could begin to rebuild itself. Employment of the city's thousands of jobless was another immediate need that the demolition works temporarily fulfilled.
Though entitled Collot d'Herbois Overseeing The Demolition Of Buildings in Bellecour Square, the above engraving does not afford a prominent place to Collot d'Herbois. The central figure on horseback is probably an officer of the Revolutionary Army, he is wearing a military uniform and has a moustache. At the forefront, a sans-culotte with a Phrygian cap is addressing the onlookers. Collot d'Herbois might be one of the two Representatives on mission seen in the background with tricolor scarves bound around their waist, and sporting tricolor plumes in their hats.
The engraving is signed with initials F. Th. in the bottom left corner. The signature points to Félix Philippoteaux as the author (designer) of the drawing. J. Ladmiral sc. gives us the name of the engraver. Sc. is an abbreviation of sculpsit which is Latin for "made".
The Great Committee of Public Safety. From left to right, clockwise: Saint-Just (standing), Robespierre, Couthon, Billaud-Varenne, Lindet (standing), Collot d'Herbois, Barère, Prieur de la Côte d'Or (standing), Carnot.
The engraving was executed by E. Bure after Lix Philippoteaux's drawing.
The last engraving, representing the 9th Thermidor at the Convention, hardly needs lengthy comments. Collot d'Herbois is above the rostrum. The tricolor scarf he is wearing designates him as the President. One might note that he is not ringing the bell as Robespierre is struggling to keep hold of the rostrum. The familiar cliché of Collot d'Herbois using the bell to drown out Robespierre's voice is not confirmed by the contemporary accounts. It is time to "take it out of circulation" according to Gérard Walter (see Wikipedia Chute de Robespierre)
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