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Camille Desmoulins

Camille Desmoulins

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Lucie Simplice Camille Benoît Desmoulins (kamij demulɛ̃; March 2, 1760 – April 5, 1794) was a journalist and politician who played an important role in the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. He was a childhood friend of Maximilien Robespierre
Maximilien Robespierre
Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre is one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. He largely dominated the Committee of Public Safety and was instrumental in the period of the Revolution commonly known as the Reign of Terror, which ended with his...

 and a close friend and political ally of Georges Danton
Georges Danton
Georges Jacques Danton was leading figure in the early stages of the French Revolution and the first President of the Committee of Public Safety. Danton's role in the onset of the Revolution has been disputed; many historians describe him as "the chief force in theoverthrow of the monarchy and the...

, who were influential figures in the French Revolution.

Early life


Desmoulins was born at Guise, Aisne
Aisne
Aisne is a department in the northern part of France named after the Aisne River.- History :Aisne is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Île-de-France, Picardie, and Champagne.Most of the old...

, in Picardy
Picardy
This article is about the historical French province. For other uses, see Picardy .Picardy is a historical province of France, in the north of France...

. His father, Jean Benoît Nicolas Desmoulins, was a rural lawyer and lieutenant-general of the bailliage of Guise. Through the efforts of a friend, he obtained a scholarship for the fourteen-year-old Camille to enter the Collège Louis-le-Grand
Lycée Louis-le-Grand
The Lycée Louis-le-Grand is a public secondary school located in Paris, widely regarded as one of the most rigorous in France. Formerly known as the Collège de Clermont, it was named in king Louis XIV of France's honor after he visited the school and offered his patronage.It offers both a...

 in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. Desmoulins proved an exceptional student even among such notable contemporaries as Maximilien Robespierre
Maximilien Robespierre
Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre is one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. He largely dominated the Committee of Public Safety and was instrumental in the period of the Revolution commonly known as the Reign of Terror, which ended with his...

 and Louis-Marie Stanislas Fréron
Louis-Marie Stanislas Fréron
Louis-Marie Stanislas Fréron was a French politician, journalist, representative to the National Assembly, and a representative on mission during the French Revolution.-Background:...

. He excelled in the study of Classical literature and politics, and gained a particular affinity for Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

, Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 and Livy
Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

. He pursued law, and succeeded in gaining acceptance as an advocate of the parlement
Parlement
Parlements were regional legislative bodies in Ancien Régime France.The political institutions of the Parlement in Ancien Régime France developed out of the previous council of the king, the Conseil du roi or curia regis, and consequently had ancient and customary rights of consultation and...

 of Paris in 1785. However, his serious stammer
Stuttering
Stuttering , also known as stammering , is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases, and involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the stutterer is unable to produce sounds...

 and ferocious temper proved severe obstacles to success in this arena. Thus stymied, he turned towards writing as an alternative outlet for his talents; his interest in public affairs led him to a career as a political journalist.

In March 1789, Jean Benoît Nicolas Desmoulins was nominated as deputy to the Estates-General
Estates-General of 1789
The Estates-General of 1789 was the first meeting since 1614 of the French Estates-General, a general assembly representing the French estates of the realm: the nobility, the Church, and the common people...

 from the bailliage of Guise; however, due to illness, he failed to take his seat. Camille Desmoulins, himself limited to the role of spectator at the procession of the Estates-General on May 5, 1789, wrote a response to the event: Ode aux Etats Generaux. The Comte de Mirabeau
Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau
Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau was a French revolutionary, as well as a writer, diplomat, freemason, journalist and French politician at the same time. He was a popular orator and statesman. During the French Revolution, he was a moderate, favoring a constitutional monarchy built on...

, a powerful political figure within the Estates-General who positioned himself as a bridge between the aristocracy and the emerging reformist movement, briefly enlisted Desmoulins to write for his newspaper at this time, strengthening Desmoulins' reputation as a journalist .

July 1789


Owing to his difficulties in establishing a career as a lawyer, Desmoulins' position in Paris was a precarious one, and he often lived in poverty. However, he was greatly inspired and enthused by the current of political reform that surrounded the summoning of the Estates-General. In letters to his father at the time, he rhapsodized over the procession of deputies entering the Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles , or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles....

, and criticized the events surrounding the closing of the Salle des Menus Plaisirs to the deputies who had declared themselves the National Assembly
National Assembly (French Revolution)
During the French Revolution, the National Assembly , which existed from June 17 to July 9, 1789, was a transitional body between the Estates-General and the National Constituent Assembly.-Background:...

 - events which lead to the famous swearing of the Tennis Court Oath
Tennis Court Oath
The Tennis Court Oath was a pivotal event during the first days of the French Revolution. The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789...

.

The sudden dismissal of popular finance minister Jacques Necker
Jacques Necker
Jacques Necker was a French statesman of Swiss birth and finance minister of Louis XVI, a post he held in the lead-up to the French Revolution in 1789.-Early life:...

 by King Louis XVI
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

 on July 11, 1789 proved the spark that lit the fuse of Desmoulins' fame. On July 12, spurred by the news of this politically unsettling dismissal, Desmoulins leapt onto a table outside the Cafe du Foy (one of many cafés
Coffeehouse
A coffeehouse or coffee shop is an establishment which primarily serves prepared coffee or other hot beverages. It shares some of the characteristics of a bar, and some of the characteristics of a restaurant, but it is different from a cafeteria. As the name suggests, coffeehouses focus on...

 in the garden of the Palais Royal
Palais Royal
The Palais-Royal, originally called the Palais-Cardinal, is a palace and an associated garden located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris...

 frequented in large part by political dissidents) and delivered an impassioned call to arms. Shedding his customary stammer in the excitement, he urged the volatile crowd to "...take up arms and adopt cockades by which we may know each other", calling Necker's dismissal the tocsin of the St. Bartholomew
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots , during the French Wars of Religion...

 of the patriots." The stationing of a large number of troops in Paris, many foreign, had led Desmoulins and other political radicals to believe that a massacre of dissidents in the city was indeed imminent. This was an idea that his audience also found plausible and threatening, and they were quick to embrace Desmoulins and take up arms in riots that spread throughout Paris rapidly.

The "cockades" worn by the crowd were initially green, a color associated with liberty, and made at first from the leaves of the trees that lined the Palais Royal. However, the color green was also associated with the Comte d'Artois
Louis XVIII of France
Louis XVIII , known as "the Unavoidable", was King of France and of Navarre from 1814 to 1824, omitting the Hundred Days in 1815...

, a reactionary aristocrat, and the cockades therefore were quickly replaced by others in the traditional colors of Paris: red and blue. The forces semi-organized under this banner attacked the Hôtel des Invalides
Les Invalides
Les Invalides , officially known as L'Hôtel national des Invalides , is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building's...

 to gain arms and, on July 12, embarked upon the Storming of the Bastille
Storming of the Bastille
The storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris on the morning of 14 July 1789. The medieval fortress and prison in Paris known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the centre of Paris. While the prison only contained seven inmates at the time of its storming, its fall was the flashpoint...

.

Journalism


In May and June of 1789, Desmoulins had written a radical pamphlet entitled La France Libre, which his publisher at that time had refused to print. The rioting surrounding the storming of the Bastille, however, and especially Desmoulins' personal and publicized involvement in it, altered the situation considerably. On July 18, Desmoulins's work was finally issued. The politics of the pamphlet ran considerably in advance of public opinion; in it, Desmoulins called explicitly for a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, stating, "... popular and democratic government is the only constitution which suits France, and all those who are worthy of the name of men." La France Libre also examined and criticized in detail the role and rights of kings
Divine Right of Kings
The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

, of the nobility
French nobility
The French nobility was the privileged order of France in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern periods.In the political system of the Estates General, the nobility made up the Second Estate...

, and of the Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

.

Desmoulins' renown as a radical pamphleteer was furthered by the publication, in September 1789, of his Discours de la lanterne aux Parisiens, which featured as its epigraph
Epigraph (literature)
In literature, an epigraph is a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a document or component. The epigraph may serve as a preface, as a summary, as a counter-example, or to link the work to a wider literary canon, either to invite comparison or to enlist a conventional...

 a quotation from the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

: Qui male agit odit lucem ("He who does evil hates the light" ). This was understood to allude to the iron bracket of a lamppost at the corner of the Place de Grève and the Rue de la Vannerie, often used by rioters as a makeshift gallows for anti-revolutionaries and those accused of profiteering. A famous Revolutionary song, the Ça ira
Ah! ça ira
"Ah ! ça ira" is an emblematic song of the French Revolution, first heard in May 1790. It underwent several changes in wording, all of which used the title words as part of the refrain.-Original version:...

 ("It shall be"), also immortalizes this lantern, in the lines, "Les aristocrates à la lanterne... Les aristocrates, on les pendra!" ("To the lantern with the aristocrats... The aristocrats, we'll hang them!")

The Discours de la lanterne, written from the perspective of the Place de Grève lamppost, was aggressive in its celebration of political violence, and attributed exalted qualities of loyalty and patriotism to the citizens who made up the Parisian mob. This hard-edged fervor found an appreciative audience in Paris, and Desmoulins, as a result of the pamphlet, became known as the "Procureur-général de la lanterne" ("the Lanterne Prosecutor
Prosecutor
The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system...

" or "Lanterne Attorney").

In November 1789, Desmoulins issued the first number of a weekly publication, Histoire des Révolutions de France et de Brabant, which would run until the end of July 1791. This publication combined political reportage, revolutionary polemics, satire, and cultural commentary; "The universe and all its follies," Desmoulins had announced, "shall be included in the jurisdiction of this hypercritical journal." The Révolutions de France et de Brabant proved extremely popular from its first to its last number. Desmoulins became notorious, and was able to leave behind the poverty that had marked his previous life in Paris.

The politics of the Révolutions de France et de Brabant were anti-royalist and pro-Revolutionary. The newspaper celebrated the Revolutionary zeal of "patriots" from the battlefields of Brabant to the Cordeliers district in Paris (home to the well-known and powerful revolutionary Club des Cordeliers
Cordeliers
The Cordeliers, also known as the Club of the Cordeliers, Cordeliers Club, or Club des Cordeliers and formally as the Society of the Friends of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen , was a populist club during the French Revolution.-History:The club had its origins in the Cordeliers district, a...

, of which Desmoulins was a prominent member), and also criticized the excesses and inequities of, among a wide range of targets, the aristocratic regime. The savagery with which Desmoulins attacked those with whom he disagreed drew lawsuits, criticism, and reciprocal attacks. His previous friendships with powerful figures such as the Comte de Mirabeau and Baron Malouet, suffered. Both men, angered by what they perceived as libellous statements, declared that Desmoulins should be denounced and Malouet “went so far as to ask that Camille be certified insane.” The Actes des Apôtres, the equally savage royalist newspaper that served as the Révolutions opposite number, engaged in a continual war of insults with the Révolutions, and particularly with Desmoulins, whom it dubbed, in a satirical poem, "l'ânon des moulins".

Upon the death of the Comte de Mirabeau in April 1791, Desmoulins (to whom Mirabeau had, at one time, been a great patron and friend) countered the predominantly sentimental and forgiving eulogies that appeared in the Parisian press by publishing a brutal attack in which he declared the late Mirabeau to be the "god of orators, liars, and thieves." This presaged later about-face attacks against prominent and once-sympathetic Revolutionary figures, such as Jean Pierre Brissot
Jacques Pierre Brissot
Jacques Pierre Brissot , who assumed the name of de Warville, was a leading member of the Girondist movement during the French Revolution. Some sources give his name as Jean Pierre Brissot.-Biography:...

, by Desmoulins - a method which would, ultimately, be turned against him by his own former friends.

On July 16, 1791, Desmoulins appeared before the Paris Commune
Paris Commune (French Revolution)
The Paris Commune during the French Revolution was the government of Paris from 1789 until 1795. Established in the Hôtel de Ville just after the storming of the Bastille, the Commune became insurrectionary in the summer of 1792, essentially refusing to take orders from the central French...

 as the head of a group petitioning for the deposition of Louis XVI, who had, in June of that year, briefly fled Paris
Flight to Varennes
The Flight to Varennes was a significant episode in the French Revolution during which King Louis XVI of France, his wife Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family attempted unsuccessfully to escape from Paris in order to initiate a counter-revolution...

 with his family before being captured and escorted back to the city. The flight of the king had caused civil unrest, and the petition, presented a day before the anniversary of the Fête de la Fédération
Fête de la Fédération
The Fête de la Fédération of the 14 July 1790 was a huge feast and official event to celebrate the establishment of the short-lived constitutional monarchy in France and what people of the time considered to be the happy conclusion of the French Revolution the outcome hoped for by the...

, contributed to this agitation. On July 17, a large crowd that had gathered at the Champs de Mars in support of the petition was fired upon by military forces under the command of the Marquis de Lafayette, an incident which became known as the Champs de Mars Massacre. Accounts differ as to whether or not Desmoulins was present at the Champs de Mars; in the subsequent upheaval, warrants for the arrest
Writ
In common law, a writ is a formal written order issued by a body with administrative or judicial jurisdiction; in modern usage, this body is generally a court...

 of himself and Georges Danton were issued. Danton fled Paris, and Desmoulins, though he remained in the city, and spoke on several occasions at the Jacobin Club
Jacobin Club
The Jacobin Club was the most famous and influential political club in the development of the French Revolution, so-named because of the Dominican convent where they met, located in the Rue St. Jacques , Paris. The club originated as the Club Benthorn, formed at Versailles from a group of Breton...

, decreased his journalistic activities for a time.

Early in 1792, following a bitter quarrel with Jean Pierre Brissot
Jacques Pierre Brissot
Jacques Pierre Brissot , who assumed the name of de Warville, was a leading member of the Girondist movement during the French Revolution. Some sources give his name as Jean Pierre Brissot.-Biography:...

 over a legal case which Desmoulins had taken up and discussed in several broadsheets, Desmoulins published a pamphlet, Jean Pierre Brissot démasqué, which attacked Brissot savagely and personally. In it, Desmoulins claimed that the invented verb brissoter had taken on the meaning "to cheat," and accused Brissot of betraying republicanism. The case constructed against Brissot in this pamphlet was expanded and used to terrible and destructive effect in Desmoulins' later, 1793 publication, Fragment de l'histoire secrète de la Révolution (also known as the Histoire des Brissotins), in which the Girondist
Girondist
The Girondists were a political faction in France within the Legislative Assembly and the National Convention during the French Revolution...

 political faction, of which Brissot was a prominent member, was accused of traitorous and counter-revolutionary activities. This "history," produced in response to calls by Brissot and his followers for the dissolution of the Paris Commune and of the Jacobins, contributed to the arrest and execution of many Girondist leaders, including Brissot himself, in October 1793. Desmoulins intensely regretted his role in the death of the Girondists; present at their trial, he was heard to lament, "O my God! my God! It is I who kill them!" He was seen to collapse in the courtroom when the public prosecutor pronounced the sentence of death.

This growing remorse was accompanied by an element of recklessness. In the summer of 1793, General Arthur Dillon, a close friend of Desmoulins and his wife, a known royalist , was imprisoned. In an openly published Lettre au General Dillon, Desmoulins went far beyond the politically delicate act of defending Dillon, and attacked powerful members of the Committee of Public Safety
Committee of Public Safety
The Committee of Public Safety , created in April 1793 by the National Convention and then restructured in July 1793, formed the de facto executive government in France during the Reign of Terror , a stage of the French Revolution...

 - notably Saint-Just and Billaud-Varenne
Jacques Nicolas Billaud-Varenne
Jacques Nicolas Billaud-Varenne , also known as Jean Nicolas, was a French personality of the Revolutionary period. Though not one of the most well known figures of the French Revolution, Jacques Nicolas Billaud Varenne was an instrumental figure of the period known as the Reign of Terror...

.

Beginning December 5, 1793, Desmoulins published the journal for which he would be best known and most celebrated: Le Vieux Cordelier
Le Vieux Cordelier
Le Vieux Cordelier was a journal published in France between 5 December 1793 and 3 February 1794. Its radical criticism of ultra-revolutionary fervor and repression in France during the Reign of Terror contributed significantly to the downfall and execution of the Dantonists, among whom its author,...

. Even the title of this short-lived publication spoke of conflict with the current regime, implying that Desmoulins spoke on behalf of the "old" or original members of the Club des Cordeliers, in opposition to the more radical and extreme factions that had now come into power. In the seven issues that comprised the Vieux Cordelier, Desmoulins condemned the suspicion, brutality, and fear that had come to characterize the Revolution, comparing the ongoing Revolutionary Terror
Reign of Terror
The Reign of Terror , also known simply as The Terror , was a period of violence that occurred after the onset of the French Revolution, incited by conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of "enemies of...

 to the oppressive reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius
Tiberius
Tiberius , was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian...

 and calling for the establishment of a "Committee of Clemency" to counter the climate of mercilessness fostered by the Committee of Public Safety. In the fourth number of the journal, Desmoulins addressed Robespierre directly, writing, "My dear Robespierre... my old school friend... Remember the lessons of history and philosophy: love is stronger, more lasting than fear." The perceived counter-revolutionary tone in these calls for clemency led to Desmoulins' expulsion from the Club des Cordeliers and denunciation at the Jacobins, as well as, ultimately, to his arrest and execution.

Political career and downfall


Desmoulins took an active part in the August 10, 1792 attack
10th of August (French Revolution)
On 10 August 1792, during the French Revolution, revolutionary Fédéré militias — with the backing of a new municipal government of Paris that came to be known as the "insurrectionary" Paris Commune and ultimately supported by the National Guard — besieged the Tuileries palace. King Louis XVI and...

 on the Tuileries Palace
Tuileries Palace
The Tuileries Palace was a royal palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the River Seine until 1871, when it was destroyed in the upheaval during the suppression of the Paris Commune...

. Immediately afterwards, as the Legislative Assembly (France)
Legislative Assembly (France)
During the French Revolution, the Legislative Assembly was the legislature of France from 1 October 1791 to September 1792. It provided the focus of political debate and revolutionary law-making between the periods of the National Constituent Assembly and of the National Convention.The Legislative...

 crumbled and various factions contended for control of the country, he was appointed Secretary-General to Georges Danton, who had assumed the role of Justice Minister. On September 8, he was elected as a deputy from Paris to the new National Convention
National Convention
During the French Revolution, the National Convention or Convention, in France, comprised the constitutional and legislative assembly which sat from 20 September 1792 to 26 October 1795 . It held executive power in France during the first years of the French First Republic...

. He was affiliated with The Mountain
The Mountain
The Mountain refers in the context of the history of the French Revolution to a political group, whose members, called Montagnards, sat on the highest benches in the Assembly...

, and voted for the establishment of the Republic and the Execution of Louis XVI
Execution of Louis XVI
The execution of Louis XVI by means of the guillotine took place on 21 January 1793 at the Place de la Révolution in Paris. It was a major event of the French Revolution...

. His political views were closely aligned with those of Danton and, initially, Robespierre.

The appearance of the Vieux Cordelier in December 1793 marked the start of a rift between Desmoulins and Robespierre. Initially directed, with Robespierre's approval, against the excesses of the ultra-radical Hébertist
Hébertists
The Hébertists were an ultra-revolutionary political faction associated with the populist journalist Jacques Hébert. They came to power during the Reign of Terror and played a significant role in the French Revolution....

 faction, the journal was rapidly turned against Robespierre himself and his allies in the Committee of Public Safety. Its calls for a Committee of Clemency sharply divided Danton and Desmoulins, who advocated such a committee, from Robespierre, who viewed the idea as indulgent and dangerous.

On January 7, 1794, the Jacobin Club sought to expel Desmoulins from its number. Robespierre, seeking to protect Desmoulins, suggested as an alternative that the offending issues of the Vieux Cordelier be publicly burnt. Desmoulins' response,"Brûler n'est pas répondre" ("Burning is not answering"), echoed the cry of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

, the influential philosopher whose work was central to Robespierre's own vision of the Republic. Robespierre persisted in his attempt to protect his childhood friend (his argument was that Desmoulins was a "spoilt child" whom others had led astray), but Desmoulins' refusal to renounce the Vieux Cordelier made it politically difficult for any tolerance to be extended to him.

The condemnation and execution of the Hébertists in March 1794 meant that the sole remaining serious source of dissent within the Committee of Public Safety's regime was the indulgent faction headed by Danton and voiced by Desmoulins. The energies of the Committee, and especially of Saint-Just, therefore turned to the elimination of the Dantonists. Charges were brought before the Committee of Public Safety, and an arrest warrant for Danton and Desmoulins was finally issued on March 31.

Trial and execution


Danton, Desmoulins, and many other actual or accused Dantonist associates were tried from April 3 through 5th before the Revolutionary Tribunal
Revolutionary Tribunal
The Revolutionary Tribunal was a court which was instituted in Paris by the Convention during the French Revolution for the trial of political offenders, and eventually became one of the most powerful engines of the Reign of Terror....

. The trial was less criminal in nature than political, and as such unfolded in an irregular fashion. The accused were prevented from defending themselves by a decree of the National Convention. This fact, together with confusing and often incidental denunciations (for instance, a report that Danton, while engaged in political work in Brussels, had appropriated a carriage filled with several hundred thousand livres of table linen) and threats made by prosecutor Antoine Quentin Fouquier-Tinville
Antoine Quentin Fouquier-Tinville
Antoine Quentin Fouquier de Tinville was a French lawyer during the Revolution and Reign of Terror periods.-Early career:...

 towards members of the jury, helped to ensure a guilty verdict. Additionally, the accused were denied the right to have witnesses appear on their behalf, though they had submitted requests for several - including, in Desmoulins' case, Robespierre. The verdict was passed in the absence of the accused, who had been removed from the courtroom to prevent unrest among the trial's observers. Their execution was scheduled for the same day.

In a letter to his wife from the Luxembourg Prison, Desmoulins wrote, "[I]t is marvellous that I have walked for five years along the precipices of the Revolution without falling over them, and that I am still living; and I rest my head calmly upon the pillow of my writings... I have dreamed of a Republic such as all the world would have adored. I could never have believed that men could be so ferocious and so unjust."

Of the group of fifteen who were guillotined together on April 5, 1794, including Marie Jean Hérault de Séchelles, Philippe Fabre d'Églantine
Fabre d'Églantine
Philippe François Nazaire Fabre d'Églantine , commonly known as Fabre d'Églantine , was a French actor, dramatist, poet, and politician of the French Revolution.-Early life:He was born in Carcassonne, Aude...

 and Pierre Philippeaux
Pierre Philippeaux
Pierre Philippeaux, was a French lawyer who was a deputy to the National Convention for Sarthe.-Life:A lawyer then judge at the district tribunal for Le Mans, he created the newspaper Le défenseur de la Liberté at the start of the French Revolution...

, Desmoulins died third, and Danton last.

Family


On December 29, 1790 Desmoulins married Lucile Duplessis
Lucile Duplessis
Anne Lucile Philippe Laridon Duplessis was the wife of the French revolutionary and journalist Camille Desmoulins. She was the daughter of Claude Etienne Laridon Duplessis, an official of the French Treasury, and Anne Françoise Marie Boisdeveix...

. Among the witnesses to the marriage were Robespierre, Brissot, Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve
Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve
Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve was a French writer and politician.Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve was the son of a at Chartres. Though it is known that he was trained as a lawyer, very few specifics are known about Petion’s early life, as he was virtually unknown prior to the French Revolution...

. The Desmoulins' only child, Horace Camille, was born on July 6, 1792; his godfather was Robespierre.

Lucile Desmoulins was arrested mere days after her husband, and condemned to the guillotine on charges of conspiring
Conspiracy (political)
In a political sense, conspiracy refers to a group of persons united in the goal of usurping or overthrowing an established political power. Typically, the final goal is to gain power through a revolutionary coup d'état or through assassination....

 to free her husband from prison and plotting the "ruin of the Republic." She was executed on April 13, 1794.

Horace Camille Desmoulins was raised by Adèle and Annette Duplessis (the sister and mother of Lucile, respectively). He was later pension
Pension
In general, a pension is an arrangement to provide people with an income when they are no longer earning a regular income from employment. Pensions should not be confused with severance pay; the former is paid in regular installments, while the latter is paid in one lump sum.The terms retirement...

ed by the French government, and died in 1825 in Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

.

In popular culture


Camille Desmoulins is among the central characters in the following works of fiction:
  • A Place of Greater Safety
    A Place of Greater Safety
    A Place of Greater Safety is a 1992 novel by Hilary Mantel. It concerns the events of the French Revolution, focusing on the lives of Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins, and Maximilien Robespierre from their childhood through the execution of the Dantonists, and also featuring hundreds of other...

     (1993) by Hilary Mantel
    Hilary Mantel
    Hilary Mary Mantel CBE , née Thompson, is an English novelist, short story writer and critic. Her work, ranging in subject from personal memoir to historical fiction, has been short-listed for major literary awards...

    .
  • The Gods are Thirsty (1996) by Tanith Lee
    Tanith Lee
    Tanith Lee is a British writer of science fiction, horror and fantasy. She is the author of over 70 novels and 250 short stories, a children's picture book and many poems. She also wrote two episodes of BBC science fiction series Blake's 7...

    .
  • Danton
    Danton (1983 film)
    Danton is a 1983 French language film depicting the last months of Georges Danton, one of the leaders of the French Revolution. It is an adaptation of the Polish play The Danton Case by Stanislawa Przybyszewska....

     (film; 1982) dir. Andrzej Wajda
    Andrzej Wajda
    Andrzej Wajda is a Polish film director. Recipient of an honorary Oscar, he is possibly the most prominent member of the unofficial "Polish Film School"...

    .
  • The Danton Case (play; 1929) by Stanislawa Przybyszewska
    Stanislawa Przybyszewska
    Stanisława Przybyszewska was a Polish dramatist who wrote almost exclusively about the French Revolution. Her play The Danton Case, which examines the conflict between Maximilien Robespierre and Georges Danton, is considered to be one of the most exemplary liary works about the Revolution, and was...

  • La Révolution française
    La Révolution française (film)
    La Révolution française is a two-part film, co-produced by France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada. The first part, titled La Révolution française : les Années lumière was directed by Robert Enrico. The second part, La Révolution française : les Années terribles, was directed by...

    (film/miniseries; 1989)
  • A Far Better Rest (2000) by Susanne Alleyn
  • Madame Tussaud (2011) by Michelle Moran