Yesterday’s date, June 20th, passed without most French people realizing its significance.
Contrary to the prevailing popular belief, “Bastille Day” marked a disastrous hijacking of the French Revolution, operated at the behest of an often unsuspected hostile foreign power: Great Britain, whom the French, as it turned out, didn’t famously nickname “la perfide Albion” for no good reason.
The truly “historical date”, worthy of celebration by the French and rest of the world, remains largely unknown to this day.
In fact, it took place only a few weeks prior to the bloodbath of July 14th, 1789: On June 20th, when Lafayette led other authentically patriotic Frenchmen to swear the so-called “Serment de jeu de Paume” (the “Tennis Court Oath.”)
Demandez à n’importe qui au hasard (ask anyone randomly): “c’est quoi le 14 Juillet (what is the 14 of July)?”, and you are likely to hear the answer “c’est la fête nationale!” (it’s the national celebration!) Mais encore? (But what else?) “It’s to celebrate a major event in l’histoire de France: la prise de la Bastille (The storming of the Bastille.)”
And for you, personally, what does the 14 juillet stand for?
- La fête et la musique dans les rues de France?
- Le défilé du quatorze juillet?
The question one ought to ask is: What happened exactement in that particular day of July 14th, 1789?
And why should it be relevant, today, more than two centuries later?
Furthermore, does the importance of this day solely concern the French and their own history, or does it go beyond that?
To help us bring a tentative answer to these questions, and to put matters into their accurate perspective historique, we will turn to an eyewitness of the storming of the Bastille: The brilliant, towering figure of French literature, Chateaubriand.
Chateaubriand: An eyewitness who accurately identified one of the main culprits behind the “Bastille Day” tragedy
Referring to the dramatic events that took place on that fateful day of July 14th, 1789, Chateaubriand identifies -quote- ”One lying and cynical revealer of the corruption of the upper classes“, whom he holds directly responsible for the horrendous massacres he witnessed that day.
But before we go further, and again, for the sake of clear perspective, it is important to remember that the French Revolution came in the aftermath of another major revolution outre-atlantique (on the other side of the Atlantic), namely la Révolution américaine.
The French, through another figure marquante of French literature, Beaumarchais, as well as the Marquis de Lafayette [picture below], entre autres (among others), brought a crucial and thoroughly decisive assistance to the American troops in their war against la Grande Bretagne.
The French Lafayette leading American troops against la Grande Bretagne (Great Britain)
The American Revolution a donné naissance (has given birth) to les États-Unis, only a few years before the French Revolution was set into motion. With the drafting of its remarkable Constitution of the United States, it was to yield une profonde influence on the French minds and hearts.
After its resounding success, the American Revolution encouraged a large group of French people surrounding the returning Lafayette (who named one of his sons George Washington) to follow the footsteps of les Pères fondateurs des États-Unis (the Founding Fathers of the United States.)
Their set objective was to create their own constitutional form of government: une Constitution française that would mirror the same lofty principles upheld by the American Constitution, sans effusion de sang (with no bloodshed.)
That is how the American Revolution brought to life the idea and ideals of the French Revolution: A peaceful transformation was initially meant to occur in France, with a Republican form of government as an ultimate goal.
The model that first inspired this transformation was the fresh Republican model of the United States, which stood at the exact opposite of the brutal rule of an empire, such as the British Empire leading the world at that time.
Washington and Lafayette in Valley Forge
Unfortunately -and this is a “salient point” of paramount importance to keep in mind- the leadership of la Grande Bretagne, which suffered the recent loss of the crown jewel of its North American colonies at the hands of Washington and the French Lafayette, was understandably not “too thrilled” at the prospect of having le modèle américain emulated anywhere else.
In fact, the spread of the republican model, especially in its nascent American form, poised a rather deadly threat to the vast hegemony of its global colonial Empire, “sur lequel le Soleil ne se couche jamais” (“on which the sun never sets.”)
- The super global empire of Great Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries
The threat of anti-colonial “republican proliferation” spreading to France from the newborn United States was deemed very alarming indeed, since the highest circles of the British establishment perceived France as “lying in their backyard.”
Located only a 150 miles apart, with only la Manche (the English Channel) to separate them, the two nations maintained an age-old rivalité (rivalry) in the cultural, economic, and geopolitical arenas.
One can therefore picture, *dans les grandes lignes* (in the broad lines), without a risk of oversimplification, two groupes d’acteurs déterminants (determining groups of actors), who stood at the forefront of la Révolution française:
- Le groupe du modèle américain: Centered around the veteran hero of the American Revolution, the French Lafayette, as well as many others, such as the renown scientist Lavoisier [picture below], an outstanding figure in the field of chemistry, whom you may recall from his famous maxim: “Rien ne se perd, rien ne se crée, tout se transforme” (“Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed”), later to be known as the “law of the conservation of mass.“
- Le groupe anti-modèle américain (or pro-britannique): The leader incontesté of this group was none other than the dear cousin of the King Louis XVI, the Duc d’Orléans [picture below], who never concealed his feverish anglomanie, especially after sojourning in England for a while, where he is known to have fallen under the tight control of British Minister Nathaniel Parker-Forth (Parker-Forth, in one coïncidence amusante, is the great-great-great-grand father of the current News Corporation owner, Rupert Murdoch, of which the “French-loving” Fox News is a corporate subsidiary.)
Not surprisingly, the Duke nurtured obvious “regal ambitions” to replace his cousin, the French King—by any necessary means!
Pour cette raison (for this reason), he specifically devoted his Palais-Royal, located within the heart of Paris, to further his political schemes, turning the palace into a “jacobin” nest of intrigues.
And to that effect, he enlisted the services of three Swiss figures, whom we shall call here “les 3 SUiSSES“ (“The 3 Swiss.”)
- The London-controlled Duke d’Orleans, who wanted to be “roi” (King) instead of his cousin Louis XVI—by any necessary means!
Those ”3 SUiSSES” are almost entirely forgotten today, although they played a key role in the dramatic deviation of the French Revolution.
Their action was instrumental in the series of events that subverted the French Revolution from a peaceful movement based on the pro-American constitution model, which were in turn based on the Platonic concepts lied out in la République (the Republic.)
The end result of this dramatic shift was an unfortunate, bloodthirsty campaign, eventually leading to a phase which historians dubbed la Grande Terreur.
Ironically enough, in addition to thousands of innocent French people, la Grande Terreur beheaded most of its instigators, by way of the Guillotine —not even its very own “Godfather”, the Duke d’Orléans, was spared in that folly.
The “3 SUiSSES” in question are, respectively: Necker (father of the famous French lady Madame de Staël), Marat, and le Baron de Besenval.
The “3 Suisses” culprits (Necker, Marat, Besenval) who executed the plan of the Duc d’Orleans to undermine the French Revolution: Subverting it from an initially peaceful process of political evolution towards a bloodthirsty phase of Grande Terreur
Intially, the “Republicans” rallied around Lafayette were winning against the Ducs’s “Jacobins.”
Notwithstanding the flood of vehement attacks unleashed by the Swiss journalist Marat, the Lafayette group gained the upper hand over the Duc d’Orléans and his Swiss “partners in crime”, achieving a major victory only a few weeks before the storming of the Bastille was scheduled to take place:
Lafayette and his political allies succeeded in bringing to life the first Assemblée Nationale (National Assembly), as a direct result of what ought to be celebrated today as the true French national day: The “Serment du jeu de paume“, on June 20th, 1789.
- “Serment du jeu de paume” (known in English as the “Tennis Court Oath”), held le 20 Juin 1789 (June 20th, 1789.) It called for the creation of the first French National Constituent Assembly, of which Lafayette was to be Vice-President
Having lost political momentum, especially after le roi (the King) Louis XVI, only three days before le 14 juillet, dismissed Necker from his post of contrôleur général des finances (Necker was indeed the “economic hitman” among the three Swiss stooges), le Duc d’Orléans desperately needed an urgent gambit move.
Entered the stage the Baron de Besenval!
The Swiss Baron was in charge of the so-called Gardes Suisses, the soldiers whose function was to ensure the safety of la population parisienne.
Instead of doing his duty, Besenval would personally launch and supervise the storming of the Bastille.
Just as Chateaubriand would testify years later, the Swiss Baron ordered the killing of all bypassing French people near the Bastille, in the most random fashion.
The objective of such mass killings by the Baron was rather clear: To stir up enough social unrest in Paris so as to strong-arm le roi (the King) into recalling Necker, who was kicked out of court only three days earlier.
In the meantime, hundreds of “Jacobins” were explicitely instructed by their leader, the London-controlled Duc, not to stop the orgy of destruction in the streets of Paris until Necker was finally brought back to court.
That, unfortunately, was exactly what happened, seulement trois jours plus tard (only three days later): The King was forced to believe that bringing back Necker, and giving him carte blanche on all economic and political matters, was the only way to deal with the new unrest.
To come back to Chateaubriand, the French writer did not have very flattering words to describe the sinister Baron.
In his “Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe” (page 276), where Chateaubriand tells the story of how he himself, as a young man, witnessed “live” the storming of the Bastille, he portrays the Swiss Baron in the following terms:“Le baron de Besenval, révélateur menteur et cynique des corruptions de la haute société, mouche du coche des puérilités de la vieille monarchie expirante, ce lourd baron compromis dans l’affaire de la Bastille, sauvé par M. Necker et par Mirabeau, uniquement parce qu’il était Suisse: Quelle misère! Qu’avaient à faire de pareils hommes avec de pareils événements? Quand la Révolution eut grandi, elle abandonna avec dédain les frivoles apostats du trône: elle avait eu besoin de leurs vices, elle eut besoin de leurs têtes: elle ne méprisait aucun sang.“
Translated by A. T. De Mattos in English as:“The Baron de Besenval, the lying and cynical revealer of the corruption of the upper classes, the fly on the wheel of the puerilities of the expiring old monarchy; that ponderous baron, compromised in the affair of the Bastille, and saved by M. Necker and Mirabeau only because he was a Swiss: the disgrace of it! What had such men to do with such events? When the Revolution had attained its full height, it scornfully abandoned these frivolous apostates from the throne: it had needed their vices, it now needed their heads; it disdained no blood.“
En guise de conclusion (as a conclusion), the 14th of July essentially marked a tragic coup d’état led by the Duc d’Orléans and his cohort of the “3 SUiSSES“, at the behest of the most powerful colonial empire at the time, la Grande Bretagne.
The British actively prescribed the marche à suivre (procedure), thus deviating the French Revolution off the peaceful course set by its Republican initiators, the French Lafayette and the American constitution enthusiasts in French society.
The French Revolution was pushed towards a radical trajectoire jacobine, in the midst of which the expendable Duke d’Orléans (more appropriately qualified as the “Dupe d’Orléans“), after “doing his time”, would end up losing -quite littéralement- his head.
The jacobin hijacking of the French Revolution would in turn give rise to the horrors of la Grande Terreur, and would pave the way, a few years later, to the transformation of France into un empire colonial (a colonial empire), at the image of Great Britain.
The “French” colonial entreprise would start shortly after la Grande Terreur, with the Napoléon Bonaparte era, and resumed some fifteen years later under the reign of none other than the son of the “Dupe d’Orléans”, the King Louis-Philippe d’Orléans.
The son of the Duke d’Orléans-turned-French King would in turn give the world his own son, in the person of the Duc d’Aumale, who famously “distinguished himself” in the long colonial invasion of Algeria.
The Duc d’Aumale busied himself repressing the Algerians for many years, until his father, Louis-Philippe, was deposed from the French throne. Then, père et fils (father and son) would go together to retire at their grandpa’s favorite place in the world, Great Britain.
The lesson to be retained from all of this?
The French today should rightfully be proud of Lafayette’s 20 juin 1789, when their first Assemblée Nationale saw the light, instead of the tragic date which occurred only a few weeks later, which was to mark le triomphe temporaire of the overly ambitieux, London-controlled, Duc d’Orléans and his “3 SUiSSES” stooges.
* Further reading: Its publication was set to coincide with the French Revolution’s bicentennial anniversary: French historian Olivier Blanc’s “Les Hommes de Londres” (“The London Men”, a pun meant to sound like “Les Hommes de l’Ombre“, meaning “the Shadow Men” of the French Revolution) is highly recommended