The end of Hébert and the Enrage

The end of Hébert and the Enrage

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Title: Complaint over the arrest of Father Duchesne, 24 Ventôse Year II (March 13, 1794).

Creation date : 1794

Date shown: March 13, 1794

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: "Father Duchesne. Complaint. Air: I planted it, I saw it born."
"By J.J Dussault. Extract from the Political Correspondence, cloître Saint-Thomas du Louvre, n ° 5."
AE / II / 1880 printed

Storage location: Historic Center of the National Archives website

Contact copyright: © Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

Picture reference: AE / II / 1880

Complaint over the arrest of Father Duchesne, 24 Ventôse Year II (March 13, 1794).

© Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

The call for a new sans-culotte insurgency

Since 1790, Jaques-René Hébert has published Father Duchesne whose raw language is very popular with sans-culottes: the title has already been used because the character belongs to popular Parisian mythology. In Nivôse Year II (December 1793) is committed, between The Old Cordelier by Desmoulins and Father Duchesne a struggle which, beyond personal antagonisms, reveals two factions between which the Convention finds itself caught: the “indulgent” and the “enraged” (“hebertists”). On 14 Ventôse, at the Cordeliers club, Hébert took the step that would be fatal to him by calling for a popular uprising

Image Analysis

The death of Father Duchesne

On 4 Germinal Year II (March 24, 1794), at half past five in the afternoon, three carts carrying eighteen condemned to death arrived on the Place de la Révolution [1] invaded by a crowd even larger than 'usually. Among those who will die are General Ronsin, Vincent, the printer Momoro and Hébert, who have come to be likened to "Father Duchesne", the "damn patriotic" hero of his newspaper. They have been expected to be executed, since the day before, sometimes, and groups sing, to pass the time, the "lament of Father Duchesne" which has just appeared and which the peddlers sell in the crowd watched by police snitches.

The verses of the occasion are astonished at the sudden fall of the one whose calls to the guillotine were once feared, resuming his colorful language ("whistle the linnet" to "be imprisoned"). Then the couplets detail the charges against the "famous stove merchant" (supposed profession of Father Duchesne): conspiracy against the Republic (the call to the insurrection of 14 Ventôse, the awkward questioning of the Committees and Robespierre in the newspaper), collusion with England (via the Dutch banker Kock), preparation of a royalist insurrection. In a climate of suspicion, the complaint avoids overwhelming Hébert without being favorable to him. The charges of the revolutionary tribunal are repeated in a dubious manner: "We are told that ...", "We are assured that ..."

Hébert spent his last night in jail screaming and calling for help. The public laughs at the lack of firmness of the one who kept asking for heads to fall. When it comes to his turn to "play with the hot hand" ("to be guillotined"), Hébert must be dragged to the scaffold: his head, shown by the executioner, is greeted with jeers.


The elimination of the "rabid"

In the uncertain and threatening context of the beginning of 1794, the revolutionary government could not tolerate the repeated provocations of the "rabid" who gathered at the Cordeliers and for whom Hébert was more the media relay than the leader. Their trial and conviction surprised public opinion, but did not provoke a reaction. The Old Cordelier, by revealing on 16 Nivôse (January 5, 1794) that "Père Duchesne" was appointed by the Minister of War Bouchotte and that he was making fine suppers at a foreign banker's house when food shortages reigned in Paris, had, he is true, already much tarnished his image of patriot of integrity ...

  • Desmoulins (Camille)
  • Convention
  • execution
  • revolutionary figures
  • Parisians
  • sans culottes
  • Cordeliers (Club of)
  • enraged
  • Hébert (Jacques-René)
  • indulgent


Francois FURET, The Revolution 1770-1880 Paris, Hachette, 1988. Albert SOBOUL, Historical Dictionary of the Revolution Paris, PUF, 1989


1. Current place de la Concorde.

To cite this article

Delphine DUBOIS and Régis LAPASIN, “The end of Hébert and the Enraged”

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