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François Hanriot

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From 10 August 1792 François Hanriot was chef de la section des sans-culottes; drawing by Gabriel in the Carnavalet Museum
From 10 August 1792 François Hanriot was chef de la section des sans-culottes; drawing by Gabriel in the Carnavalet Museum

François Hanriot (2 December 1759 – 28 July 1794) was a French Sans-culotte leader, street orator, and commander of the Garde Nationale during the French Revolution. He played a vital role in the Insurrection of 31 May – 2 June 1793 and subsequently the fall of the Girondins. On 27 July 1794 he tried to release Maximilien Robespierre, who was arrested by the Convention. He was executed on the next day – together with Robespierre, Saint-Just and Couthon – by the rules of the law of 22 Prairial, only verifying his identity at the trial.


Early years

François Hanriot was born in Nanterre, now a western suburb of Paris.[1] His parents were servants (gardeners) to a former Treasurer of France,[2] and came from Sormery in the Bourgogne. Between 1779 and 1783 he supposedly was a soldier in America serving under Lafayette, but there are no documents to prove that.[3]

Not a man of any specific profession, Hanriot held a variety of different jobs. He took his first employment with a procureur doing mostly secretarial work, but lost his position due to reasons of dishonesty. Next, he obtained a clerkship in the Paris octroi in 1789 doing tax work. His position here was also ill-fated, as he was again fired after leaving his station the night of 12 July 1789, when the popular Jacques Necker was fired and angry Parisians attempted to burn the building belonging to the Wall of the Ferme générale down. Hanriot was arrested and imprisoned in Bicêtre, and released the next year with the help of Jean-Paul Marat.[4] After his string of unfortunate professions, Hanriot remained unemployed and subsequently very poor.[5] His next string of occupations is rather hazy in history; many people of the time connect him to a variety of professions including a shopkeeper, selling liquor and a peddler. He owned the complete works by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, published by Pierre-Alexandre DuPeyrou and René Louis de Girardin (1780–1782).[citation needed]

Role in the first years of the Revolution

After generating a more substantial fortune and moving to 21, Rue de la Clef, in a Parisian quarter near the Jardin des Plantes and Rue Mouffetard, in January 1792, Hanriot soon became well known for his anti-aristocratic outlook and attacking Lafayette. He became an orator for the local section sans-culottes, one of the most populous and poorest districts of the capital. On 9 August 1792, when the Assembly refused to impeach Lafayette, the tocsin called the sections into arms.[6] In the evening the "commissionaires" of several sections (Billaud-Varenne, Chaumette, Hébert, Hanriot, Fleuriot-Lescot, Pache, Bourdon) gathered in the town hall. The next day the Tuileries was stormed by the National Guard, the Fédérés and the people from the revolutionary sections of Paris.

As a member of the Cordeliers club he was strongly in favor of imposing taxes on the aristocracy, presenting them "with a bill in one hand and a pistol in the other." With this attitude he gained a loyal following of local sans-culottes and they would appoint him on 2 September as captain of the National Guard battalion of his section.[7] It is unlikely he participated in the September Massacre as the Sainte-Pélagie Prison in his section was not visited at all.[a] On 18 September he was elected as one of the 24 Paris deputies in the Convention.[citation needed]

The Fall of the Girondists

Journées des 31 Mai, 1er et 2 Juin 1793, an engraving of the Convention surrounded by National Guards, forcing the deputies to arrest the Girondins and to establish an armed force of 6,000 men. The insurrection was organized by the Paris Commune and supported by Montagnards.
Journées des 31 Mai, 1er et 2 Juin 1793, an engraving of the Convention surrounded by National Guards, forcing the deputies to arrest the Girondins and to establish an armed force of 6,000 men. The insurrection was organized by the Paris Commune and supported by Montagnards.
The uprising of the Parisian sans-culottes from 31 May to 2 June 1793. The scene takes place in front of the Deputies Chamber in the Tuileries. The depiction shows Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles and Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud.
The uprising of the Parisian sans-culottes from 31 May to 2 June 1793. The scene takes place in front of the Deputies Chamber in the Tuileries. The depiction shows Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles and Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud.

The Spring of 1793 was a period of great political tension in Paris as the radical voices in the Commune and the Montagnards in the Convention became more overtly hostile to the ruling Girondist faction.[8] The authorities' decision to arrest Jean-Paul Marat in April brought matters to a head, and precipitated the fall of the Girondins in which Hanriot played a major part. In the evening of 30 May 1793 the Commune appointed Hanriot provisionally to the position of "Commandant-General" of the Parisian National Guard,[9] because Santerre was fighting in the Vendée. He was ordered to march his troops to the Palais National.[10] The purpose of this move was to force the Convention to dissolve the Commission of Twelve and the arrest of 22 select Girondists.

In the morning of Friday 31 May, the city gates were closed and at 6 the tocsin in the Notre-Dame was rung. Hanriot ordered to fire a cannon on the Pont-Neuf as a sign of alarm without being ordered by the Convention.[11] Vergniaud suggested to arrest Hanriot. (Robespierre denounced the commission of Twelve and attacked Vergniaud.) In the evening of 1 June the Comité Insurrectionnel ordered the arrest 27 Girondins, of Jean-Marie Roland, Lebrun-Tondu and Clavière and banning the Girondist newspapers and the arrest of their editors.[12] It ordered François Hanriot, to surround the Convention ‘with a respectable armed force’.[13]

The Convention (about 100 deputies) decided to allow men to carry arms on days of crisis and pay them for each day and promised to indemnify the workers for the interruption in the past four days. It postponed any other decisions on the accused deputies for three days.[14] (At midnight the commune decided the men should take a rest and go home.) The next morning the Convention invited Hanriot, who told them all the men were prepared and posts occupied. Some people on the galleries called "A la Vendée".[citation needed]

Hanriot ordered National Guard to march from the town hall to the National Palace.[15] In the early evening on 2 June, a large force of armed citizens, some estimated 80,000, but Danton spoke of 30,000 souls,[16][17] surrounded the convention with artillery. "The armed force", Hanriot said, "will retire only when the Convention has delivered to the people the deputies denounced by the Commune."[18] The accused Girondins attempted to exit, walked around the palace in a theatrical procession and confronted on all sides by bayonets and pikes, returned to the meeting hall and submitted to the inevitable. Twenty-two Girondins were seized one by one after some juggling with names.[19] They finally decided that 31 deputies were not to be imprisoned,[b] but only subject to house arrest.[20]

On 2 June 1793 at 11 in the morning, women gathered in front of the Convention. Then Hanriot's troops surrounded the Convention with thousands of armed volunteers, cannons and pikes while it was in session and throngs of sans-culotte soldiers entered the building and disrupted the sessions.[21] The President of the Convention, Herault de Sechelles, came out to appeal to Hanriot to remove his troops, but he refused. Under that pressure, the Convention voted the arrest of 22 Girondist deputies, removing that faction from power.[10][22] Marat and Couthon regarded Hanriot as the “Savior of the Fatherland”. (Gérard Walter insists on the contrary on the perfect discipline of the men commanded by Hanriot. The historian thus attributes to the sans-culotte commander the merit of having avoided the bloodshed during the exclusion and the arrest of the Girondins deputies.) On 11 June Hanriot resigned his command, declaring that order had been restored. On 29 June he was reelected in his section.[23] On 1 July he was elected by the Commune and two days later appointed by Jean Bouchotte permanent commander of the armed forces of Paris.[24]

On 4 September, the sans-culottes again invaded the convention. Supported by Hanriot they demanded tougher measures against rising prices and the setting up of a system of terror to root out the counter-revolution.[25] On 11 September the power of the Committee of Public Safety was extended for one month; Robespierre supported Hanriot in the Jacobin club who led the insurrection in 2 June. On 19 September the Convention supported his appointment as general of the Parisian National Guard. Hanriot moved into an apartment on the third floor of the Hôtel de Ville, Paris.[26] On 8 December he declared not to use arms against the people; he would use reason.[citation needed]

End of the Reign of Terror

Saint-Just and Robespierre at the Hôtel de Ville on the night of 9 to 10 Thermidor Year II. Painting by Jean-Joseph Weerts
Saint-Just and Robespierre at the Hôtel de Ville on the night of 9 to 10 Thermidor Year II. Painting by Jean-Joseph Weerts

During the Spring of 1794 there were increasing tensions between Robespierre and the Committees on the one hand, and the Paris Commune and the sans-culottes on the other. On 6 March Hanriot appeared in front of the Convention with 1,200 men. This culminated in the arrest of Hebert, Momoro, Vincent, Ronsin and their associates on 13 March. Hanriot, a Hébertist, was protected by Robespierre.[27] On 27 March the sans-culotte Revolutionary Army was disbanded and its artillery units brought under Hanriot's control.[28] Although he was broadly supportive of the radical ideas of Hébert and his associates, Hanriot remained loyal to Robespierre.[29]

Hanriot opposed Lazare Carnot who stripped Paris of its gunners. Hanriot managed to prevent the queues in front of the butchers and bakeries from turning into a riot. On 5 June François Hanriot ordered to detain every baker in Paris who sold his bread to people without (distribution) card or from other sections.[30]

On 27 July 1794 a group of Convention members organised the overthrow of Robespierre and his allies in what was known as the Thermidorean Reaction. Laurent Lecointre was the instigator of the coup,[31] assisted by Barère, Fréron, Barras, Tallien, Thuriot, Courtois, Rovère, Garnier de l’Aube and Guffroy. Each one of them prepared his part in the attack. They decided that Hanriot, his aides-de-camp, Lavalette and Boulanger,[32] the public prosecutor Dumas, the family Duplay and the printer Charles-Léopold Nicolas had to be arrested first, so Robespierre would be without support.[31]

At around 3 p.m. Hanriot was ordered to appear in the convention; he or someone else suggested to only show up accompanied by a crowd. (Dumas was already arrested at noon and at four taken to Sainte-Pélagie Prison, as well as members of the family Duplay.[33]) On horseback, Hanriot warned the sections that there would be an attempt to murder Robespierre and mobilized 2,400 National Guards in front of the town hall.[34][35][36][37] What had happened was not very clear to their officers; either the convention was closed down or the Paris Commune. Nobody explained anything.[38]

When the Paris Commune heard of the arrests it began mobilising forces to free Robespierre and his allies and to take control of the Convention. The mayor Fleuriot-Lescot instructed the prisons of Paris to refuse admission to any prisoners sent to them by the Convention[39] and Hanriot took charge of military preparations for closing the Convention.[40]

When he appeared at the Place du Carrousel in front of the Convention he was taken prisoner by the oldest deputy Philippe Rühl. (He seems to be taken prisoner earlier that day by fr:Louis Antoine Joseph Robin near the Palais-Royal.[35]) To avoid communication with Hanriot the five deputies were given a meal and it was decided they had to leave the Tuileries?[41] According to Eric Hazan: "Now came the turning-point of this journée: instead of taking advantage of its superiority, in both guns and men, to invade the nearby hall where the Convention was sitting, the column, lacking orders or leaders, returned to the Maison-Commune."[34] According to Bertrand Barère Hanriot fled to the town hall after being threatened by some deputies he could be regarded as an outlaw.[42] The Convention did not gather before nine.[43] The Convention declared the five deputies (plus the supporting members) to be outlaws. On hearing this, the insurgents and their commander were seized with fright and fled helter-skelter to the Commune.[44] When the Paris' militants heard this news, order began to break down, they became divided.

In the evening Robespierre, Hanriot and the other liberated prisoners had gathered at the Hotel de Ville which was now their headquarters. The Convention responded by declaring them outlaws to be taken dead or alive, and ordering troops of its own under Barras to suppress them. Henriot ordered to light the entire square with torches. Within an hour, the forces of the Commune quietly deserted the square. Around two in the morning, troops of the Convention under the command of Barras arrived. Robespierre and a number of others were arrested. Hanriot fell from a side window,[c] and was found later in the day, unconscious, in a neighbouring courtyard.[46] Hanriot was taken to the guillotine in the same cart as Robespierre and his brother[47] and was executed just before Robespierre on 28 July 1794, only semi-conscious when led to the platform.[48]

According to Merda Hanriot tried to escape by a concealed staircase to the third floor.[49] Most sources say that Hanriot was thrown out of a window by Coffinhal after being accused of the disaster. (According to Ernest Hamel it is one of the many legends spread by Barère.[50]) Anyhow, Hanriot landed in a small courtyard on a heap of glass[38] or manure. He had strength enough to crawl into a drain where he was found twelve hours later and taken to the Conciergerie.[38]

In the afternoon of 10 Thermidor (28 July, a décadi, a day of rest and festivity) the Revolutionary Tribunal condemned Robespierre and 21 "Robespierrists" (c.q. 13 members of the insurrectionary Commune) to death by the rules of the law of 22 Prairial, only verifying their identity at the trial. In the late afternoon, the convicts were taken in three carts to the Place de la Révolution to be executed.[citation needed]


  1. ^ It is possible that his responsibility for the seminary Saint-Firmin massacre came from a confusion with a namesake, Humbert Henriot, a 32-year-old longshoreman.
  2. ^ 19 Girondins, ten members of the Commission of Twelve and two ministers, Lebrun and Clavière.
  3. ^ According to some accounts he was pushed out of the window by Coffinhal, who shouted at him 'You fool! Your cowardice has lost us!'[45]


  1. ^ "François Hanriot". NNDB. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  2. ^ Lenotre, G; Lees, Frederic (1909). Romances of the French Revolution. 2. Heinemann. p. 270. OCLC 867948426.
  3. ^ Moreau, J. (2010) François Hanriot, general-citizen, p. 32-34. Nanterre: Société d'Histoire de Nanterre.
  4. ^ Moreau, J. (2010) François Hanriot, general-citizen, p. 32-34. Nanterre: Société d'Histoire de Nanterre.
  5. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hanriot, François" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  6. ^ N. Hampson (1978) Danton, p. 72
  7. ^ Andress 2006, p. 396.
  8. ^ Schama 1989, pp. 714–722.
  9. ^ Stephens, Henry Morse (1902). A history of the French revolution. C. Scribner's sons. pp. 242.
  10. ^ a b Legrand 1989, p. 341.
  11. ^ Thompson, J.M. (1959) The French Revolution. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, p. 353.
  12. ^ Mathiez, Albert (1995) The French Revolution, p. 325. Rostov-on-Don: Phoenix.
  13. ^ Davidson, Ian. The French Revolution, p. 161
  14. ^ Gazette nationale ou le Moniteur universel, 5 juin 1793
  15. ^ Popkin, Jeremy D. (1 July 2016). A Short History of the French Revolution. Routledge. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-1-315-50892-4.
  16. ^ Le Républicain français, 14 septembre 1793, p. 2
  17. ^ Moreau, J. (2010) François Hanriot, general-citizen, p. ?. Nanterre: Société d'Histoire de Nanterre.
  18. ^ de LaBédollière, Emile (1848). Histoire de la Garde nationale: récit complet de tous les faits qui l'ont distinguée depuis son origine jusqu'en 1848 (in French). H. Dumineray et F. Pallier. OCLC 944662819.
  19. ^ Israel 2014, p. 447.
  20. ^ Davidson, Ian. The French Revolution, pp. 161–162
  21. ^ Schama 1989, p. 722.
  22. ^ Slavin, Morris (1986). The Making of an Insurrection. Harvard University Press. pp. 99-116. ISBN 978-0-674-54328-7.
  23. ^ Moreau, J. (2010) François Hanriot, general-citizen, p. 32-34. Nanterre: Société d'Histoire de Nanterre.
  24. ^ Paxton, John (1988). Companion to the French Revolution. Facts on File. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-8160-1116-2. OCLC 11262233.
  25. ^ Tackett, Timothy (23 February 2015). The Coming of the Terror in the French Revolution. Harvard University Press. p. 299. ISBN 9780674736559 – via Google Books.
  26. ^ Gustave Hue (1907) "Deux géneraux de la République". In: Les Contemporains, 1 janvier 1907
  27. ^ The public prosecutor of the terror, Antoine Quentin Fouquier-Tinville, p. 250
  28. ^ Scurr 2006, p. 279.
  29. ^ Thompson 1988, p. 460.
  30. ^ Le republicain francais, 8 juin 1794; Mercure universel, 24 juin 1794
  31. ^ a b "Robespierre peint par lui-même". 1794.
  32. ^ Cobb, Richard, The people's armies: the armées révolutionnaires: instrument of the Terror in the departments, April 1793 to Floréal Year II, trans. Elliott, Marianne (New Haven, CT, and London, 1987), pp. 65–6. Google Scholar
  33. ^ Ratineau Fabienne. "Les livres de Robespierre au 9 thermidor". In: Annales historiques de la Révolution française, n°287, 1992. pp. 131–135. DOI :
  34. ^ a b "The dramas of Germinal and Thermidor – A People's History of the French Revolution".
  35. ^ a b Furet 1996, p. 150.
  36. ^ "Projet de procès-verbal des séances de 9, 10 et 11 thermidor par Charles Duval, p. 34". 1794.
  37. ^ Dupuy, Roger. La Garde nationale (Folio Histoire) (French Edition). Editions Gallimard.
  38. ^ a b c Sanson, Henri (1876). Memoirs of the Sansons: From Private Notes and Documents (1688–1847). London: Chatto and Windus. OCLC 317736774.
  39. ^ Scurr 2006, p. 320.
  40. ^ Thompson 1988, p. 573.
  41. ^ Thiers, Marie Joseph L. Adolphe (1838). The history of the French revolution, tr. with notes by F. Shoberl. p. 465.]
  42. ^ Mémoires de B. Barère ... publiés par MM. Hippolyte Carnot ... et ..., Volume 2 By Bertrand BARÈRE DE VIEUZAC p. 226
  43. ^ Fouche & Robespierre, le 9 thermidor by Arnaud Louis Raoul Comte de Martel, p. 238-239
  44. ^ Richard T. Bienvenu (1968) The Ninth of Thermidor, p. 215, 224
  45. ^ Histoire religieuse, monarchique, militaire et littéraire de la ..., Volume 2 by Étienne Léon baron de Lamothe-Langon
  46. ^ Legrand 1989, p. 436.
  47. ^ Scurr 2006, p. 324.
  48. ^ Andress 2006, pp. 341–344.
  49. ^ C.A. Méda, p. 385
  50. ^ E. Hamel, p. 342


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