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 Post subject: Waterloo @ 200 - The White Terror of 1815
Unread postPosted: 24 Aug 2015, 10:57 
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Waterloo @ 200
The Second White Terror

By Matthew Groves

“Some officers proposed the King’s health. Accused of not having responded to the invitation with sufficient eagerness, I was denounced to the colonel, then to the general, then to the prefect, who decided to reprimand me. It was necessary to be a Royalist, even a hot and extravagant Royalist."

The White Terror in 1815 was a series of reprisals, various acts of violence, murders, lynches and persecution undertaken mostly by the ultra-royalist factions against those who showed support for the French Revolution and the Empire. The violence started in the months following Napoleon’s second abdication. Notable figures were murdered or put on trial and many others went into hiding for several years until the political climate cooled down. The first White Terror had taken place back in 1794 after the turmoil of the Terror. The ‘White’ in the name of these events is in reference to the white colour of the Bourbon colours.

Outbreak of Violence
Violence during the period after Napoleon’s second abdication did not occur all over France but happened in several important regions in the country and most prominently in the south of France. Parts of France remained in virtual civil war several months after Napoleon abdicated, pacified only when the Allied armies of occupation established themselves. The Ultra-Royalists in the southern regions were led by the Comte d’Artois’ youngest son, the Duc d’Angouleme, and they fought against the National Guard and Bonapartist militias known as federations and there was some bitter fighting and retaliation from both sides. The Federations were Bonapartists who rallied together to defend Napoleon in the weeks before his abdication, and even after he left France, the Federations formed the nucleus for resistance against the Bourbons.

In the violent outbreaks that occurred sporadically across France, thousands were injured, tortured, jailed or forced into exile. Houses and shops were ransacked and burnt. In Marseilles on the 24th June the Ultra-Royalists inflicted fifty deaths, two-hundred were wounded and eighty houses and shops were torched. Soon there were violent outbreaks in the Rhone valley and in Nimes and Avignon. In total there were about 300 mob lynchings in the south of France, in Marseilles eighteen Mamlukes who had fought for Imperial France were massacred in their barracks while awaiting transportation back to Egypt.

The most high profile victim of the royalist mobs was Marshal Guillaume Brune, a Marshal of France since 1804. On June 24 he received news of Waterloo. On 4 July he wrote 'Long life to the Emperor Napoleon II, the French freedom lives forever!' Twenty days later he must recognize, with pain, the new government and accept the submission. His last message was to the soldiers of the 8th Division:
"For the fatherland, all our sacrifices! He orders that we give up these flags which remind to us so many victories; then that they receive my painful good-byes... "
The situation was very difficult for Brune. He must go to Paris, but across a region where he is doubly hated: for he was one of the first Revolutionaries and then a representative of Napoleon. His friends advised to him to abandon Toulon by boat. He considers this idea not very worthy of a Marshal and decides to go up the Rhone. On the road of Paris, at Aix, he was already threatened and insulted by a Royalist group. At the town of Cavaillon, strangely, his escort receives the order to return towards Toulon. It would be proven later that the command came from the town of Avignon. Alone and without escort the Marshal arrives at Avignon on 2 August 1815 at 8 o'clock in the morning.

There he was to change horses at the relay station of the Hotel du Palais Royal. But a mob formed around his carriage. One named Soulier shouted: 'It is the Marshal Brune who carried the head of the Princess of Lamballe.' The crowd prevented the carriage from continuing down the road. Brune returned to the hotel. He was given room 3, on the first floor. The authorities of the town of Avignon were strangely passive. A mob of 4,000 people threatened to destroy the hotel. In his room, the Marshal wrote and tore up three letters. Fargès entered the room with a gun. The Marshal took his hand to him, and the shot was fired at the window. Roquefort shouted ‘Fool. You missed him, I will not miss him'. He fired his rifle from behind, Brune was killed instantly. It wass 3 p.m. The mayor of the city said to the crowd ' Return at home, the Marshal committed suicide!' One hour later he gave the command to bury the Marshal. But instead the body of the marshal was thrown into the nearby Rhone river, but a few days later his body was recovered to be buried respectfully.
On August 15th General Jean-Pierre Ramel was also assassinated in Tolouse.

The mob attacks Brune

First hand witness to the White Terror
Jean-Batiste Barres was a French officer in 1815, he did not take part in the Waterloo campaign but he was a witness to the dangerous royalist fervor that was taking hold. Further, it seems he was ordered to hunt down French generals who were to be put on trial but had gone into hiding.

“12th October 1815 – On the day after I reached Bordeaux I went to see the few acquaintances I had in this city. In one house I was told: “We are good Royalists, but we wish harm to no one. You are probably Bonapartist; we beg you to make sure that there is nothing seditious in your luggage, for they are quite capable of coming to search them while you are out and don’t go in the cafes, lest you should be insulted. Lastly, in your own interests and for your safety, we urge you to leave the town as soon as possible.” It was a young woman of twenty who said this, with tears in her eyes. In the evening I went to the theatre with my friends and a captain of the 86th of my acquaintance. Between the two plays they sang the famous cantata whose refrain is “Vive le Roi! Vive le France!,” and the fashionable song “Vive Henri Quatre.” One had to stand up instantly, and wave one’s white handkerchief. If one had not done so, one would have been thrown from the boxes into the pit. I have never heard to words of “Vive le Roi!” shouted, bawled, vociferated as on this infernal evening. It was not a theatre but a very pandemonium in which all the demons of both sexes, all ages and all conditions were assembled in order to express the most horrible sentiments. A few days earlier the two brothers Faucher, both Generals de Brigade, were shot by the Bordeaux Royalists. The town accused the Bonapartists f having refused them the freedom of the port.

20th October – A poor fellow with whom I had travelled on the 17th, and whom I treated to a bottle of wine, knowing that I was to arrive that evening at Argentat, had the generosity to wait for me in the road in order to take me to the best inn. It was already dark and I was horribly tired when I entered. My fatigue, my despondent air and shabby uniform, doubtless made the people take me for one of the generals who had been proscribed during this time of vengeance, for directly I sat down near the fire someone left the inn to fetch the gendarmes to arrest me. I presented my route papers; they would not look at them. They told me to follow them to the mayor; I protested against their manner of doing their duty, but they persisted and I had to give way. The poor devil of who I have spoken, who had not yet left me, said: Don’t lose your temper, don’t resist; they would put you in prison.” When they took me to the mayor the people shouted as I went by “Vive le Roi! Down with the brigand of the Loire!” Ten minutes later I was back at the inn, the mayor having found my papers in perfect order, apologizing profusely for having bee obliged to observe this police measure. I went to bed without supper; the day’s march and my arrest in the evening had worn me out.

25th October – At my mother’s I found a letter from General Romeuf, commanding the department of Haute-Loire, apprising me that I was appointed provisional commandant of the departmental legion, and was to report at Brioude, a town not in the occupation of our friends the enemy (they had not crossed the Allier), to take command of the nucleus there being formed.

4th November – I went to Brioude, where I found a hundred men and orders to take them to Craponne, where I should find instructions.

7th November – I reached Craponne. It was believed that the prescribed generals had conceaaled themselves hereabouts. My mission was to inspect all the villages, disarm the inhabitants, beat the woods, search the mountains and put myself in touch with the militia columns of the Loire and Le Puy-de-Dame. I did this as my duty, without conviction; somewhat ostensibly, so that my plans should be known beforehand. One day the little town of Craponne was like an army headquarters. The prefects of the three departments and General Comte de la Roche-Aymon, escorted by zealous Royalists on horseback and in sumptuous uniforms, met together to discuss the means of checking the revolutionary plans of the Bonapartissts, the Liberals, and the brigands of the Loire. Fear made them see conspirators everywhere, but they did nothing to calm the irritated population.

5th April 1816 – At Le Puy, some officers, at the hotel, proposed the King’s health. Accused of not having responded to the invitation with sufficient eagerness, I was denounced to the colonel, then to the general, then to the prefect, who decided to retain me in the legion, but to reprimand me. It was necessary to be a Royalist, even a hot and extravagant Royalist.
My duties as town commander subjected me to a great many puerile occupations, to night journeys, preliminary inquiries, and frequent summonses from the general and the prefect. These gentlemen saw on every hand plots, conspiracies, eagle buttons, tricolor cockades, signs of rebellion. Each tried to outdo the other in zeal and devotion to the good cause. One Sunday, in July 1816, the prefect, in order to celebrate the anniversary of the return of the Bourbons to Paris, gathered, in the largest public square of Le Puy, all the stamped paper bearing the Imperial effigy, the seals of the communes of the Republic and the Empire, and a magnificent colossal bust, in marble, of the Emperor Napoleon, a masterpiece of the celebrated sculptor Julien, who had himself offered it to his barbarous and ungrateful fellow countrymen. All these were burned, mutilated, shattered, in the presence of the regular troops and the National Guard, standing to arms, and the civil, military, and judicial authorities, to the sound of artillery and with savage cries of “Vive le Roi!” This act of vandalism wrung my heart!

15th August – We received orders to proceed to Besangon. It was comical. General Romeuf accompanied us to keep an eye on us during the march. Behind us came the gendarmerie to prevent the men from deserting.
At Yssingeaux the Comte de Moiduere, our lieutenant-colonel, seriously proposed to the company commandders that they should tkaae the men’s breeches away at night, to prevent their desertion, giving them back next morning before they marche! Really, these people had lost their heads!
On reaching Besangon we saw the inspectors-general ntrusted with completing our organisation. One of them was a German general passed into French service: Prince von Hohenlohe! Their first action was to order half the officers of all ranks to go on six months compulsory leave. I was one of them. It may be imagined how this iniquitous measure displeased all those affected by it.”

The Political and Legal Terror
The violence and lynchings in the summer of 1815 are often regarded as an “unofficial” White Terror, but soon after the Bourbons returned an official purge began. This focused mainly on the purging of a civilian administration which had almost completely turned against the Bourbon monarchy.

The new Chamber of Deputies that was elected in August, the royalist reprisals in the south struck fear in the population, persuading liberal and moderate electors (48,000 of the 72,000 voters eligible under the franchise in force) to vote for the ultra-royalists. Of 402 members, the first Chamber of the Restoration was composed of 350 ultra-royalists; the king himself thus named it the Chambre introuvable ("the Unbelievable Chamber"), called as such because the Chamber was "more royalist than the king" in Louis XVIII's words. Many of these ultra-royalist members were determined for revenge for the Hundred Days, one member even demanded the death penalty for anyone who owned a tricolour flag. The dominance of the ultras in the Chamber of Deputies would lead to many people who had served under Revolutionary and Napoleonic France being tried, exiled, imprisoned, or in some cases executed.

This was despite negotiations made by Marshal Davout, the then Minister of War, during the weeks before Napoleon abdicated. After Louis XVIII had declared on June 25th in a proclamation that those guilty of betraying the Bourbons would be punished, Davout insisted that in the negotiations with the Allied generals for the evacuation of Paris and the withdrawal of the army to the Loire, there should be a clear agreement for an amnesty for all those who had compromised themselves since Napoleon’s return from Elba. The Convention of Paris was signed by the mediators of both parties on 3rd July. The 11th Article stated that public property and buildings should be safeguarded and the 12th stated thus:
“Persons and private property shall be likewise respected. The inhabitants, and generally all individuals who are in the capital, shall continue to enjoy their rights and liberties without being disturbed or made the subject of inquiries of any kind regarding the functions they occupy or have occupied, and their conduct and political opinions.’

This Article was disregarded by the Bourbons, their argument being that Louis XVIII had not been involved in the negotiations and so it meant only the Allied armies had to follow the Article.
Charles de la Bedoyere was one of the victims of royalist trials, he had been one of the first to lead his regiment to join Napoleon when he returned from Elba and after that he served as the Emperor’s Aide-de-Camp. After Waterloo he planned to flee France, but when he visited his wife in Paris he was recognised and arrested. He was executed on 19th August.

Talleyrand and Fouche, although they had both conspired against Napoleon, were replaced in September 1815 because of the taint of Imperial service. Emergency legislation gave prefects the powers to maintain law and order and facilitated the arrest of anyone accused of plotting or publishing seditious literature. Up to 80,000 officials were dismissed from their positions. The remnants of the Napoleonic army was reduced to less than a third of a million men after the Battle of Waterloo and 15,000 officers were sacked or demoted. The Chamber of Peers was purged of twenty-nine members who had supported the Hundred Days. Over 70,000 political arrests were made, special courts were formed in order to deal with the resulting prisoners but only about 250 of the 6000 subsequent convictions were their work. Lay courts imposed comparatively light sentences but the military courts were less forgiving. They ordered the arrest of 54 generals, many escaped by 17 were put on trial and some of the consequent executions caused public outcry. The two highest profile victims of the royalist trials were Charles de la Bedoyere and Marshal Michel Ney, the latter had fought against France’s enemies all his career, fighting in the thickest of the fighting in Napoleon’s great battles. But in 1815 he was to be killed by a firing squad of Frenchmen and his death would make him a martyr.

Article on Ney’s Trial coming soon!


The Constitutional Monarchy in France, 1814-48 By Pamela M. Pilbeam
Ney and de la Bédoyère, two victims of the “white terror”, Stephen de la Bédoyère, August, 2011
Memoirs of Jean-Baptiste Barres

 Post subject: Re: Waterloo @ 200 - The White Terror of 1815
Unread postPosted: 23 Oct 2015, 22:26 
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Joined: 27 Sep 2012, 19:59
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hmm I think I can guess what event your going to write your dissertation on

it wouldn't be about Waterloo (or its aftermath) would it?


UKC Military History Society President, 2013-2015
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