France's biggest national celebration, Quatorze Juillet (14th of July) which Americans like to call Bastille Day, is upon us. The seating is all set up at Place de la Concorde for the dignitaries to view the big military parade that will go from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at L'Arche de Triomphe, the length of the Champs Elysées to Concorde. Scary, fast, black Mirage jets will fly over, as will helicopters, dipping and swooping like monstrous swallows. Everybody will sing the Marseilleise and later, when it is dark, go watch the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. In every city, town and village of the country, there will be public fireworks and a party. Great fun.
This is an enormously studied and documented time in history, so we will here give just a couple of suggested websites:
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity - in English, a scholarly and informative site, with maps and songs.
Musée de la Révolution française - in French, mostly pictures.
Les Guillotinés de la Révolution Française - in French. This is a private site of extensive research and an exhaustive list of all those guillotined during the Revolution and the Reign of Terror. Given are the names, ages, charges, dates, and residences. Sometimes, relationships to others are also given. The most common charges are "conspiracy", "looting", "counter-revolutionary", but the insanity of the death penalty at the time is grievous to read, as when Gaspard Estralat, of Caumont, was condemned to death for being a priest, or Marie Hélies, a teacher in Bordeaux, was condemned to death for being a "fanatic". This site is free. Others have similar information for a fee. If you suspect that any of your ancestors were among the beheaded, we recommend that you start your search here.
©2009 Anne Morddel