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Collot d'Herbois:
Images & Scenes With His Participation

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Series of images to be added to the site in the near future: 


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The Freedom Festival, held in Paris on 15 April 1792 in order to celebrate the release to freedom of the soldiers of the Châteauvieux Regiment, unjustly sentenced to hard labour and liberated as a result of a lengthy public campaign led by Collot d’Herbois.
It is in this ceremony that Paris first saw the Phrygian cap, which soon became one of the most enduring symbols of the French Revolution. It is thus most likely that Collot d’Herbois, who had a wealth of experience in organising theatrical and entertainment events, and who was in charge of organising the Festival, is directly responsible for introducing this iconic head-gear, beloved by revolutionaries. The Phrygian cap, or Liberty cap, can be seen on the French Republic coat of arms; it is also the inalienable official attribute of Marianne, personification of the French Republic, that figures on French stamps, coins, etc.


Trial of the King at the National Convention, January 1793. Collot d'Herbois is shown in the uppermost row, on the benches occupied by the deputies of the Mountain, left bottom corner. Collot is leaning forward to speak with Billaud-Varenne.
Collot was absent on mission during the vote on the ex-monarch's fate. Thus, it is not historically accurate that in the 1973 French musical La Révolution Française the roll call on the King's sentence at the National Convention begins with the President calling out: "Citizen Collot d'Herbois!"


The Committee of Public Safety.

The Committee is here gathered in plenary meeting, which was where the most important matters were discussed. Collot d'Herbois, with jet black hair, is sitting at the further end of the table, listening with intense concentration. Billaud-Varenne is equally absorbed in reflection over Saint-Just’s proposals to the Committee.


Collot d’Herbois overseeing the demolition works in Place Bellecour. Lyon, 1793.
The application of the Convention’s decree on destruction of the houses of the rich in Lyon is being supervised by two Representatives on mission (in the distance, on horseback, with tricolour scarves). Much has been made of these demolition works but in reality only a handful of buildings were torn down in order to satisfy the decree, mostly those buildings that had been irreparably damaged by the bombardment during the siege, or otherwise ripe for demolition as part of the regeneration of the city. Demolition works provided jobs for a significant part of the city's unemployed.

Collot d'Herbois and the Republican Triumph in Lyon. Anonymous engraving. This is a patriotic drawing, depicting the Republic’s triumph over the royalist rebellion at Lyon. Collot d'Herbois is represented as supporting the figure of Justice, who leans slightly on him. She holds the symbolic scales in her hand. At her feet, are lying the defeated figures of treason and rebellion.


Admirat's assassination attempt against Collot d'Herbois. May 1794.
Henri Admirat (sometimes referred to as 'Admiral' or 'Lamiral') lived in the same building as Collot. He bore many grudges against the Revolution, not least for closing down the public lottery of which he had been an employee, and making him redundant. He decided to assassinate Collot and had lain in wait for his victim, armed with two pistols. Collot, returning from a late night meeting of the Committee, was chatting with his governess (seen here holding a lamp) on the stairway when Admirat struck. Admirat fired two shots at Collot at point blank range, but most fortunately, both pistols misfired. Collot then defended himself with his sword and managed to prevent the assassin from escaping from the building. Admirat barricaded himself in his flat and was later arrested by the passing National Guards patrol, but not before seriously wounding a man named Geoffroy who was helping the National Guards to gain entry into the flat.


9 Thermidor at the National Convention.
Collot d'Herbois is presiding over the Assembly. He is seen raising his hand, struggling to bring the deputies to order, as a fierce struggle rages around the rostrum.

The people attempting to stop Collot d'Herbois' deportation. March 1795.

Collot d'Herbois departing in exile. Another engraving representing the public unrest that ensued as the news of Collot, Billaud and Barère's deportation spread through Paris. General Pichégru, ironically also soon to be deported to French Guiana where he would perish, played a crucial role in dispersing the sans-culottes who attemped to rescue Collot d'Herbois and his companions.

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