On June 25, 1791, the sedan transporting the royal family as well as the commissioners of the National Assembly returned to the gates of Paris, after his arrest in Varennes. Inside, six adults and two children are crammed together, tight, confined, in a stifling heat for an extraordinary closed door .... This is the setting chosen for one of the first "history stories" of the new publishing house La Bisquine.
The atmosphere in the sedan from June 20 to 25, 1791
In this car, everyone is lost in their thoughts and remembers: the departure on June 20, the flight in the middle of the night, the passage in certain corridors, the post houses, the foreign soldiers accompanying the sedan, the escape plan several times delayed then brought up to date, the difficult and complicated reorganization, the delay of more than three hours until Varennes, the absence of the riders ensuring the protection of the king, the errors of Choiseul, the lack of discretion of the sedan, the king who wants to walk and who talks to people, then who is recognized! In Paris, we discover the leak on June 21, a former cavalry is launched in pursuit of the king, the post houses are notified as far as Varennes: it is 11:20 p.m., the patriots block the city and the sedan, control After examining the papers, the militias from the neighboring villages regrouping, an official letter arrives decreeing that the fugitives must be brought back to Paris. Everything is finished !
All the way back, the advance is hectic, the crowd is mad, gunshots, heavy heat, dust dirties everything, hordes of peasants scream, assaults, horrible words. In the sedan, we think, we reflect, memories come back like the queen's wedding, the king's first hunt, studies, we think of future projects like building very large ships to go around the world, the first steps from the queen to the court, the successive deliveries, the children ... In Epernay, the crowd is unleashed, the occupants of the sedan have to walk to the inn and the queen panics as on the day of October 6, 1789 when his apartments were invaded by bloodthirsty and especially hateful people.
On June 23, 1791, the commissioners appointed by the National Assembly made the junction with the royal sedan to bring back the fugitives under good escort. It's like a relief, even though these characters don't quite agree with the royal family, at least there are some responsible people facing this horny mob. Very quickly, the atmosphere deteriorates despite everyone's good will, Pétion is stiff and full of himself, Barnave is under the spell of the queen. Everyone observes and analyzes each other, yet we try to understand our neighbor and the merits of this Revolution.
On June 24, on leaving Meaux, the populace was quieter on the rest of the journey, despite the alarming news from Paris: the people wanted to dethrone the king and condemn him to death. We discuss, the king wants to know and understand better Barnave and Robespierre, what their aspirations are, but hatred is behind every reflection, dialogue is practically impossible. Only Barnave is the "most frequentable", we can address him, he tries to explain himself and wishes to establish a dialogue with the king, he wants to help the queen, he believes in the monarchy, he would like the king to accept a constitution defining a balance between the power of the king and that of the people.
On June 25, we arrive at the gates of Paris. The crowd is always bigger, always louder, always more hateful. At the Clichy barrier, La Fayette welcomes the sedan; in the Tuileries gardens, the people growl, we only see raised fists and bayonets. On the first floor of the Tuileries, everyone is grouped together, almost physically unharmed, but morally very shaken.
Barnave will fight for the queen and against the king's request for deposition; but he will realize later that the queen is playing a double game: she listens to him, asks him for help but fights fiercely against the Revolution! He loved the Queen.
He was arrested on August 19, 1792 for consultation with the royal couple and, like many, will be beheaded.
This part of the history of the Revolution is of little interest to historians, and the author emphasizes that we are not aware of what happened precisely and exactly between the departure and the return of the king, between 06/20 and 06/25/1791. But thanks to the orders of the commissioners, the decrees of the Assembly, the registers of the cities visited, the reports, the letters, the various deliberations, the memories of each one, he was able to reconstitute this short week, while remaining plausible and probable in this closed session. It offers us a great story-telling about the psychological reality of the characters, the human side of these characters, expressing opposite feelings or coming together at certain times.
The heavy atmosphere in this car, the words of all the occupants, the reactions of the royal children contribute to a lively and realistic text. We sit among these characters, we participate in their mood, their discussion, we especially feel their emotions, it is sometimes trying but absolutely moving!
Based on the simple idea of promoting knowledge of an era through the history of people, famous or not, Les Editions de la Bisquine want to talk about History at the level of man and woman. Never a fictional character or an imaginary plot, but it happens that the author stages the protagonists to make a “story”.
The sedan: the return of Varennes, by Gildard Guillaume. Editions de la Bisquine, September 2014.