Faithful unto Death, The Swiss Guards

Few moments of history have the pathos of the French Revolution. Unfortunately this tragedy was all too real.

...On 10 August 1792, His Majesty the King and his family are removed (escape is too kind a word) from the Tuileries by the National Guard and brought before the so called "National Assembly". Within minutes of the their departure, attackers, the mob, burst through the gates of the Tuileries and confront the Swiss Guards who are in formation on the grand staircase of the palace arrayed as if for battle. Their bright red uniforms and white cross belts gleam immaculate in the sunlight.

Shouts for the surrender arise from the crowd. One traitor who speaks German yells to the Swiss.

"Surrender to the Nation!"…

" We would think ourselves dishonoured! We are Swiss and we surrender only with our lives!" Comes the reply.

The crowd becomes angry and and increasingly violent attempting to pull the soldiers of the stair case with the hooks of halberds. They succeeded with five, removing their weapons and butchered them. Then 60 of the Guard form a hollow square and force the mob back down the street. Turning a piece of the National Guards artillery back on them they fire and have the attackers running down the street.

The King, secluded in a cramped stenographers box was told to have the Guard lay down its arms and return to the barracks. The King, who grieves at the thought of his subjects having their blood shed reluctantly agrees and orders the Guard to lay down its arms. Captain Durler of the Guard refuses to believe this order. It is madness. He asks for it in writing. He has just seen with his own eyes what the mob has done to 5 of his men moments before.

He knows surrender means death. .. The King gives him the order in writing.

Captain Durler orders his men to lay down their arms and return to the barracks. As they withdraw they are attacked, where ever they run, where ever they attempt to hide they are dragged out and murdered. No not murdered, that would be to kind a word for it, for they are hacked to pieces, women and children lustily calling for their death, whistling and cheering at each head piked, each arm severed. The heads of the guards are kicked like balls in the streets of Paris. 900 (1) are killed in this way.

At the end of the day no street in Paris is without it's head on a pike.

Let them be remembered.

"HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI" – "To the Loyalty and Courage of the Swiss".

A of the hero of the Vendee' is a witness to the atrocity of 10 August 1792. Henri de la Rochejaquelein is at the Tuileries to offer his services to the royal family. He arrives just as the Mob begins the massacre and escapes only by exchanging his coat with that of a republicain. The short coat and tricolour cockade probably don't fool as many people as the leg of a Swiss he carries over his shoulder...

"Forts dans la vie, fidèles dans la mort injuste"

More may be found here at Tea at Trianon, thanks toi Elena-Maria...

Vive le Roy!

(1) The Swiss Guards formed 12 companies of 200 men


Matterhorn said...

So horrible!

elena maria vidal said...

Bravo! I have added this to my post for today!!

I, Richard, said...

You are both quite welcome. I feared I would not be able to put something oin my blog due to being in a physical all day.


Father Gregory said...

Thanks, Richard. I think of the glorious, yet tragic end of the Swiss says more than anything about the evil of the Revolution. It has strongly moved me since I first studied it years ago,and still does so today.

I, Richard, said...

Thank You Father, I choose to remen=ber the 16 carmelites who rose the scaffold as if to meet ther spouse on their wedding day. It brings tears to my eyes.


David said...

If only dear Louis had unleashed the Swiss upon the mob...if only...

Warren Tung said...

Here is a lane showing a medal in my collection concern this histroy.