A very Urgent Execution
Beginning in the summer 1793, Antoine Quentin Fouquier-Tinville, public prosecutor of the Revolutionary Tribunal, signed hundreds of death decrees.
Prisoners of the Republic were moved from their prison to the Conciergerie a few days before their trial, and they were tried in the Palais de Justice next door. When found guilty, they were generally executed within one or two days of the judgment.
One decree stands out as having happened even faster: that of Manon Roland (whose name is misspelt in the document ordering her death). Manon was killed on the very same day she was condemned.
The document above, a printed form filled in with the relevant details, asks the commendant-general of the Paris armed forces to organize the execution of the 'widow Rolland' - and her unfortunate companion, Lamarche, Armed soldiers were to pick up the condemned from the 'Palace court' outside the Conciegerie, and escort them to the Place de la Revolution, where they would be executed at 3:30pm exactly. The armed men were to be dispatched 'immediately'. To this Fouquier-Tinville adds the following by way of explanation:
Bear in mind that this is the wife of the ex-minister and that for the sake of the public interest it is imperative that she should be executed today.
Given that no-one expected Manon to act in any way dangerously, we must suppose that what Fouquier-Tinville feared was that public sentiment would act against him if it became known that Manon Roland was condemned to die.
Just in case the commandant-general didn't get the message, Fouquier Tinville adds in the bottom left of the page 'very urgent''.
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