The cemetery La Madeleine was closed in the spring 1794. Its location, close to expensive houses meant that the smell of decomposing corpses was not something to be ignored.
In 1815 the bones were dug out from La Madeleine and transferred to the Errancis, which had become the new depository for the victims of the guillotines. Between March 1794 and May 1795, 1119 decapitated bodies were thrown into a common grave at Errancis. 943 were killed between March and June 1794. Among the famous dead were Danton, and the Desmoulins couple: Camille and Lucille.
The cemetery was erased during Haussman’s rebuilding of Paris in the middle of the 19thcentury. The bones were once again moved, this time to the Paris Catacombes.
There is a plaque that marks the transfer of the Madeleine bones in the Catacombes, but does mention their stay in Errancis.
If these are indeed the bones of the guillotined of the Madeleine, then in this short space it should be possible to determine which of them belong to Olympe and to Manon, and of course Charlotte Corday – except that her head is said to have been stolen and presented as a gift to Roland Napoleon ‘Prince’ Bonaparte.
This is where I live blog about my new book project, an intellectual biography of three French Revolutionary women philosophers.