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France: Families flock to look for the ancestors who lost their heads
The Times ^ | 3/15/2008 | Adam Sage

Posted on 03/15/2008 12:16:38 AM PDT by bruinbirdman

It is the internet site that contains dark family secrets, unspeakable truths and appalling injustice. The French log on to it in trepidation and in private.

Les Guillotinés offers the most complete online list yet established of the French Revolution’s victims and invites users to discover the answer to a terrible question: “Do you have an ancestor who was decapitated?” Hundreds of thousands of people have consulted the death base, created by Raymond Combes, a computer programmer and amateur genealogist.

Many more are likely to follow suit. According to one estimate, up to five million French people are descended from victims of La Révolution.

Take, for instance, Denis Sarazin-Charpentier, a 54-year-old civil servant from Boissy-Le-Châtel outside Paris. Like all his compatriots, he was taught as a child that the guillotine fell on evil aristocrats. Then he found out that Claude Louis Deligny, his own ancestor, had lost his head in 1794 when revolutionaries discovered a cache of coins stamped with the King’s head in the family grange.

“He was condemned for plotting against the Revolution, but he was just a poor farmer and there was no plot at all,” said Mr Sarazin-Charpentier. “He only wanted to keep his money safe.”

Mr Sarazin-Charpentier, an amateur historian, said that the site – les. guillotines.free.fr – showed “they didn’t just guillotine the nobility. There were farmers, peasants and commoners who were decapitated as well.” More than two centuries later the subject remains highly sensitive in a country that sees the Revolution as its political bedrock.

“Personally, I don’t mind talking about my ancestor who was guillotined but I know families descended from the aristocracy who still can’t bear to mention it.” He added that France had tried to ignore the Terror in order to preserve the reputation of its revolutionaries “because it was the Revolution that created our Republic and no one really wants to call all of that into question”.

However, Mr Combes’s work may force historians to reappraise the period. According to the official figure 17,500 people were guillotined between 1792 and 1795. But Mr Combes already has more than 18,000 names on his site, which is based on lists compiled for the bicentenary of the Revolution in 1989 and from documents sent in by users.

“A lot of those guillotined were never registered in official records,” he said. “I’m adding names all the time. But I don’t put anyone down unless they are accompanied by documentary evidence.”

Nor has he included the tens of thousands of people massacred as violence swept across France at the end of the ancien régime. “It was an important part of our history,” said Mr Combes, 50. “But I’m not sure all that violence really served a purpose.”

Slice of life

— The Halifax Gibbet and the Scottish Maiden, forerunners of the guillotine, were used in the British Isles from the 13th century

— The machine takes its name from Dr Joseph Guillotine, who pressed for a decapitation machine in France to make execution quicker and more humane

— Many doctors have suggested that beheaded victims could remain conscious for up to 30 seconds after the blade fell

— The blade weighed just over 40kg (88lbs) and dropped 2.3m on to the neck of the victim, at a speed of 7 metres/second

— The last man to be executed by guillotine in France was Hamida Djandoubi – who tortured and murdered his former girlfriend, Elizabeth Bousquet – on September 10, 1977

Sources: napoleonguide.com; Oxford History of the French Revolution; BMJ; Book of Firsts, Patrick Robertson


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: europe; france; french; frenchrevolution; guillotine; worldhistory

1 posted on 03/15/2008 12:16:39 AM PDT by bruinbirdman
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To: bruinbirdman

Intense stuff. So much for the myth of ‘it was only aristocrats.’ The first victims of state terrorism.


2 posted on 03/15/2008 12:28:50 AM PDT by tanuki (u)
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To: bruinbirdman

I found my family name in there. I’m glad some of my family escaped to Canada.


3 posted on 03/15/2008 12:43:27 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: tanuki
Most French prime source material chronicling Napoleon Bonaparte are state secrets.

yitbos

4 posted on 03/15/2008 12:46:25 AM PDT by bruinbirdman ("Those who control language control minds." - Ayn Rand)
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To: bruinbirdman

I think my great-great grandfather was hanged when he was a young boy.


5 posted on 03/15/2008 1:00:13 AM PDT by Erasmus (I invited Benoit Mandelbrot to the Shoreline Grill, but he never showed up.)
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To: Erasmus

“I think my great-great grandfather was hanged when he was a young boy.”

how did he begat your great grandfather?


6 posted on 03/15/2008 1:31:13 AM PDT by spanalot
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To: B-Chan

Maybe of interest?


7 posted on 03/15/2008 2:51:26 AM PDT by neb52
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To: Straight Vermonter

Does the French name translate properly when the immigrant comes to North America or is it altered like most Irish and Italian immigrants? Just curious. A quarter of my Mother’s side is French and I wonder if I will need to research a proper French spelling.


8 posted on 03/15/2008 2:56:34 AM PDT by neb52
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To: neb52

My name has the “proper” spelling but there are many here with an Anglicized version as well.


9 posted on 03/15/2008 3:08:10 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: bruinbirdman

Get used to head-chopping. You have let millions of members of the Religion of Peace into your country.


10 posted on 03/15/2008 3:31:34 AM PDT by Leftism is Mentally Deranged
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To: bruinbirdman

Pardon the pun. Some of the French aristocracy thought the Revolution was just a passing fad, but they still lost their heads over it.


11 posted on 03/15/2008 3:42:13 AM PDT by punster
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To: bruinbirdman
Not mentioned are the others who were butchered by other means, such as the mass drownings of priests and women strapped to barges and sunk in the River Loire at Nantes.


12 posted on 03/15/2008 4:53:17 AM PDT by Virginia Ridgerunner ("We must not forget that there is a war on and our troops are in the thick of it!"--Duncan Hunter)
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To: bruinbirdman

Bookmark for reading later.


13 posted on 03/15/2008 4:59:29 AM PDT by Inyo-Mono (If you don't want people to get your goat, don't tell them where it's tied.)
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To: bruinbirdman; ex-Texan; TigerLikesRooster; jas3; CodeToad; AndyJackson; ovrtaxt; nicmarlo; ...
Economic ping.

"Like all his compatriots, he was taught as a child that the guillotine fell on evil aristocrats. Then he found out that Claude Louis Deligny, his own ancestor, had lost his head in 1794 when revolutionaries discovered a cache of [gold or silver] coins stamped with the King’s head in the family grange.

What is the point here? During the revolution, the new govt went to a pure fiat paper currency called the Assignat, which the govt hyperinflated. To force people to use the worthless paper, and prevent a parallel economy in still-circulating gold and silver coins, they made having or using or even offering to buy or sell in real coins a decapitation offence.

The revolutionaries even ran "sting" operations. "Hey farmer....psst....wanna sell that cow for some real silver?" If you said yes or maybe, "Off with your head!"

Now, with the dollar collapsing and gold and silver soaring, I wonder what our future will bring? In 1933, FDR banned private gold, and made it a law that you even needed an IRS agent to go with you to visit "your" property in your safe deposit box.

"Around the corner, we shall meet the past."

14 posted on 03/15/2008 5:16:21 AM PDT by Travis McGee (---www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com---)
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To: bruinbirdman

Holy crap, they decapitated someone in 1977??


15 posted on 03/15/2008 6:03:14 AM PDT by Southerngl
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To: Travis McGee; Squantos
The gov't here "could" outlaw usage of gold and silver currency. But all that will do is drive a black market. Just after I read your post, I walked into the other room to talk to my sons and happened to be looking out the window. There in my field of view was a single chicken...one of MANY roaming around the property at the moment (free range:-). It occurred to me that no matter what the gov't "declares" about currency that gold and silver have the same thing in common with that chicken. Nearly EVERY person on this planet puts some "intrinsic" value on that chicken. It's worth "something"...either as an egg layer, or for a meal that would feed two to four people, depending on how you cooked it. Gold and silver has this in common with chicken. I know that sounds strange, but it's intrinsically valuable no matter what the gov't says, or decrees. Unlike the worthless paper that they print which they call "money".

I think we're all going to run along feeling good about this situation until everybody believes as I and a few others already do....which is to say that our currency is nearly worthless. The only reason we're not in a crisis right now is because there are too many not so bright people running around who still believe that their "Monopoly Money" is worth "something"....and it is...but only pennies on the dollar.

I'm no economic expert. You know this. :-) But I've had good success lately with predicting the outcome of some pretty bad things simply by making educated guesses based on what I've observed in the past. A few months ago, the "talking head" economic experts were split on whether or not we were in a recession, or headed toward one. The Fed and the President flatly refuted this. But now, nearly every economic expert will tell you that we're either on the verge of a recession, or that we're in one now. Yet the Fed and the President are still saying that their "Economic Stimulus Plan" is going to ease everything. In truth, people are simply waiting on the "Monopoly Money" in order to convert it into something intrinsically valuable. They're going to SPEND IT and then STOP and sit tight again afterwards and continue to NOT SPEND! What else could logically happen? It's not as if the current condition can be "kick started". This is the problem with a debt based economy....when people stop buying, the situation degrades quickly.
16 posted on 03/15/2008 7:01:15 AM PDT by hiredhand (Check my "about" page. I'm the Prophet of Doom!)
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To: spanalot
We're still trying to figure that out.

<}B^)

17 posted on 03/15/2008 7:11:20 AM PDT by Erasmus (I invited Benoit Mandelbrot to the Shoreline Grill, but he never showed up.)
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To: spanalot; Erasmus
“I think my great-great grandfather was hanged when he was a young boy.”

how did he begat your great grandfather?

He got better.

18 posted on 03/15/2008 7:16:06 AM PDT by Grizzled Bear ("Does not play well with others.")
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To: hiredhand; Travis McGee

......in such times bargaining power will come from the muzzle of a firearm anyway......


19 posted on 03/15/2008 7:25:31 AM PDT by Squantos (Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.)
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To: Straight Vermonter

So your family escaped to Canada and then you moved to Vermont to live among liberals?


20 posted on 03/15/2008 7:32:33 AM PDT by ladyjane
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To: spanalot; Erasmus
“I think my great-great grandfather was hanged when he was a young boy.”

********

how did he begat your great grandfather?

*********

Railroad worker: "You shifty revolutionary! They said you was hung!"

Great Grand-dad: "And they was right!" (grins)

(with apologies to Mel Brooks)

21 posted on 03/15/2008 8:24:18 AM PDT by Charles Martel (The Tree of Liberty thirsts.)
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To: ladyjane

In the second half of the 18th century half of my family was in danger of being killed by the reign of terror in France because they put their Church ahead of Robespierre et al. The other half was endangered by the English genocide of French Catholics in Acadia.

Both sides figured that despite Vermont’s long winters and poor farming it was still a better place to live. We’ve been here 210 years, slightly longer than the liberal flatlanders.


22 posted on 03/15/2008 9:50:12 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: Squantos

Check your e-mail, and “share” the joy with me. :-)


23 posted on 03/15/2008 10:05:08 AM PDT by hiredhand (Check my "about" page. I'm the Prophet of Doom!)
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To: hiredhand

Nothin in any of my e-mail accounts ?!?!?!


24 posted on 03/15/2008 10:24:22 AM PDT by Squantos (Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.)
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To: neb52

Depending on which century your French ancestor arrived the same name could be spelled many different ways.


25 posted on 03/15/2008 10:55:11 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Straight Vermonter
The French Catholics who lived in Acadia first cleared the territory of Huguenots.

There was no second genocide of Acadians ~ in Acadia. The Brits took them elsewhere and let them die of disease on boats. The Governor of Virginia (PBUH) refused to let them land ~ the Brits forgot to cut him in on the deal.

Which means that when you discuss Acadians and genocide, you have to specify which genocide, and then specify where the Acadians involved in it died.

That's very important to folks who have gotten into the minutia of Acadian geneology.

26 posted on 03/15/2008 11:00:17 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: hiredhand
Yes, your chicken has real value. And so does a silver quarter. I recently read that a silver quarter will still buy a gallon of gas....just like back in 1963.

The problem is that the govt might react violently to a parallel economy in private gold and silver plus barter, in much the same way the French did in 1795. By making lurid examples of "greedy rich gold hoarders," and sentencing them to long jail terms for "economic sabotage" or whatever the crime will be, they will try to render private gold and silver unuseable. They don't care about your private gold being a threat to their "New Dollars," if you are too terrified to offer your coins in trade, for fear of a govt sting.

27 posted on 03/15/2008 11:49:46 AM PDT by Travis McGee (---www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com---)
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To: Straight Vermonter
Tough people! Hard as Vermont flint and granite.

Do you have kin in Louisiana among the Arcadians/Cajuns?

28 posted on 03/15/2008 11:50:58 AM PDT by Travis McGee (---www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com---)
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To: Squantos

Yeah, the French peasants in 1795 were basically defenseless. A “committee of security” or whatever they called their revolutionary thugs in those days would just arrive in a village with about 20 goons and a mobile guillotine, and grab whomever they wanted, based on anonymous snitches and old grudges. That would be a tough proposition today in hte USA, even for our modern SWAT teams.


29 posted on 03/15/2008 11:53:11 AM PDT by Travis McGee (---www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com---)
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To: Squantos

Still nothing? I’ll post photos for you. :-)


30 posted on 03/15/2008 3:10:00 PM PDT by hiredhand (Check my "about" page. I'm the Prophet of Doom!)
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To: Travis McGee

Yep. I think you’re correct. But that’s a risk with any blackmarket. We’ve got a fairly good network of “closed mouthed” people who buy/sell/trade and SHUT-UP. A lot of people have started operating this way in more rural areas.


31 posted on 03/15/2008 3:12:52 PM PDT by hiredhand (Check my "about" page. I'm the Prophet of Doom!)
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To: bruinbirdman
“Personally, I don’t mind talking about my ancestor who was guillotined but I know families descended from the aristocracy who still can’t bear to mention it.” He added that France had tried to ignore the Terror in order to preserve the reputation of its revolutionaries “because it was the Revolution that created our Republic and no one really wants to call all of that into question”.

That was what ... four Republics ago in France? Who cares??

32 posted on 03/15/2008 3:13:29 PM PDT by Centurion2000 (su - | echo "All your " | chown -740 us ./base | kill -9 | cd / | rm -r | echo "belong to us")
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To: bruinbirdman

No revolution in history was spared by crime and murder of innocents, including the american war of independence.


33 posted on 03/21/2008 4:35:01 AM PDT by darkness78 (y)
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To: hiredhand

Not everyone applies value to a chicken. I live in the suburbs and someones chicken got loose in my neighborhjood. Every morning that bastard wakes me up! If he doesn’t do it, the dog goes nuts trying to get me to let him out and at the chicken. My dog Jesse applies a value to the chicken, buy not I. Were it not for my probation status, I would shoot the damn thing myself.


34 posted on 04/05/2008 11:55:00 AM PDT by When do we get liberated? ((Ok, Im the official Pit Bull Defender/If you can't stand behind our troops, stand in front of them.)
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