Ex–Nobles Targeted in the Press—Military Nobility

One of the targets of the left was the officer corps. Recruited from the aristocracy, the military leadership was, of course, suspect. When early battles went poorly, suspicion, justifiable or not, only mounted. Such circumstances led to even more emigration by officers, generating an upward spiral of mutual hostility.


Citizens, the dangers you are facing are only too certain: nearly 300,000 men are ready to lay siege to your frontiers; you lack gunpowder, arms, and, above all, unity! Your ministers are being forced from office, but what does that matter if they are only replaced by others equally corrupt? What does that matter when the specter of war threatens to burn all your cities and if the land is burned out from under your feet by monsters who have sworn to defeat you, to take at one stroke your fortunes, your hopes, your constitution, and your liberty! The sections, I know, call not only for the ministers to be sacked but that they be judged as criminals for treason! This is being done, but the sections must not limit themselves just to this. They must also become concerned with our external affairs and with interior affairs relative to the capital. Have no doubt, it is Paris, capital of the Revolution, brilliant theater of liberty, that the innumerable armies of all the despots of Europe will burn.

The sections must therefore reform the National Guard, pulverize the existing officer corps, and submit all commissioned and noncommissioned officers to new elections, thereby relighting the patriotic torch which all your hearts embraced the day the Bastille fell. . . .

Look how provincial patriots, tired of having the National Assembly ignore their pleas for arms . . . resolved to take matters into their own hands. The government of the Department of the Bouches-du-Rhône and nearby districts have summoned the heads of the aristocratic horde to declare what they propose to do with the large number of foreigners and fanatical enemies of the Revolution they have enrolled, with the large number of arms they have amassed and . . . above all, to end their preparations for civil war.

Not satisfied with the response they received, they decided to go farther and to begin to undo the counterrevolution which has formed in the south of France. The 15th of this month, every active citizen of the city of Cavaillon . . . threw off the yoke of their tyrants [the papal enclave around Avignon]. . . .

As we are finishing writing this article, we learn that the siege of Carpentras has begun and that the Avignonnais patriots have sworn to destroy the local aristocracy and to take control by themselves of the enormous amount of munitions stored there. . . .

The generals, the officers of the army are showing themselves to be inflexible; the uprisings of what they call la canaille [the rabble] do not interest their great Spirit.

Source: L'Orateur du peuple, vol. 3, no. 13 (28 November 1790), 97–104.