Runtime: 90 minutes
Boulevard du Palais - Palais de la Cité - Netflix
The Palais de la Cité, located on the Île de la Cité in the Seine River in the center of Paris, was the residence of the Kings of France from the sixth century until the 14th century. From the 14th century until the French Revolution, it was the headquarters of the French treasury, judicial system and the Parlement of Paris, an assembly of nobles. During the Revolution it served as a courthouse and prison, where Marie Antoinette and other prisoners were held and tried by the Revolutionary Tribunal. The palace was built and rebuilt over the course of six centuries; the site is now largely occupied by the buildings of the 19th century Palais de Justice, but a few important vestiges remain; the medieval lower hall of the Conciergerie, four towers along the Seine, and, most important, Sainte-Chapelle, the former chapel of the Palace, masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Both parts of the Conciergerie and Saint-Chapelle are classified as national historical monuments and can be visited, though most of the Palais de Justice is closed to the public.
Boulevard du Palais - The Revolution and the Terror - Netflix
Among the first to be tried was Marie Antoinette, who had been held a prisoner for two and half months since the trial and execution of her husband, Louis XVI. She was tried on October 16, 1793 and executed on the same day. On October 24, twenty Girondin members of the Convention were put on trial for conspiring against the unity of the new Republic, and immediately executed. Others brought before the Tribunal and executed included Philippe Egalite, a cousin of the King, who had voted for the King’s execution (November 6); Bailly, the first elected Mayor of Paris; (November 11), and Madame du Barry, a favorite of the King’s father, Louis XV (December 8). Prisoners rarely spent a long time in the Conciergerie; most were brought there a few days or at the most a few weeks before their trial. There were as many as six hundred prisoners there at a time; a small number of wealthy prisoners were given their own cells, but most were crowded into large common cells, with straw on the floor. At dawn the cell doors were opened the prisoners were allowed to exercise in the courtyard or in the corridors. Women prisoners went to a separate courtyard with a fountain, where they could wash their clothes. Prisoners gathered at the foot of Bonbec Tower each evening to hearP the guards read the names of those who would be brought before the Tribunal the next day. Those whose names were announced were traditionally given a meager banquet with other prisoners that night. Soon the Tribunal tried anyone who opposed Robespierre. Jacques Hébert, Danton, Camille Desmoulins, and many others were brought before the Tribunal, judged and executed. many opponents of Robespierre were arrested that the Tribunal began trying them in groups. By July 1794 an average of thirty-eight persons a day were judged and guillotined. Gradually, however, opposition grew against Robespierre, who was accused of wishing to be a dictator. He was arrested on July 28, 1794, after trying unsuccessfully to shoot himself. He was taken to the infirmary of the Conciergerie, then, a few hours later, tried by the Tribunal, and executed on the Place de la Revolution. The chief of the Tribunal, Fouquier-Tinville, was arrested, and after nine months in prison in the Conciergerie, was also executed on May 9, 1795. The Revolutionary Tribunal was abolished on May 7, 1795, after having put to death 2,780 persons in 718 days.
In the turbulent years before the French Revolution, one important center of opposition to the authority of the King, the Parlement of Paris, was found within the Conciergerie. In May, 1788, he nobles, who met the Grand’Salle of the Conciergerie, refused to allow the King to launch an investigation of one of their members. In July, 1789, after the storming of the Bastille, power passed to a new Constituent Assembly, which had little sympathy for the nobles of the Parlement of Paris. The Assembly put the Parlement on an indefinite vacation, and in 1790 the first elected mayor of Paris, Jean Sylvain Bailly, closed and sealed the offices of the Parlement. The Revolution took a more radical turn in August 1792, when the first Paris Commune and the ’’Sans-culottes’’ seized the Tuileries Palace and arrested the King. In September, the ‘’sans-Culottes’’ massacred 1,300 prisoners in four days, including those held in the Conciergerie, who were killed in the ‘’Cour des Femmes’’, the yard where women prisoners were allowed to exercise. The new revolutionary government of the Convention was soon divided into two factions, the more moderate Girondins and the more radical Montagnards, led by Robespierre. On March 10, 1793, Convention, over the opposition of the Girondins, ordered the creation of a Revolutionary Tribunal, with its headquarters in the Conciergerie. The tribunal met in the ‘’Grand’Salle’’, where the Parlement of Paris had held its meetings, which was renamed the ‘’Salle de la Liberte’’. It was headed by Fouquier-Tinville, a former state prosecutor, aided by a jury of twelve members. In the Convention, Robespierre had a new Law on Suspects passed, which deprived prisoners before the Tribunal of most of their rights. There was no appeal to decisions of the tribunal, and sentences of death were carried out the same day.