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Mirabeau by Alfred Schirokauer

Mirabeau by Alfred Schirokauer

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Repeatedly imprisoned by his father, nearly murdered by his mother (the pistol misfired), and publicly cuckolded by his wife, Mirabeau was for a time the political linchpin of France.

Barbara Luttrell presents Gabriel-Honoré Mirabeau in all the enigmatic personal and philosophic complexity that so frustrated both royalists and Jacobins. From the first announcement of the Estates General, Mirabeau was known to be a radical who was a monarchist, and a monarchist who was a democrat.

Amidst the tumult of revolutionary France, he would not be forgiven for advancing reason before partisan passion. Mirabeau knew his circumstances were precarious. In a letter to his collaborator Mauvillon he remarked, "I have been criticized by everyone because I do not echo the fanaticism for the parlements. In fact I have not written anything for the other side either; I have always believed that between the King and the parlements there is a poor, obscure little party called the nation, to which sensible, honest men should belong."

Upon his death, public ambivalence toward him was temporarily suspended. On April 4, 1792, his remains were carried to the unfinished church of Sainte-Geneviève to lie beside Descartes in the crypt of the old church until the new edifice was completed. The cortege that accompanied his body wound three miles through the streets of Paris.

But there was to be no rest for Mirabeau even in death. On September 21, 1794, his remains were removed from the vaults of the Pantheon in official disgrace and deposited in an ordinary burial ground. When in July 1797 the Council of Five Hundred moved to restore Mirabeau’s coffin to the Pantheon, no trace of his remains could be found.

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Alfred Schirokauer
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