§696

19th century:

§696 Capitulation of France; The Paris Commune crushed (1871): VII-18.

 

VII-18:

The besieged shall endeavor to realize more favorable pacts,

Then they shall effect a cruel result of seven days:

The hemmed-in fire, blood, seven put to the axe

The captive lady who had made up the peace.

 

(Les assiegés couloureront leurs paches,

Sept jours apres feront cruelle issue:

Dans repoulsés, feu, sang, sept mis à l'hache

Dame captive qu'auoit la paix tissue.)

 

NOTES: Centurio (1953, p.154) is the first interpreter of the quatrain with the theme of Surrender of Paris in 1871, although wanting in thorough explication.

Pache: = « pacte (pact, contract), accord (agreement), convention (covenant).» (Godefroy).

Coulourer: = « Colorer; Coloré. D’apparence satisfaisante, plausible.» (Huguet); « = günstiger gestalten (to make up in a more favorable form).» (Centurio, id.).

The besieged shall endeavor to realize more favorable pacts: « After the capitulation of Sedan the headquarters of King William was fixed in Rheims on the 5th of September; in Meaux on the 15th; in the Villa Ferrifères of Rothschild near Lagny on the 18th. From here he went to Versailles on October 15th. Many important diplomatic documents and oral transactions date from this period. In a circular letter of September 6th, Favre [a leading republican of the ministry] declared that since the fall of the empire the king of Prussia could have no pretext for continuing the war; that the present government never desired the war with Germany, but if the king insisted, would indeed accept it, but would make him responsible for it; and in any case, no matter how the war might result, not a foot of land, not a stone of a fortress would be ceded. Bismarck's answer to this, in a circular letter of September 13th, was that since the representatives, the senate, and the press in France had in July, 1870, almost unanimously demanded the war of conquest in Germany, it could not be said that France had not desired it, and that the imperial government alone was responsible for it. Germany would have to expect a war of revenge on the part of France, even though she should demand no surrender of territory and no indemnity, and should be content with glory alone. For this reason Germany was forced to take measures for her own safety, by setting back somewhat her boundaries, thus making the next attack by the French on the heretofore defenceless south-German border more difficult. The neutral powers, with the exception of Russia, were in favour of France, and seemed to be inclined to interfere in any possible negotiations for peace, and to hinder any oppressive measures against France. As Thiers was at that time making his tour through Europe for this very purpose, Bismarck issued a second circular letter on September 16th, in which he advised the powers not to prolong the war by fostering in the heart of the French nation the hope of their intervention; for since the German nation had fought this war alone, it would also conclude it without assistance, and would submit to no interference from any side whatever. The German governments and the German nation were determined that Germany should be protected against France by strengthened frontiers. The fortresses of Strasburg and Metz, until now always open to sorties against Germany, must be surrendered to Germany, and be for her defence henceforth.» (HH, XIII, p.172).

« The Parisian government, which since the annihilation of the French armies had been so much in favour of peace, now wished to know under what conditions King William would consent to a truce. Favre demanded a meeting with Bismarck, and had several interviews with him on this subject in the Villa Ferrières, on September 19th and 20th. He declared that the most France could consent to was to agree to pay an indemnity, but any cession of territory was out of the question. In order to decide this, a national assembly must be convened, which would then appoint a regular government, and to facilitate these measures a truce of from fourteen to twenty-one days was necessary; and he now asked for this favour. Bismarck replied that such a truce would be not at all to the military interest of Germany, and could only be conceded on condition of the surrender of Metz, Toul, and Bitsch. As the Parisian government would not consent to these conditions, negotiations were stopped, and Favre and other French diplomats issued new circular letters in which they deplored the intention of Prussia to reduce France to a power of the second degree. The absurdity of such an assertion - that a state of thirty-eight million inhabitants, or including Algeria forty-two million, could by the loss of a territory containing about one and one-half millions be reduced to the condition of a second-rate power - was exposed in its entire falsity by Bismarck in his despatch of October 1st. Nevertheless, a few weeks later, negotiations were once more resumed; Thiers, who had returned from his tour, appeared at Versailles on November 1st as the new negotiator. Here also the first question to be discussed was the cessation of hostilities; and when Bismarck asked in surprise what France had to offer as a return for all these concessions, Thiers absurdly enough imagined he was very ingenious when he answered that she had nothing: and upon this, these negotiations also fell through. The republican government was, as was plainly to be seen, animated by a childish stubbornness- consumed by the idea of its own importance. In every war in which France was victorious, the hardest possible conditions were imposed upon the vanquished enemy, who was never permitted to escape territorial concessions. Even quite recently, in the Italian war of 1859, after the two victories of Magenta and Solferino, the surrender of Lombardy was demanded. That in case of French victory the whole left bank of the Rhine would be lost to Germany was disputed by no intelligent person in Europe. And yet France had the effrontery to demand from the same opponent from whom she had taken so many territories in former decades, and from whom she as victor had just taken her fairest provinces, that the entirety of the French frontiers should be respected as sacred, and that no attempt should be made to recover the lost provinces. Such arrogant pretensions could be answered only by new defeats. Humiliations must be much deeper, distress especially in Paris much more bitter, before France could realise that every nation, consequently even the French, must suffer for its sins. So the cannon had to speak again, and times were very lively before Paris, as well as at other points.» (HH, XIII, p.172-173).

« The French army had been divided into three corps under generals Vinoy, Bellemare, and Ducrot. The routes were few in number and were moreover confined at various points by barricades which left only narrow passages. The three generals not having concerted together on the matter of time, the various corps jostled one another and became mutually entangled in this painful night-march. But the day began well. The cannon of the French, which they had at last managed to mount to the right of Montretout, swept the ranks of the assailants. They gave way; the summit was at last in the hands of the French. The fire of the enemy relaxed, then ceased. The line of the German outposts remained in the hands of the French; might they hope that the next day they would be able to force that second and formidable line against which they had flung themselves? The leaders thought not. Trochu had hurried from Mont Valérien to that ridge of Montretout which had been victoriously retained. He judged it useless to renew the effort and ordered the retreat. The Germans made no attempt to harass the retiring forces. It was as at Champigny, a half victory terminated by a retreat; but this time it was impossible to begin again. Little confident in the morning, Trochu was wholly discouraged by the evening. On hearing of the retreat Jules Favre felt with Trochu that all was lost. At most the means of warding off starvation were only sufficient for twelve or thirteen days. It was calculated that it would take ten to collect new supplies. That same night the government received two despatches, one of which announced the unfortunate issue of the battle of Le Mans; in the other, written before Chanzy's reverse was known at Bordeaux, Gambetta called on his colleagues in Paris to rive battle, threatening to inform France of his sentiments on their inaction if tney still delayed. The painful irritation of this letter testified that the writer felt the supreme hour was approaching. The fight he demanded had just been ended; the cautious general at Paris had fought like the bold general of Le Mans: both had failed. A minority of the members of the government at Paris once more stiffened themselves against the terrible necessity. They demanded another general if Trochu refused to make a new effort. The line and the garde mobile demanded peace; the national guard alone wished to fight again. Jules Favre despatched to Gambetta a melancholy despatch which was to be the last of the siege. “Though Paris surrender, France is not lost; thanks to you, she is animated by a patriotic spirit which will save her; in any case we will sign no preliminaries of peace.”» (HH, id., p.178-179).

« Eventually the members of the government contrived that Trochu should resign the military command while binding him to remain president of the council. This was the greatest token of self-abnegation and devotion that he could give. In so doing he resigned himself to going back on his word by signing the capitulation. Vinoy succeeded in the command. His succession was inaugurated by an insurrection. Several persons were killed in the crowd. This was the first act of civil war after four months of siege. After two conferences with Bismarck, Jules Favre agreed to the capitulation of Paris, concluded with the condition that the German army should not enter Paris during the duration of the armistice. The convention of Paris was concluded on January 28th. An armistice of three weeks was agreed to, although this did not include the three eastern departments in which the destruction of Bourbaki's army was just taking place. During this time a national assembly was to be chosen to decide on the question of war or peace; all the forts of Paris and the war supplies were handed over to the German troops; the garrisons of Paris and of the forts were taken prisoners and had to give up their arms, although they still remained in Paris and had to be supported by the town authorities. One division of twelve thousand men was to be kept to maintain order and the same exception was made in the case of the whole national guard, against Moltke's will and at the desire of Favre, who repented of it later. The city of Paris had to pay a war tax of two hundred million francs within fourteen days, and was allowed to provision itself. On the 29th of January the surrender of the twenty-five larger and smaller forts to the German troops took place and the black-white-and-red flag was raised on them. This convention was very unwelcome to Gambetta. However, he thought he might use the respite of three weeks to equip new troops and hoped by controlling the impending elections to bring together a radical national assembly, resolved to continue the war à l’outrance. For this purpose he published a proscription list on the 31st of January, according to which everyone who had received a higher office or an official candidacy from the imperial government was declared ineligible. Bismarck and the Parisian government protested energetically against such an arbitrary act and insisted upon free elections. In the German headquarters it was decided to take the most extreme measures, and new plans of operations were already drawn up. Gambetta, being abandoned by the other members of the representive government, resigned on February 6th. On the 8th of February elections were held throughout France, and on the 12th the national assembly was opened at Bordeaux. Thiers was chosen chief of the executive on the 17th, formed his ministry on the 19th, and on the 21st, accompanied by the ministers Favre and Picard, he went to Versailles, commissioned by the national assembly, to begin the peace negociations.» (HH, id., p.179).

« France and Paris had so long been separated that, when they again met face to face, they did not recognise each other. Paris could not forgive the provinces for not coming to her rescue, the provinces could not forgive Paris her perpetual revolutions and the state of nervous excitability in which she seemed to delight. While the provinces, crushed, requisitioned, worn out by the enemy, were hoping for rest which would enable their wounds to heal, Paris, like an Olympic circus, was re-echoing more noisily than ever to the sound of arms and warlike cries. It was the intermediate time between a government which had ceased to exist and a government which was not yet formed; executive bodies were hesitating, not knowing exactly whom to obey, not daring to come to any decision under any circumstances: dissolution was general and indecision permanent. It was a costly mistake for the Germans to insist on the spectacular parade through so inflammable a city as Paris; and Jules Favre describes the earnestness with which Thiers pleaded with Bismarck and Von Moltke against the project. The Prussians insisted, however, either on keeping the city of Belfort, or on the glory of the triumph in Paris. Thiers protested against the seizure of Belfort in the following words: '' Well, then, let it be as you will, Monsieur le comte - these negotiations are nothing but a pretence. We may seem to deliberate, but we must pass under your yoke. We demand of you a city which is absolutely French: you refuse it: that amounts to confessing that you are resolved on a war of extermination against us. Carry it into effect: ravage our provinces, burn our houses, slaughter the inoffensive inhabitants - in a word, finish your work. We will fight you to the last gasp. We may succumb; at least we shall not be dishonoured ! " Herr von Bismarck seemed disturbed, says Favre. The emotion of Thiers had won him over. He answered that he understood what he must be suffering, and that he should be happy to be able to make a concession, if the king consented. It is an unlooked-for spectacle - a Bismarck almost melted and a Moltke almost sentimental, preferring a barren honour, the entry of their troops into Paris, to the possession of a French town, and succeeding in making their master share their point of view. We also see for ourselves that Thiers, though he was well known to be a determined advocate of peace, only obtained the very slender concessions that were made to him by threatening to struggle to the last gasp, and we repeat that a less pacific chamber and negotiators, animated by the same spirit as Gambetta, might, to all appearance, have obtained less hard conditions. After the end of the siege there may be said to have been hardly any government in Paris. General Vinoy, who was in command, had, like all the military leaders, lost his whole prestige during the siege. The army by mixing with the people had imbibed the same spirit, and the government did not interfere in anything. The news of the entry of the Prussians exasperated the people, who were burning with the fever of despair. Tumultuous demonstrations took place at the Bastille; at the same time the crowd seized the guns which had been left in the part of Paris which the Prussians were to occupy. At first they wished to keep the conquerors from getting possession of them; then they kept them, and the most distrustful of the people took them up to Montmartre. The entry of the Prussians nearly brought about a terrible conflict with these crowds, which were burning with fury. This misfortune was, however, avoided. But the march of the conquerors through Paris was not of a triumphal character. Restricted within the space which leads from Neuilly through the Champs-Élysées to the Louvre, they were defied by the street boys of Paris, and were met at every turning by threatening crowds who pursued them with yells. The second day they were obliged to beat a dejected retreat.» (HH, id., p.180-181).  

« Meanwhile the advanced republicans were organising their party; they expected to have to fight the monarchical assembly by force. The law against Paris, the law of échéance, caused great indignation. The name of Thiers recalled his struggle against the republic after 1848 and his services as minister under Louis Philippe. All this was too far distant to enable people to judge of the new rôle he intended to play. The republicans of the ministry, Jules Favre, Picard, and Jules Simon, had, after the siege, lost all influence in Paris. A great many men who inspired confidence, left the assembly. Victor Hugo, whose speech had been shouted down by the populace, and Gambetta had resigned. A severe conflict seemed imminent. Though Thiers wished on the one hand to control the royalists of the assembly, he was determined on the other to deprive of weapons the republicans of the large towns. He made a pretext for doing this by demanding the restitution of the cannon which had been seized. Some of the radical deputies intervened to prevent civil war. They had twice almost succeeded in obtaining the restitution of the cannon, and were making further efforts to do so. Paris, too, seemed gradually calming down, when Thiers decided to employ force. On the 18th of March, at daybreak, the troops, under the orders of General Vinoy, ascended the slopes of Montmartre and took possession of the cannon. But things had been so badly managed that the people were aware of what was happening. The sight of those who had been wounded in the morning enraged the crowd; the troops were surrounded and dispersed: there was not even a struggle. The soldiers no longer obeyed their officers, but mingled with the populace. All Paris was in arms: instantly barricades were raised in every direction. Thiers had for a long time held that when a rebellion is serious it is best to abandon the revolting town and only re-enter it as a conqueror. He commanded a retreat to Versailles. During the night the Hôtel-de-Ville was evacuated by the government. The insurrection had been inaugurated with terrible bloodshed. General Leconte, who in the morning commanded part of the troops at Montmartre, had been detained by the crowd with some other prisoners, and the republican Clément Thomas, who had commanded the national guard in 1848 and during the siege, had been recognised and arrested on the boulevard. These prisoners had been dragged from place to place. At last they were brought to the rue des Rosiers where a committee from Montmartre was sitting. A crowd of infuriated people assailed the house, and in the midst of a scene of wild confusion the two generals, Leconte and Clément Thomas, were pushed against the walls of the garden and riddled with bullets. This slaughter made a bloody stain on the proceedings of the day.» (HH, id., p.181-182).

Then they shall effect a cruel result of seven days: The civil war between the Versailles Government and the Paris Commune (18 March to 28 May, 1871) resulting in the bloody Week (la Semaine sanglante) (21 to 28 May). Cf. §693, V-81: The wall of the Orient shall fall, thunder, lightning, Seven days.

[For] the hemmed-in [,] fire, blood: « On the 25th, those [Forts] at Montrouge, Bicêtre and Ivry, and the redoubts of Hautes Bruyères and Villejuif, were taken. Within the walls, the Barrière d'ltalie, the Butte aux Cailles, the Orleans railway station, the Jardin des Plantes, and the Halle aux Vins, on the left bank of the river, were occupied. On the right, the troops held the Lyons railway station, Mazas, the Grenier d'Abondance, the National Printing Office, the Place du Château d'Eau, the Prince Eugene Barracks, and the Arts and Métiers Square. Next day (May 26th), the Place de la Bastille was turned on the east, and all the avenues, boulevards, and streets abutting on it were occupied by the enemy. The reader who knows the topography of Paris, or inspects the plan of the city [cf. Serman, 1986, p.495], will understand that when these operations were accomplished, with the troops already in possession of the heights of Montmartre on the north, the occupation a little later of the Place du Trône, and the simultaneous advance of the troops along the ramparts, the quarter of Belleville was being literally hemmed in [hemmed in] by a circle of fire and steel [fire, blood].» (Rich, II, p.630).

Seven put to the axe: Seven for six ecclesiastics murdered as the number of consecration. « At half-past seven in the evening of the 24th [May, 1871], the director of the prison, a man named Francois, or Lefrançais, a name-sake of the member of the Commune, and who had himself spent six years at the hulks, ascended at the head of fifty National Guards to the gallery where the principal prisoners were confined. An officer went round to each cell, summoning first the Archbishop [1], and then in succession M. Bonjean [2], the Abbé Allard [3], Fathers Ducoudray [4] and Clair [5], and the Abbé Daguerry, curé of the Madeleine [6]. As the prisoners were summoned they were marched down to the road running round the prison, on either side of which were arranged National Guards, who received the captives with insults. They were then conducted into the courtyard facing the infirmary, where they found a firing party awaiting them. Monseigneur Darboy stepped forward, and addressing his assassins, uttered a few words of pardon. Two of these men approached the Archbishop, and in face of their comrades knelt before him, beseeching his forgiveness. The other Federals at once rushed upon them, and drove them back with insulting reproaches, and then, turning towards the prisoners, gave vent to most violent expressions. Even the commander of the detachment felt ashamed of this, and, ordering silence, uttered a frightful oath, telling his men they were there "to shoot those people, not to bully them." The Federals were silenced, and upon the orders of their lieutenant loaded their weapons. Father Allard was placed against the wall, and was the first shot down. Then M. Darboy, in his turn, fell. The whole six prisoners were thus shot, all evincing the utmost calmness and courage. After this tragical execution, carried out without any formal witnesses, and in the presence only of a number of bandits, the bodies of the unfortunate victims were placed in a cart belonging to a railway company, which had been requisitioned for the purpose, and were taken to Père la Chaise, where they were placed in the last trench of the "fosse commune," side by side, without even a handful of earth to cover them. The firing party then went to the cells their victims had occupied, and destroyed the papers and books they had left behind them.» (Rich, II, p.625-626).

The captive lady who had made up the peace: France [the lady] continued to be partially occupied [captive]  after the conclusion of the peace: « It was on the 20th of February that M. Thiers presented himself at Versailles. Negotiation was out of the question; for, in his own words, he found himself  " face to face with an ultimatum;" arguments availed nothing, in the absence of power to enforce them. Some modifications of details were all that could be obtained, and the time that had been consumed in vain endeavours to soften the terms had brought the negotiators dangerously near the hour when the armistice terminated. On the 26th, no alternative remained but to sign the preliminaries, which included an extension of the armistice till the 12th of March, that the National Assembly might have time to confirm the work of their diplomatic representatives. The principal conditions were: — 1… 2… 3. The French territory occupied by the German troops was to be evacuated as follows: The departments or parts of departments situated on the left of the Seine immediately after the ratification of the preliminaries by the Assembly; the rest of France at intervals as the instalments of the war indemnity were paid — that is to say, the departments of the Somme, the Oise, the Seine-Inférieure, Seine and Oise, Seine and Marne, Seine and the forts of Paris on the right bank, after the payment of the first half-milliard (£20,000,000 sterling); the Haute-Saône, the Jura, the Doubs, the Côte d'Or, the Aube and Aisne, after a second payment, not clearly indicated in the preliminaries. The six departments of the Marne, the Ardennes, the Haute-Marne, the Meuse, the Vosges, and the Meurthe, and the arrondissement of Belfort, were to remain occupied by 50,000 men until the entire payment of the indemnity. 4… 5…» (Rich, II, p. 560).

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Author:Koji Nihei Daijyo
We have covered 143 quatrains (§588-§730) concerning the World Events in the 19th century after Napoleonic ages [1821-1900] in the Prophecies of Nostradamus, and 219 in the 20th [1901-2000] (§731-§949).

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