26.5.08

Picpus Cemetery - General Lafayette

There is a small cemetery close to Place de la Nation, the Picpus Cemetery. Few people seem to know about it and it’s not easy to find. (See plan at the bottom of this post.) Its origins are from the Revolution and it’s placed on land which used to be a convent, but had been confiscated during the Revolution and converted into a “House of Health and Detention”.

The guillotine was during the revolutionary years moved from Place de la Concorde first to Place de la Bastille and then to close to Place de la Nation. In a previous post about Place de la Nation I told you about the guillotine which was set up in a corner of what during the Revolution was called “Place de la Trône Renversé” (The Overthrown Throne) – previously “Place de la Trône”. On this photo you can see where it used to stand.

During what was called the “Terror” in 1794 (and until Robespierre was guillotined himself) some 1300 people were guillotined here. They were then brought to a part of the garden of this nearby “House of Health and Detention” and buried in two common pits. The piece of ground was a few years later acquired by a Princess whose relatives were among the buried. On the pictures below you can – in addition to the place of the pits - see the gate through which the victims were carried and also the remaining door opening of what used to be a chapel of the original convent and which was the place where the inventory of the (confiscated) clothes of the victims was then made. In the very beginning of the 19th century more ground was bought by some of the concerned families and the place became a cemetery for some noble families and a new convent and chapel were created with the task to offer peace and comfort to the buried. The cemetery itself is very small, but there is a big garden with - at the moment – a lot of roses. In the modest chapel there is a small sculpture of a 16th century “Vierge de la Paix” (Virgin of Peace) or “Notre Dame de la Paix”, which is said to once have miraculously cured Louis XIV and was the object of great devotion and a symbol of peace. However, “only” 108 of the 1300 guillotined were nobles. Among the victims were also e.g. 16 nuns who were brought to the scaffold together and became beatified in 1906.

The General Lafayette (who was not guillotined and died much later – in 1834) has been buried here (see top picture) together with his wife whose mother and sister were among the victims. Since the very beginning, an American flag has been displayed over his grave (even during the German occupation) and normally there is a ceremony in the presence of the US ambassador every 4th of July.

30 comments:

Cuckoo said...

What is that well like structure ?

Cuckoo

SusuPetal said...

A new week in Paris has begun, thank you, Peter!

Shionge said...

You know what Peter? Before I travel to Paris, me gonna explore your blog first :)

Olivier said...

ce cimetière serait presque un parc agréable pour se promener. les photos du jardin sont magnifiques. Surprenante cette maison aux volets bleus, on pourrait se croire chez miss Alice.

Cergie said...

Waow ! Quel post ! Tu as le chic de dénicher des coins inattendus, à moins que tu aies de bons indics.
;o)
C'est le right moment d'y aller / les roses (je me demande où en est le rosier du cimetière d'Auvers) que je préfère personnellement aux chrysanthème
Les fosses communes, cela n'existe plus. On fait des recherches pour retrouver les familles et on incinère à leur frais ou ceux de la commune. Plus de place sous comme sur terre...

claude said...

Il est peut être petit ce cimetière mais il est beau, et puis il y a du beau monde aussi. J'ignorais totale que Mr de La Fayette y reposait.

hpy said...

Postus horribilis. Interessantis profundis.

LeenaM said...

Awful things of a history and beautiful roses, thanks again!
Good week to you, Peter!

delphinium fatiguée said...

salut jeune homme. Ben alors, que d'informations dans ce post. L'histoire de France est riche d'événements, pas toujours glorieux, comme tous les pays d'ailleurs. Appeler un règne "la terreur" dit beaucoup de choses sur cette période.
Monsieur Guillotin aurait mieux fait de ne réfléchir à rien. Même si la guillotine était supposée faire disparaître les supplices sous l'Ancien Régime et proposer une mort propre, cela reste une machine à tuer. Et voir des têtes rouler, c'est pas génial quand même.
Bref, ton post n'est pas très joyeux, mais intéressant. Heureusement que la dame de la paix donne une petite note positive, ainsi que les roses et la maison aux volets bleus. Je t'embrasse

Azer Mantessa said...

oooo creepy here

l'Avignonnaise said...

Encore un coin méconnu de Paris sur lequel tu nous livres des détails étonnants (si ce n'est très joyeux...).

Merci de ton passage à Avignon. Sais-tu que des cerises qui ne sont pas "à la hauteur de mes expectations", c'est du franglais?

En français on dirait plutot "à la hauteur de mes attentes"... c'était la french leçon du jour par madame rabat-joie !
Bises

Nathalie

Noushy Syah said...

Thanks for the historical info.

.... and the cemetery - with beautiful garden:)

Bettina said...

Peter, thank you for letting the rest of us benefit from all your research. It's very interesting. You seem to find all the small "hidden" places in Paris, which the rest of us would just pass by.

Matritensis said...

1300 guillotined?????? my God!
Terrible to imagine

Abraham Lincoln said...

Nice post, Peter. Interesting to me. I saw one man get his head sliced off with the famous French machine made for that purpose. His head fell off and his body was thrown into a wicker coffin in less than 2 seconds. I never saw anything happen much faster than that.

Therese said...

In accordance with Memorial day here in the US today!

Je devrais me mettre a faire une heure d'histoire par jour et n'aller que sur votre blog!

claude said...

Retourne dans les commentaires de mon post culinaire. Je donne qq précisions sur ma mayo.

Spartacus O'Neal said...

My grandmother's grandfather's grandfather Arthur O'Neal was one of the first to greet Lafayette on his arrival in Georgetown, South Carolina to meet with the Continental Congress. Lafayette's ship was being resupplied at his father John O'Neal's dock, and Arthur was asked to guide the vessel to safe landing to disembark Lafayette's entourage for their now-historic journey.

'JoAnn's-D-Eyes'NL said...

hey thanks to you I know now whwre it is , all about the 'lafayette's' too is so interesting to read/know.

Thanks for your interest in my dog's health, as a matter of fact she is doing fine now (no pain walks OK) even better than me, no problems with her bones anymore, Thanks for asking...

Now its me 'under the knife' soon...,its like we are following in each others footsteps.

ALAIN said...

Je ne sais pas pourquoi, mais ces photos me rappellent un endroit que j'ai visité récemment...

Peter said...

cuckoo:
It's a well! (No water!)

susupetal:
I guess the week started also in Finland (one hour earlier)!

shionge:
That would be a good idea! I hope you can stay a few weeks? :-)

Peter said...

olivier:
Tu as raison, le lieu et très agréable et peu visité (mais payant, 3 €)!

cergie:
J'ai en effet quelques indics!

claude:
Je l'ai aussi appris très récemment!

Peter said...

hpy:
Grates!

leenam:
History is not always nice! Do we learn from it?

delphinium:
De voir les têtes rouler, non, ce n'est pas agréable! Postus horribilis comme disait hpy! Heureusement qu'on a mis fin (au moins dans certains pays)! Tu peux dormir tranquille! Je t'embrasse également!

Peter said...

azer:
Don't be scared, the "terror" is over!

l'avignonnaise:
Merci pour la French leçon! On apprend tous les jours (et oublie le lendemain)!

noushy:
It's a pleasure - and free of charge! :-)

Peter said...

bettina:
Thanks! I do my best!

matritensis:
1300 here only - and in a few weeks!

abraham:
Terrible! Why did you have to assist?

Peter said...

claude:
Je vais y aller!

spartacus:
That's fascinating! Thanks for your visit here and welcome back!

joann:
So next time in Paris you will go there?

Peter said...

alain:
Oui, en effet! Merci pour un agréable promenade ensemble! Pour mon post demain, je fais référence à toi!

Neva said...

I can't imagine the guillotine in action....not only quick but bloody....nice flag.....

Anonymous said...

hey i know you posted this a long time ago but i was wondering if you had any more information on the 4th of July ceremony that happens at Picpus cemetery. i cant find what time it starts anywhere! anyway, i'd really appreciate hearing anything you might know

Anonymous said...

it is interesting to note that Lafayette is buried in American soil, having shipped earth from the fledgling
United States for that purpose. Therefor, the American flag is not a sentimental gesture.