On This Day in Napoleonic History – 20 June 1792

211.5_Les_Tuileries_vues_du_LouvreNapoleon witnesses Parisian mob invade the Tuileries Palace

Napoleon was in a restaurant on Rue Saint-Honorรฉ with his future secretary Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne when he saw heavily armed crowd marching towards the palace. Two days later, Napoleon described the historic scenes to his brother Joseph: ‘Between 7 and 8 thousand men armed with pikes, axes, swords, guns, spit, sharpened sticks went to the king. They broke down the gates, entered the palace, pointed the cannon at the king’s apartment, threw four doors to the ground and presented the king with tow cockades – one white, the Bourbon colour, and the other tricolour. They made him choose. All this is unconstitutional and sets a dangerous precedent.’

Bourrienne claimed that Napoleon later said: ‘What madness. How could they allow that rabble to enter? Why do they not sweep away 4 or 5 hundred of them with cannon? Then the rest will take themselves away very quickly.’ The humiliation of the royal family on that occasion further lowered the monarchy in Napoleon’s estimation. Although he supported the Revolution, he couldn’t understand why Louis XVI would meekly allow himself to be humiliated.

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