history geeking ahoy

Charles Marville, photograph of the Rue Mondétour taken from the Rue Rambuteau (former Rue de la Chanverrerie), circa 1865. Another “about as close as we’re gonna get” image of the site of Hugo’s barricade. I think the high-res version has done the rounds on Tumblr before, but damn if I can find it, so here it is again.

Note the lighter horizontal band in the lower half of the picture–that’s not a crease or any other kind of damage. It’s a ghost… or more likely several ghosts. The widened Rue Rambuteau became a busy thoroughfare, and due to the long exposure time on the photograph, any passerby would’ve been reduced to a faint blur at head height.

anonymous asked:

Have you got any classic queer lit recommendations? (would prefer focusing on women, but watevs) I've read mlle de maupin and the girl with the golden eyes, loved them both, but I'm struggling to come up with more than that :(

Hmmm, let’s see! Focusing in on Romantic-era French lit here because that’s the closest thing I have to an area of expertise:

  • That Eugénie Danglars subplot in The Count of Monte Cristo is p. much Textual Lesbians All Over (and there are also some shenanigans with crossdressing bandits near the beginning), just make sure to pick up an unabridged edition because for mysterious unaccountable reasons it’s always one of the first things to be cut
  • I… haven’t actually read Balzac's Cousin Bette (or its male counterpart, Cousin Pons), but I’ve been assured on good authority that both of them are pretty fuckin’ gay
  • George Sand wrote a play, Gabriel, about a girl raised as a boy. The first act is played straight (no pun intended) according to the grand theatrical traditions of “male protag meets female protag while she’s in drag, falls for her anyway, freaks out, and then all is revealed and they’re happily married off.” The second act is an Into the Woods-style deconstruction where Gabriel(le)… um… doesn’t adjust very well to the role of ‘wife,’ and things go downhill from there. IDK if it’s available in English translation anywhere. :(
  • Sand's Lélia is kind of queer-adjacent–it is very much about the shit roles available for women, traditional marriage as a respectable form of prostitution, and the stunting of female desire in a culture where love is dominated by male violence and possession. The discussions of 'frigidity’ are mostly relevant to asexuality, but it was also scandalous at the time for some minor but very suggestive scenes between two sisters.
  • I feel kind of crass putting Gamiani on this list, because it’s terribad Evil Lesbians porn that Alfred de Musset 'anonymously’ wrote while he was on the outs with George Sand… but on the other hand the French Romantics writing RPF about each other will never not be entertaining.
  • Sylvia Townsend Warner's Summer Will Show was written in the 1930s but set during the revolution of 1848, and stars an independent but rather staid Englishwoman who moves to Paris and proceeds to fall in love with her husband’s mistress, a Jewish revolutionary half-actress half-strumpet wild child.
  • Okay fine I know it has absolutely fuckall to do with the French Romantics, but if you haven’t read The Well of Loneliness yet you should totally do it

That’s all I’ve got off the top of my head for female-centric lit (besides a couple of poems in Les Fleurs du Mal, “Lesbos” and “The Damned Women”). For textual male gay, the gold star recommendation will always be Balzac’s Vautrin trilogy, Old Goriot, Lost Illusions, and A Harlot High and Low–featuring the most magnificent bastard of them all, who has a taste for Faustian bargains with pretty young men. For not-all-that-subtextual male gay in prison, check out Hugo's Claude Gueux.

If you want androgyny and genderfuck the offerings are a little more obscure–there’s the aforementioned Gabriel, Balzac’s short stories Sarrasine (about a painter who falls for a castrato who’s living as a woman) and Séraphîta (which I have not read, but is apparently weird and philosophical in its approach to androgyny), and a poorly written but historically interesting novel by Henri de Latouche called Fragoletta, whose title character is intersex. The Balzac ones miiiight be available in English somewhere; Fragoletta isn’t easy to find even in French.

Also, if you’re interested in alienation-from-society angst and repression so thick it has to erase the actual subject of its anxiety and make it into a cipher, hoo boy have I got some stories to tell you about the 1820s Romantics. Nobody in these books is actually gay, but… well. The whole thing got set off when the Marquis de Custine broke off a promising engagement for reasons that looked completely inexplicable at the time. (Spoilers: he was flamingly gay. He wasn’t publicly outed until some years later, but man, he was gay as a sunny June morning.)

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…before anyone gets too happy about the everybody-lives!AU potential of Charles Jeanne’s improbable survival story, I feel duty-bound to note that the retreat into the Corinthe and ensuing massacre were also based on the actual events of June 1832. Jeanne and his ten-man suicide charge were a tiny minority of the combatants; several dozen insurgents thought it was a better plan to retreat into the apartment building they’d been using as headquarters, using the stairwells as a sheltered position to pick off the assailants as they tried to come up. It wasn’t a bad plan, necessarily. The success of Jeanne’s charge was a fluke that caught even him by surprise, and the rest of the insurgents managed to hold the building for over an hour, gradually being driven further and further up the stairs. A bunch of them made it to the roof and parkoured their way to safety, so for them it turned out to be a pretty good plan. But the ones who stayed and fought to the bitter end eventually surrendered to the army, who agreed to take them into custody if they’d come quietly.

What happened next was disputed during the trial; there were definitely summary executions, some of them insurgents who’d been hiding in the residents’ apartments trying to avoid arrest, some of them insurgents who’d already surrendered. It’s also almost certain that the army and the National Guard were at loggerheads: the professional soldiers were trying to take prisoners, but the National Guard was a citizens’ militia made up of property-holders whose animosity towards the rebels was personal, vicious, and class-based. Hugo was cleaning up and romanticizing historical events considerably by giving Enjolras and Grantaire anything so dignified as a firing squad; there were reports of captured insurgents being messily stabbed to death with bayonets, left to die of gut wounds, or pitched out of fourth-floor windows by guardsmen making “heads or tails?” jokes about whether they’d hit the ground face-up or face-down. It was gruesome as hell, and unlike the Rue Transnonain massacre in a revolt two years later, the brutality was largely ignored outside the radical press because it was directed at actual combatants rather than civilians suspected of sheltering them.

So yeah. Charles Jeanne and half a dozen other crazy bastards miraculously survived their suicide-by-soldiers stunt, and you could totally use that incident as the basis for an everybody-lives AU. But unfortunately, that is not a term that could be used to describe the actual history of Saint-Merry and June 1832.

(Part 7 of 8) Letter from Charles Jeanne to his sister, from prison, December 1833

Une seconde fois le canon cessa de se faire entendre. La ligne et la garde nationale s’avancèrent ; arrivées à deux cents pas de nous, elles commencèrent le feu en marchant toujours au pas de charge. Nous étions tous baissés derrière la barricade, nos fusils passés dans des meurtrières formées par l’écartement des pavés. L’élève de l’École courait de l’un à l’autre en répétant à chacun : ne tirez pas, mes amis, ne tirez pas ! laissez approcher !.. à dix pas ! à dix pas mes amis !.. & pas un seul coup de fusil ne fut tiré de notre part qu’alors que le commandement feu !.. poussé d’une voix forte et assurée par l’Élève, nous instruisit que le moment de vaincre ou de périr était arrivé.

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Ahaha you know you’re a long way down the research rabbit hole when the name of the thing you’re searching for turns up zero search results that aren’t 19th-century Google Books

(Fun fact! There was a society circa 1831-1832 called the Société pour l'instruction libre et gratuite du peuple–the Society for the Free Education of the People–that was partly actual educational courses and partly a front for revolutionary activities. Hugo’s Friends of the ABC seem mostly based on the Société des Amis du Peuple, but it looks like their name might’ve been yoinked from this other society and embellished with a terrible pun.)

Adrienne Marie Louise Grandpierre-Deverzy, The Studio of Abel de Pujol, 1822.

And a Lady Painters In Art Studios piece painted by an actual lady–do click through, the detail is quite lovely. I especially like the girl in blue off to the left who looks like *something* pretty funny must’ve been going on. (Also note the continued presence of buff naked dude butt, this time in statue form. What? It’s for artistic enrichment, I’m sure.)

anonymous asked:

Where would the students have learned to handle rifles? Holding professional regular soldiers at bay requires alot of skill with a flintlock musket.

They would almost certainly have had the opportunity to learn how to use long guns for hunting while growing up, and the ability to handle a pistol for dueling was an expected skill for young men of their social class. There were numerous firing ranges in Paris where they would’ve been able to keep in practice.

I don’t know if you were deliberately trying to draw a distinction between rifles and flintlock muskets, but there wasn’t as much of a disparity between the firearms used by the insurgents and their assailants as you might think: sure, the insurgents were working with a hodgepodge, but it was a hodgepodge with a large proportion of ‘borrowed’ military weapons, and the army’s guns weren’t all that advanced either. Reliable breech-loaders still hadn’t been perfected yet and wouldn’t start becoming regular infantry weapons until the 1840s, and percussion locks were a new invention that had only become standard issue for officers’ pistols in the past year or two. (Enjolras’ gun, described as a double-barrelled carabine de chasse, is probably more advanced than the infantry’s smoothbore muzzle-loaders: when it’s specified as being a hunting weapon, a carabine isn’t a short-barrelled cavalry carbine, it’s a rifle, which given the near impossibility of shoving a bullet down a rifled barrel means it’s probably an early model of a bolt-action firearm. These were popular for civilian use even if they weren’t reliable or practical enough for soldiers, so it’s not surprising one or two of the students seem to have one, especially since some of them appear to be weapons geeks.) Basically disparities in weaponry weren’t that huge to begin with, and had less of an impact on close-quarters urban warfare than disparities in supply lines and ammunition.

So yeah. Also bear in mind that they were holding a well-fortified position against a force made up partly of regular soldiers and partly of assorted citizens’ militias (Paris municipal guard, Paris national guard, national guard from the surrounding suburbs and countryside) who weren’t always particularly professional. The center of the actual 1832 revolt was a two-day battle of 60 against 60,000 that was only quashed when there was a major disparity in firepower, i.e. when the use of artillery against the insurgents was authorized.

Hégésippe Moreau - Les 5 et 6 juin 1832: Chant funèbre

Ils sont tous morts, morts en héros,
Et le désespoir est sans armes ;
Du moins, en face des bourreaux
Ayons le courage des larmes !

Ces enfants qu’on croyait bercer
Avec le hochet tricolore
Disaient tout bas : il faut presser
L’avenir paresseux d’éclore :
Quoi ! nous retomberions vainqueurs
Dans le filets de l’esclavage !
Hélas ! pour foudroyer trois fleurs
Fallait-il donc trois jours d’orage ?

Ils sont tous morts, morts en héros,
Et le désespoir est sans armes ;
Du moins, en face des bourreaux
Ayons le courage des larmes !

Le peuple, ouvrant les yeux enfin,
Murmurait : On trahit ma cause ;
Un roi s’engraisse de ma faim
Au Louvre, que mon sang arrose ;
Moi, dont les pieds nus foulaient l’or,
Moi, dont la main brisait un trône,
Quand elle peut combattre encor,
Irai-je la tendre à l’aumône ?

Ils sont tous morts, morts en héros,
Et le désespoir est sans armes ;
Du moins, en face des bourreaux
Ayons le courage des larmes !

La liberté pleurait celui
Qu’elle inspira si bien naguère ;
Mais un fer sacrilège a lui,
Et l’ombre pousse un cri de guerre :
Guerre et mort aux profanateurs !
Sur eux le sang versé retombe,
Et les Français gladiateurs
S’égorgent devant une tombe.

Ils sont tous morts, morts en héros,
Et le désespoir est sans armes ;
Du moins, en face des bourreaux
Ayons le courage des larmes !

Alors le bataillon sacré
Surgit de la foule, et tout tremble ;
Mais contre eux Paris égaré
Leva ses milles bras ensemble.
On prêta, pour frapper leur sein,
Des poignards à la tyrannie,
Et les derniers coups du tocsin
N’ont sonné que leur agonie.

Ils sont tous morts, morts en héros,
Et le désespoir est sans armes ;
Du moins, en face des bourreaux
Ayons le courage des larmes !

Non, non, ils ne s’égaraient pas
Vers un avenir illusoire :
Ils ont prouvé par leur trépas
Qu’aux Décius on pouvait croire.
O ma patrie ! ô liberté !
Quel réveil, quand sur nos frontières
La République aurait jeté
Ce faisceau de troupes guerrières !

Ils sont tous morts, morts en héros,
Et le désespoir est sans armes ;
Du moins, en face des bourreaux
Ayons le courage des larmes !

Sous le dôme du Panthéon,
Vous qui rêviez au Capitole,
Enfants, que l’appel du canon
Fit bondir des bancs d’une école
Au toit qui reçut vos adieux
Que les douleurs seront amères,
Lorsque d’un triomphe odieux
Le bruit éveillera vos mères !

Ils sont tous morts, morts en héros,
Et le désespoir est sans armes ;
Du moins, en face des bourreaux
Ayons le courage des larmes !

On insulte à ce qui n’est plus,
Et moi seul j’ose vous défendre :
Ah ! si nous les avions vaincus,
Ceux qui crachent sur votre cendre,
Les lâches, ils viendraient, absous
Par leur défaite expiatoire,
Sur votre cercueil à genoux,
Demander grâce à la victoire.

Ils sont tous morts, morts en héros,
Et le désespoir est sans armes ;
Du moins, en face des bourreaux
Ayons le courage des larmes !

Martyrs, à vos hymnes mourants
Je prêtais une oreille avide ;
Vous périssiez, et dans vos rangs
La place d’un frère était vide.
Mais nous ne formions qu’un concert,
Et nous chantions tous la patrie,
Moi sur la couche de Gilbert,
Vous sur l’échaffaud de Borie.

Ils sont tous morts, morts en héros,
Et le désespoir est sans armes ;
Du moins, en face des bourreaux
Ayons le courage des larmes !