revolutionary justice – the conciergerie as prison under Robespierre & the Jacobins


The Conciergerie today


carte postale ancienne PARIS la conciergerie (Ebay)



What was the 18C French Revolution prison called the Conciergerie like for those imprisoned below? Memoirs exist such as this one from an old manuscript. A copy of the original (below) uses the long ‘s’, the one that looks like an ‘f’. The long ‘s’ began to be seen as antiquated in the late 18th century when it started disappearing.

It is well known that this place has been, at all times, appropriated to the confinement of persons suspected of conspiring against the common peace and safety of society: but how few, when they walk through the superb galleries and spacious rooms of the palace, reflect that they are walking over the heads of their fellow men, crowded together in the dungeons below; and more especially since the convulsions of the state, have brought to many victims to these habitations of misery despair, and death, as to fill the very passages with tenants, What a contrast! Above you behold elegant warehouses, filled with perfumes, and all the fineries of dress; shop-keepers inviting the curious, by the most engaging manner, to view and purchase their wares; — libraries filled with books, treating of the precepts of philosophy, and the duties of humanity; — and below, separated only by the thickness of an arch, you find nothing but bolts, bars, and ragged garments; intolerable stench, an infected atmosphere; and drunken turn-keys swearing outrageously, and followed by mastiffs, calculated, like their masters, to inspire dread and terror.

. . . Here I flop. I have finished my work. You, who have hearts that can feel for the  misfortunes of our fellow creatures, approach not the Conciergerie: but ye delegates of people, visit and examine this dismal receptacle. Those confined in it are not brutes, but your fellow men.

From Revolutionary Justice Displayed: Honore Riouffe



The Conciergerie’s facade complete with turrets, hides a macabre past


Part of the Conciergerie via Flickr


The Conciergerie 




Some portraits of Marie Antionette imprisoned in the Concergerie. More here


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