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The October Days, 1789

october_days.jpg (7459 bytes)Deposition Number LXXXII

Madelaine Glain, forty-two years old, a faiseuse de ménage, wife of François Gaillard, an office clerk in the District de l'Oratoire with whom she lives on rue Froidmanteau, no. 40, testifies that, having been forced, as many women were, to follow the crowd that went to Versailles last Monday, October 5, and having arrived at Sèvres near the porcelain manufactory, [and] a gentleman with a black decoration having asked them where they were going, they answered that they were going to ask for bread at Versailles. This gentleman urged them to behave themselves, but a woman whom the declarant knew to be a prostitute and who since then has been living with Lagrement, a soft drink peddler on rue Bailleul, having said that she was going to Versailles to bring back the queen’s head, was sharply reproached by the others. Having arrived at the streets leading to Versailles, this same woman stopped a mounted Royal Guardsman, to whom she delivered many insults, threatening him with a bad, rusty sword which she held open in her hand. This Royal Guardsman said that she was a wretch, and in order to [make her] release the bridle of his horse, which she was holding, he struck her a blow which inflicted an arm wound. Having come at last to the Château with the intention of informing His Majesty concerning the motives of their proceedings, she, the declarant, found herself locked in, that is to say, her skirts caught on two spikes of the gate, from which a Swiss Guard released her. After that she went with the other women to the hall of the National Assembly, where they entered, many strong. Some of these women having asked for the four-pound loaf at eight sols, and for meat at the same price, she, the declarant, called for silence, and then she said that they were asking that they not be lacking bread, but not [that it be fixed] at the price these women were wanting to have it. She did not go with the deputation to the Château but returned with Sieur Maillard and two other women to the Hôtel-de-Ville in Paris to bring back the decrees they were given at the National Assembly. Monsieur the mayor and the representatives of the commune were satisfied an received them with joy. Then she, the declarant, was led by the National Guard to the District de l'Oratoire to convey this good news. She cannot give us any news concerning what happened at Versailles on the sixth, but she learned, without being able to say from whom, that someone named Nicolas, a model in the academy, who lived at the home of Poujet, rue Champfleuri, on that day, Tuesday, had cut off the heads of two Royal Guards who had been massacred by the people, and since then the above-mentioned Nicolas has not reappeared in the quartier.

Deposition Number LXXXV

Jeanne Dorothée Delaissement, age twenty-eight, a mistress seamstress, widow of Philippe Brenair, living in Paris, rue Mauconseil, at the house of the wheelwright, opposite rue Française, stated that on last Monday, October 5, in the morning, she, the declarant, was forced to Versailles. The women who dragged her in first led her to the Hôtel-de-Ville and hen to Versailles. She saw nothing worth mentioning along the way. She knows that an individual whom she did not know at that time, but whom she came to know afterwards, named Maillard went to a great deal of trouble to keep order among the women, who were armed with pikes, sticks, pieces of iron, and other things, and that he succeeded in getting them to disarm en route. When they arrived at Versailles, a soldier dressed in blue costume, who she learned was in the Regiment of Flanders, told her, in answer to her questions about people they should be suspicious of, that the Flanders Regiment would do them no harm, but that they must beware of the Royal Guards, who, during a meal, had trampled the national cockade. She, the declarant, did not go the Château or to the meeting hall of the National Assembly, etc.

[Source: Darlene Gay Levy, Harriet Branson Applewhite and Mary Durham Johnson, eds., Women in Revolutionary Paris, 1789-1795 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1979), pp. 47-49.]

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