When the Place Vendôme was a Revolutionary Square

Today associated with luxury, the Place Vendôme is, nevertheless, a symbol of the French Revolution. In November 1789, when the king left Versailles and moved into the Tuileries, premises were needed for all of the ministers who followed him. The minister of Justice moved into the Hôtel de la Grande Chancellerie (currently #13), where it is still today. In order to house the offices of several committees, the Assembly also had to rent a private mansion at #4, in the amount of 15,000 French livres. Still lacking room, it had to rent a second space in 1790, located at #9. In 1793, the square was renamed “Place des Piques,” in tribute to the sans-culottes’ emblematic weapon.

Place Vendôme

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A ceremony on the Place des Piques

Tribute Paid in Memory to Louis-Michel Lepeletier de Saint-Fargeau, Place des Piques (currently the Place Vendôme) January 24, 1793

On Thursday, January 24, 1793, the Place des Piques was the stage for a large funeral ceremony. The body of the deputy Louis-Michel Lepeletier de Saint-Fargeau, assassinated four days earlier for having voted for the king’s death, was exhibited on a pedestal, which six months earlier, supported the statue of Louis XV. His body was thus laid to rest across from his brother Félix’s home: the Hôtel de Chimay (currently 8 place Vendome). Surrounded by vegetal wreaths and incense smoke, the body was presented with his wound visible. Below, an inscription was intended for the spectators: “I AM SATISFIED SINCE I / SPILLED MY BLOOD FOR MY COUNTRY / I HOPE THAT IT WILL SERVE TO / FORTIFY FREEDOM AND / MAKE ITS ENEMIES KNOWN.” Lepeletier became the first martyr of the Republic. A famous orator read the speech that opened the ceremony: it was the Marquis de Sade, known for his scandalous writing, but who, in 1793, was above all, one of the most active residents in the Piques section!

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