Versailles and the French Revolution
As the scene of the meeting of the Estates General in 1789, it is natural for Versailles to hold a wealth of memories of the Revolution.
The opening of the meeting of the Estates of the Realm, on May 5, 1789, was preceded by a procession of the Holy Sacrament, in which deputies from the three orders and the royal family took part. It went from the Eglise Notre-Dame to the Eglise Saint Louis and crossed the Place d'Armes.
Another emblematic location, the Café Amaury (corner of rue Carnot and avenue de Saint-Cloud): this is the gathering place of the Breton deputies, who formed the core of the Club des Jacobins.
Even more noteworthy is The Hotel des Menus Plaisirs, the court of which served as the gathering place for the Estates General. This was a wood-paneled room, the plan of which still exists in its Upper Ward. This is where the Abolition of Privileges was passed on August 4, 1789 and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, on August 26 of the following year.
The Royal Tennis Court, for its part, was the scene of the first act of the revolution: this is where, on June 20, 1789, the deputies of the Third Estate, joined by a few others, delivered their famous oath not to break up before giving a constitution to France.
The same deputies, whose group continued to swell little by little, met the following days in the Eglise Saint Louis, before imposing their decision on the king during the royal session of June 23, which was held in the hall of the Menus-Plaisirs. Thenceforth, the deputies all sat under the name of National Assembly, working on drafting a constitution for the kingdom.
Concerned about the general state of agitation (storming of the Bastille, "Great Fear" in the provinces, etc.) the king soon called up certain provincial regiments to stand ready to intervene. It was on this occasion that the officers of the Regiment of Flanders were summoned to a banquet in the palace’s Opera House. Ardently royalist, they applauded the royal family and, so it is told, stomped the tricolor cockade, the emblem of the revolutionary municipality of Paris. The event created a bone to pick against king.
Several days later came the October days, during which an army of women of the market and other protestors came from Paris less to demand bread than the return of the king to the capital. In spite of the presence of the National Guard of Paris commanded by La Fayette, the palace was taken by assault and the queen's apartments invaded. The king found himself obliged to comply, and the royal family left Versailles for good on October 6.
The palace continued to be occupied by a large part of the household staff before a significant part of its furnishings was put up for sale. The gardens were disfigured by agricultural plantings and the palace soon became the department's central warehouse, where all the revolutionary confiscations were stored, becoming the core of the Musée de l'Ecole Française.
Meanwhile, the city suffered the tragic events of September 9, 1792: in the city's prisons, several dozen prisoners were massacred as part of the terror awakened by the threat of an Austrian invasion. On the same day, a convoy of prisoners being taken from Orleans to Paris to be judged was taken by assault by revolutionaries at the Carrefour des Quatre Bornes (corner of rue de l'Orangerie and rue de Satory): 44 of the 52 prisoners were massacred by knives and swords, in spite of action from the city's mayor, Hyacinthe Richaud. A monument was later raised on their tomb in the Saint Louis cemetery.