Tuileries Tower

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La prize des Tuileries , painting by Jean Duplessis-Bertaux , 1793

The Tuileries storm ( French prize des Tuileries ) on August 10, 1792 was an event during the uprising of August 10 ( French insurrection du 10 août ) in Paris during the French Revolution . The royal residence, the Tuileries Palace , defended by the Swiss Guard , was stormed on that day by rebellious sections of the population with the support of the revolutionary city government of Paris. King Louis XVI was forced to flee to the Legislative National Assembly , the French aristocracy provisionally overthrown. The Swiss Guard suffered heavy losses. In French historiography, the events are known as journée du 10 août ("Day of August 10th") or le 10 août for short . In view of the high number of deaths, the term massacre du 10 août is also used.

With this “second revolution” the moderate first phase of the French Revolution passed into the radical second phase. In the subsequent elections to the National Convention , there was a political shift to the left. With the dismissal of all Swiss troops from French service, the military cooperation between France and the Confederation ended abruptly after almost 300 years.


Situation of the Swiss Guard

Officer of the Royal Swiss Guard, 18th century lithograph

The task of the Swiss Guard was to protect the person of the king. It had great privileges over other guards and should not be confused with other Swiss units in French service. At the beginning of the revolution, the French guard had fraternized with the people, further the royal household troops were disbanded in 1791 with the exception of the Swiss guard , so that in 1792 this represented the last military unit over which the king personally had. The Hundertschweizer , the king's second guard unit, had also been dismissed on March 16, 1792.

Like the Swiss line regiments in French service, the Swiss Guard wore red uniforms. However, it differed in the dark blue lapels and the white decorations. The grenadiers wore bear hats, the rest of the soldiers and officers in three-cornered hats and the wigs of the French infantry. The regiment of the Swiss Guard in Paris consisted of a staff and four battalions as well as an artillery company with eight guns, a total of 2416 men. In 1792 the number had sunk to 1,500 men because the uncertain situation in France meant that no new recruits could be recruited in Switzerland. The king also ordered the eight cannons with ammunition to be handed over to the National Guard. In peacetime she was barracked outside Paris in Rueil and in the Caserne Charras in Courbevoie .

After the beginning of the revolution, unrest also became noticeable in the Swiss Guard. Some officers from patrician families in the various Swiss cantons complained about the preferential promotion of representatives of selected aristocratic families, who formed a veritable military aristocracy within the Guard as well as at home. There were repeated mutinies in the troops. After the severe punishment of the Régiment de Châteauvieux after the Nancy affair in 1790, however, the discipline returned.

At the beginning of the revolution, in addition to the guards, the Swiss regiments de Salis-Samaden, de Châteauvieux, de Diesbach and de Reinach were in Paris. Members of these regiments attracted the Parisian population twice, on July 12 and 14, 1789, when they appeared as troops and defenders of the Bastille . With the dissolution and disintegration of the royal army, the importance of the twelve Swiss regiments for the king rose sharply, as they were the only reliable units of the army.

Charles Philippe , the Count of Artois, the king's brother , actually acted as commandant of the Swiss Guards . Since he had fled abroad, his deputy, Lieutenant-général Count Louis Augustin d'Affry (1713–1793) from Freiburg im Üechtland , who was also sworn in since June 21 of the National Assembly, commander of the military division of Paris and the Île -de-France was. D'Affry was very old and a political opponent of the Queen, which is why he handed over command of the guard troops in the Tuileries Palace to Colonel de Maillardoz, also from Freiburg in Üechtland, in August 1792 "for health reasons". Before the outbreak of hostilities, however, he and Maréchal de camp Karl Leodegar von Bachmann were arrested with the king's escort in the riding school there, so that the actual defense of the Tuileries lay with Capitaine Jost Dürler from Lucerne.

Situation of the French king

Arrival of King Louis XVI. in Paris on June 25, 1791 after the unsuccessful escape to Varennes

The French royal family did not live in the Tuileries Palace until October 6, 1789, after the Poissards forced the court to move from Versailles to Paris. After the attempted escape of Louis XVI. abroad from 20./21. June 1791 (→ escape to Varennes ) his situation deteriorated noticeably. He was forced to approve the first French constitution and take an oath on it in September.

The people invade the Tuileries on June 20, 1792 , illustration by Pierre Gabriel Berthault, 1804

After threats of war from abroad, France declared war on Austria in April 1792 . This made the person of the queen, Marie Antoinette , who came from the Austrian ruling house of the Habsburgs , even more unpopular with the people than she already was.

The poor outcome of the First Coalition War for France made it necessary to mobilize the Parisian population, which armed the sans-culottes , the radical supporters of the revolution. As early as June 20, 1792, an armed heap of sans-culottes marched in front of the king's palace, but could be reassured by a gesture: The king appeared at the window and put on the red Jacobin cap .

The riots began

On August 1, 1792, the so-called Manifesto of the Duke of Braunschweig became known in Paris . The commander-in-chief of the Prussian and Austrian troops ready to march into France, Karl II. Wilhelm Ferdinand von Braunschweig , threatened the French troops, national guards and the population to subdue them without resistance in order to free the royal family from captivity and Ludwig XVI. to restore to his ancestral rights.

However, the intended effect of this proclamation was reversed. In the Paris sections, which, with the exception of one, had already spoken out in favor of the deposition of the king, preparations were made for the uprising. This made the rift between the people and the Gironde obvious, which for fear of the revolutionary masses continued to negotiate with the king and could not bring itself to his removal. Since the passive citizens had gained access to the National Guard since July 30th and universal suffrage had been introduced in the sections of Paris, the radical revolutionaries, led by Maximilien de Robespierre , came to power. He demanded the immediate dissolution of the legislative assembly and the convening of a convention to reform the constitution of 1791. The federation festival gave Robespierre a new platform and additional supporters. At his suggestion, the Federation set up a secret directory.

The Duke of Brunswick's manifesto made the uprising inevitable, as it irritated the people of Paris to the extreme. Almost every day, groups of sans-culottes protested in front of the Tuileries Palace. Federated groups openly threatened to storm the palace by force in order to seize the king. The Paris Sections gave the National Assembly until August 9 to respond positively to their request to remove the King.

On August 4th, under the impression of the unrest in Paris, the Swiss Guard received the order to move from their barracks to the Tuileries Palace, but later they had to move away again. On August 7th, 300 men were dispatched to Normandy under a pretext, so that the Guard numbered only 900 men on August 9th. The 300 men were supposed to prepare a possible escape of the king to England. On August 8th, the four battalions of the guard received the order to move back into the palace, where about 1000 men finally showed up at three in the morning.

The riot

Events in the night

Count Louis Augustin d'Affry , Commander in Chief of the Swiss Guard and Military Governor of Paris

On August 9, 1792, when the National Assembly had still not passed a resolution on the king, the bells of Paris rang on the night of August 10, starting at around 11:45 p.m. with the storm bells of the former Franciscan monastery Couvent des Cordeliers . In the town hall, the radical sections founded the so-called "insurrectional commune" ( Commune insurrectionnelle ) of Paris instead of the legal community . About 80,000 cartridges were distributed to the citizens on Danton's orders . Now the legislature was to be forcibly forced to remove the king and to reform the constitution.

In addition to the Swiss Guard, 2000 men of the National Guard entered the Tuileries Palace on the orders of the National Assembly. They also had twelve cannons and 900 mounted gendarmerie. However, the loyalty of these troops was not considered certain. When news of the riot in the city reached the palace, the guardsmen were reportedly only given thirty cartridges at a time, as they were out of stock. According to other sources, the commandant d'Affry deliberately did not want to equip the guard with too much ammunition and weapons, as he considered a defense of the Tuileries to be hopeless and did not want to risk a confrontation between the guard and the Parisian people. In addition to the guards, some nobles also came to the palace to assist the king.

At 11 p.m. the news had allegedly reached the royal court that at midnight the commune was planning to attack the Tuileries in order to seize the king, whom they hoped to deport to Vincennes as a hostage . This was to protect Paris from the storm of foreign troops. Despite the midnight storm , the Tuileries were quiet, and the king slept fully clothed for the rest of the night.

Events in the day

Pierre-Louis Roederer on a contemporary engraving

It wasn't until 6 a.m. that the insurgents were ready to advance into the city. The commander of the National Guard of Paris, the Marquis de Mandat , was lured out of the palace to the Hôtel de Ville under a pretext and murdered there by the insurgents. Now he has been replaced by a Jacobin.

When the people gathered around the Tuileries from all sides, the king appeared with his guards, accompanied by his wife. While the Swiss Guard was giving the king a « Vive le Roi! »Assured of their loyalty, large parts of the French National Guard joined in« Vive la Nation! “And left the Tuileries at about 7 o'clock. At the same time, the Girondin Pierre-Louis Roederer arrived at the King's office as an envoy from the Legislative National Assembly and asked him to seek refuge in the Parliament's premises in the neighboring Salle du Manège . Since the king then actually left the palace with his family against the advice of his wife, the last of the National Guardsmen evacuated the Tuileries with one platoon of grenadiers. Two battalions of National Guards and 150 Swiss Guards accompanied the king, his family and his entourage to the riding school, where the officers and some soldiers had already been detained. The king and his followers were accommodated in the secretary's box behind the president's seat.

The remaining 750 guardsmen and around 200 French nobles withdrew into the building when the bulk of the commune broke into the courtyard. A total of around 1000 defenders are said to have stayed behind in the palace and in the palace chapel. At that moment, the Maréchal de France Augustin-Joseph de Mailly was in command . As a weak point, they had no artillery whatsoever. The commune's train is said to have consisted of around 100,000 people with fifty guns, with only around 25,000–30,000 organized troops.

The crowd tried in vain to persuade the guard to take their side and demanded that the building be surrendered. For unexplained reasons, mutual provocations led to an escalation. When the rebels opened the attack and fired a few cannon shots at the Tuileries, the defenders counterattacked and drove the poorly organized crowd out of the former courtyard and the Place du Carrousel into the alleys of the houses that were then still the courtyard of the Louvre filled. Numerous attackers were killed, the guardsmen were able to capture some cannons and large amounts of ammunition.

When the guns and gunfire could be heard in the premises of the National Assembly, Louis XVI. under pressure from MPs, sign an order calling for the Guard to retreat to the National Assembly. The order reached the officers who fought on the side of the Louvre. They then gathered around 200 men and withdrew with them in parade order amid the hail of bullets from the triumphant crowd.

In the general chaos of the fighting, however, the order to withdraw did not get through to all sections of the Guard. According to numerous eyewitness reports, the remaining guardsmen were brutally slaughtered and their body parts carried around on pikes as trophies. There are numerous legends about the individual fates of officers and members of the crew, the authenticity of which is not certain. The Maréchal de camp Antoine Charles Augustin d'Allonville was also among the fallen . Some of the troops managed to get through to the National Assembly, another part of around fifty men was taken alive but was also said to have been killed by the crowd on the way to prison. The surviving guardsmen who had made their way to the National Assembly received the order from the king to lay down their arms and retire to their barracks. However, the barracks had meanwhile been looted and set on fire and a proper retreat was impossible in the face of popular anger. The remaining 150 soldiers were therefore locked in the church of the Feuillantenkloster .

Half of the general company refused to lay down their arms and tried to make their way to their barracks. However , they were wiped out at the entrance to the Champs-Élysées . The few survivors were then interrogated in Paris City Hall and then killed on the spot by the angry crowd. The head of the unit, Colonel von Erlach , was sawed off alive and carried through the streets in a triumphal procession.

The remaining 450 guardsmen who had not received the order to rally in the battle for the palace continued to fight. At 11 o'clock the National Guards began to storm the palace with the support of around 30 to 40 guns. The guardsmen defended the palace hall by hall and inflicted heavy losses on the attackers. Finally, some troops tried to make their way to their barracks here too, but to no avail. According to contemporary reports, they were downright mauled by the angry crowd and the National Guard. The bodies of the fallen are also said to have been violated. Popular anger erupted after the last resistance at the Tuileries Palace, the interior of which was completely destroyed. Because it was believed that Swiss people were still hiding in the cellar vaults, they were even flooded.

After the Tuileries Tower, the Swiss remaining in the barracks were also arrested and sentenced to death.

Number of victims

Depending on the source, between 550 and 700 Swiss Guards fell on August 10th. On the part of the Parisian population and the National Guard, there are said to have been between 600 and 4,000 deaths. As with all figures in connection with the Tuileries Tower, the figures of the dead differ widely. The victims also include those 246 guardsmen and officers who were sentenced to death on September 2, 1792 and then murdered (see below).

Despite the dangers, some Swiss Guards managed to escape from Paris thanks to the help of the Parisians. A total of 17 officers and 200 NCOs and soldiers escaped from Paris.


Overthrow of the king and political shift to the left

As long as the battle for the Tuileries was not decided, the National Assembly treated Louis XVI. continued as king, but as soon as the victory of the insurgents was clear, they decided to provisionally impeach him and to convene a convention for a constitutional revision under universal suffrage. The king was overthrown and arrested in the temple .

In the subsequent new elections to the National Convention , there was a political shift to the left, as the Feuillants were excluded from parliament. The Girondins on the right now represented the more moderate position, while on the left the Montagnards ( mountain party ) formed the radical wing under Robespierre . The Gironde's liberal nobility and bourgeoisie were compromised in the eyes of the people. With that the victory of the radical circles around Robespierre was complete. Soboul therefore calls the events of August 10th “the second revolution”.

Murder of the captured Swiss Guards

Swiss guards on the way to the guillotine

After the Tuileries storm, large parts of the population had the impression that the defenders of the castle had lured the attackers inside to set a trap for them there. The 246 guardsmen and officers who were still in the control of the Convention on the evening of August 11th were sentenced to death on September 2nd, 1792 by a revolutionary tribunal for "the crimes of August 10th". In the days that followed, during the September murders, they were murdered or later guillotined together with numerous nobles and representatives of the Gironde, sometimes under gruesome circumstances. Maréchal de camp Bachmann was properly guillotined on September 3rd. The bodies of the Swiss Guards were buried in the cemeteries of Madeleine and von Roule, where Louis XVI. found his grave.

Count d'Affry was also arrested and brought before a tribunal. He was acquitted, however, because he stated that he had not given the Swiss Guardsmen the order to shoot despite two requests from the Queen, which can be seen from the fact that he had only given the guardsmen six cartridges. According to other sources, the tribunal took into account his old age and the fact that he was not in effective command of the guard at the time of the storm.

Swiss troops released

As a result of the events, all Swiss troops in French service were dismissed and returned to Switzerland under the supervision of Count d'Affry . As a result, France also refused to pay the soldiers and officers the outstanding wages or the pensions to which they were entitled. This ended the tradition of Swiss military service in France, which had been a lucrative business for the Swiss aristocracy since the 15th century. Only under Napoleon were Swiss regiments re-established in France.

Reactions in Switzerland

The Lion Monument in Lucerne

In the Confederation , the role of the Swiss troops in the Tuileries storm was later discussed controversially. When the news of the events between August 15 and 20 reached Switzerland, however, public outrage prevailed. However, the call for retaliation and unity with the countries at war with France did not find a majority. While the supporters of the revolution and later of liberalism maintained the futility of sacrifice for the king and used it as a warning example for their fight against mercenaries, the “heroic death” of the “loyal Swiss” served as a model for conservative and aristocratic circles.

In August 1817 the federal government donated the medal of August 10, 1792 for the surviving defenders of the Tuileries. On August 10, 1821, the lion monument in Lucerne was inaugurated. The Latin motto Helvetiorum fidei ac virtuti (“The loyalty and bravery of the Swiss”) is carved over the lion .


  • Theodor Curti : History of Switzerland in the XIX. Century. Richly illustrated. Zahn, Neuchâtel 1902, pp. 157–163.
  • Axel von Fersen: Save the queen. Revolution diary 1789–1793. List, Munich 1969.
  • Albert Soboul: The Great French Revolution. An outline of their history (1789–1799). European Publishing House, Frankfurt am Main 1973.
  • P (aul) de Valliere: Loyalty and honor. History of the Swiss in foreign service. German by Walter Sandoz. Lausanne 1940, pp. 619-641.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. De Valliere: Loyalty and Honor , p. 593.
  2. Alain-Jacques Tornare Czouz-: Affry, Ludwig August Augustin of. In: Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz ., Accessed on May 2, 2014
  3. Soboul: The Great French Revolution , p. 219 f.
  4. Axel von Fersen names 600 federated deaths, 200 of whom are said to have come from Marseilles. In contrast, he names 700 dead Swiss. Axel von Fersen: Save the Queen , p. 94.
  5. Soboul: The Great French Revolution , p. 221.
  6. For all numbers see de Valliere: Treue und Ehre , pp. 604–637.
  7. Axel von Fersen: Save the Queen , p. 97.