Gendarmes and the State in Nineteenth-Century Europe

By Clive Emsley | Go to book overview

6
'A SACRIFICE TO RANCOUR . . . POPULAR PREJUDICES AND . . . JEALOUSY': GENDARMES AND THE JULY MONARCHY

Louis-Philippe came to the French throne as a result of an uprising in Paris; there was thus, at the beginning of his reign, a need felt by the men around him to consolidate power. The Gendarmerie Royale of Paris was disbanded because of its unpopularity and, particularly, its aggressive behaviour during the July Days; the men were sent to the provinces but, given that many of them were sent to the new mobile battalions established in the west as a preventive measure in case of Legitimist counter-moves, it seems that there was not much concern about the men's loyalty.1 The Garde Municipale, established under the authority of the Prefect of Police, was initially the same size as its predecessor and, as noted above, continued to be referred to by suspicious Parisians as 'the Gendarmerie'. In 1838 it was restored to military control, and its numbers were steadily increased until, on the eve of the Revolution of 1848, it had a strength of just under 4,000 men. The corps' duties involved the supervision of all public events and festivities in the capital, as well as the supervision of the city's ports, Les Halles, and the other markets. It acquired the same unenviable reputation for brutality as its immediate predecessor and, at least in its early years, also carried out some of its surveillance duties in civilian clothes.2

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1
The Ordinance of 4 Sept. 1830 established the first two of these battalions at Angers and Rennes. A third was established at Nantes by Ordinance on 11 Dec. 1830. They were abolished in Oct. 1841 with the men being distributed among the ordinary brigades in the west.
2
Jean Tulard, La Préfecture de Police sous la Monarchie de Juillet ( Paris: Imprimerie Municipal, Hotel de Ville, 1964), 66; Patricia Ann O'Brien, "Urban Growth and Public Order: The Development of a Modern Police in Paris, 1829-1854", Ph.D, Columbia University, 1973, p. 81.

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