From Local Repression to
Limits in Action
The people are astir, ready to avenge the nation’s majesty, gravely offended.
—Antoine-Joseph Santerre, Commander-in-Chief
of the Paris National Guard, June 20, 1792
On August 25, 1792, little more than a week before the September prison massacres broke out in Paris, crowds of angry sans-culottes left town. Rumors about their number varied, but by the time they reached their destination, Orléans, they were reported at fifteen hundred.1 Recruited among the city’s sections and the visiting National Guard from Marseilles, they formed into two groups. One was led by Claude Fournier L’Héritier, a former slave driver from Saint-Domingue who had been close to members of the Court before the Revolution, notably MarieAntoinette and the comte d’Artois. The other was headed by Claude-François Lazowski, son of Polish immigrants and former royal inspector of manufacturing before the Revolution abolished his post. Both men were renowned for their involvement in revolutionary journées—Fournier for nearly assassinating Lafayette during the massacre on the Champs de Mars in 1791, Lazowski for his key role in the invasion of the Tuileries Palace in June 1792 and the insurrection of August 10.2 In the aftermath of the monarchy’s overthrow, the Paris sections began clamoring to have the lèse-nation suspects held in the prisons of the Haute Cour nationale in Orléans moved to Paris for trial and execution.3 The National Assembly was reluctant and postponed responding to their demands. Implacable, the sans-culottes took matters into their own hands. They ordered the transfer