This is Napoleon’s ACTUAL hat that he mislaid somehow at the Café Procope ( the oldest café in Paris), situated in a cobbled alley just a stones throw from Odéon where we are staying in the Latin Quarter.
Today we joined a Paris Walk http://paris-walks.com/index_m.html and can really recommend it. The theme was the French Revolution and the guide was engaging. I learnt that the Revolution may have started in 1789 but it lasted a good 10 years and during that time you had to wear your Republicanism on your sleeve or you would get your head chopped off! It was started and maintained by the chattering middle classes not the proletariat, there was a banking crisis at the time and the straw that broke the camels back was a bread shortage. . The grain crop wipeout in Northern France was caused by an unseasonable hailstorm which in turn was caused by an Icelandic Volcanic eruption. What goes round certainly comes round eventually!
Georges Danton was a key player and apparently the ugliest man in France by virtue of having his face trampled on by a herd of pigs and subsequently kicked around by a bull. Never the less, there is an imposing statue of him by the metro at Odéon. The same statue bears ‘fasces’ or bound bundles of twigs which were adopted as an emblem of the revolution to symbolise strength together. Unfortunately Mussolini also used the same symbolism, hence the derivation of the word Fascism.
Anyway, Danton was done for by Robespierre and met the usual end. Robespierre in turn was guillotined by the same executioner, Charles Henri Sanson, who had 2000 plus notches in his belt and eventually retired on sickness grounds to the seaside, presumably on a good pension for long service.
The irony is after all the death and destruction, the French ended up with another despotic dictator in Napoleon Bonaparte. He was pushed into the foray by Josephine earning brownie points by showering the Royalists with grapeshot in the Tuileries. Thus began his meteoric rise.