Reveillon riot

Reveillon riot

The Réveillon Riot occurred on 28 April 1789 [ [ SafariX Textbooks Online - SafariX is now CourseSmart ] ] in the St. Antoine district of Paris where a factory which produced luxury wallpaper was owned by Jean-Baptiste Réveillon. The factory employed around 300 people. The Réveillon Riot was one of the first instances of violence during the French Revolution. The factory where the riot took place was unusual in pre-revolutionary France as the factory was guild-free in an era where guilds controlled quality standards.

The riot occurred when rumours spread that the owner made a speech stating that workers, many of whom were highly skilled were to be paid lower wages and as a result there would be lower prices. Workers were concerned with food shortages, high unemployment and low wages after a difficult winter in 1789. However, Reveillon was known for his benevolence towards the poor and actually stated that bread prices should be brought down to those that people could afford (below 15 sous a day) but his comments were misinterpreted as wage restrictions. He made the comments on 21 April when the assembly of the Saint-Marguerite was discussing its "cahier" which all Estates drew up before the Estates-General was to be called.

As demand for bread increased riots spread to other areas of France such as Flanders and Normandy. Bread prices would increase further and did not peak until July. The riot was essentially economic in nature but some rioters chanted political slogans.

The rumours caused violence to erupt on the eve that the Estates-General were called. While the mob did not manage to destroy the factory as it was being guarded by a group of around fifty troops, a factory owned by the saltpetre manufacturer Henriot was destroyed after he made similar comments. [] However Réveillon’s factory was destroyed a day later as was his home [ Chronology of the French Revolution: 1789-1790 ] ] The riot killed 25 people and wounded around the same number although rumour caused the casualty figures to be exaggerated. The French Guard were used to restore order but these later refused orders during the fall of the Bastille.


*'The Oxford History of the French Revolution' by William Doyle ISBN 0-19-285221-3

External links

* [ An eyewitness account of the riot]

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