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The Last Letter of a Desperate Mother


In the 1980s, historian and author Olivier Blanc was searching through the Archives Nationales and stumbled upon several boxes containing thousands of documents that had belonged to the public prosecutor of the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal.  Among the documents were 150 letters written by prisoners condemned to death during the Reign of Terror.  These letters were written during the prisoners final hours on earth and are poignant, tangible reminders of a time that has come to be known simply as The Terror.

The letters found by Olivier Blanc were written by prisoners of the Plessis, the Carmes, Saint-Lazare and the Luxembourg.  Collected by prison guards and handed over to the public prosecutor, the letters were never delivered to the families of the condemned.

I would like to share one of the letters, believed to have been written by Antoinette Albisson, with you.

To Citizen Fouquier-Tinville,
public prosecutor of the Revolutionary Tribunal

I beg you, citizen public prosecutor, to be so kind as to send to my son, a child of ten, staying in the Rue de Berry, my portrait, which you will find on a portfolio in my red morocco writing-set, which must have been handed over to you.  You are taking from him a mother whose picture, at least, must remain with him.


**The above letter was copied from Olivier Blanc's book Last Letters: Prisons and Prisoners of the French Revolution

3 comments:

  1. I agree, it is so so sad to know that they never actually delivered the letters...It is even more heart breaking to think about the pain of the ones left behind who never got an opportunity to read those Goodbye letters.

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  2. I just want to mention that no one speaks about the poverty and indifference of the royal family to the impovershed nation which included children and women. Even when they were at their end , it was important to be proud and strong but never remorseful. I never had a sense that the royals showed true empathy . I dont believe that they got it. I think they thought themselves victims. It was always about them .We should never forget those children that went without food or shelter. Of course the poor are never glamorous. As beautiful as versailles is, it stands empty and reminds us of what really is important. I think history has made its point.

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