Regarding the insurrection/revolt on 13 Vendimaire AN IV (5 October 1795) and the numbers of insurgents involved the following might be helpful:
Vincent Cronin in his biography of Napoleon, entitled Napoleon Bonaparte: An Intimate Biography (published in 1971), the numbers of insurgents/rebels is given as 30,000. The numbers fielded to support the government is given as 5,000 regular troops and 3,000 militiamen.-85.
Andre Castelot in his biography Napoleon (published in 1967) gives the number of insurgents/rebels as 30,000 which were faced by 5,000 regulars, 1,500 gendarmes and police, and 1,500 men forming a ‘sacred’ battalion. To the insurgents the latter were said to be ‘terrorists.’-50.
Andrew Roberts in his Napoleon the Great (published in 2014) states that the insurgents/rebels, termed ‘sectionnaires, numbered 30,000 faced by 4,500 loyal troops and 1,500 ‘patriots’, gendarmes and veterans from Les Invalides.-66.
Roberts does list Cronin’s biography in his bibliography, but not Castelot’s. Cronin does not list Castelot’s. All three of these are superior, and much more accurate, than Schom’s (2001), McLynn’s (2003), Barnett’s (1978), and Dwyer’s (2009) biographies of Napoleon. Broers (2018), while an excellent biography, barely mentions Vendemaire.
Cronin, Roberts, and Castelot all mention the same number of insurgents that attempted to overthrow the French government.
The rising was brought on by a number of factors, not the least of which was the adoption of a new constitution of AN III and the replacement of the Convention by the new Directory. Royalists made up a large part of the insurgent Sectionnaires. Napoleon had little time for armed mobs, and he had seen at least one in bloody action at the storming of the Tuileries and the massacre of the Swiss Guard in 1792 defending an empty palace.
‘Take two hundred horses, go immediately to the Plaine des Sablons, and bring back the forty cannons and the artillery park. We must have them here. Use your sabers, if you have to, but bring them here! You answer to me for it if you don’t! Now get going.’-Napoleon to Murat.
Regarding the artillery emplaced in the Rue Neuve-St-Roche, facing the Church, Thiebault stated afterwards:
‘Their fire enfiladed the street. When, in this way, the cannons had felled or blasted aside everything and everybody in view, a thousand men of the patriot battalion, followed by a battalion of infantry, emerged from the dead-end street and attached those sectionnaires who still remained in front of the church and were occupying the Rue St. Honore. The shock was violent, and there was hand-to-hand fighting. But our troops gained ground, and six pieces of ordnance were immediately placed in battery, three to the right and three to the left of the dead-end street. They completed the routing of the sectionnaires, who fled toward the Place Vendome and the Palais Royal…’
‘If you treat the mob with kindness, these creatures fancy themselves invulnerable; if you hang a few, they get tired of the game, and become as submissive and humble as they ought to be.’-Napoleon to Joseph.
Regarding Vincent Cronin’s biography of Napoleon, I don’t agree with the various negative ‘assessments’ of the volume, particularly regarding sourcing and the Appendix of the evaluation of memoirs. If anyone reads the subject appendix, it is quite obvious that Cronin was very familiar with the memoirs evaluated which indicates not only did he read them, they were evaluated in a scholarly manner and the conclusions drawn, especially by those that were ghost-written, are valid. Anyone interested can evaluate Cronin’s work with Jean Tulard’s similar work on period memoirs.
The conclusion that I have come to is that criticism of Cronin’s work is because of the fact that the biography is sympathetic to Napoleon and those who continually cast Napoleon’s character in a bad light cannot tolerate anything either complimentary or sympathetic to Napoleon. And that is, at the very least, ahistorical.
The final question is, how many biographies of Napoleon have people read? There aren’t ‘thousands’ of them in existence and there are more available than those that have been mentioned in this essay. And some are reliable and some are not, and Cronin’s most certainly is. Is his work error free? Of course not. But it is a valid work and another arrow in the quiver of our knowledge of the Emperor and his times. And he should be judged by the norms and moral of his times, and not by those of the early twenty-first century.
With the greatest respect @Kevin F. Kiley I believe we can all read a dictionary without it being constantly repeated here. I therefore fail to see any cogent or relevant point being made, unless you would care to develop it further? I arbitrarily discounted 90% of titles as although being about Napoleon they probably didn’t contain enough biographical data to qualify. But that still leaves tens of thousands that probably do. For there to be fewer than 1,000 biographies, that would mean that greater than 99.7% of books about him, with his name on the cover, did not contain information about his life sufficient to be considered biographical. To achieve fewer than 1,000 books, that would mean only 4.8 books a year, across all the worlds languages, since his final exile in 1815 Frankly, I believe that is stretching the bounds of credulity to breaking point. Note that if you query the Library of Congress Index with “Napoleon Biography” it still comes back with in excess of 16,000 titles in English alone. So, I think it is perfectly reasonable to draw the conclusion that there are indeed thousands of books that either are, or represent themselves to be, biographies. Of course, whether we have read them or liked them, or what we think of their quality is immaterial. They exist and to some extent or another, they all either add to , or detract from, the legend.
May we at least call them Campaignographies?
Definition of biography
1: a usually written history of a person's lifea new biography of Abraham Lincoln. 2: biographical writings as a whole the genre of biography. 3: an account of the life of something (such as an animal, a coin, or a building)the biography of the commonwealth.
Accepting that a biography is about the life of a person, mentioning a person in a book is not a biography. Books on Napoleon's campaigns are not biographies of Napoleon.
So little time....
@Kevin F. Kiley “how many biographies have people read? There aren’t ‘thousands’ of them” This article lists 300.000 books about Napoleon, as of 2015 UKEssays. November 2018. Books Written About Napoleon Bonaparte History Essay. [online]. Available from: https://www.ukessays.com/essays/history/books-written-about-napoleon-bonaparte-history-essay.php?vref=1 [Accessed 19 May 2021]. It could be argued what constitutes a biography, but even if we disallow 90% of them, that’s still 30,000. Cronin’s was 50 years ago, so at approx 150 a year globally that we might call biographical that’s a conservative estimation of least 7,500 works that followed his. Now, admittedly that would probably mean all derivatives in all languages, but it is sobering that we are debating small quotes from highly selected works about the most written about individual in history.
Why cite Thiébault when Cronin states that it is an untrustworthy source, or is it trustworthy when it fits?
Thiebault stated afterwards:
have to cross check what he says in his full French unabridged memoires.
Mathiez states that "The troops of the sections numbered from twenty-four to twenty-five thousand," (p.256) He does however introduce the detail that a tentative confrontation around the Tuileries, with neither side wishing to initiate fighting, was broken, as on Lexington Green, by an unidentified shot that precipitated an attack by the sectionaires and their supporters which was held at bay by the cannon mounted on all the approaches to the Tuileries. Mathiez' detailed account of the complex politics leading up to XIII Vendémiaire also makes clear that if the force gathered to challenge the machinations Convention did not comprise "Forty thousand national guards, well armed and trained," neither was it a Royalist mob.
H. Zivy, Le Treize vendémiaire, an IV (Paris, 1898) https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k695520.image
A 1972 reprint of George Rude's The Crowd in the Revolution' (1959) can be found online with relevant pages from p 171 It is fully sourcesd with footnotes. here https://archive.org/details/crowdinfrenchrev0000rude/page/171/mode/1up?q=honore
He states that although 25,000 sectionnaires were waiting under arms only 7-8000 took part in the attack on the Tuileries. against upwards of 5,000 defenders. Of particular interest, he states that "Contrary to legend Bonaparte was only one of half a dozen generals appointed to serve under Barras in the affair." Only after the fighting was over did Barras request that Bonaparte should be officially recognised as his second in command. Apparently Bonaparte, not unreasonably, was in charge of the artillery. Rude cites sources in the Archive Nationale. CORRECTION He cites H. Zivy, Le Treize vendémiaire, an IV (Paris, 1898) as the principal source for this section. I'll post this in the original thread as well
Kevin - in evaluating the reliability of secondary sources in relation to the specific claim of 30,000 insurgents, it is legitimate to ask where they got their information - in the absence of a clear reference to a primary source, this is extremely difficult. Your comment that 'The fact that all three came up with the same 30,000 number (which is undoubtedly an estimate) is not a coincidence but the result of research by the subject authors" is merely your assumption - we don't know how they arrived at this figure.
I have not sought to "negate their findings" as I am not making a point by relying on or disputing these sources. For what it's worth, my opinion is that it is very difficult to estimate crowd numbers and I doubt that a reliable number based on first-hand evidence is available - of course I may be wrong.
So, 3 secondary sources mention the 30,000 insurgents, but is there a single primary source for this? Where did they get the number from?
Also, we seem to be going round the argument that people who criticise Cronin must do so because they 'cannot tolerate anything either complimentary or sympathetic to Napoleon' yet again - isn't it time to move on and agree to disagree?