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The June Rebellion or the Republican Insurrection in Paris in June 1832 was an unsuccessful, anti-monarchist uprising of Parisianmarker students from June 5 to June 6, 1832. The rebellion originates in an attempt of the Republicans to reverse the July Monarchy, shortly after the death of the powerful Orleanist President of the Council, Casimir-Perier, on May 16th 1832. This last outbreak of violence linked with the July Revolution, including its supposed instigation by the death of the popular, nonfictional General Lamarque, was famously described in Victor Hugo's novel, Les Misérables.

Causes and catalysts

In Hugo’s Les Misérables, the death of the popular General Lamarque is seen as the catalyst for an inevitable uprising. In fact, his death was used for an excuse for the riots to take place. Leading up to the rebellion, there were significant economic problems, particularly acute in the period from 1827 to 1832; the years were marked by harvest failures, food shortages, and increases in the cost of living, creating malcontent throughout the classes. Additionally, the spring of 1832 saw Parismarker ravaged by a Europe-wide outbreak of cholera, which ended with a death toll of 18,402 in the city. The poor neighborhoods were particularly devastated by the disease, arousing suspicion of the government poisoning wells. The epidemic soon claimed two famous victims. Casimir Perier fell sick and died on May 16, and General Lamarque died on June 2nd. Perier was given a grand state funeral, and the funeral of the benevolent Lamarque, who showed sympathy toward the lower class, was decided to demonstrate the strength of the opposition. The monarchy of Louis Philippe, which had become the government of the middle class, was now attacked from two opposite sides at once. Before these two deaths, two parties organized insurrections for the purpose of overturning the government. The supporters of the older branch—the Legitimists, or Carlists as they were called by their adversaries—made an attempt to carry off the royal family in Paris in what become known as the Prouvaires Street Plot in February 1832. After a failed insurrection in Marseillesmarker led by the Duchess of Berry, mother of Henry V, the pretender, the Legitimists renounced war and fell back on the press as a weapon.

Insurrection

The younger of the groups, the Republicans, was directed by secret societies formed of the most determined members of their party. These men began the insurrection, followed by the malcontents, especially working-men and small boys who came to help them build barricades and fight. These secret societies led riots similar to the June Rebellion against the ministers of Charles X. The society for “The Rights of Man” directed the insurrection of 1832 in Paris. The Rights of Man Society was organized like an army, divided into sections of 20 members (to evade the law which forbade the association of more than 20 persons), each section having a president and vice president. In 1832, during the Legitimist uprising in Marseilles, on the occasion of the funeral of General Lamarque, the Republicans, re-enforced by Polish, Italian, and German refugees, gathered around the platform on which the body rested and proposed to proclaim a republic. An insurrection began which for one night made them masters of the east of Paris. They were then gradually driven back by the national guard and 25,000 soldiers and surrounded in the Saint-Martin quarter, where the movement was crushed by the Battle of Saint-Merry Cloister (June 5-6) at the cost of some 800 killedand wounded. After this, it was clear that the revolutionary movement was over.

Les Misérables

Illustration of Cosette in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables
The internationally acclaimed novel and musical, Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo depicts the time leading up to the June Rebellion, and follows the lives and interactions of several French characters over a twenty-year period in the early 19th century, starting in the year of Napoleon Bonaparte's final defeat. An outspoken republican activist in the 19th century, Victor Hugo’s work was unquestionably biased toward the revolutionaries. Scenes of the Parisian students and poor planning the rebellion upon the eve of the benevolent General Lamarque’s death are displayed throughout the novel. The erection of barricades throughout Paris’s narrow streets is also shown. Although a fictional work, Les Misérables is one of the few works of literature that discusses the June Rebellion and the events leading up to it.

References


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