Monday, May 9, 2011

the execution of the Duc d'Enghien

"It was worse than a crime; it was a mistake."
I grabbed this from a comment by David Michael Malinski on this Ray McGovern editorial. He attributes it to the French diplomat, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. However, Wikipedia says this: "He is often said to have been the author of the quote referring to the killing of the Duc d'Enghien: C'est pire qu'un crime; c'est une faute. (It's worse than a crime; it's a mistake.). In reality, this quote was by Joseph Fouché; Talleyrand was popularly believed to have been involved in the assassination."

About the Duc d'Enghien, Wikipedia says, "More famous for his death than for his life, he was executed on trumped-up charges during the French Consulate."

I know almost nothing about French history but if I understand the story correctly, Napoleon arrested this duke on suspicion of one thing, then found out it wasn't true, and "the accusations were hastily changed. The duke was now charged chiefly with bearing arms against France..." and was executed anyhow. I don't entirely get the quote per se - it was a crime, it wasn't an accident. I'm sure there is more to it. And there could be duelling accounts, who knows. I'm sure historians know. Anyway, it's on my themes to look at examples of how a leader with impunity, faced with a challenge to their pretext for killing someone, finds themself a new pretext.