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.


  1. The premise of this blog is very interesting and may prove critical as time goes on. Most of these kinds of accidental tramplings of people seem anomalous, but once you look at the historical record it becomes clear that there is always a maintained gap between the letter of the law and what is actually done. Particularly as we now have oubliettes for political prisoners -- and admit it -- it's time to pay close attention to these matters.

  2. Thanks for having a look and following, Señor Tripp. I hope to do more documenting and less shooting off my mouth. Maybe some day I will even run an original interview. It seems like a premise that may be salient for a long time.