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Imagine that you are writing a study of "The massacre of the Champs de Mars". In the form of a short essay answer the following questions: 1. What kind of primary source is this, and what strengths and limitations does it have as a source for a study of the massacre of the Champs de Mars? 2. Are there any particular words and phrases in the document that require elucidation or special comment before you can make use of it? 3. What can you learn from this source about the massacre on the Champs de Mars? You should distinguish between the witting and unwitting testimony. This is a letter from Madame Marie-Jeanne Roland to a confidant and is therefore a private, discursive source. The letter, written the day following the massacre was her private views of what took place. The information within the letter leads the reader to believe that Madame Roland was present at the Champs de Mars when the massacre occurred. ...read more.


In paragraph 2 "the red flag" was a symbol of martial law and the phrase " the three summonses prescribed by law were neglected" would also need to be explained. Information in the letter tells us wittingly, that "death and mourning are within our walls" - she, and the city of Paris, is obviously very upset about the massacre of the people at the Champs de Mars. She tells us that the crowd, which includes women and children, "all were without arms and sticks" arrived at the Champs de Mars unarmed and with the intention of a peaceful demonstration. "The municipality had previously been informed according to the rules" and "in the confidence of their most sacred rights and legitimate intentions," tell us that this demonstration was a legal demonstration. The unwitting testimony within the letter tells us that the National Guard has taken control of Paris and turned against their fellow Parisians - "there is no longer liberty in Paris except for the National Guard wanting to cut their brothers' throats". ...read more.


As a supporter of the monarchy one would expect her to have some sympathy with the National Guard and the actions they have taken. However her comment that "tyranny sits on a blood-stained throne" would imply that she believes the government (or the king?) has acted in an aggressive and oppressive manner using the National Guard to disperse the crowd with violence. Madame Roland appears to be in sympathy with the reasons the crowd had gathered and that the National Guard were in a rather blood thirsty mood as once they had fired their volleys, the cavalry charged after the fleeing crowd and cut them down with their sabres and "this peaceful and trusting assembly of honest men put to rout". As a whole I would say that this is a reasonably strong document to use as a study of "The massacre of the Champs de Mars". However, as a historian I would only be able to produce a weak article if I did not investigate information from other groups and sources to give me a more complete picture of what happened at the Champs de Mars on 18 July 1791. Word count 784 Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

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