Death and confiscation of property, 9TH May 1794


A macabre little item from the depths of the Reign of Terror. Handwritten stuff is usually outside the limits of my meagre French ability but in this case the script on the actual letter part of the letter is reasonably legible, and the vendor very obligingly included a partial transcription of the response in the item description. So I think the general gist of this can be satisfactorily got. The main item (pictures 1-3 here) is a letter from two "administrateurs[?] et agents nationale provosiore" ( local bureaucrats, I assume) of the district of Thiers, which per French Wikipedia was an administrative sub-division of the Puy-de-Dôme département. It's addressed to the citoyens officiers municipaux of Puy-Guillaume, which is a town in the district The letter informs the municipal officers that one Antoine Barthélemy has lately been condemned to death, and is to have his property confiscated, and so they should have a look to see if he owns any property in their jurisdiction so they can sequester it accordingly. The unfortunate citizen Barthélemy seems to have suffered one of the severe reversals of fortune which characterised the period: he's described as a procureur de la commune, which seems to have been a kind of local magistrate. 

According to the 1795 "Liste générale et très-exacte de tous ceux qui ont été condamnés à mort par le Tribunal Révolutionnaire" (via google) Barthélemy was convicted of "grand conspiracy against the sovereignty of the people" and executed on the 19th April 1794. He was regarded (per the link) as having been involved in the "d'Eprémesnil affair", which seems to have been some royalist intrigue or other. 

The physical condition of the letter is a little confusing: evidently the entire message has survived, but the left edge is ragged, and when folded up (pictures 2 and 3) there's nothing in the way of postmarks, as one might expect (unless it was hand-delivered, I suppose). Picture 2 is shows the addressee, and some sort of archival notation written sideways. The text on picture 3 (the reverse of the letter when folded) I can't work out: it's written in a different, more difficult hand, and appears to be a summary of the contents of the letter(?)

The final image is a separate fragment of paper which was folded up with the letter (and evidently had been for some time — its left margin is damaged in the same way the bottom of the letter is. This is the text of a reply from the municipal officers to the district officers, advising them that citizen Barthélemy owns no property within their jurisdiction (going off the seller's transcription, to me this is near completely illegible). As to whether this is the actual response I am doubtful — it's unsigned and shows no signs of having been through the post (despite being a fragment, if it had been posted one would expect some folds in it, surely), although again it could have been hand-delivered. Also the fact that it resides with the letter from the district officers: logically, a letter from the district officers to the municipal officers would be retained by the municiapal officers, while a letter from the municipal officers to the district officers would be retained by the district officers. So perhaps it's more likely that this is something like a file copy of the response which was sent to the district officers, rather than the response itself. Fascinating to get both sides of the correspondence, anyway.

3 Floréal An. CCXXV 

Technical details: scanned at 600dpi (each item in one part), levelled and resized 50%