André Désilles, the tragic destiny of a Breton in Nancy

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Désilles gate Arch Tragic destiny French Revolution

A Dauphin and a young Breton

Raised between 1782 and 1784, the gate was dedicated to the Dauphin’s birth in 1781, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette’s son!

So that’s why they called it "Saint-Louis' gate". Mhhh, but we were few years before the French Revolution, and a name like Saint-Louis sounds pretty unsuited...

They decided to rename it "Stainville's gate", because of the marshal de Choiseul-Stainville, who commanded Lorraine at that time. After... the gate took the name of Désilles, in 1868: dedicated to Antoine-Joseph-Marc Désilles, a young Breton who died in front of the gate. A tragic event during the French Revolution...

Don't shoot!

He was born in Saint-Malo in 1767: Désilles soon became a soldier. He was lieutenant in the King’s Infantry Regiment when his corps, in garrison in Nancy, rebelled against the National Assembly.

They sent marquis de Bouillé to calm them down, with a 1 200 men army. The garrison, supported by Nancy inhabitants, waited for them...

A fratricidal war began! Désilles wanted to stop it, at any cost. While his company wanted to shoot, he rushed in front of the cannons and shouted: "Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot, those enemies are your brothers..." In vain...

Nobody listened to him. Mad with worry, he made a final desperate attempt, preventing a soldier of the Royal troop from shooting on his garrison!

A big courage

Désilles only get several bayonet stab... mortal wounds. We were on August 31th 1790... Désilles died on October 23th 1790. He was buried in Nancy cathedral... We can see the representation of the scene in Nancy Fine Arts museum, painted by Le Barbier.

The courage behaviour of the Breton soon became popular in the whole country! Musician Gossec even dedicated a march to him, while Desfontaines wrote a play called "Désilles’ grave", performed for the first time in Paris on December 1790.


And also!