This is The Siècle, Supplemental 11: The Year 1817.

Welcome back for a special bonus episode of The Siècle, in which we finally dip our toes into the single most famous cultural artifact about post-Napoleonic France: Les Misérables.

This is a bonus episode, so we’re not going to be diving too deeply in. Instead, this episode is a verbatim recording of one of the most singular chapters in Victor Hugo’s book: “The Year 1817.”

If you’re not familiar, this is a chapter in which Hugo sets the scene for some early events in his story by going through a long list — too long, if we’re being perfectly fair — of news events that happened in that titular year. Think of it as a 19th Century prose version of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” but about a single year instead of half a century.

Even Hugo admits that by the 1860s, when he published Les Misérables, history had forgotten “almost all these peculiarities.” By the 21st Century, things have only gotten more obscure. Modern-day translator Norman Denny, who abridged this chapter in his edition of the book, writes in justification that “one has the impression that [Hugo] did it by skimming through the newspaper headlines,” and notes as an aside that “not infrequently… Hugo got his facts wrong.”1

But I was struck reading through this chapter at how many of these obscure references I actually understood, from a few years of reading about the period. Not all of them, to be sure, but a lot! And you might be surprised at how much you understand just from following along with The Siècle. How many of you, before starting this show, would have understood a reference to how “Monsieur Decazes… prevailed” or to the Abbé Grégoire being damned in royalist circles, or to the Duc de Berry being stalked by Louvel? And other elements mentioned here, like the unfortunate ship, the Medusa, the up-and-coming theologian Lammenais, or the semi-obscure thinker Saint-Simon, are going to pop up in future episodes.

So don’t worry if some of the blizzard of people and events you’re about to hear seems confusing or overwhelming. That’s partially the point, as Hugo admits near the end of this passage. Instead, focus on what you do know! I won’t be interrupting my narration with explanations, but if you want to learn more, visit the transcript of this episode at thesiecle.com/supplemental11, where I’ve added some annotations, pictures and Wikipedia links.

I’ll also add: if you’ve been meaning to read Les Misérables but haven’t yet gotten around to it, then you don’t need to worry: this episode won’t spoil any plot developments in the book for you.

Additionally, I’ll note that the text of this chapter contains an outdated term for Inuit people that some people consider offensive.

The text I’ll be reading from today comes largely from the 1862 English translation by Charles Wilbour. This is not my favorite Les Misérables translation, but it is my favorite translation that’s in the public domain. In cases where Wilbour’s language was too archaic or confusing, I’ve substituted some phrases from two other versions: the 1887 translation by Isabella Hapgood, and the 2013 edition by Christine Donougher. In the online transcript, I indicate via brackets and a symbol whenever a phrase comes from either Hapgood (*) or Donougher (†).

For example, the opening line in Wilbour refers to Louis XVIII doing something “with a certain royal assumation”; the choice of “royal assurance” found in Hapgood is clearer to modern ears. I’ve made small changes like that throughout, along with some minor updates to punctuation and spelling.

Without further ado, here is Les Misérables, Volume 1, Part 3, Chapter 1.


The year 1817 was that which Louis XVIII, with a certain royal [assurance]* not devoid of stateliness, styled the 22nd year of his reign. It was the year when Monsiuer Bruguiere de Sorsum was famous. All the hair-dressers’ shops, hoping [that the ‘royal bird’ style of powdered wig would make a comeback, were painted blue with the fleur-de-lys]†. It was the honest time when Comte Lynch sat every Sunday as the churchwarden on the official bench at Saint-Germain-des-Prés, in the dress of a peer of France, with his red ribbon and long nose, and that majesty peculiar to a man who has done a brilliant deed. The brilliant deed committed by Monsieur Lynch was that, being mayor of Bordeaux on the 12th of March, 1814, he had surrendered the city a little too soon to the Duc d’Angoulême.2 Hence his peerage.

BigotiniEmilie.jpgIn 1817 it was the fashion to swallow up little boys from four to six years old in great [morocco leather]* caps with ears, strongly resembling [Eskimo headwear]†. The French army was dressed in white after the Austrian style; regiments were called legions, and wore, instead of numbers, the names of the departments. Napoleon was at St. Helena, and as England would not give him green cloth, had had his old coats turned.3

In 1817, Pellegrini sang; Mademoiselle Bigottini danced; Potier reigned; Odry was not yet in existence. Madame Saqui succeeded to Forioso.4 There were Prussians still in France.5 Monsieur Delalot was a personage. Legitimacy had just asserted itself by cutting off the fist and then the head of Pleignier, Carbonneau and Tolleron.6.

Above: Émilie Bigottini, a famous French dancer, circa 1815. Artist unknown. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Lafayette at Fête de la Fédération.jpg

Above: A depiction of the Marquis de Lafayette (center) at the 1790 Feast of the Federation, which featured a Catholic mass performed by Talleyrand, then the Bishop of Autun, and assisted by future French minister Joseph-Dominique Louis, then a priest. Achille-Désiré Lefèvre, 19th Century. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Prince Talleyrand, the grand chamberlain,7 and Abbé Louis,8 the designated [minister of finance]*, looked each other in the face, laughing like two [soothsayers]†; both had celebrated the mass of the Federation in the Champ de Mars on the 14th of July, 1790; Talleyrand had said it as bishop, Louis had served him as deacon. In 1817, in the crosswalks to the same Champ de Mars, were seen huge wooden cylinders, painted blue, with traces of eagles and bees, that had lost their gilding, lying in the rain and rotting in the grass. [These]* were the columns which, two years before, had supported the [Emperor’s platform]* in the Champ de Mai. They were blackened here and there from the bivouac fires of the Austrians in barracks near the Gros-Caillon [district]†. Two or three of these columns had disappeared in the fires of these bivouacs, and had warmed the huge hands of the [Imperial troops]*.9 The Champ de Mai was remarkable from the fact of having been held in the month of June, and on the Champ de Mars.10

Below: The Champ de Mai ceremony of 1815, featuring Napoleon’s platform, support columns for which Hugo says were still lying around two years later. Author unknown. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Champ de Mai (1815) (cropped).jpg

In the year 1817, two things were popular: [the Touquet edition of Voltaire and Charter-engraved snuff-boxes]†.11 The latest Parisian sensation was the crime of Dautun, who had thrown his brother’s head into the fountain of the Marché aux Fleurs.12 [They had begun to feel anxious at the Naval Ministry on account of the lack of news from that fatal frigate, the Medusa]*, which was to cover Chaumareix with shame, and Géricault with glory.13 Colonel Selves went to Egypt, there to become [Suleiman Pasha]†.14

The [Palais des Thermes, in]†, Rue de La Harpe, was turned into a cooper’s shop. On the platform of the octagonal tower of the hotel de Cluny, the little board shed was still to be seen which had served as observatory to Messier, the astronomer of the navy under Louis XVI.15

The Duchesse de Duras read to three or four friends, in her boudoir, furnished in sky-blue satin, the manuscript of Ourika.16 The Ns were erased from the Louvre.17 The bridge of Austerlitz abdicated its name, and became the bridge of the Jardin du Roi, an enigma which disguised at once the bridge of Austerlitz and the Jardin des Plantes.18

Louis XVIII, absently annotating Horace with his fingernail while thinking about heroes that had become emperors, and shoemakers that had become dauphins, had two cares: Napoleon and Mathurin Bruneau.19

The French Academy gave as a prize theme, “The happiness which Study procures.” Monsieur Bellart was [professionally eloquent]†.20 In his shadow was seen taking root the future [advocate-general], de Broë, [destined to be lampooned by Paul-Louis Courier]†.21 There was a counterfeit Chateaubriand called Marchangy,22 as there was to be later a counterfeit Marchangy called d’Arlincourt.23 Claire d’Albe and Malek Adel were masterpieces; Madame Cottin was declared the first writer of the age.24 The Institute struck from its list the academician, Napoleon Bonaparte. A royal ordinance established a naval school at Angoulême for [with the Duc d’Angoulême being grand admiral, obviously the city of Angoulême was entitled as a matter of course to all the distinctions of a seaport; otherwise, the monarchic principle would have been undermined]†.25 [In the Council of Ministers the question was agitated]* whether the pictures, representing acrobats, which spiced the placards of Franconi, and drew together [throngs of street urchins]*, should be tolerated.

Monsieur Paër, the author of L’Agnese, an honest man with square jaws and a wart on his cheek, directed the small, select concerts of the Marchioness de Sassenaye, Rue de la Ville-l’Éveque. All the young girls sang l’Ermite de Saint Avelle, words by Edmond Géraud.26

The Nain jaune was transformed into the Miroir.27 The Café Lemblin stood out for the emperor in opposition to the Café Valois, which was in favor of the Bourbons. A marriage had just been made with a Sicilian princess for the Duc de Berry, who was already [watched from the shadows]† by Louvel.28 Madame de Staël had been dead a year. Mademoiselle Mars was hissed by the [royal guard]†. The great [newspapers]* were all [lightweight. Their format was small but they had great freedom of expression]†.29 Le Constitutionnel was constitutional; La Minerve called Chateaubriand, “Chateaubriant.” [That t] excited great laughter among the citizens at the expense of the great writer.

In purchased [newspapers]†,30 prostituted journalists insulted the outlaws of 1815; David no longer had talent, Arnault no longer had ability, Carnot no longer had [integrity]†, Soult had never gained a victory. It is true that Napoleon had [lost his military genius]†. Everybody knows that letters sent through the post to an exile rarely reach their destination, the police making it a religious duty to intercept them. This fact is by no means a new one; Descartes complained of it in his banishment. Now, David having shown some feeling in a Belgian journal at not receiving the letters addressed to him, this seemed ludicrous to the royalist papers, who seized the occasion to ridicule the exile. [Whether one said ‘regicides’ or ‘voters’, ‘enemies’ or ‘allies’, ‘Napoleon’ or ‘Buonaparte’]†, separated two men more than an abyss.

All people of common sense agreed that the era of revolutions had been forever closed by King Louis XVIII, surnamed “the immortal author of the Charter.” At the [platform]* of the Pont Neuf, the word “Redivivus” was [carved]* on the pedestal which awaited the statue of Henri IV.31 Monsieur Piet32 at Rue Thérèse, No. 4, was sketching the plan of his cabal to consolidate the monarchy. The leaders of the Right said, at [moments of crisis]†, “We must write to Bacol.” Messieurs Canuel, O’Mahony and De Chappedelaine [were devising — not without the approval of Monsieur]† — what was afterwards to become the [Riverside Conspiracy]†.33 [The Black Pin had a conspiracy of its own]†;34 Delaverderie held interviews with Trogoff.35 Monsieur Decazes, a mind in some degree liberal, prevailed.36

Chateaubriand, standing every morning at his window in the Rue Saint Dominique, No. 27, in stocking pantaloons and slippers, his grey hair covered with a Madras handkerchief, a mirror before his eyes, and a complete case of dental instruments open before him, cleaned his teeth, which were excellent, while dictating [The Monarchy According to the Charter]† to Monsieur Pilorge, his secretary.37 The critics in authority preferred Lafon to Talma. Monsieur de Féletz signed himself “A”; Monsieur Hoffman signed himself “Z.” Charles Nodier was writing Thérèse Aubert. Divorce was abolished.38 The lycées called themselves colleges. The students, decorated on the collar with a gold fleur-de-lys, pummeled each other over the king of Rome.39

The secret police of the palace denounced to her royal highness, Madame, the portrait of the Duc d’Orléans, which was everywhere to be seen, and which looked better in the uniform of colonel-general of hussars than the Duc de Berry in the uniform of colonel-general of dragoons — a serious matter.

Left: Louis-Phillipe, duc d’Orléans, in the uniform of a colonel-general of Hussars in 1817 (left), by Louis-Joseph Noyal. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. Right: Charles-Ferdinand d’Artois, duc de Berry, in military uniform, circa 1820, by François Gérard. Public domain via Chateau de Versailles.

The city of Paris re-gilded the dome of the Invalides at its expense. [Serious men]* asked each other what Monsieur de Trinquelague would do in such or such a case;40 Monsieur Clausel de Montals differed on sundry points from Monsieur Clausel de Coussergues; Monsieur de Salaberry was not satisfied.41

Comedy-writer Picard, of the Academy to which comedy-writer Molière could not belong, had Les deux Philibert played at the Odeon, on the pediment of which the removal of the letters still permitted the inscription to be read distinctly: “Theater of the Empress.” People took sides for or against Cugnet de Montarlot.42 Fabvier was [seditious]†, Bavoux was revolutionary. The bookseller Pélicier published an edition of Voltaire under the title, Works by Voltaire of the French Academy. “That will attract buyers,” said the [ingenious]* editor.

The general opinion was that Monsieur Charles Loyson would be the genius of the age; envy was beginning to nibble at him, a sign of glory, and the line was made [about him: “Even when Loyson flies, you can tell he has feet.”]†.43 Cardinal Fesch refusing to resign,44 Monsieur de Pins, Archbishop of Amasie, administered the diocese of Lyons. The quarrel of the Vallée des Dappes commenced between France and Switzerland [sparked by a report]† from Captain, afterwards General, Dufour.

Saint-Simon, unknown, was building up his sublime dream.45 There was a celebrated Fourier in the Academy of Sciences whom posterity has forgotten, and an obscure Fourier in some unknown garret who the future will remember. Lord Byron was beginning to dawn; a note to a poem of Millevoye introduced him to France as “a certain Lord Baron.” David d’Angers was [demonstrating his skill at working in marble]†. The Abbé Carron spoke with praise, in a small party of seminarists in the cul-de-sac of the Feuillantines, of an unknown priest, Félicité Robert by name, who was afterwards Lammenais.

A thing which smoked and clacked on the Seine, making the noise of a swimming dog, went and came beneath the windows of the Tuileries, from the Pont Royal to the Pont Louis XV; it was a piece of mechanism of no great value, a sort of toy, the day-dream of a visionary, a utopia — a steamboat. The Parisians looked upon the useless thing with indifference.46

Monsieur Vaublanc, wholesale reformer of the Institute by royal ordinance and distinguished [creator]† of several Academicians, after having made them, could not make himself one. The Faubourg Saint-Germain and the Pavillon de Marsan wanted Monsieur Delaveau for prefect of police, on account of his piety.47

Dupuytren and Récamier quarrelled in the amphitheater of the École de Médicine, and shook their fists in each other’s faces over the divinity of Christ. Cuvier, with one eye on the book of Genesis and the other on nature, was endeavoring to please [religious reactionaries]† by reconciling fossils with [biblical]† texts and making the mastodons support Moses. Monsieur François de Neufchâteau, the praiseworthy cultivator of the memory of Parmentier, was making earnest efforts to have pomme de terre pronounced parmentière, without success.48

Abbé Grégoire, ex-bishop, ex-member of the National Convention, and ex-senator, had [been downgraded]† to “infamous Grégoire,” in royalist polemics.49 The expression which we have just employed, [downgraded]†, was denounced as a neologism by Monsieur Royer-Collard.50

[Under the third arch of the Pont d’Iéna you could still distinguish by its whiteness the new stone used to fill the hole for explosives that Blücher had made two years earlier to blow up the bridge]†.51 Justice summoned to her bar a man who had said aloud, [Oh, for the days when I used see]† Bonaparte and Talma entering the Bal-Sauvage arm-in-arm.” Seditious language. Six months’ imprisonment.

Traitors showed themselves stripped even of hypocrisy; men who had gone over to the enemy on the eve of a battle made no concealment of their bribes, and shamelessly walked abroad in daylight [with their cynically acquired riches and honors]†; deserters of Ligny and Quatre-Bras, in the brazenness of their purchased shame, exposed the nakedness of their devotion to monarchy, forgetting the commonest requirements of public decency.52

Such was the confused mass of events that floated pell-mell on the surface of the year 1817, and is now forgotten. History neglects almost all these peculiarities, nor can it do otherwise; it is under the dominion of infinity. Nevertheless, these details, which are wrongly called little — there are neither little facts in humanity nor little leaves in vegetation — are useful. The [features]† of the years [make]† up the face of the century.


Thank you for bearing with Victor Hugo and I today! If you’re curious about any — or all — of the flurry of references here, remember that you can visit thesiecle.com/supplemental11 — that’s t-h-e-s-i-e-c-l-e dot com — to view an annotated transcript of this episode. But I hope you surprised yourself by how many references you understood without my footnotes!

In the meantime, I’m headed back to work on Episode 28: Charles in Charge.

  1. Norman Denny, introduction to Victor Hugo, Les Misérables* (London: Penguin Books, 1982), 12. 

  2. In Episode 26, “Monsieur,” I wrote: “But in the southwest, Angoulême was met with cheering crowds in Bordeaux, which helped seal the deal for the wavering Allies — Louis was not just the forgotten brother of the old king, but someone with genuine popular support who might actually succeed at ruling France.” 

  3. I discussed Napoleon’s time on St. Helena, and his clashes with his British jailers, in Episode 20: The Death of Napoleon

  4. Like Madame Saqui, another tightrope walker. See this contemporary drawing

  5. The “occupation of guarantee” of France from 1815 to 1818, as chronicled in Episode 5 and Episode 6

  6. Pleignier, Carbonneau and Tolleron were part of an early anti-Bourbon conspiracy, possibly driven by police agents provocateur. They were executed in 1816, after first having their right hands cut off — the traditional penalty for killing one’s father. Christine Donougher, translator, Les Misérables,* by Victor Hugo (Penguin, 2013), 1314n. 

  7. Talleyrand had been briefly prime minister in 1815, but was nudged out after that year’s elections returned the ultra-royalist-dominated Chambre Introuvable, as discussed in Episode 8. Afterwards, historian Philip Mansel writes, “as compensation for losing office in September 1815, [Talleyrand] was made Grand Chambellan with a salary of 100,000 francs a year. This post in theory gave him the Grandes Entrées and the right to be present at the lever, coucher, déjeuner and ordre. [That is, Talleyrand had the right to be in the king’s presence at various ceremonial court occasions.] Louis detested Talleyrand — and no doubt the feeling was reciprocated — and it is doubtful if Talleyrand made use of his Entrées very often.” Philip Mansel, Louis XVIII, Rev. ed. (Phoenix Mill: Sutton, 1999). See also Philip Mansel, The Court of France: 1789-1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). 

  8. Joseph Dominique, Baron Louis, was a moderate royalist and something of a technocrat who played roles in government from 1790 to 1832, under the First Republic, the Empire, the Restoration, and the Restoration’s successor regime, the July Monarchy. 

  9. In Episode 6, my guest Christine Haynes described how within a month of Waterloo “there’s some 200,000 soldiers stationed, encamped in barracks, sometimes in tents, on the Champs-Élysée and the Bois du Boulogne, in and around Paris, chopping down trees for firewood, requisitioning supplies from the Parisians.” 

  10. The Champ de Mai, or “Field of May,” was a ceremony held by Napoleon during the Hundred Days to promulgate his new constitution, written by Benjamin Constant, as discussed in Episode 2. The name derived from “Champ de Mai” gatherings held by Frankish kings a millennia before, and was held on a the vast “Champ de Mars” field where the 1790 Feast of the Federation had taken place, and where the Eiffel Tower now stands. But due to delays, the “Field of Mai” didn’t convene until June. See Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1315n. 

  11. A Bonapartist publisher named Colonel Jean-Baptiste-Paul Touquet published both a 15-volume edition of Voltaire’s works and a series of novelty snuff-boxes, including one celebrating the Charter of 1814, whose text I discussed in Episode 7. Touquet did not in fact publish his edition of Voltaire until 1821. Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1315n. 

  12. Charles Dautun was guillotinedd in 1815 for murdering his aunt and his brother, the latter of whom was found dismembered around Paris. Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1315n. 

  13. The Medusa was a French frigate that crashed on its way to Africa under the incompetent leadership of Captain Jean-Hughes de Chaumareix. The desperate condition of some of the raft’s survivors inspired Théodore Géricault’s famous painting, The Raft of the Medusa, which will be the subject of a future episode. 

  14. Joseph Antheime Sève — not Selves — was a French soldier who joined the Egyptian army, converted to Islam, changed his name, and served as a prominent Egyptian officer. Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1315n. 

  15. The Hôtel de Cluny, also known as the Palais des Thermes, was a prominent house built on the location of ancient Roman baths. Today it is a museum of medieval history, the Musée de Cluny. Astronomer Charles Messier used the building for astronomical observations. 

  16. Claire de Duras hosted a famous literary salon where, among other entertainments, she regaled attendees with stories she wrote in private. A few of these were published, in part to prevent others from plagiarizing her stories. Her masterpiece, Ourika, is a sympathetic novella about a young Black girl, raised in high French society but prevented from marrying her love by racism. For more, see David O’Connell, “Ourika: Black Face, White Mask,” The French Review, Special Issue 47, no. 6 (1974), 47–56. 

  17. In Episode 1, I wrote, “when [Louis XVIII] finally returned home to the palace of Compiègne, in which he had spent part of his boyhood, he found the palace décor was covered by a swarm of Ns and bees and eagles — the emblems of the palace’s last occupant.” 

  18. I explained the renaming on the Pont d’Austerlitz in Episode 4

  19. Louis “loved the classics, knowing much of Horace by heart, and reading Racine every year,” Mansel notes, adding that as king, Louis “passed many hours reading.” Mathurin Bruneau was a con man who claimed to be King Louis XVII, the son of the guillotined King Louis XVI who died under mysterious circumstances while in revolutionary custody. Because of those mysterious circumstances, a number of people claimed to be the lost dauphin, which if true would have made them the rightful King of France ahead of Louis XVIII. See Mansel, Louis XVIII, 298-300, 348. As for Louis’s preoccupation with the exiled Napoleon, in Episode 21 I wrote that, “the highest echelons of European governments were terrified that Napoleon would escape from St. Helena. The French prime minister at the time, the Duc de Richelieu, feared that trans-Atlantic slave ships might free Napoleon.” 

  20. Nicolas Bellart was appointed Attorney-General at the Royal Court of Paris by Louis XVIII in 1815. In this role he played a key role in the prosecution of Marshal Ney for treason, as covered in Episode 5

  21. Jacques-Nicolas de Broë was another French prosecutor, who prosecuted pamphleteer Paul Louis Courier for an attack on the proposal to buy the castle of Chambord as a gift to the posthumous son of the dead Duc de Berry, which I covered in Episode 15. Courier retaliated by mocking de Broë in another pamphlet. Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1315n. 

  22. Louis Antoine François de Marchangy was a lawyer, author and politician. He showed up in Episode 23 as the prosecutor of the Carbonarist Four Sergeants of La Rochelle, whose big speech at the trial made him a star in monarchist political circles. 

  23. Charles d’Arlincourt was a widely read, and oft-mocked, writer. One critic supposedly said that a popular novel by d’Arlincourt “has been translated into every language except French.” Stendhal wrote that, “If M. de Marchangy wrote novels he would be almost as absurd as M. d’Arlincourt.” Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1315n. 

  24. Novelist Sophie Cottin wrote five novels from 1799 to her death in 1807, including Claire d’Albe and Mathilde, which featured a Muslim hero named Malek-Adel. Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1316n. 

  25. Angoulême is some 100 kilometers or 62 miles inland. 

  26. Ferdinando Paer, in addition to composing major operas, also worked as private music director in several aristocratic households, including that of the Duchesse de Berry and the Marquis de Sassenay. Edmond Géraud’s poem, “L’Hermite dde Ste.-Avelle,” was actually published in 1820. Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1316n. 

  27. The Nain jaune, an innovative, satirical Bonapartist newspaper, featured prominently in Episode 22. Le Miroir was another liberal newspaper, but Hugo was mistaken to say Le Nain jaune transformed into it — Le Miroir would not debut until 1821. Edmond Biré, Victor Hugo avant 1830 (Paris: Jules Gervais, 1883), 300. 

  28. The Duc de Berry’s marriage to Marie-Caroline of the Neapolitan Bourbons, and his 1820 assassination by Louis-Pierre Louvel, both featured in Episode 14

  29. The state of Restoration newspapers was discussed extensively in Episode 22. The great law expanding freedom of the press would not pass until 1819, as discussed in Episode 14

  30. The Villèle government’s scheme to secretly purchase opposition papers and thus control their content was featured in Episode 22

  31. In Episode 4 I discussed the Pont Neuf bridge: “At the center of the bridge will, in a few years, be constructed a statue of French King Henri IV, the founder of the Bourbon dynasty and a symbol of the Restoration. The statue, a reconstruction of an earlier statue that had been destroyed during the Revolution, will be constructed in part from a melted-down statue of Napoleon.” 

  32. John Richard Hall notes the existence of “a rather obscure lawyer by the name of Piet,” who “would long ago have been completely forgotten but for one fact — he had a large drawing-room. Henceforward, it became the political headquarters of the Royalist party.” John Richard Hall, The Bourbon Restoration (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1909), 159. Mansel notes that in Paris salons, “if he was extreme enough the most obscure Ultra deputy, for example M. Piet, could find himself more fêted than the Duc de Duras or the Prince de Poix.” Mansel, Louis XVIII, 336. 

  33. I discussed the “Riverside Conspiracy,” though not by that name, in Episode 23 — an alleged 1818 plot by several ultra-royalists to kidnap Louis XVIII and either pressure him to appoint an Ultra government, or kill him. Simon de Canuel and Jean-Baptiste de Chappedelaine were accused on involvement, but there’s no indication that General Jean-François O’Mahony was involved. Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1318n. 

  34. The “Black Pin” was an early alleged anti-Bourbon conspiracy, whose members were brought to trial in 1817 but acquitted. Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1318n. 

  35. Gauthier de Laverderie and Adolphe-Édouard de Trogoff were both participants in the August 1820 conspiracy I discussed in Episode 15

  36. The political ascendancy of Élie Decazes circa 1817-1820 was covered at length in Episode 22

  37. In Supplemental 2, I quoted Chateaubriand describing “The Monarchy According to the Charter,” or La Monarchie selon la Charte, his pamphlet written as a critique of Louis XVIII’s dissolution of the Chambre introuvable (itself featured in Episode 8. This pamphlet was made more controversial by a postscript that suggested Louis had dissolved the Chambre because he secretly wanted voters to return the same Ultra deputies, contrary to the king’s stated views; the government tried to seize the pamphlet, and Chateaubriand made a scene by dramatically showing up to oppose the seizure in person. Guillaume de Bertier de Sauvigny, The Bourbon Restoration, translated by Lynn M. Case (Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 1966), 138-9). 

  38. I discussed the abolition of divorce, among other policy changes requested by French Catholics, in Episode 27

  39. The “King of Rome” was a title given to Napoleon’s son, used by Bonapartists before Napoleon’s death made his son “Napoleon II.” I discussed the role of the King of Rome in Episode 21

  40. Charles-François de Trinquelague-Dions infamously suggested that the gibbet should replace the guillotine as a method of execution because it was simpler and more convenient — “Where would one not be able to find a piece of string? Everyone carries one in his pocket, and there is always a nail, a beam or the branch of a tree to which it may be attached.” Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1319n. 

  41. The two Clausels were prominent brothers with largely similar right-wing political views. Charles-Marie d’Irumberry Salaberry was “notoriously intemperate in his views and his language,” and once advocated the death penalty for flying the tricolor flag. Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1319n. 

  42. Another alleged conspirator in the anti-government Black Pin plot. 

  43. This is a pun on a then-famous line of French verse, “Even when the bird walks you can tell it has wings.” L’oiseau — “the bird” — is a near-homophone in French for Loyson. Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1416n. 

  44. Napoleon’s uncle, Joseph Fesch was Cardinal of Lyons. When Napoleon fell, Fesch relocated to Rome (and was soon banished from France), but refused to resign his position. 

  45. Henri de Saint-Simon developed striking socialist theories, would be widely promoted by Saint-Simon’s followers after his 1825 death. 

  46. Jouffroy d’Abbans demonstrated a steamboat on the Seine in August 1816 — though the American Robert Fulton had done the same as far back as 1803. Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1321n. 

  47. The Faubourg Saint-Germain was the aristocratic neighborhood of Paris, as discussed in Episode 4. In Episode 26 I discussed how the Pavillon de Marsan, official residence of the Comte d’Artois, became a shorthand for Artois’s right-wing faction. Guy Delavau became prefect of the Paris police in 1821; once in office police employees were reportedly encouraged to attend Catholic mass and confession to advance in their careers. James Morton, The First Detective: The Life and Revolutionary Times of Vidocq, Criminal, Spy and Private Eye (New York: The Overlook Press, 2011), 133. 

  48. For more on Parmentier, check out Diana Stegall’s podcast, The Land of Desire, and specifically Episode 68: “Antoine Parmentier and the History of the Potato.” 

  49. Henri Grégoire’s ill-fated election to parliament featured in Episode 14, though this occurred in 1819, not 1817. 

  50. Pierre-Paul Royer-Collard, a prominent liberal politician and thinker during the Restoration, led a campaign to eject the verb baser (“to base”) from the dictionary as a needless neologism, but lost. In Hugo’s original text, Royer-Collard objects to the phrase “passer à l’état de,” or literally “pass to the state of.” Donougher, tr., Les Misérables, 1322n. 

  51. General Blücher’s attempt to blue up the Pont d’Iéna, named after one of Napoleon’s victories over the Prussians, was chronicled in Episode 5

  52. In Episode 5 I wrote, “A certain General Bourmont had defected to Napoleon, but had the good sense to defect back right before Waterloo. Instead of being fired or executed, he was promoted.”