Catherine Théot

Last updated
Catherine Theot depicted in the 18th century. Catherine-Theot.jpg
Catherine Théot depicted in the 18th century.

Catherine Théot (born at Barenton (Normandy), France in 1716; died September 1, 1794) was a French visionary. Catherine believed she was destined to work for God. [1] She gained notoriety when she was accused of being involved in a plot to overthrow the Republic, and the downfall of Maximilien Robespierre was attributed in part to her prophecies. [1]

Contents

Life

Théot was born into a peasant family and from a young age suffered from hallucinations. She undertook a long course of religious asceticism in the lay convent of the Miramiones (fr) in Paris after which she was no longer of sound mind. In 1779 she announced herself to be the Virgin Mary, the new Eve, and the mother of God. [2] After being held for a number of years in the Salpetrière hospital, she was set free in 1782. Not much is known about her activities for the following twelve years, but she made a home in the rue Contrescarpe and began to gather a small group of people who believed her prophecies. [1] [2] She believed that she was destined to be the mother of the new Messiah and was hailed as the "Mother of God". [3]

Theotist sect

Theot taught her followers that "God had permitted 1789" and that revolutionary laws had been made through God's inspiration. Disobedience to the Convention, she taught, was disobedience to God. These and similar beliefs were expounded in small gatherings of around fifteen women followers, in a room in a friend's house. [4] Most of the women who followed her were of humble condition, but among them were also associates of the former Duchess of Bourbon, who consulted Catherine Theot for her prophecies and had sponsored the publication of a "Journal prophetique". [2] [5]

The Theotists saw the redeemer of mankind in Maximilien Robespierre, and preparations for his initiation were put in motion. The enemies of Robespierre, resenting his theocratic aims, used his relations with the Theotists as a way to get revenge. [3] What became known as the "Catherine Théot affair" brought her notoriety in 1794. On 15 June Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier announced at the National Convention the plot to overthrow the Republic, accusing Théot and the people who met with her. [1]

On the 9 Thermidor Vadier claimed that a letter was found under Théot's mattress that proclaimed Robespierre to be John the Baptist of the new cult. [1] Although the letter was likely fabricated, it was a way to condemn Robespierre for his connection with Théot and his Cult of the Supreme Being. The accusations lead to the arrest of Théot and some of her disciples. [1]

The case was tried in the Revolutionary Tribunal, and figured in the proceedings of 9th of Thermidor. The accused were ultimately acquitted and set free. [3] Catherine died in prison one month after Robespierre's execution. [1]

Related Research Articles

Reign of Terror Period during the French Revolution

The Reign of Terror, or The Terror, refers to a period during the French Revolution after the First French Republic was established in which multiple massacres and public executions occurred in response to revolutionary fervor, anti-clerical sentiment, and frivolous accusations of treason by Maximilien Robespierre and his Committee of Public Safety.

Committee of Public Safety De facto executive government in France (1793–1794)

The Committee of Public Safety, created in April 1793 by the National Convention and then restructured in July 1793, formed the de facto, interim, and executive government in France during the Reign of Terror (1793–1794), a stage of the French Revolution. The Committee of Public Safety succeeded the previous Committee of General Defence and assumed its role of protecting the newly established republic against foreign attacks and internal rebellion. As a wartime measure, the Committee—composed at first of nine and later of twelve members—was given broad supervisory powers over military, judicial and legislative efforts. It was formed as an administrative body to supervise and expedite the work of the executive bodies of the Convention and of the government ministers appointed by the Convention. As the Committee tried to meet the dangers of a coalition of European nations and counter-revolutionary forces within the country, it became more and more powerful.

Jacobin The more radical constitutional reform group in the French Revolution

The Society of the Friends of the Constitution, after 1792 renamed Society of the Jacobins, Friends of Freedom and Equality, commonly known as the Jacobin Club or simply the Jacobins, became the most influential political club during the French Revolution of 1789 and following. The period of their political ascendancy includes the Reign of Terror, during which time well over ten thousand people were put on trial and executed in France, many for political crimes.

Thermidor eleventh month of the French Republican Calendar, from mid-July to mid-August

Thermidor was the eleventh month in the French Republican Calendar. The month was named after the French word thermal which comes from the Greek word "thermos" which means heat.

Jacques-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne French revolutionary leader

Jacques-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, also known as Jean Nicolas, was a French personality of the Revolutionary period. Though not one of the most well known figures of the French Revolution, Jacques Nicolas Billaud-Varenne was an instrumental figure of the period known as the Reign of Terror. Billaud-Varenne climbed his way up the ladder of power during that period, becoming one of the most militant members of the Committee of Public Safety. He was recognized and worked with French Revolution figures Georges Danton and Maximilien Robespierre, and is often considered one of the key architects of The Terror. "No, we will not step backward, our zeal will only be smothered in the tomb; either the Revolution will triumph or we will all die."

The Thermidorian Reaction is the common term, in the historiography of the French Revolution, for the period between the ousting of Maximilien Robespierre on 9 Thermidor II, or 27 July 1794, to the inauguration of the French Directory on 1 November 1795. The "Thermidorian Reaction" was named after the month in which the coup took place, and was the latter part of the National Convention's rule of France. It was marked by the end of the Reign of Terror, decentralization of executive powers from the Committee of Public Safety, and a turn from the radical leftist policies of the Montagnard Convention to more conservative and moderate positions. Economic and general populism, Dechristianization and harsh wartime measures were largely abandoned, as the members of the Convention, disillusioned and frightened of the centralized government of the Terror, preferred a more stable political order, aimed to assuage the affluent classes. The Reaction saw the Left suppressed by brutal force, including lynch acts which the authorities turned a blind eye to, the Jacobin Club disbanded, the sans-culottes dispersed and Montagnard ideology renounced.

Jacques Hébert 1757-1794 French journalist and politician

Jacques René Hébert was a French journalist and the founder and editor of the extreme radical newspaper Le Père Duchesne during the French Revolution.

Cult of the Supreme Being

The Cult of the Supreme Being was a form of deism established in France by Maximilien Robespierre during the French Revolution. It was intended to become the state religion of the new French Republic and a replacement for Roman Catholicism and its rival, the Cult of Reason.

Committee of General Security

The Committee of General Security was a French parliamentary committee which acted as police agency during the French Revolution that, along with the Committee of Public Safety, oversaw the Reign of Terror.

Augustin Robespierre French lawyer and revolutionary

Augustin Bon Joseph de Robespierre was the younger brother of French Revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre.

Stanisława Przybyszewska Polish playwright

Stanisława Przybyszewska was a Polish dramatist who wrote almost exclusively about the French Revolution. Her 1929 play The Danton Case, which examines the conflict between Maximilien Robespierre and Georges Danton, is considered to be one of the most exemplary works about the Revolution, and was adapted by Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda for his 1983 film Danton.

Christophe Antoine Gerle French revolutionary

Christophe Antoine Gerle, French revolutionist and mystic, was born at Riom in Auvergne.

Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier French politician

Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier was a French politician of the French Revolution.

Charles-André Merda French baron

Général de brigade Charles André Merda, baron Meda was a French soldier. A National Guardsman in the Parisian National Guard from September 1789, then a gendarme from 1794, he participated in the arrest of Maximilien de Robespierre on the night of 9/10 thermidor Year II and claimed to have fired the pistol shot which broke Robespierre's jaw and hit Couthon's helper in his leg.

Maximilien Robespierre French revolutionary lawyer and politician

Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre was a French lawyer and politician who was one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. As a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Jacobin Club, he campaigned for universal manhood suffrage, and the abolition both of celibacy for the clergy and of slavery. Robespierre was an outspoken advocate for the citizens without a voice, for their unrestricted admission to the National Guard, to public offices, and for the right to carry arms in self-defence. He played an important part in the agitation which brought about the fall of the French monarchy in August 1792 and the summoning of a National Convention.

The Thermidorians, known also a Thermidorian Convention, was a French political group active during the French Revolution between 1794 and 1799.

Pierre-Louis Bentabole French politician

Pierre Louis Bentabole was a revolutionary Frenchman, born in Landau Haut Rhin on 4 June 1756 and died in Paris on 22 April 1798. As lawyer, he presided practiced in the district of Hagenau and Saverne; he was deputy of the Bas-Rhin to the National Convention on 4 September 1792. He voted to execute Louis XVI. On 6 October 1794, he was appointed to the Committee of Public Safety.

Fall of Maximilien Robespierre The coup detat of 27 July 1794 (9 Thermidor II) which deposed Robespierre.

The Coup d'état of 9 Thermidor or the Fall of Maximilien Robespierre refers to the series of events beginning with Maximilien Robespierre's address to the National Convention on 8 Thermidor Year II, his arrest the next day, and his execution on 10 Thermidor Year II. In the speech of 8 Thermidor, Robespierre spoke of the existence of internal enemies, conspirators, and calumniators, within the Convention and the governing Committees. He refused to name them, which alarmed the deputies who feared Robespierre was preparing another purge of the Convention.

Laurent Lecointre was a French politician, born at Versailles on 1 February 1742, and died at Guignes, Seine-et-Marne on 4 August 1805. He is also known under the name of "Lecointre de Versailles".

Edme-Bonaventure Courtois was a deputy of the National Convention. He found the will of Marie-Antoinette in the collection of papers of Robespierre hidden under his bed.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Garrett, Clarke (1974). "Popular Piety in the French Revolution: Catherine Théot". The Catholic Historical Review. 60: 215–219. JSTOR   25019540.
  2. 1 2 3 Catalin Negru (12 November 2015). History of the Apocalypse. Lulu Press, Inc. p. 1119. ISBN   978-1-329-66764-8.
  3. 1 2 3 Chisholm 1911.
  4. Dominique Godineau (16 February 1998). The Women of Paris and Their French Revolution. University of California Press. pp. 259–. ISBN   978-0-520-06719-6.
  5. Robert DARNTON (30 June 2009). Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France. Harvard University Press. p. 129. ISBN   978-0-674-03019-0.
Attribution

Further reading