Conspiration des poignards

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The Conspiration des poignards (Daggers Conspiracy) or Complot de l'Opéra (Opera Plot) was an alleged assassination attempt against Napoleon Bonaparte. The members of the plot were not clearly established. Authorities at the time presented it as an assassination attempt on Napoleon at the exit of the Paris operahouse on 18 vendémiaire year IX (10 October 1800), which was prevented by the police force of Joseph Fouché. However, this version was questioned very early on. [1]

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Joseph Fouché French statesman

Joseph Fouché, 1st Duc d'Otrante, 1st Comte Fouché was a French statesman and Minister of Police under First Consul Bonaparte, who later became Emperor Napoleon. He was particularly known for his ferocity with which he suppressed the Lyon insurrection during the Revolution in 1793 and for being minister of police under the Directory, the Consulate, and the Empire. In English texts, his title is often translated as Duke of Otranto.


In his Mémoires, Fouché affirmed that, towards mid-September 1800, a plot arose aiming at assassinating Napoleon at the operahouse. Someone named Harel, presented as one of the accomplices, worked in liaison with the war commissioner Lefebvre, to bring the revelations to Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne, Napoleon's secretary, indicating the plotters were Giuseppe Ceracchi, Joseph Diana, Joseph Antoine Aréna (brother of the Corsican deputy who had declared against Napoleon); the painter and patriotic fanatic François Topino-Lebrun, and Dominique Demerville, former clerk of the Committee of public safety, closely associated with Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac. Harel was charged with drawing up a trap for the plotters; four armed men, laid out for the assassination of Napoleon, on the evening of October 10, after a performance of Les Horaces . The day of the attack, the men stationed by the police force stopped Diana, Ceracchi and their two accomplices. [2] All the others presumably retreated and were apprehended at their residences. [3]

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For modern historians [4] this was a manipulation by the police force, made possible by an agent provocateur, Harel, who had infiltrated the group. After Plot of the Rue Saint-Nicaise, the members of the "daggers conspiracy", presented as a Jacobin plot, were judged in front of the criminal court of The Seine. Four of them were condemned to death 19 nivôse year IX (January 9, 1801), at eleven o'clock in the evening, after three days of debates [5] and carried out January 30 after rejection of the appeal.

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The members of the plot were:

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  1. See in particular Adolphe Thiers, History of the Consulate and Empire, Paris, Paulin, 1847, volume II, p. 333-334.
  2. it first left of the Memoires of Joseph Fouché, Paris, Red, 1824.
  3. Jean-Baptiste Honore Raymond Capefigue, L' Europe during the consulate and l'worsen of Napoléon, Brussels, Wouters, Raspoet and Co, 1842, volume III, p. 33.
  4. T. Lentz, Large Consulat, 1999, p. 255, Jean Tulard, Napoleon or the myth of the sauveur, 1987, p. 136.
  5. Lewis Goldsmith, Political and diplomatic course of Napoleon Bonaparte, London, at J. Booth, volume II, 1816, p. 123-125.
  6. Émile Marco de Saint-Hilaire, ' ' History of the conspiracies and the executions politiques' ', Paris, Gustave Havard, 1849, p. 228-235. Jules Edouard Alboise of Pujol, Auguste Maquet, ' ' Prisons of l' Europe' ', Paris, Administration of the Bookshop, 1845, p. 143-146 and 217.