Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Day of the Tiles

It is no secret to regular visitors that I have long had something of a fascination with the French Revolution. We've met monarchs and firebrands, seen a prison fall and a new government rise and always ended up safely back at the salon, cup of tea in hand. Today we return to France to mark the anniversary of the Day of the Tiles, a revolt that occurred in Grenoble on 7th June 1788 and was one of the first signs of civil unrest before the Revolution began.
The Day of the Tiles by Alexandre Debelle, 1889

By the late 1780s, France was mired in debt; with food prices soaring and the ruling classes enjoying a life of privilege and splendour, the people of France were horrified to hear of yet higher 
taxes were on the horizon. In Grenoble, already reeling from poor harvests and with both food and money is short supply, furious citizens gathered together to call for a meeting that would force the powers that be to listen to their concerns.

The bells of the town churches rang out and hundreds of people took to the streets as soldiers assembled, called in to quell the disturbance before it got out of hand. When they fired on the crowd, killing one person and wounding others, the furious citizens scrambled up onto the rooftops, crying out in protest. From this vantage point they began hurling heavy tiles down onto the troops who were so outnumbered and assailed that their commander withdrew, fearing for the safety of his men. Eventually it was agreed that the meeting of the people would be permitted to go ahead, on condition that it do so at a later date and away from the centre of the town.

The Day of the Tiles has become recognised as a pivotal moment in the birth of the French Revolution. Although the King rejected the reforms suggested by the meeting that was eventually held on 21st July, the events of 7th June marked the first time that the people of France rose up against government forces and were victorious. In Grenoble, La Journée des Tuiles stood as a challenge to royal authority; it would not, of course, be the last.

12 comments:

Michele said...

Thank you for this post. I have loved everything about the French Revolution ever since reading The Scarlet Pimpernel many years ago. Read up on it in college, but I never heard of Tiles Day--until now. Thank you!

Madame Gilflurt said...

A pleasure. The Revolution is a favourite topic of mine, as you can probably guess!

Stephen Barker said...

I had never heard of the Day of the Tiles either. It is ironic that the French Governments support for the Americans against the British was a contributory factor to the French Revolution and the collapse of the Monarchy.

Madame Gilflurt said...

I will hopefully be featuring a guest post on that very issue at some point, schedule of my estimable correspondent permitting!

Anonymous said...

If you speak french see : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journ%C3%A9e_des_Tuiles

Madame Gilflurt said...

Ah, thank you so much. That's a really full account of the events leading to and following on from the day, an excellent read!

Mari Christian said...

A tile on one's head would be no joke! Most interesting.

Angela said...

Your posts are always so interesting and beautifully written. The French Revolution is such a significant time not just for the French , thanks for sharing your wonderful posts.

Catherine Curzon said...

Ouch!

Catherine Curzon said...

You're too kind, thank you!

Rosalind Minett said...

Lovely post. Scarlet Pimpernel did it for me too. Especially as I was confined to a white-sheeted bedroom with scarlet fever at the time!

Catherine Curzon said...

You were in a themed room!