Jean-Marie Roland, vicomte de la Platière


Jean-Marie Roland, vicomte de la Platière

Jean-Marie Roland, de la Platière (February 18, 1734 – November 15, 1793) Jean-Marie Roland was a French manufacturer in Lyon and became the leader of the Girondist faction in the French Revolution, largely influenced in this direction by his wife, Jeanne Manon Roland de la Platiere. He served as a minister of the interior in King Louis XVI's government in 1792.

Early life

Roland de la Platière was born and baptized the same day in the "manoir"of Thizy in Villefranche. Roland was a studious child, who received a thorough education. At the age of 18 years old, Roland was offered the choice of becoming either a business man or a priest. But he declined both offers and took up studying manufacturing, leading him to the city of Lyons. Two years later, a cousin and inspector of manufactures offered Roland a position in Rouen. He gladly accepted the job. Roland then was transferred to Languedoc, where he became an enthusiastic economist but soon became ill from over work. He was then offered the less stressful job of lead inspector of Picardy which was the third most important manufacturing province in France in 1781.

Later that year he married Marie-Jeanne Phlipon, better known simply as Madame Roland, the daughter of a Parisian engraver. Madame Roland was just as involved in Jean Marie's work as he was, editing much of his writing and supporting his political goals. For the first four years of their marriage, Roland continued to live at Picardy and work as a factory inspector. His knowledge of commercial affairs enabled him to contribute articles to the "Encyclopédie Methodique",a three volume encyclopedia of manufacturing and industry, in which, as in all his literary work, he was assisted by his wife.

Lyon

During the first year of the Revolution they moved to Lyon, their influence grew and their political ambitions became notorious. From the beginning of the Revolution, they affiliated with liberal forces. The articles they contributed to the "Courrier de Lyon" came to the attention of Parisian press; although Roland signed them, it was Madame Roland who wrote them. The city then sent Roland to Paris to inform the Constituent Assembly of the critical state the silk industry was in and to ask for relief of Lyon's debt. As a result, a correspondence began between Roland, Jacques Pierre Brissot and other supporters of the Revolution, to whom he had met in Paris. Roland arrived in Paris during February 1791, and remained there until September. They frequented the Society of the Friends of the Constitution, entertaining deputies who later became leading Girondists, and taking an active part in the political landscape. Meanwhile Madame Roland opened her first salon, helping her husband's name become better known in the capital.

Paris

In September 1791, Roland's mission was completed and he returned to Lyon. By then, however, inspectorships of manufacture had been abolished, so the Roland family decided to move and make their new home in Paris. Roland became a member of the Jacobin Club, and their influence continued to grow, Madame Roland's salon becoming the rendezvous of Brissot, Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve, Maximilien Robespierre, and other leaders of the popular movement - especially François Nicolas Leonard Buzot.

When the Girondins assumed power, Roland found himself appointed minister of the interior on March 23, 1792, displaying both his administrative ability and what the "Encyclopædia Britannica" (Eleventh Edition, 1911) characterized as "a bourgeois brusqueness". His wife's influence on his declarations of policy was particularly strong in this period: as Roland was "ex officio" excluded from the Legislative Assembly, these declarations were in writing, and so most prone to exhibit Madame Roland's personal beliefs.

Decrees against "émigrés" and the non-juring clergy still remained under the veto of the king. Madame Roland therefore wrote a letter addressing the royal refusal to sanction the decrees and the role of the king in the state, which her husband addressed and sent to Louis XVI. As it remained unanswered, Roland read it aloud in full council and in the king's presence. Judged inconsistent with a minister's position and disrespectful in tone, the incident led to Roland's dismissal. However, he then read the letter to the Assembly, which ordered it printed and circulated. It became the manifesto of disaffection, and the Assembly's subsequent demand that Roland and other dismissed ministers be reinstated became the prelude to the king's dethronement.

After the insurrection of August 10, Roland was recalled to power, but was dismayed by what he saw as the lack of progress made by the Revolution. As a provincial, he opposed the "Montagnards" who aimed at supremacy not only in Paris but in the government as well. His hostility to the Paris Commune prompted him to propose transferring the government to Blois; and his attacks on Robespierre and his associates made him very unpopular. After failing to seal the iron chest found in the Tuileries Palace to contain documents that indicated Louis XVI's relations with France's enemies, he was accused of destroying some of the evidence within. Finally, during the trial of the king, he and the Girondists demanded that the sentence should be decided by a poll of the French people rather than the National Convention. Two days after the king's execution, he resigned his office.

Death

Not long after he resigned as minister, the Girondins came under attack and Roland was denounced as well. Roland fled Paris with the help of his wife, all the while the other Girondin deputies were prosecuted. When Roland got word that his wife had been sentenced to the guillotine, he wandered some miles from his refuge in Rouen and wrote a few words expressing his horror at the Reign of Terror: "from the moment when I learned that they had murdered my wife, I would no longer remain in a world stained with enemies."

He attached the paper to his chest, sat up against a tree, and ran a cane-sword through his heart.

References

1911 The "Britannica" gives the following references in turn:
* Madame Roland's "Mémoires", first printed in 1820, subsequently edited by (amongst others) P. Faugere (Paris, 1864); C. A. Dauban (Paris, 1864); Jules Claretie (Paris, 1884); and C. Perroud (Paris, 1905). Some of her "Lettres inédites" have been published by C. A. Dauban (Paris, 1867); and a critical edition of her "Lettres" by C. Perroud (Paris, 1900-1902).
* Jean-Marie Roland de la Platière, "De la Liberté du Travail" (Paris, 1830).
* C. A. Dauban, "Etude sur Madame Roland et son temps" (Paris, 1864).
* V. Lamy, "Deux femmes célèbres, Madame Roland et Charlotte Corday" (Paris, 1884).
* C. Bader, "Madame Roland, d'après des lettres et des manuscrits inédits" (Paris, 1892).
* A. J. Lambert, " _fr. Le menage de Madame Roland, trois années de correspondance amoureuse" (Paris, 1896).
* Austin Dobson, "Four Frenchwomen" (London, 1890)
* Articles by C. Perroud in the review "La Revolution française" (1896-99).

Others

Historical Dictonary of the Frence Revolution by Paul R. Hanson

Manon Phlipon Roland: Early Years by Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield

The Terror by David Andress


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