Oddity of the Week: The Political Fog

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A satirical look at history, from history itself.

The Political Fog

The 18th Brumaire

Much has been made recently of the 'tradition' of satirising political events through cartoonage. The example above shows an English cartoonist at work in November, 1799. The Library of Congress describes it thus:

British satire shows Napoleon with his grenadiers driving the members of the Council of Five Hundred from the Orangery at St. Cloud at bayonet point. A drum is labeled "Vive la Liberte," and papers under foot read "Resignation des Directoires" and "Un liste de Membres du Conseil des Cinque Cents." On November 10, 1799, in a move known as the Coup d'√Čtat of Eighteenth Brumaire, Napoleon seized control of the French government and installed himself as First Consul, thereafter governing as a dictator. James Gillray was the dominant caricaturist of his period, producing popular savage cartoons of the English court of George III and later of Napoleon and the French Revolution.

Did this cartoon ever make anybody laugh? We doubt it. Did it make people angry? Well, we guess the cartoonist would probably have been wise to stay out of Paris.

What is 'Brumaire' when it's at home? It's a 'Republican' month. The French Revolution renamed the calendar. It means 'Foggy', which is pretty descriptive, both of the season and the politics.

That's the problem with these passionate political statements: they don't age well.

Post Quiz and Oddities Archive

Dmitri Gheorgheni

26.01.15 Front Page

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