In existographies, Francois Barre (210-189 BE) (1745-1766 ACM) (FA:94) (EPD:M9/F17) (LH:#), aka "Chevalier de La Barre", was a French youth who was convicted of the "crimes" of singing unholy sings, not taking his hat off at a religious precession, and having a copy of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary at his residence; after which, at the age of 19 or 20, he was tortured, had his tongue torn out, head cut off, and to his chest was nailed a copy of Philosophical Dictionary, after which his body was burned at the stake.
On 9 Aug 1765, two acts of desecration are discovered in Abbeville: cuts with a knife on the crucifix of the Abbeville bridge, and a deposit of rubbish on a representation of Christ in an Abbeville cemetery.
Three wealth youths, including: Barry (age 19), Gaillard Etallonde (age 16), and Moisne (age 15) had been pointed out for singing songs that were not respectful of religions.
On 1 Oct, they are imprisoned, during which time Moisnel admitted the facts incriminating two others, namely: Saveuse de Belleval and Douville de Maillefeu who, having fled, were subsequently arrested. La Barre, for his part, denied the allegations against him.
Nevertheless, they go to Barre’s residence, and find a copy of Voltaire’s 1764 Philosophical Dictionary, and three licentious books, which aggravates the suspicions in the eyes of the prosecution.
On 28 Feb 1766, Barre was convicted for the crime of impiety, blasphemies, and execrable and abominable sacrileges, and was sentenced to have his tongue cut out, to be beheaded, and burnt. The crimes mentioned in his judgment included:
- “Reached and convinced of having passed twenty-five paces in a procession without taking off his hat which he had on his head, without kneeling, of having sung an unholy song, of having paid respect to infamous books among which was the philosophical dictionary of Voltaire”
On 1 Jul 1766, Barry, aged 20, subjected in the morning to the ordinary question, and undergoes the boots . The young man loses consciousness, he is revived, and he declares that he has no accomplice. He is spared the extraordinary question so that he has enough strength to climb onto the scaffold. A depiction of the torture of Barre on the steel plaque at the base of the Barre monument erected in Abbeville in 1907:
He is taken to the place of execution, in a cart, in a shirt, the rope around his neck. He carries a sign on his back which reads "impious, blasphemer and execrable sacrilege" .
The courage of the condemned man is such that one gives up trying to tear his tongue out. The executioner beheads him with a cut of his saber. His body is then thrown at the stake, along with a copy of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary. which was nailed to his chest.
Quotes | On
The following are quotes on Barre”
- “When the Chevalier de La Barre, grandson of a lieutenant general of the armies, a young man of great wit and great hope, but having all the carelessness of unbridled youth, was convinced to have sang impious songs, and even to have passed in front of a procession of Capuchins without having taken off his hat, the judges of Abbeville, people comparable to the Roman senators, ordered, not only that one tore his tongue, that one cut off his hand, and burn his body slowly; but they still applied it to torture to find out how many songs he had sung, and how many processions he had seen pass by, hat on.”
- — Voltaire (1769), Philosophical Dictionary (§:Torture)
- “In Commemoration of the Martyrdom of the Chevalier de La Barre tortured in Abbeville on 1 July 1766 at the age of 19 years for failing to salute a procession.”
- — Anon (1906), Plaque inscription below La Barre Monument, Paris
- Frncois-Jean Lefebvre de La Barre (French → English) – Wikipedia.
- Anon. (2021). “The Story of Sunday: Last Executed for Blasphemy, the Chevalier de La Barre, Victim of Religious Fanaticism” (French → English), France TV Info, Feb 28.
- Note: Barre was not in fact sentenced to have his hand cut off (it was his head), but this was indeed the case for d'Etallonde, who was absent at the trial.
- Francois-Jean de la Barre – Wikipedia.