Madame de Stael recalls the sacking of Necker (1789)


The sacking of Necker on July 11th 1789 is recalled by his daughter, the writer Madame de Stael:

“Monsieur Necker, my father, continued to visit the king every day, but he was never told anything of importance. This silence towards the king’s principal minister was very disturbing, at a time when foreign troops were seen arriving from all parts and being stationed around Paris and Versailles. Every night my father told us in confidence that he expected to be arrested the next day; but that the danger to which the king was exposed was so great that he made it a rule to seem unconcerned.

At three o’clock in the afternoon of July 11th, Monsieur Necker received a letter from the king. It ordered him┬áto leave Paris and France itself, adding only that he should conceal his departure from everyone. Baron de Breteuil’s opinion had been that Necker ought to be arrested, as his dismissal was sure to cause a riot. ‘I guarantee,’ said the king, ‘that he will strictly abide by the discretion I will require of him.’ Monsieur Necker was touched by the trust this showed, even though it accompanied an order sending him into exile.

Two days after his departure, when his fall from power became known, all the theatres were closed as if for a public disaster. The whole of Paris took up arms.”