9. The Lynching Of Joseph Foullon de Doue
In 1789, Joseph-Francois Foullon de Doue replaced Jacques Necker as the government’s Controller-General of Finances. Necker was greatly respected and loved by the common people, but he angered King Louis XVI and was dismissed from his post.
In contrast, Foullon was cold and despised, believed to be a shill of the aristocracy. With no sympathy for the struggling peasantry, he certainly didn’t gain any popularity when it was rumored that he said, “If they have no bread, then let them eat hay.” However, there’s no evidence he actually said it.
Necker’s dismissal was one of the catalysts for the storming of the Bastille on July 14 of that year. A terrified Foullon, already accused of manipulating the food supply, fled Paris and hid out in Viry-Chatillon. Despite spreading rumors that he died and even giving himself a fake funeral, Foullon was discovered in his hideaway. He was seized by a mob that tied his body with ropes, placed a garland of thistles around his neck, forced him to drink vinegar, and marched him to the Hotel de Ville. There, he was to stand trial by the authorities.
However, the mob took justice into their own hands. After stuffing his mouth with hay and grass, they unsuccessfully tried to hang him twice, with the rope breaking on each attempt. Finally, the rope worked on the third try, and Foullon died. His head was then paraded around on a pike.