A cartoon of students/revolutionaries arming themselves with Oceanic clubs, spears and arrows taken from the Natural History Museum cabinets against approaching troops. The uniformed Museum Guard intervenes crying "What are you doing? Those arrows are poisoned!" The title appears beneath the image 'Qu'allez-vous faire? Leurcrie le garde du cabinet; / ces fleches sont empoisonnes!’
The image refers to the July 1830 revolution in France when members of the public were forced to raid museums for weapons to arm themselves against military troops.
SignificanceThe revolution of July 1830 was a significant event in French history which again saw the power of the masses overthrow a reigning king. This image captures the passion and ingenuity of the people in their efforts to fight the advancing military with whatever means available to them.
HistoryIn July 1830 a second revolution took place in Paris. Known as the "Three Glorious Days", the revolt centred on the overthrow of the Bourbon king, Charles X, and the appointment of a new king, Louis Phillipe of the House of Orleans.
Charles X had been growing in unpopularity for some time due to his favouring of the Catholic Church, his whittling away of the rights of the middle class or 'bourgeoisie" and his general belief in his own power.
After mounting tensions between the elected government, press and the king throughout the preceding two years, Charles X bought issues to boiling point by two fateful decisions in 1830. Firstly, he disbanded the National Guard which had been his loyal and voluntary supporters but also had the trust of the people.
Secondly, Charles X signed the July Ordinances. These decrees were a blow to people of Paris who saw them as an attack on their liberties. The Ordinances included the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies, censorship of the press, the removal of voting rights from the middle class or 'bourgeoisie', and the calling of a new election in which the 'bourgeoisie' would be therefore unable to vote.
The people were quick to rise and the next day, 26 July 1830, they armed themselves with what was available, initially this was paving stones, roof tiles and weapons from gun sellers, looted armouries, theatre props and even the Museum of historical Weaponary. Many historians note that some fighters were seen wearing Renaissance armour, shields and pikes. Although there is no mention of the Museum of Natural History being raided, the above cartoon indicates it may well have been possible!
After three days of street fighting, in which around 4000 barricades were constructed to prevent advancing soldiers, Charles X fled to England and Louis Philippe was established as the King of the French.