1 comment January 4th, 2016 Headsman
On this date in 1794, Nicolas Luckner was guillotined in Paris.
A count with his own manor on the German-Danish frontier, Luckner (English Wikipedia entry | German, where he’s Nikolaus von Luckner) made the sort of cross-national career pivot that was still possible in the pre-revolutionary world by going from commanding hussars against France in the Seven Years’ War to serving in the Bourbon army.
He was the very commander of the Army of the Rhine to whom Rouget de Lisle dedicated the 1792 Chant de Guerre pour l’Armée du Rhin … the marchable tune which later became the Marseillaise. (Luckner’s name also appears on the Arc de Triomphe.)
Things did not go as swimmingly with the Army of the North, where he bogged down in the Low Countries — and the incriminating defection of the Marquis de Lafayette to France’s royalist enemies did him no favors in the court of Jacobin opinion. Luckner was relieved of his command by the impatient National Convention.*
This septuagenarian foreign count showed a lordly blindness to his adoptive country’s situation both fiscal and political by journeying to Paris later in 1793 to complain that his pension was not being funded in full. Other officers had already fallen under the Terror’s blade for command failure, where any shortcoming in the field could be readily conflated with treachery — and Luckner, no surprise, was soon denounced as a royalist.
City hall in the small Bavarian town of Cham, where Luckner was born in 1722, still chimes the Marseillaise every day to honor its native son … whose name also associates with Germany’s World War I naval hero Felix von Luckner, the great grandson of our man Nicolas.
On this day..
- 1944: Kaj Munk, Danish pastor-poet - 2017
- 1568: Eighty-four Valenciennes iconoclasts - 2015
- 1943: "Native parachutists" in Morocco - 2014
- 1897: The Bicol martyrs of Philippines independence - 2013
- 2011: Ryu Kyong, Kim Jong-un rival - 2012
- 1721: John Stewart, pirate - 2011
- 1943: Jerzy Iwanow (Georgios Ivanof) - 2010
- 1946: The treacherous Theodore Schurch - 2009
- 838: Babak Khorramdin - 2008