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Madeleine Cemetery

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Title: Madeleine Cemetery  
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Subject: Jacques Pierre Brissot, Madame du Barry, Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud, Madame Roland, Charlotte Corday, Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, Marie Thérèse of France, Chapelle expiatoire
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Madeleine Cemetery

Cimetière de la Madeleine is also the name of a cemetery in Amiens

Madeleine Cemetery[1] (in French known as Cimetière de la Madeleine) is a former cemetery in the 8th arrondissement of Paris and was one of the four cemeteries (the others being Errancis Cemetery, Picpus Cemetery and the Cemetery of Saint Margaret) used to dispose of the corpses of guillotine victims during the French Revolution.


In 1720, the parish of Sainte-Madeleine de la Ville-l’Évêque bought a piece of land of approximately 45x19m destined to become the third cemetery of the parish. It became known as the Madeleine Cemetery.[2] The cemetery was closed on March 25, 1794, reputedly because it was full, but maybe for sanitary reasons, as it was located in an affluent part of Paris.

Major interments were the 133 victims of the firework celebration of the marriage of the Dauphin (the future Louis XVI) to Marie-Antoinette of Habsburg-Lorraine on May 30, 1770 and that of the Swiss Guards who were massacred in the Tuileries, August 10, 1792.

The day after the execution of the "Hébertists" the cemetery was closed and became private land. The beheaded corpses (victims of the guillotine) were then taken to what was to become the Errancis Cemetery (it remained open for three years but is now also gone).

The land was sold to a stonemason. On June 3, 1802, the land in which the bodies lay, was bought by Pierre-Louis Olivier Desclozeaux, a royalist magistrate, who had lived adjacent to the cemetery (now Square Louis XVI)cypress trees.

On 11 January 1815, Desclozeaux sold his house and the old cemetery to Louis XVIII. One of the first decisions of Louis XVIII when he acceded to the throne of France at the time of the Bourbon Restoration, was to move the remains of his brother and sister-in-law, King Louis XVI and his Queen Marie Antoinette, to the necropolis of the Kings of France, the Basilica of St Denis. They were exhumed on January 18 and 19, 1815, and moved to Saint-Denis Basilica on January 20. Marie Antoinette's remains were identified by a garter and a jaw, which an eyewitness identified as being the queen's, based on having seen her smile over thirty years before.[3] Louis XVIII also searched for his sister Élisabeth in the Errancis Cemetery, but to no avail.

In 1844 the cemetery was cleared and the skeletal remains were transferred to the l'Ossuaire de l'Ouest (West Ossuary). When the ossuary was closed, the contents were transferred to the Paris catacombs-which was also the resting place of remains removed from the Errancis Cemetery.


Sainte-Madeleine in this context is a reference to Mary Magdalene.

During the French Revolution

The decapitated corpses of the guillotine victims were thrown in specially dug trenches and covered in quicklime to speed up the decomposition process. There were no markers. Among those reputed to have been "buried" here:[4]

It is unclear how many corpses were "buried" but the estimates vary from hundreds up to three thousand.


The cemetery was located on the intersection of Rue d’Anjou and the Grand Égout (now Boulevard Hausmann) in Paris. It was part of the land on which the Chapelle expiatoire now stands.


Further reading

Paris portal

Coordinates: 48°52′25″N 2°19′22″E / 48.87361°N 2.32278°E / 48.87361; 2.32278

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