Infernal Machine


May 20, 2022

The expression infernal machine designates a single firearm built by Giuseppe Fieschi and the druggist Pépin in 1835, on the occasion of an attack against King Louis-Philippe. It also refers, some thirty years earlier, to another attack, against Napoleon this time, the attack on rue Saint-Nicaise, known as the “conspiracy of the infernal machine” (December 24, 1800).


Giuseppe Fieschi rented a room on the 3rd floor of the house located at 42, boulevard du Temple to build an infernal machine made of twenty-five gun barrels juxtaposed and linked together on an inclined frame. The weapon could be fired by a single individual, simultaneously firing twenty-five projectiles of grapeshot. The original can currently be seen in the National Archives in Paris, as well as a copy in the museum of the police headquarters.


Placed on the window sill of a building at 50 boulevard du Temple, the infernal machine was used by the Corsican republican Giuseppe Fieschi during an attack against King Louis-Philippe on July 28, 1835. On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the July Revolution, Louis-Philippe must review the National Guard on the Grands Boulevards. Despite rumors of an attack, he refuses to cancel the review. He goes, therefore, to the Bastille in a procession leaving from the Tuileries which impresses the crowds on its way. Marshal Mortier rode in the lead, followed by the king also on horseback and the queen in a carriage with his three elders (from Orléans, Nemours, Joinville). They are accompanied by several ministers, including the Duc de Broglie and Thiers, as well as numerous marshals and officers. At 50, boulevard du Temple, on the third floor, the jalousie of a window is lifted and the Corsican Fieschi, who has rented this room for several months, approaches a phosphoric match from the trail of powder which runs at the height of the lights of the guns. , firing. The "infernal machine" explodes around noon, near a café called the "Turkish Garden". to the front as his horse, hit, reared up. His sons are unharmed. Thirteen people are killed instantly. Among the dozens of injured, six died in the following days. The balance sheet is 19 dead (including Marshal Mortier, General Edmé La Chasse de Vérigny, Colonel Jean-Noël Raffé, Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Rieussec, Captain-Count Marc Eugène Vilatte and five National Guardsmen) and 42 wounded including five generals. As we rush towards the victims, a second explosion sounds. National Guardsmen rush to the third floor of the building, from the window of which thick smoke escapes, break the barricaded door and find the machine. They arrest Fieschi, his jaws shattered, his forehead open, his side bloody, wounded by his own weapon. Most of the victims are transported to the Turkish cafe to receive first aid. The king and the procession resume their march to get away from the place of the attack as quickly as possible. Fieschi is bandaged and descended to the second floor where the king's prosecutor, assisted by two commissioners, begins his investigation. It turns out that during the first salvo, five of the twenty-five gun barrels exploded, seriously wounding him (overloaded, probably by his accomplice Pierre Morey, who was said to have sabotaged to eliminate the Corsican, witness embarrassing, and also to accuse the Legitimists, Morey having pinned in Fieschi's bedroom an image of the "Count of Chambord"). Fieschi's two main accomplices were arrested a few days later: Pierre Morey, the initiator of the plot, and Théodore Pépin, grocer-drugist, artificer and financier.