The Objects

10th Mar 1815

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Source: Archives municipales de Lyon 936 WP 1842 - 936 WP 1843

The Mayor of Lyon changes his tune...

Contributed by: Jordan Girardin

Le Retournement de Veste du Comte de Fargues

‘Retourner sa veste’ (literally ‘to flip one's coat over’) is a French idiom which depicts someone swiftly changing opinions to take advantage of a situation. This is what happened so elegantly to the Mayor of Lyon - the Comte de Fargues - while Napoleon was approaching the city on the 10th March. The Count's first declaration to his population firmly advises the Lyonnais to stay at home and to trust the Mayor's devotion to the city's safety and to the Monarchy. Despite this, the population acclaimed Bonaparte as he was entering the city on the same day.

The next morning, Fargues published a second declaration in which he celebrates Napoleon’s victories as well as his ‘charitable and protecting laws’. Rumour has it that the citizens, who were asked to display the declarations on top of the old ones, actually glued the posters side by side, therefore highlighting the Mayor’s hypocrisy. The Count was replaced on the 30th April but he was reappointed as Mayor in July 1815.