1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Carrier, Jean Baptiste

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CARRIER, JEAN BAPTISTE (1756–1794), French Revolutionist and Terrorist, was born at Yolet, a village near Aurillac in Upper Auvergne. In 1790 he was a country attorney (counsellor for the bailliage of Aurillac) and in 1792 he was chosen deputy to the National Convention. He was already known as one of the influential members of the Cordeliers club and of that of the Jacobins. After the subjugation of Flanders he was one of the commissioners nominated in the close of 1792 by the Convention, and sent into that country. In the following year he took part in establishing the Revolutionary Tribunal. He voted for the death of Louis XVI., was one of the first to call for the arrest of the duke of Orleans, and took a prominent part in the overthrow of the Girondists (on the 31st of May). After a mission into Normandy, Carrier was sent, early in October 1793, to Nantes, under orders from the Convention to suppress the revolt which was raging there, by the most severe measures. Nothing loth, he established a revolutionary tribunal, and formed a body of desperate men, called the Legion of Marat, for the purpose of destroying in the swiftest way the masses of prisoners heaped in the jails. The form of trial was soon discontinued, and the victims were sent to the guillotine or shot or cut down in the prisons en masse. He also had large numbers of prisoners put on board vessels with trap doors for bottoms, and sunk in the Loire. This atrocious process, known as the Noyades of Nantes, gained for Carrier a reputation for wanton cruelty. Since in his mission to Normandy he had been very moderate, it is possible that, as he was nervous and ill when sent to Nantes, his mind had become unbalanced by the atrocities committed by the Vendean and royalist armies. Naturally, the stories told of him are not all true. He was recalled by the Committee of Public Safety on the 8th of February 1794, took part in the attack on Robespierre on the 9th Thermidor, but was himself brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal on the 11th and guillotined on the 16th of November 1794.

See Comte Fleury, Carrier à Nantes, 1793–1794 (Paris, 1897); Alfred Lallié, J. B. Carrier, représentant du Cantal à la Convention 1756–1794 d’après de nouveaux documents (Paris, 1901). These works, and the others of Lallié, are inspired by strong royalist sympathies and are not altogether to be accepted.