Horrible massacre à Lyon, 9 avril 1834.
ANONYME. © Musée Gadagne - Lyon
Three major revolts by silk workers in Lyon, France, called the Canut revolts took place during the first half of the 19th century.
At the end of 1833, good economic prospects and conditions caused a boom in the Lyonnais silk industry. As a result, the government thought the chances of a second revolt extremely unlikely. In February 1834, owners began to agree that workers’ salaries had risen too high, and they began an attempt to impose a reduction. The results of this were conflict and strikes, the leaders of which were arrested and tried. Their trial began on April 5, while the members of Chamber of Peers were discussing a law which would intensify the repression of republican groups. The Republicans managed to amalgamate several political parties to fall within the scope of this law, as did the mutual workers’ associations to which Lyon’s canuts were very strongly attached. As a result, thousands of craftsmen rebelled on April 9.
The army occupied the town and bridges. Soon after, gunfire broke out, with troops firing on the unarmed crowd. Barricades were quickly erected throughout the town to hinder the army’s progress. The disorganised workers stormed the Bon-Pasteur barracks, the same as in the first revolt, and again plundered the arsenal. The workers barricaded the different districts of the city, including Croix-Rousse, effectively creating fortified camps. Adolphe Thiers, the Interior minister, would use a tactic that he would later reuse in 1871 to crush the Paris Commune: retreat from the town, abandon it to the insurgents, surround it, then take it back.
Conservative estimates put the number of casualties between 100 and 200,while more liberal estimates put it at over 600.10,000 captured insurgents were tried in a “gigantic trial” in Paris in April 1835, and were condemned to deportation or heavy prison sentences.