The Rastatt Murder

The murdered envoys

Return to Rastatt

Gemeinschaftliche Erklärung mehrerer ansehnlichen Gesandtschaften zu Rastadt über die Ermordung der französischen Gesandten und die übrigen dabey vorkommenden Umstände. Nebst einen [sic] Kupfer und Beilagen. - [S.l.] 1799.

Austrian National Library, shelfmark: 309.578-B.Alt-Mag 

In autumn 1797, after more than five years of war, the Treaty of Campo Formio between France and Austria had brought the War of the First Coalition to an end. Diplomats of the warring countries had met in Rastatt from December 1797 onwards to put into effect the terms of the treaty and to settle the question of recompensation for the German princes of the Oberrhein region whose lands were now under French rule. After 16 months of fruitless meetings, Austria declared war, and in due course the congress was dissolved.

On April 28th, four French envoys, having formerly been suspected of espionage by the Austrians, were waylaid shortly after their departure for France. Two of them, Ange-Louis Bonnier and Claude Roberjot, were killed. The two others, Jean De Bry and Charles-Henri Rosenstiel, escaped, as did their families and entourage.

The Gemeinschaftliche Erklärung tries to shed light on the tragic incident by recapitulating the facts as known and listing statements of eye witnesses. The envoys were allegedly assassinated by hussar soldiers – was Austrian colonel Barbaczy, commander of a regiment of hussars and in charge of the city, to be held responsible for the murder? The investigation was soon abandoned and Barbaczy was promoted some time later. The mystery of the Rastatt murder was never solved.

The two parts of the relation contain one engraving each, showing the“bodies found murdered” on the highway near Rastatt and the return of the other two envoys, their families and attendants to Rastatt and the “kind sympathy of some high envoys with their fate”. In the center: Jean De Bry, supported by his daughters, at the right: Roberjot’s widow.

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last update 10/3/2013