Duel Boulanger-Floquet, 1888


The duel between General Boulanger and Monsieur Floquet, then President of the Chamber des Députés, in the gardens of Compte Dillon at Neuilly; the above illustration is from the French magazine L’Illustration of July 21, 1888.

The New York Times wrote on July 12: “It is reported that in consequence of the occurrences in the Chamber of Deputies Gen. Boulanger and M. Floquet will fight a duel. MM. Clemenceau and Perlin are said to have consented to serve as seconds for M. Floquet and Count Dillon and M. Laguerre for Gen. Boulanger.”

Floquet after a break of 20 years, had just taken up fencing again at the advice of his physician. In the first exchange, he parried Boulanger’s direct attack. During a corps-a-corps, he was injured slightly on the ankle, while Boulanger was injured in the hand. The seconds intervened, but neither wound was considered severe enough to end the fight.

Again, the general “tried to force the conclusion, and hurled himself upon Floquet, endeavoring to reach his chest. Floquet parried the attack, and in striking up his adversary’s sword, raised his own, on which the General ran, ‘as it were, head-foremost,’ and was wounded to a depth of two inches in the throat. The surgeon in attendance then declared Boulanger for disabled, and the combat terminated”. The English Illustrated Magazine, Volume 24 (October 1900 to March 1901), London: Ingram Brothers, 1901; at 315.

La Monde Illustré of July 21, 1888 provided the moment that General Boulanger was hit in the throat (illustrated by Reichan).


Here again the hit from another vantage point, again from the Journal illustré, reprinted in the Diary Illustrate of August 2, 1888:

Duel Floquet-Boulanger - Diario Illustrado ( 2 Ago 1888).png


And again from a slightly different perspective:


And here’s the somewhat smug Floquet, right after the duel was terminated by the medics; from the L’Univers illustré—Journal Hebdomadaire of July 21, 1888:


An interesting Chinese perspective on this duel was published in the Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW) of May 18, 1889, at 31, with an illustration by a “Chinese artist”:


“An illustrated paper published in Shanghai, and much enjoyed by the Chinese, sometimes turns from the doings of the Celestials to notice remarkable events among the ‘outer barbarians.’ The duel between General Boulanger and M. Ploquet seems to have been considered of sufficient importance for an illustration and a description. The artist evidently believes that duels are fought in public ; that the general was accompanied to the ground by a guard of soldiers, and the Minister by a suite of Civil servants. The notice published with the illustration may be translated as follows :
‘From the most ancient times there has never yet been an instance in China of two Ministers lowering themselves by fighting; and we have no law authorising them to fight. The rule is to submit the matter in dispute to the Emperor, who is the best judge of right and wrong ; and he recompenses or punishes (elevates or degrades) according to the merits of the case. In France it is not so. France is a Republic (a country where the people is master).
‘Recently the General Pao-lin (Boulanger) wished to remove the President of the Republic, and make himself ruler. He claimed the right of appointing or removing the mandarins. The Minister Fou-lou-Kiai opposed this; and Pao-lin insulted him. Fou-lou-Kiai was also enraged; and neither would cede to the other. Therefore, following tho custom long established in France, they drew their swords to avenge their honor. When their weapons crossed they would have sacrificed their lives.
‘But when the general was wounded in the throat their rage cooled ; and they retired satisfied. The country respects the general and the minister because they are supposed to be ready to shed their blood for the public good. But the manner in which they acted would in China be considered unworthy of the larrikins of Tientsin (the lowest of the low). What can be thought of a country where the highest functions are intrusted to those who behave
themselves like the worst of vagabonds.’

A cartoon of the “Glorious Vanquished” in the Viennese Der Floh (“The Flea”) of July 22, 1888. Boulanger, in heavily French-accented German, says: “I only fall to show ze enemy of la France how I will throw them to the ground”.

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