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On 16 August 1870, France was soon losing a war against Germany. At that precise moment, rural France, which had largely been faithful to Napoleon III, was very nervous.
During a fair at Hautefaye, somebody started a rumour accusing a young nobleman of having betrayed the Emperor and the Nation. Both claims were in fact false, as he was not a Republican and his patriotism was spotless, but a crowd gathered around him. The parish priest did try to calm the mob by offering drinks to divert their attention but, however well-meaning the effort may have been, it probably only helped get the crowd even more inebriated than they already were and therefore more dangerous. The mayor, unable to show leadership in the face of such excitement, is reported to have said "Eat him if you like". The young man was battered and tortured for two hours. The crowd finally burnt him on the village square, probably still alive. It is said that people taking part in the killing collected fat dripping from his burning body onto bread, eating the resulting tartines.
(On 6 February 1871, four of the twenty-one people found guilty for the murder were guillotined on the Hautefaye village square)
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