Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/Assessment/Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette

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The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Article still meets A-Class criteria - Hawkeye7 (talk) MilHistBot (talk) 02:13, 8 December 2014 (UTC)

Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette[edit]

Nominator(s): Wehwalt (talk)

This article had an A-class review six years ago. I happened to consult it and found it to be not up to what I would call par, so I've done a considerable amount of work on it. Before bringing it to FAC, I'd like opinions from this neck of the woods. Note that I haven't done one of these in several years so please bear with me and give me a chance to make corrections.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:14, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

Comments. As always, feel free to revert my copyediting. I made a few tweaks, but nothing too serious; this will probably pass FAC, judging from the first few sections. These are my edits. - Dank (push to talk) 20:05, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for that.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:42, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

Keep: Given that this is already rated as A-class, I assume that the intended outcome of this review is to determine whether or not it still meets that requirement. I had a read through and I'm happy it still meets our criteria. I have a couple of minor suggestions that might help when you got to FAC:

  • watch capitalisation of ranks: for instance "Lafayette as a Lieutenant General, in 1791" should be "Lafayette as a lieutenant general, in 1791", because the rank is not being used as a title. For more info, please see MOS:MILTERMS;
  • I probably wouldn't use {{French military}} on this page, as I think it is more appropriate for higher level (broader) topics;
  • in the References, "Carlier Jeannie, Lafayette, Héros des deux Mondes, Payot, 1988" appears, but does not seem to correspond to a full reference in the Works cited section;
  • in the Works cited section, I suggest adding oclc numbers for the works without ISBNs, for example the Fiske work and Gottschalk's 1939 work (and others). These can usually be found on;
  • Leepson appears in the References, but doesn't appear to correspond to a full reference in the Works cited section (I suggest checking all the others as well);
  • watch the English variation: I think you are using US English, but I see some British variation, e.g. "criticised" and "reconnoitre" etc.;
  • capitalisation: "redoubt 9" --> "Redoubt 9" as it is taking on the role of a proper noun? Same same for "redoubt 10";
  • I think that the punctuation here is incorrect: "country.[175] and a large tract of public lands in Florida...";

Anyway, that's it from me. Good work and good luck taking this further. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 11:11, 27 September 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for that. I think I've caught them all but will continue to check.--Wehwalt (talk) 04:30, 1 October 2014 (UTC)

Comments from Brianboulton[edit]

I have been asked to review the article. I am not familiar with MilHist's A-class criteria, so I am treating this as a straightforward peer review. If necessary my comments can be transferred to a more appropriate location. This is my first batch of comments:

  • "With the Bourbon Restoration – give year. If 1815 is the year the sentence should be refashioned to make this clear, e.g. "With the Bourbon Restoration in 1815, he became a liberal member of the Chamber of Deputies, a position he held..." etc
The Restoration seems to be dated fro 1814, so I've played with it.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:34, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Early life
  • Give year for the Joan of Arc reference. Incidentally, since you use the French form of names, should this be "Jeanne d'Arc"?
I'm disliking to for fear some readers might misunderstand. I think I'd rather be inconsistent.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:34, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Without getting into the murky world of present values, is there some way of indicating what an annual income of 145,000 livres meant in 1770s France? I guess it made him rich, but how rich?
The economies are so different, esp in the cost of labor, that I don't think a comparison, even if I could find one, would be too helpful. Judge him by buying a ship to further his mission, equipping his troops, etc. Ungar says $1.5 million, but how many peasants would that buy today?--Wehwalt (talk) 23:34, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Finding a cause
  • "The taciturn Lafayette was not popular at court". You state "The taciturn Lafayette" as though this was a given, yet there has been no previous indication of this aspect of his character. Perhaps enlarge the sentence a little?
  • Unger's is a fairly recent book, and I would have thought "notes" rather than "noted".
I'm experimenting with not using the present tense for references. After all, in time they will need to be in the past tense anyway.
  • Third paragraph: why bring in Raynal? He is not otherwise mentioned in the article, and his influence on Lafayette is unclear, unless he specifically advocated the American colonists' rebellion.
  • Fourth paragraph: Three "ands" in the first sentence.
  • Last paragraph: "specifically ordering Lafayette to return" – to return where? Also, the words "In addition" at the start of the following sentence, are unnecessary.
Done down to here.
Departure for America
  • Give the date of the initial sailing of the Victoire, i.e. before the turnaround and shenanigans before the actual departure on 20 April.
I've checked a number of sources, and none seems to give it. They may stem from a common source ....--Wehwalt (talk) 19:40, 25 October 2014 (UTC)
American Revolution (preamble)
  • "major-general" hyphenated here, not earlier
  • The words "To address this" are superfluous.
Brandywine, Valley Forge, and Albany
  • "In face of..." → "In the face of" – but surely, Lafayette's wound was not a consequence of facing superior forces? Anyone can be shot in a battle.
  • "...received command of the division previously commanded by..." Clumsy repetition: perhaps "previously led by"?
  • "the Horatio Gates-led Board of War..." A very contrived adjective; maybe "the Board of War, led by Horatio Gates"?
Instalment 2
Barren Hill, Monmouth and Rhode Island
  • First paragraph: overuse of name – "Lafayette...Lafayette...Lafayette"...etc. Judicious use of pronouns requested
Done down to here.
  • "The French fleet arrived in America..." – could we have a little more geographical precision?
  • "When the fleet arrived, Bostonians rioted because they considered the French departure from Newport a desertion." It would surely be more accurate to say "When the fleet arrived it faced angry demonstration from Bostonians who considered the French departure from Newport a desertion."? To simply say that Bostonions "rioted" rather loses the point.
  • "In October 1778, he requested leave of Washington and Congress to go home on furlough, and they agreed, with Congress voting to give Lafayette a ceremonial sword, to be presented to him in France." False use of the preposition "with" as a conjunction. I would split: "In October 1778, he requested leave of Washington and Congress to go home on furlough. They agreed, and Congress voted to give Lafayette a ceremonial sword, to be presented to him in France."
Return to France
  • "Spain was now France's ally against Britain, and sent ships in support". Sent ships where? This whole paragraph is bereft of geographical detail and is somewhat confusing, e.g the Spanish fleet was "met" by a faster British squadron that "they could not catch"
  • Clarify that the 6,000 soldiers under Rochambeau were for service in America.
Second trip to America
  • I'm not sure that "trip" is the right word here, for an extended military assignment extending for the best part of two years.
Changed to "voyage". I can't say "Return to America" after he just did same to France, so open to ideas.
  • "the large French force promised Lafayette" → "the large French force promised by Lafayette"
  • "that summer": Be more precise, as no year has been mentioned in this section so far.
  • "...which when granted would play a crucial part in the battles to come". I think "if", not "when"
No, it says it was in fact granted and did play a crucial part, etc. I'll play with it.
Virginia and Yorktown
  • "which had succeeded in containing the British" – superfluous words, as you have just said: "Lafayette's containment trapped the British..."

More will follow. Brianboulton (talk) 13:34, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

Thanks. And take your time. I'm distracted by some home repair issues that are a bit of a bother right now. Nothing terminal, but time consuming.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:23, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
I think I'm up to date.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:13, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
Hero of two worlds
  • "In 1783, in correspondence with Washington, a slaveowner, he urged the emancipation of slaves; and to establish them as tenant farmers." Something amiss with punctuation and syntax here; I suggest "...he urged the emancipation of slaves and their establishment as tenant farmers."
  • "Lafayette soon after addressed..." reads awkwardly, especially to British eyes. Personally I'd lose "soon after", and add a comma after "House of Delegates".
  • "Lafayette urged the Pennsylvania Legislature to join in a federal union (the states were then bound by the Articles of Confederation) and visited the Mohawk Valley in New York to participate in peace negotiations with the Iroquois, some of whom had met him in 1778." A few issues here. First, this is the second of three successive sentences beginning "Lafayette..." – a pronoun would be appropriate. Secondly, the two subjects of the sentence are unrelated and shouldn't simply be conjoined by "and". Finally, the first part of the sentence is cryptic; it reads as though Pennsylvania was holding out against joining a federal union, and thus needing special persuasion – was this the case? I'd advise a little redrafting here, for clarity and prose organisation.
  • Link "Protestants"
Done to here
Assembly of Notables and Estates-General
  • "King Louis XVI called an Assembly of Notables on 29 December 1786..." I think "On 29 December 1786 King Louis XVI called an Assembly of Notables..." reads better
  • "the King" should not be capitalised – see following section
  • "...and called for reform.[90] He called for..." Repetition.
  • "The royalist response..." Is "royalist" the same as the "nobility" previously referred to? You need to make it clear that Lafayette sided with the locked-out faction.
  • "Lafayette presented a draft of the "Declaration of the Rights of Man..." etc. Presented to whom?
  • "The next day, after the dismissal of Finance Minister Jacques Necker..." You need to say that Necker was dismissed by the king, and also briefly explain why this was a provocative act, thus bringing about Desmoulins' organisation of the mob.
National Guard, Versailles, and Day of Daggers
  • You have "On 26 August, the National Assembly approved the Declaration" followed immediately by "The Assembly approved the Declaration in August"
  • "At the balcony, King Louis appeared..." → "King Louis appeared on the balcony"
  • A few words to explain "Jacobin" would avoid readers having to jump out of the article to follow the link.
  • Not sure about the wording "a great assembly", providing a link to a specific event – particularly as the event itself is named in the accompanying illustration. A few additional words in the text would eliminate confusion.
  • "The royal family was increasingly prisoners in their palace" – sounds entirely wrong. "Family", referring to the individuals who were prisoners, needs "were" not "was".
Decline: Flight to Varennes and Champs de Mars massacre
  • The word "unsuccessful" is redundant, given that the plot's failure is evident from what follows.
  • "Lafayette's stature continued to decline" – I'd prefer "standing"; "stature" implies he was growing shorter
  • Again, better bto give a brief explanation of "Cordeliers" rather than requiring use of link.
  • "such as Danton and Marat" – do you mean "including"?
  • "finished a constitution": suggest "agreed a constitution" or "finalised a constitution"
  • "In September, the Assembly finished a constitution, and on 1 October, Lafayette resigned from the National Guard." Are these events related?

More to follow Brianboulton (talk) 17:54, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

(PS: - slightly puzzled note: is it MilHist custom to vote before, rather than after, the review?)

My final comments
Conflict and exile
  • "Lafayette returned to his home province of Auvergne" – date?
  • "but Lafayette did not" seems an unnecessary statement of the negative.
  • "led to the downfall of the general" – if you mean Lafayette you should say so, but compared with that of the royal family, his "downfall" was somewhat of a soft landing.
  • The mid-section sentence that begins "They hired as agent..." needs attention; T present it's too long and convoluted.
  • "With their help, Lafayette managed to escape an escorted carriage drive in the countryside outside Olmütz." I fear there's a word missing – "during"? – as otherwise the sentence doesn't make sense.
  • It would help to know in what capacity James Monroe was able to assist Adrienne and her daughters.
  • Is "flabbergasted" an encyclopedic term? It tends to make me laugh (we used to have a British comedian who would say: "My flabber has never been so gasted!" and suchlike). I would recommend a less colourful term.
  • "For the next two years, the family spent the days confined together in Lafayette's original quarters, while the daughters spent the nights in an adjacent room." Surely the last ten words are redundant, if the family were confined together. The room allocations within the quarters is not relevant.
  • "Due to conflict between the United States and France..." – what conflict was this? Is there a link to provide some understanding?
Gentleman farmer
  • I wonder if a more apposite section heading could be found? Although he lived in a chateau, there's no indication that Lafayette practised farming there.
Return to politics
  • It would be relevant to mention that the comte de Provence was the brother of the executed Louis XVI, and to mention the Bourbon restoration at
  • Odd introduction for Sydney, Lady Morgan. Can you say who this lady was? It's worded as though she was the chatelaine at La Grange
  • You mention "Carbonari plots" and Lafayette going to Belfort in the same sentence. Is there some relationship? I thought of the Carbonari as an Italian group.
  • Perhaps give a year for the start of the Greek revolution, to assist the chronology.
Grand tour of the United States
  • Is Levasseur's age relevant?
  • "At arrival" → "On arrival"
  • "so many years before" is unnecessarily emotive, for an encyclopedia article.
  • The quote beginning "It was a mystical experience..." should be attributed.
Revolution of 1830
  • "Unhappy at the outcome, Charles dissolved the Chamber, but Lafayette still won his seat". I'm not sure I understand the purpose of the last six words. Are they not covered by the statement that Lafayette was elected to the Chamber?
  • "He made fiery speeches in the Chamber" – so the Chamber was not dissolved after all?
  • Some lack of clarity at the end of the section. What happened to Charles? Did he abdicate, did he flee, die, or was he killed? The throne was offered to Louis-Phillipe but his acceptance is not recorded. What was the timescale for these changes?
Apparently Lafayette handed the new king a list of what he needed to do to get republican support, and the king said he supported them, and then did not follow through to Lafayette's satisfaction. I think the current wording is enough detail.
Final years and death
  • "his neighbors in 1831" → "in 1831 his neighbors"
  • "and embodiment of the American experiment" → "and the embodiment of the American experiment"
  • "uniting figure" → "unifying figure"

A fascinating character, to whom the article (subject to the minor grumps noted) does full justice. Comprehensive, and engrossing to the end. Brianboulton (talk) 00:27, 30 October 2014 (UTC)

Thank you. I think I've addressed all your comments. Thank you for the review.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:26, 1 November 2014 (UTC)

Comments from Auntieruth55[edit]

  • This is definitely a keep. I've started going through it as well.
  • Two immediate things I've found: the question of so and so notes, or noted: since they are contemporary (or relatively contemporary to us) historians, we should use the present tense. If it were historians of the 19th century, we'd use the past tense. I'd also not use their names in the texts, but change to something like Some historians note x... and others note y.... (which I've done.
  • Also, I wouldn't use King Charles, King Louis, etc., but just Charles and Louis.
  • More to come. auntieruth (talk) 15:28, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Thanks. I've never been certain where to draw the line on past or present tense for authors and so I'm experimentally trying all past tense (are articles going to be checked in the future for historians dying, etc.?)--Wehwalt (talk) 16:26, 1 November 2014 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.