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Francois Hercule Baptiste (17 April 1883 - 4 May 1944) was a French politician, political theorist, propagandist and national figure during the Albertine and Civil War eras, most well known as the Secretary of Information at the State Ministry during the Iron Revolution, as Emperor Albert I's chief advisor and aide during the bulk of his reign, and as the dictatorial State Minister during the French Civil War. As one of the primary architects of one of the darkest chapters in French history, he is widely regarded as one of the most hated, reviled and controversial people in world history.
Baptiste emerged as one of Albert I's most trusted men in the late 1920's, and soon was charged with running the day-to-day affairs of the Imperial bureaucracy as the Emperor's health declined. In 1938, he effectively seized power in a political coup to install his confidants throughout the bureaucracy with Albert I's approval, and made many decisions on the war effort without Imperial approval after Edmond had been coronated in 1939. The rift between Edmond and Baptiste is credited with kneecapping the Imperial war efforts and contributed to the Sebastienite victory in 1943, after which Baptiste and the Loyalists fled to the south to continue a guerrilla campaign. He was captured at Torello in 1944 and received a summary execution on May 4, despite Sebastien's explicit orders that he be returned to Paris to stand in front of the Guttendorp Commission.
State Ministry Career and Iron Revolution
Pre-French Civil War Roles
French Civil War
Capture and Execution
After six days of fighting at Torello, Baptiste and Guillont were captured between Mile 1A and Mile 2A, approximately half a mile from the main site of battle, along with four bodyguards. Both were brought to the main Allied encampment, overseen by Col. Heinrich Basse of the 4th Army. They were kept, bound, in a tent overnight until the 4 of May, when they were brought out in the early morning and shot to death in a field. Baptiste's body, upon later inspection, had been shot twice in the head and three times in the chest, and one shot in the head was at extremely close range.
The execution of Baptiste, Guillont and their bodyguards elicited controversy in Paris, where many Loyalists were dismayed at the summary execution and Sebastien and his inner circle were enraged that they were unable to place Baptiste in front of the Guttendorp Commission. Col. Basse was dismissed from his position for disobeying orders after a quick court martial and was imprisoned for four years. Historians still argue whether Basse himself ordered Baptiste and the others killed or not; only one soldier, Marcel Alustaine, was ever identified as one of the killers and tried for disobeying orders and performing a summary execution.
After his body was returned to Paris for identification, Baptiste's corpse was allegedly cremated and the ashes spread at an undisclosed location, likely in the countryside, lest a physical grave become a shrine to ultranationalists seeking to honor his legacy.
In 1989, a French farmer claimed to have dug up the decayed body of Francois Baptiste; this was proven to be a hoax after dental records did not match the body, and the wounds on the body, alleged to be the two gunshots to the head, were not consistent with the medical report's description of the locations of the shots nor consistent with the size of wounds of the type of gun used at the specific range.