Browse Primary Sources
Locate primary sources, including images, objects, media, and texts. Annotations by scholars contextualize sources.
Thumbnail of drawing of man giving a speech for a crowd

Speech in the Garden of the Palais-Royal

In this artistic rendition, on 12 July 1789 Camille Desmoulins stands on a table and encourages his listeners to rise against the threat to the Estates–General. He, and others of his ilk, would be successful in bringing about the fall of the Bastille on 14 July.

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Fusillade in the Faubourg St. Antoine, 28 April 1789

This image chronicles a riot. Many believe it was caused by artisans who attacked the Reveillon wallpaper shop and factory because they believed that the owner was about to lower wages. Over two days, more than 6,000 attacked the place. On 28 April troops were called and fired on the crowd. The official report noted 71 killed, wounded, or detained.

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Using a woman to represent "Fraternity" seems ironic at best, although theoretically the term might mean the community of humanity. In actuality, when the revolutionaries considered "community," they certainly thought of men far more than women. The period saw women take advantage of opportunities presented to them, but outright champions of this kind of inclusive community were few.

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National Assembly Relinquishes All Privileges

This image, part of a series produced to show the most important events of the Revolution, focuses on 4 and 5 August 1789, when the system of privileges came to an end. This legal structure, characteristic of the old regime, guaranteed different rights for different people.

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Transportation of Voltaire to the French Panthéon, 8 July 1792

Although Voltaire’s contribution to the Revolution has been much debated, the revolutionaries themselves had absolutely no doubt of his significance. After 1789 he was much in vogue, in that his plays were often performed and other artists lionized him in various ways.

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Arrest of Louis Capet at Varennes, June 22, 1791

This print shows an angry crowd of fervent revolutionaries breaking down doors to arrest the King.

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Army of Jugs thumbnail image

Army of Jugs

This color drawing, produced in 1793 at the request of the Committee of Public Safety and then published as an engraving, caricatures the British army and its king, George III, as incompetent, who, despite fine uniforms, cannot defeat shoddily clad, yet energetic sans–culottes (on the left), who humiliate the British by defecating on the advancing troops.

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Aristocratic Occupations...

Aristocratic Occupations

The second image, a color drawing by the popular English caricaturist James Gillray in 1805 during the Empire, takes a different view of the Directory, suggesting that it is a time of moral decadence and self–aggrandizement.

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An Ordinary Guillotine

The guillotine was first introduced as a humane, efficient, and above all modern form of execution in April 1792; during the radical phase of the Republic, it would become the symbol of the Terror. This engraving suggests the guillotine is providing "good support for liberty."

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Mercator Projection with Eurasia Centered

Mercator Projection, Eurasia Centered

The map is a Mercator projection that has been altered. Instead of placing North America in the center, the Eurasian land mass is in the middle. This map of the world suggests some of the ways the choices made by mapmakers have a significant impact on our understanding of the world.

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