Browse Primary Sources

Image of the Attack of 20 June 1792

By the spring of 1792, the Revolution was in crisis on several fronts—in April, war had been declared on the Habsburg Empire, uprisings were taking place in provincial cities, and the Legislative Assembly was increasingly divided over whether to consolidate gains already made or press forward with more changes.

... Read More »

The King Accepting the Constitution amid the National Assembly, 14 September 1791

The Estates–General, reborn as the National Assembly, finished its work by completing a new constitution. This document provided for an executive—the King—as well as a legislative body. Suffrage was male and restricted to certain economic levels.

... Read More »
Engraving of View of the Mound of Champ de la Reunion

View of the Mound of Champ de la Reunion

In this watercolor of the Festival of the Supreme Being, we see a procession that includes a woman wearing a Phrygian cap paraded past a statue of Hercules holding two smaller statues of Liberty and Equality, towards a Liberty tree, atop the hill.

... Read More »
Entry of the French into Holland

Entry of the French into Holland

From Berthault’s series of great moments of the Revolution, this engraving depicts the victorious entry of the republican French forces into the southern Netherlands (currently Belgium) on 21 January 1795, where a "sister republic" of Batavia would soon be established.

... Read More »
Battle of Aboukir

Battle of Aboukir

Napoleon’s eventual acquisition of political power may be attributed partly to his success in publicizing his Egyptian campaign as a great victory for France that spread the values of the Revolution. These engravings by the writer and artist Vivant Denon were published in 1802, four years after the campaign when Napoleon was already in power.

... Read More »
Battle of the Pyramids

Battle of the Pyramids

After a six–week journey from France, the army of some 38,000 arrived in Egypt. The French stormed and took Alexandria first, then moved up the Nile toward Cairo. On 21 July Napoleon’s troops confronted and decisively defeated the army of the Mamelukes, who exercised rule in Egypt on behalf of the Ottomans.

... Read More »
Costumes of the Council of Five Hundred

Costumes of the Council of Five Hundred

In this bicameral legislature, the smaller of the two councils (the Elders with 250 members) had to pass all the legislation, while the Five Hundred could initiate legislation. The revolutionaries decided on the division of authority. The directors functioned as the executive branch, in order to make less possible the consolidation of power, as in the Terror.

... Read More »
Day of 13 Vendemaire of the Year 4

Day of 13 Vendemaire of the Year 4

In the waning days of the Convention in the fall of 1795, royalist–influenced sections of Paris revolted to prevent the adoption of a new constitution that protected the position of the radicals. Bonaparte was delegated to put down the uprising of 5 October 1795 (13 Vendémiaire Year IV).

... Read More »
Destruction of the French Colossus

Destruction of the French Colossus

This hand–colored engraving, published in late 1798, depicts a Hercules representing France being decapitated by a lighting bolt in divine retribution for the executions by guillotine and for the attempt to create "Fraternity" and a "Religion of Nature" to replace the Christian love of God. Notice that it is the British who launch these deadly attacks.

... Read More »
The Contrast, 1793 British Liberty/French Liberty

The Contrast, 1793 British Liberty/French Liberty

In this color print from 1793, the height of the Terror, two circular drawings appear next to each other, contrasting two types of liberty. English liberty exists, as the figure suggests, but based on the Magna Carta, calm prevails. Representing French liberty is an uncontrolled, unruly woman, a killer and destroyer.

... Read More »

Pages