To those who considered Marat insincere and dangerous in his unrelenting populism, the true martyr was Charlotte Corday, who had come to Paris from Caen—a city then serving as a base for the federalist insurgency—apparently with the express intent of killing Marat. In this engraving by the English caricaturist Cruikshank, Corday is depicted as "A Second Joan of Arc," saving her country by... Read More »
The English writer Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–97) argued against both Burke and Rousseau, defending the notion of natural rights, particularly rights for women, such as equal education. She insisted that women could not become virtuous, even as mothers, unless they won the right to participate in economic and political life on an equal basis with men. Although she did not specifically demand... Read More »
This grievance was signed by a certain Madame B*** B*** whose identity is unknown. The provenance appears to be Normandy. Another version of this text, located and republished in the late nineteenth century, is signed by Marie, veuve de Vuigneras, also from Normandy. According to contextual evidence, this document followed the convocation of the Estates–General and the call for the collection... Read More »
Baptiste–Henri Grégoire was a parish priest who was elected to the National Assembly by the clergy of Lorraine. He championed the rights of minorities both before the Revolution and in the legislature. The most noted beneficiaries of his attention were Jews and free blacks. He thought giving rights to Jews would encourage assimilation, while giving free blacks a greater stake in society would... Read More »
Although he himself came from a family that had been forced to convert from Calvinism to Catholicism by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, Abbé Jean–Siffrein Maury (1746–1817) made his reputation as a spokesman for the interests of the Catholic Church, the monarchy’s authority, and the established social hierarchy. Here he attacks Clermont–Tonnerre’s propositions and recapitulates... Read More »
The major principle underlying the 4 August decree found legislative expression in the decree of 19 June 1790. Situated in the broader context of the French Revolution, this document legally abolished the nobility, all its privileges, and, as the excerpt demonstrates, those aspects that seemed particularly contrary to reason.
All regions of France did not support Napoleon equally. His rule aroused most enthusiasm in the east (a prerevolutionary border region crucial in the Napoleonic wars) and the center of the country, least in the west, which had long provided a home to royalist counterrevolution.
Abstension rate in Napoleonic plebiscites (shaded areas = those where the abstention rate exceeded 80 percent... Read More »
This French Revolution era print depicts the Third Estate—represented by the peasant at the rear of the chariot, the worker leading the horse, and the merchant driving—delivering to the National Assembly a petition listing "abuses" to be remedied.
This print depicts the Third Estate—represented by the peasant at the rear of the chariot, the worker leading the horse, and the merchant driving—delivering to the National Assembly a petition listing "abuses" to be remedied.
Unfortunately the only first-hand account of the meetings of the women’s club comes from notes taken by Pierre–Joseph–Alexis Roussel, published in a volume of memoirs in 1802. His account makes fun of the women’s club for discussing the virtues of women as warriors and administrators. Some of the details, however, are accurate and give credibility to the overall account. The club did decide to... Read More »