In 1781, after the failure of two successive finance ministers, Turgot and then Necker, to reform the royal bureaucracy, and after the death of his politically astute first minister Maurepas, Louis XVI turned to a more conservative politician, Count Charles Gravier de Vergennes, to shore up his support at court and with the Parlements. Vergennes was, for several years, quite successful, partly... Read More »
Meaningless violence was precisely how the Duchess of Gontaut viewed the events of July 14th, especially the murder of the military governor of the Bastille and of the mayor of Paris, whose heads were placed on pikes and paraded around the city.
This project to free enslaved people in the French colonies was presented to the National Assembly. The defensive tone and rhetorical structure that emerge in the course of this document demonstrate the power of the interests opposed to even cautious steps toward emancipation.
In this letter to a friend, Madame Elizabeth, Louis XVI’s younger sister, takes an upbeat approach to the October march on Versailles. Even though the demonstrations clearly threatened the royal family, even forcing the Queen to flee her chambers, the outpouring of support obviously swayed the princess’s views. The actions of the crowd clearly indicated their split view that allowed a rage... Read More »
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. In the foreground, a patriotic woman explains the meaning of the spectacle to her young son, an allegory of the didactic intent of the entire... Read More »
The Declaration of Rights drafted in 1776 by George Mason for the state constitution of Virginia influenced both Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. It clearly states that rights are "the basis and foundation of government." The Virginia Declaration of Rights also influenced the drafting of the Bill of Rights added to the U.S.... Read More »