When he was charged, the King could have simply refused to participate on the grounds that the extant Constitution promised his immunity. But this defense, he knew, was useless and he elected to stand on his record. Among his attorneys was the distinguished and able old regime administrator Chrétlen–Guillaume de Malesherbes. Yet in the end, political necessities and the King’s own actions led... Read More »
The trial of the Queen is here depicted in a tinted engraving by Jean Duplessi–Bertaux as part of his series of Historical Scenes of the French Revolution. Although it refers to her as "Marie Antoinette, the Austrian," the etching portrays her somewhat sympathetically, showing her in a graceful pose with a concerned look on her face amid a hostile prosecutor, judge, and soldiers.
The extremely respectful view of sans–culotte militancy is evident in this image, engraved by the French Revolutionary sculptor Berthault and based on a painting by Fragonard, the son of the famous old regime painter. Imitating an old master’s interior scene, it shows a committee somberly meting out revolutionary justice.
This engraving of the battle of Jemappes, preromantic in its composition and style, depicts a group of French citizen–soldiers bravely risking themselves under the banner of liberty and overcoming all foes in marching to victory—a motif that would become common in the nineteenth century.
The Queen, never popular to begin with in France, also bore the brunt of popular anger in 1792, as seen in images of the King and Queen as animals. This reversal from old regime portrayals of the monarchy is made more remarkable by the fact that beyond 1789 cartoons tried, if somewhat unsuccessfully, to integrate royalty and revolution. One wonders if this dehumanizing of the King and Queen... Read More »
Another version of the final meeting of the King with his family. To the left is his confessor; the figure to the right is most likely Cléry, the King’s valet.
Even before the French Revolution, the French had used a woman in a toga to symbolize liberty. By July 1789 this symbol had become quite common and would only grow more familiar over the revolutionary decade. Generally the female Liberty was a poised counterpart to the frantic actions of the Revolution. She represented calm like a saint. Belonging to no group and no particular place, she stood... Read More »
Cartoonists extrapolated more and more on a new Louis as the Revolution went along. Here, a rather rumpled King, dressed more like a shopkeeper than a monarch, opens a cage to let liberty out. Many scholars argue that the King was already desacralized as much as a couple of decades before the Revolution. Still Louis is associated with liberty here, and this treatment was mild compared with the... Read More »
The status of widows in many societies has been precarious, because the deaths of husbands removed the primary source of their economic well-being as well as control over their sexuality. If there were no adult sons to support widowed mothers, other kinfolk might be reluctant or lack the means to care for widowed relatives. Many societies where men held dominant power evolved mechanisms to... Read More »