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.
Popular during the early years of the Revolution, this song’s lively tune and repetitive chorus expressed revolutionaries’ hopefulness about the future. Singers manipulated its malleable lyrics to address a broad range of topical issues.
Rousseau was the most controversial and paradoxical of the writers of the Enlightenment. Born in Switzerland, he published important works on politics, music, and in Emile, education. He also wrote one of the most widely read novels of the century, Julie or the New Heloise. Although an advocate of new educational practices that emphasized the natural development of children’s abilities,... Read More »
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.
John Locke (1632–1704) wrote his Second Treatise of Government early in the 1680s and published it in 1690. In it Locke proposed a social contract theory of government and argued against the idea of "divine right," which held that rulers had a legitimate claim on their office because they were God’s emissaries on earth. Locke believed that government derived from an agreement between men to... Read More »
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 »