Women at the Jacobins


An observer of Jacobin club meetings in 1791, in the passage below, describes somewhat disorderly debates, in which speakers are shouted down from the rostrum and women participate openly. This is indicative of what this author sees as the "ungovernable" situation in Paris.

Women Testify Concerning Their Participation in the October Days (1789)


The commission investigating the events of October 1789 also interrogated many women who had participated. Most of them denied any role in the violence, but they did explain their mixture of political and economic motives, citing the high price of bread and their desire to explain their situation to the National Assembly.

Women's Petition to the National Assembly


This petition was addressed to the National Assembly sometime after the October 1789 march of women on Versailles. The authors were clearly well acquainted with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, as well as with the many prior publications about the historical accomplishments of celebrated women. They were also conversant with the concept of "genre" (gender), understood as... Read More »

Women’s Activities during the Prairial Uprising


Popular radical activity continued throughout the period of the Terror (see Chapter 7) and did not end with 9 Thermidor. On 1–4 Prairial, Year III (20–23 May 1795), a large group composed largely of women surrounded the Convention Hall and massacred a deputy to force the legislature to satisfy its demand that the democratic constitution drafted by the Jacobins, but never put into effect, be... Read More »

Women’s Participation in Riots over the Price of Sugar, February 1792


This fragment from a memoir by Charles Alexandre shows the anger of women when confronted by a sugar shortage. They readily attributed the shortage to hoarding by greedy merchants. This document also shows the new importance of colonial products such as sugar and coffee.

Zalkind–Hourwitz, Vindication of the Jews (1789)


In 1789, 40,000 Jews lived in France, most of them in the eastern provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. In some respects, they were better treated than Calvinists under the laws of the monarchy; Jews could legally practice their religion, though their other activities were severely restricted. They had no civil or political rights, except the right to be judged by their own separate courts, and... Read More »