"Louis the Sixteenth, King of France and of Navarre" This portrait demonstrates Louis at the height of his power and authority on the eve of the Revolution.
Here Louis XVI is portrayed as a benevolent king distributing alms to the poor, an appropriate action for the "Father of his people." However, his rich fur&#x2013;clad outfit contrasts with the abject poverty of the common people, suggesting to those inclined to be critical that the King did not understand the true state of popular misery during some of the 1780s.
We Must Hope That It Will Soon Be Over" A common complaint of rural petitions was the abuse of seigneurial dues owed by peasants to lords supposedly in exchange for protection and supervision. This image demonstrates the view that peasants envisioned their lords not as protectors, but as exploiters who constantly turned the screws on them to extract ever more rent or other payments.
Assembly of Notables
Opening of the Estates General
"Taking of the Bastille" The "bravery of the citizens united against" the royal army, as the text suggests, enabled them to conquer in four hours a fortress that had defeated invasions since 1368.
"National Assembly Relinquishes All Its Privileges " In late July 1789, as reports poured into Paris from the countryside of several thousand separate yet related peasant mobilizations, a majority of them against seigneurial property, the deputies of the National Assembly debated reforming not just the fiscal system or the constitution but the very basis of French society. In a dramatic all&#x2013;night session on 4&#x2013;5 August deputies stepped forward, one after another, to renounce for the good of the "nation" the particular privileges enjoyed by their town or region. By the morning, noble, clerical, and commoner deputies had proposed, debated, and approved even more systematic reform, voting to "abolish the feudal system entirely," effectively eliminating noble and clerical privilege, the fundamental principle of French society since the Middle Ages. As dramatic a gesture as this was, it was also very abstract&#x2014;after all, the "feudal system" had virtually ceased to exist in France for several hundred years; thus, working out the details of this decree became a primary objective of the National Assembly for the next two years.
"I Was Sure We Would Have Our Turn" Class solidarity was never universal, as this print celebrates the victory of the peasantry over the nobility and clergy. The two defeated orders, linked together to create a horse, support the peasant who with his newly-won freedom, carries the result of a hunt--an activity not legal for commoners under the Old Regime. The peasant also proclaims, &#x201C;Vive le roi [the King]. Vive la Nation.&#x201D; This indicates that this was published early in the Revolution, for by 1792, Louis XVI would no longer be popular.
French Constitution, Rights of Man and Citizen" This image of the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen includes a fascinating mix of symbols. By arranging the articles on tablets, the artist clearly meant to associate this document with Moses&#x2019; Ten Commandments. Such a link could establish the revolutionaries&#x2019; handiwork as equivalent to that of God. Reinforcing this is the all&#x2013;seeing eye located at the top of the tableau. However, this is not the God of biblical revelation but of the Masonic order, which espoused a deistic vision of a benevolent creator and founder of general laws. This deity was not a worker of miracles. Thus the Declaration results from the actions of humankind, who enjoy the beneficence of the generous deity.
Vanguard of Women going to Versailles" This drawing shows a group of women presumably leading the procession to Versailles. Dressed as servants and shopkeepers, the women are depicted as a military unit led by one woman in the role of an officer on the horse and by a drummer, followed by the rest carrying the common weapons of pikes and pitchforks.
"Triumph of the Parisian Army and the People" Returning home from the October march to Versailles, the women and the guardsmen display the heads of troops who confronted the marchers. Note the use of tree branches, symbolizing support for the revolution here as in other prints.
"The Third Estate Marrying Priests with Nuns" The National Assembly also eliminated monasteries, since monks and nuns had increasingly become figures of ridicule. This image depicts the dissolution of the religious orders, rather than the confiscation of lands, as the crucial element in religious reorganization. It shows "the National Assembly marrying nuns and monks" so they will become productive citizens.
The fattened clergyman and the well&#x2013;bedecked nobleman go off unbothered while the figure in the foreground assesses carefully the value of a commoner. This complex image also includes a pig&#x2014;likely a symbol for Louis XVI&#x2014;with the cleric and the noble. Thus the print clearly attacks the upper classes and likely the monarch. But there is more. Specifically, the National Assembly had set a means test for voters, and a higher one for prospective officeholders. So the gigantic female is measuring the commoner for his right to participate in the new revolutionary society. This then is also a critique of the National Assembly. Who, then, is the figure in the foreground? Perhaps it is the revolutionary legislature, represented here as an arrogant Roman Senate, a clearly oligarchical body.
The Triumph of Liberty&#x2013;1790" In this extraordinary painting stands a formidable and powerful figure of liberty with her pike and cap. As the title of this work suggests, Liberty appears here as a warrior surveying the field of battle from a commanding height. Furthermore, the cock crowing at the dawn suggests the arrival of an entirely new day.
"General Federation of the French" This image provides a visual overview of the Festival of Federation of 14 July 1790. Commemorating the fall of the Bastille one year earlier, this massive military parade of troops from all regions of the kingdom converged on a triple&#x2013;tiered triumphal arch where all the soldiers swore an oath to serve the king and the National Assembly. The pageant drew nearly a million spectators and represented the apex of the social, geographical and political unity that reformers and early revolutionaries hoped would solve France&#x2019;s problems. This festival was a powerful counterpoint to those who believed that the social question ultimately would undermine the Revolution.
"Image of the King at the Festival of Federation" Having lived through a tumultuous year, France&#x2019;s political leaders, new and old, perceived the need to foster a sense of unity among the people. The King&#x2019;s more liberal ministers in particular hoped to prevent attempts to roll back the changes made since the spring of 1789 and to limit momentum for farther&#x2013;reaching challenges to the monarchy. To this end, the Marquis de La Fayette organized a public pageant in Paris to celebrate the "federation" of the different regions and social groups of France. Here Louis XVI joins the construction site where the festival will take place on 14 July 1790.
"The Joyous Accord" This allegorical image represents the sentiments of social unity that the National Assembly sought to promote through the Festival of the Federation of 14 July 1790. This festival, though technically but a military parade of units from around the country, also implied to most observers the unity of all orders and classes.
Active Citizen/Passive Citizen" This cartoon mocks the distinction between active and passive citizens. Many revolutionaries hated this difference, essentially dividing those with property from those without. The propertied (active) were the only ones who could participate in the political process.
Long Live Liberty" 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 personal attacks and the execution that would follow.
Louis as a Drunkard" This image of Louis, already altered by commoner attire and a Phrygian cap, added a raised bottle. This transformation could scarcely have been anticipated even a year or two into the Revolution
"Louis as Pig" The Queen, never popular to begin with in France, also bore the brunt of popular anger in 1792, as seen in these images of the King, the Queen, and elsewhere the entire royal family, as animals. One wonders if this dehumanizing of the King and Queen might explain why they became such lightning rods for criticism and, moreover, why the entire royal family would eventually be excluded from any protection under law, at the very moment that a constitution ensuring the rights of all people was being put into effect.
Marie Antoinette as a Serpent" The Queen, never popular to begin with in France, also bore the brunt of popular anger in 1792, as seen in these images of the King, Queen, and elsewhere the entire royal family, as animals. One wonders if this dehumanization of the King and Queen might explain why they became such lightning rods for criticism and, moreover, why the entire royal family would eventually be excluded from any protection under law, at the very moment that a constitution ensuring the rights of all people was being put into effect.
"The Crushed Aristocracy" This image uses the classical figures of an angel and a cherub to celebrate the achievements of Louis XVI on the base of a statue. The words state that he has destroyed the "aristocracy" and established the liberty of the French people. The monarch&#x2019;s action is equated with the other great reminder of national emancipation, the Bastille, seen in the background.
With the Help of Mr. de la Fayette, the French Nation Defeats Despotism" Here, as in the preceding image, Lafayette&#x2019;s role is praised. A warlike liberty stands with him over a defeated despotism at his feet. Revolutionaries often represented despotism as a multiheaded monster
Louis XVI, King of the French, born 23 August 1754." Early in the Revolution, LaFayette was among the most visible and popular leaders, in part because of his participation in the American revolution and his relationship to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others. Further, though noble, he had been sympathetic to the Third Estate. By entwining Louis and LaFayette, this image seeks to legitimize the commander&#x2019;s authority, but also to give the King more solid revolutionary credentials. It is interesting here that the King appears without the liberty cap and in his old regime finery, with only LaFayette to prove Louis was committed to things revolutionary.
Louis XVI Stopt [sic] in his Flight at Varennes" This romantic English painting of the King&#x2019;s flight suggests only a few feet separated the King from escape.
Louis Rides a Pig Equestrian skills were expected of a monarch. But portraying the King mounted on a pig was most unflattering. Linking royalty to animals was a theme that emerged after the flight to Varennes.
"The King Accepting the Constitution amid the National Assembly, 14 September 1791" The Estates&#x2013;General, reborn as the National Assembly, finished its work by completing a new constitution. This document provided for an executive&#x2014;the King&#x2014;as well as a legislative body. Suffrage was male and restricted to certain economic levels. Overall, it was a moderate document that created a constitutional monarch and privileged the wealthy to a considerable degree at a time when the monarchy had discredited itself and popular classes wanted more. In retrospect, one could wonder how contemporaries believed this constitution would survive.
Image of the Attack of 20 June 1792" By the spring of 1792, the Revolution was in crisis on several fronts&#x2014;in April, war had been declared on the Habsburg Empire, uprisings were taking place in provincial cities, and the Legislative Assembly was increasingly divided over whether to consolidate gains already made or press forward with more changes. On 20 June crowds of people in Paris took matters into their own hands, invading first the Assembly and then the Tuileries Palace, where they forced the King to don a Phrygian cap and drink a toast to the health of the nation
This fascinating print, likely produced before the King&#x2019;s flight from Paris, takes the Louis XVI of the old regime and makes him a revolutionary with the addition of the Phrygian cap. While the engraver&#x2019;s intention remains absolutely unknown, contemporaries might have seen this as mocking Louis&#x2019;s new position in the Revolution. Others, less cynical, might have seen an attempt to create a monarchy living with the constitution.
King and Queen as Two&#x2013;headed Monster" 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 might explain why they became such lightning rods for criticism.
Siege of the TuileriesThis hand&#x2013;tinted engraving depicts the storming of the Tuileries Palace by what appear to be small groups of well&#x2013;organized soldiers of the Marseilles National Guard. The positive image of the sans&#x2013;culottes is reinforced by commentaries that attribute their action to the "despotism" of Louis XVI and the "treason" of his agents against France.
Day of 10 August 1792" This engraving gives a ground&#x2013;eye view of the action; far from an orderly operation, the "day" appears chaotic and menacing, as the inspired people face what appear to be cannons being fired by royal soldiers. This romantic image would become the predominant view of this event.
"Rare Animals; or, the Transfer of the Royal Family from the Tuileries to the Temple. Champfleury, 1792" Here the events of 10 August were expressed by reducing the royal family to animals. Driven from their palace to prison, the family became no more than a group of barnyard animals. Contrast these common four&#x2013;footed animals with the erect revolutionary whipping them along. The use of animals here in an English cartoon reveals that anglophone allies of revolutionaries shared the symbolic approaches used in France.
"Massacre of the Prisoners of St. Germain Abbey" In one of the most widely reported incidents of the September massacres, a "jury" of twelve "commissioners" was formed spontaneously in the Saint&#x2013;Germain Abbey to judge the refractory clergy held there as prisoners. After an interrogation and threats of "prealable interrogation" (a form of torture used by the Inquisition), the convicted criminals were put to death in the name of "the people." The event was discussed favorably by the radical newspaper, the R*volutions de Paris. This woodcut appeared alongside the article.
The Welcoming of a Marquis in Hell" The image points out the destruction of the nobility, depicting the arrival in Hell of a "marquis" and several other "aristocrats," described in the legend as "conspirators" and "traitors."
"Massacre of the Prisoners" Yet another image from the newspaper R*volutions de Paris shows crowds massacring refractory clergy and prisoners. These panels reveal similar occurrences at the police prisons of the Chatelet and the Bic*tre, where altogether an estimated 800 were killed in the first week of September.
Patience Monsignor Your Turn Will Come" Cartoons attacked the refractory clergy. Here, fat, overfed, and underworked clergy are squeezed down to an appropriate size. As elsewhere, visual images mocked the clergy by depicting them as subject to the threats and physical attacks of others.
In the Temple
Louis&#x2019;s Separation from His Family" After hearing the verdict, the King was allowed a final evening with his family, whom he had not seen for almost a month during the trial. Twice on the evening of 20 January the King met with his wife, his son, and a daughter. For about an hour and three&#x2013;quarters all told, they visited. Only at this time, three days after the verdict, was the family told of the King&#x2019;s sentence. This led to a miserable scene with much weeping and kissing. The children were totally distraught when finally the father departed. Although they hoped for a final farewell in the morning, this was not to be.
Image of the Execution" This image shows much the same scene on the platform as the preceding one, but the surroundings are much more in evidence. Visible here are the troops. Eight to nine thousand were mobilized to avoid any efforts at rescue. This is clearly the last moment as Louis XVI has his coat off and his hands secured behind his back. The confessor steadies the King.
The Contrast, 1793 British Liberty/French Liberty" In this color print from 1793, the height of the Terror, two circular drawings appear next to each other, contrasting two types of liberty. English liberty exists, as the figure suggests, but based on the Magna Carta, calm prevails. Representing French liberty is an uncontrolled, unruly woman, a killer and destroyer. That a woman represents both sides remains interesting in light of the fact that women were excluded from office.
An Emblematical View of the Constitutions of England and France" Similar to the two engravings of trees, this engraving contrasts English order with French anarchy. On the left, a lion (representing England) sits at the foot of a chiseled rock, part of which is labeled "Unanimity." A crown appears over the rock; a unicorn lies behind it. To the right, a multiheaded serpent representing France writhes around a broken flag reading "Anarchy."
Army of Jugs" This color drawing, produced in 1793 at the request of the Committee of Public Safety and then published as an engraving, caricatures the British army and its king, George III, as incompetent, who, despite fine uniforms, cannot defeat shoddily clad, yet energetic sans&#x2013;culottes (on the left), who humiliate the British by defecating on the advancing troops. The British vainly try to respond with cannons in the shape of clysters, medical devices used to administer enemas. The key below indicates the particular British figures, notably Charles James Fox and George III, being satirized.
Image of the King on Trial" 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 Chr&#xE9;tlen&#x2013;Guillaume de Malesherbes. Yet in the end, political necessities and the King&#x2019;s own actions led to the inevitable results: guilty and execution.
Commemorating the Revolution on Chinaware" The execution scene appeared on a plate. Even were this simply a souvenir that no one intended to actually eat from, this piece of china reveals fantastic revolutionary anger. Having a picture in crockery of an execution, even in a society where public executions were still occurring, still appears as bloodthirsty. But the use of this plate would seem to be a symbolic eating of one&#x2019;s enemies. Is this a reverse communion, in which strength is drawn from the blood of the victim?
The Good Sans&#x2013;Culotte" Male and female sans&#x2013;culottes were supposed to embody frugality, thrift, hard work, and, above all, honest devotion&#x2014;whether to pets, the nation, or fellow comrades.
Madame Sans-Culotte" Male and female sans&#x2013;culottes were supposed to embody frugality, thrift, hard work, and, above all, honest devotion&#x2014;whether to pets, the nation, or fellow comrades
The Phrygian cap seems to be everywhere during the Revolution.
The Republic" Under the monarchy, the king was the country&#x2019;s symbolic center. Removing him and establishing a republic made necessary not only a new constitution but also a new set of symbols. Here the revolutionaries transformed "Liberty" into "the Republic." Without her pike and cap, she seems more matriarchal, framed by flourishing plants. Sometimes depicted in more aggressive posture, the Republic was always shown as a female figure, in part to avoid identification with any particular male politician or political group. The female Republic never appeared in contemporary dress; she was a symbol above politics, not a French woman involved in revolutionary action.
The Days of 31 May and 1&#x2013;2 June 1793" Even though popular action had unseated the Legislative Assembly and replaced it with the Convention, the elections that followed had not satisfied the radicals of Paris and their artisanal followers. From 31 May to 2 June 1793, these Parisians demonstrated outside the Convention and through intimidation forced the politicians inside to give up the Girondins who were being vilified. Although the winners of this event within the Convention&#x2014;the Jacobins&#x2014;managed to eliminate their political opposition, it made most of them quite uneasy to validate popular action of this sort. They were afraid it might be turned on them.
The Death of Marat " This famous depiction of Marat&#x2019;s assassination (1793) is by the unofficial (and sometimes official) artist of the French Revolution, Jacques&#x2013;Louis David, a leading exponent of the neoclassical style. Scholars have seen this vision as a revolutionary piet&#xE0; because of the repose of the corpse, so different from a normal body in a stage of rigor mortis. David also planned Marat&#x2019;s funeral on behalf of the government.
The Assassination of Marat by Charlotte Corday" In the fall of 1793, the radical journalist was confined to his bathtub by a paralyzing skin disease he had contracted while hiding from the police in the sewers. He nevertheless continued to pour out populist tracts and remained highly influential in the sections. Whether out of personal obsession or prompting, Charlotte Corday sneaked into his home to silence this self&#x2013;declared tribune of the people.
"Assassination of J. P. Marat" This color image portrays Marat stabbed to death in his bathtub by Corday. Marat&#x2019;s housekeeper weeps over his death while Corday is led off to face justice for her crime.
Bust of Marat" After Marat&#x2019;s death, his defenders glamorized him, forgetting both his physical deformities and his vitriolic calls for more and more heads. One common approach was to give him secular sainthood (a halo in this image) incongruous for someone with so little patience with the church.
"In Memory of Marat, Friend of the People, Assassinated 13 July, 1793" A leading voice on behalf of greater popular participation and social policies that would benefit the poor, the journalist Jean&#x2013;Paul Marat used his radical newspaper the Friend of the People to criticize moderation
Some images of Charlotte Corday emphasized her purity.
The Queen of Louis XVI King of France at the Guillotine, 16 October 1793" An idealized portrait of Marie Antoinette at the moment of death. Unlike the pale, aged woman the contemporaries observed, this later print memorialized a beautiful, absolutely pure, woman. While in life she had been assailed as a lesbian, a pedophile, and an adulteress with men, here she is being depicted as nearly a saint. Indeed, a great problem that the revolutionaries had was that, as they executed those they thought guilty, they also referred them to martyrdom and ultimately to a good chance for rehabilitation.
An Example of Heroic Courage" In this rendition of an incident from the Vend&#xE9;e rebellion, an ordinary woman is shown standing up to the rebels. It comes from a series of heroic images of the Revolution and shows that women could be heroines for the Republic.
Description of the Chouans and other Counterrevolutionaries" The counterrevolution was a very large movement that would over time engulf different parts of France from 1793 into the Napoleonic period. But it was not one thing, for many regions of different ideologies were involved. The most serious was the revolt in the west, including both the Vend&#xE9;e (especially during 1793&#x2013;94) and the Chouans (strongest in 1795&#x2013;96). This engraving (and the following one) mocks the "Counterrevolution" by depicting its participants grotesquely and comically. It shows three effeminate&#x2013;looking dandies identified as officers of the Chouan army, setting forth "to assassinate, starve, and slit the throats of . . . patriots."
The Radical&#x2019;s Arms. (No God! No Religion!! No King! No Constitution!!)" From an English periodical of 1819, this antirevolutionary print portrays the sans&#x2013;culottes as drunkards anxious to destroy by fire, gallows, and guillotine rather than to work for their own good. The image satirizes the idea of sans&#x2013;culotte simplicity by arranging the two figures and the guillotine as an aristocratic coat of arms.
"Festival of Supreme Being" These depictions show the Festival of the Supreme Being, a massive pageant staged by Jacques&#x2013;Louis David on 8 June 1794, in open air on the "Field of Reunion," formerly the royal army&#x2019;s parade ground. At David&#x2019;s orders, a huge mountain was erected on the field, as seen in this engraving.
"View of the Mound of Champ de la Reunion on the Festival That Was Celebrated in Honor of the Supreme Being" 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 festival.
The Death of Robespierre" This engraving, based on a color portrait by Beys, depicts the death of Robespierre on the guillotine. The executioners wear not the traditional hangman&#x2019;s hood but red bonnets representing liberty. This judgment notes Robespierre&#x2019;s failure to the Revolution itself. Contemporaries emphasized that Robespierre&#x2019;s punishment was just because it was the same to which "he had condemned so many thousands of innocent victims."
Act of Justice" Here Robespierre&#x2019;s death is depicted as divine retribution, as in a classical myth. Numerous heads, presumably of those who had perished at the guillotine, watch two male figures (bearing a strong resemblance to Hercules, who had been an early symbol of the Revolution) carry the freshly severed heads of Robespierre and his followers toward the mythological river Styx, guarded by the three&#x2013;headed dog Cerberus.
Drowning in the Loire by Order of the Fierce Carrier" On 6&#x2013;7 December 1793, Jean&#x2013;Baptiste Carrier, a deputy sent by the Convention to suppress the insurrection at Nantes, accepted, if he did not in fact welcome, a measure proposed by the local Revolutionary Tribunal to fill seven boats with an estimated 200&#x2013;300 prisoners (not all of them yet convicted) and sink them in the Loire River. Some accounts reported that the victims had their hands tied, but, if they managed to free them, troops in boats were there to hack off their arms. This gruesome massacre, which symbolized the excesses of the Terror for many, is depicted in this engraving by Berthault as one of the "great moments" of the Revolution.
"A Grateful France Proclaims Napoleon the First Emperor of the French" In this engraving, Roman and contemporary themes are combined to glorify the new emperor. The absence of any clear representation of revolutionary liberty shows Napoleon moving away from the events of the preceding decade.
Sire, They Are My Sons and My Wife" Napoleon cultivated the intense personal loyalty of his troops with engravings like this one, which suggests a personal interest in the ordinary soldier.
""The Exorcism": Ridding France of the Devil Napoleon" The seal in the foreground, with its fleur&#x2013;de&#x2013;lys, indicates a return to royalism after France&#x2019;s liberation from Napoleon. In addition, the secularism associated with the Revolution is countered with the image&#x2019;s reference to the religious practice of exorcism.
LibertyIn this spectacularly vivid rendition of Liberty, she holds the Phrygian cap of freed slaves on a pike. That, combined with her colorful pants, suggests aggressive liberty. Yet the scrolls in her right hand also underscore the role of legislation in defining her purview. Further, simply the use of a female figure balanced some of the aggressive pose
ﬁgures stood for
all kinds of
virtues, in this
Women ﬁgures appeared so prominently in paintings and engravings because French nouns for the qualities and
virtues were usually feminine (Truth = La Vérité). In other words, paintings such as this one did not represent real
women; they used allegorical ﬁgures to make a more abstract point.
To contemporaries who subscribed
to the Enlightenment, the term
"reason" was to be contrasted to
Even before the Revolution, the
French had used a woman to
symbolize ‘liberty’. By July 1789 this
symbol had become quite common
and would only grow more familiar
over the revolutionary decade.
Belonging to no group and no
particular place, she stood for a
universal principle based on reason.
At the beginning of the Revolution, the
term ‘equality’ meant an end to the
legal differences that had characterized
the Old Regime. For example, all
individuals would be subject to the
same regimen of taxation. Over the
course of the decade, however, the
Revolution radicalized, and ‘equality’
expanded to encompass an end to
many other sorts of differences,
particularly economic ones.
Although equality is here represented as a woman,
the revolutionaries were capable of using males,
particularly Hercules. But this powerful symbol
frightened many, especially from the educated elite,
and the female "Equality" seemed far less terrifying.
Using a woman to represent "Fraternity"
seems ironic at best, although
theoretically the term might mean the
community of humanity. In actuality, when
the revolutionaries considered
"community," they certainly thought of
men far more than women. The period
saw women take advantage of
opportunities presented to them, but
outright champions of this kind of
inclusive community were few. What
might the revolutionaries have meant,
then, by their reliance on the female
form? One might hypothesize that in a
revolution that feared the bold action of
crowds, construing fraternity in this
fashion softened and lessened such
In the early liberal stage of the revolution, fraternity was vastly
overshadowed by equality & liberty (these ideas were the main
concerns of the Declaration of Rights of Man & Citizen & the
August Decrees). The women demonstrated some sense of fraternity in
their March to Versailles, but again, their concerns lay with the price of
bread and other ideals.
The first show of fraternity came with the Festival of Federation,
which celebrated the success & unity of the Fall of the Bastille.
Lafayette used this festival to elevate his own role as the moderator of
the crowd & the hero of the people, wishing to equate his position with
that of Louis.
The Girondins encouraged the notion of fraternity in the declaration of
the 'motherland in danger' during war with Austria, creating an
opening in the National Guard for sans-culottes. They did this to rally
political support for themselves, as well as military support for the
Fraternity as an idea only gained greater significance in the
latter part of the revolution, particularly during the Terror, when
the notions of personal liberty & equality were sacrificed in
the name of collective liberty & equality.
Leaders like Robespierre used this principle as justification for
their measures including the Law of Suspects, use of
revolutionary tribunals, and watch committees to crush rebellion.
This also justified their use of representatives-en-mission and
grain requisitioning on peasants as a means of protecting the
Ironically, the new order espoused the ideal of fraternity, yet was
coloured by the bloody results of people spying on & 'telling on'
each other eg. September Massacres, show trials.
Finally, Robespierre tried to promote the notion of fraternity with
the Festival of the Supreme Being, which tried to unite France
after the Civil Constitution of the Clergy - however, this
contributed to his downfall.
This poster includes the
Republic’s new calendar
under an image of
symbol of the Republic as
well as the ultimate
from the past.
Without her pike & calmly reading a
book with a cupid around, she is
more the mother of the new system
than a warrior for liberty, as in other
The guillotine was ﬁrst
introduced as a humane,
efﬁcient, and above all
modern form of execution in
During the radical phase of
the Republic, it would
become the symbol of
This engraving suggests the
guillotine is providing "good
support for liberty."
"body politic" of
the old regime.
only as an entity in
the body of the
The citizens were
his subjects; the
only through the
Such a perspective
on the period
It would have
the Revolution, but
the image does
reveal the social
clash felt so
intensely by the
‘Fusillade in the Faubourg
St. Antoine, 28 April 1789"
This image chronicles a
riot. Many believe it was
caused by artisans who
attacked the Reveillon
wallpaper shop and
factory because they
believed that the owner was
about to lower wages. Over
two days, more than 6,000
attacked the place. On 28
April troops were called and
ﬁred on the crowd. The
ofﬁcial report noted 71
killed, wounded, or detained.
28 April 1789
These three figures are wearing costumes prescribed for deputies to the Estates-General…
"Departure of the Three Orders for Versailles"
In this image, representatives of each of the three orders depart together in a cart for
the 1789 meeting of the Estates–General at Versailles, where they will advise the King on
behalf of the nation.
5 May 1789 – opening plenary session of the
In July, out-of-work peasants who crowded the slums at the edge of Paris rioted and looted… Below, an
unruly mob sets fire to one of the hated customs barriers at which taxes were levied on goods entering the
‘The Third Incident of 14 July
This engraving from the Berthault
series depicts Stanislas Maillard
bravely climbing on a plank over
the dry moat surrounding the
fortress to accept from one of the
soldiers Launay’s "capitulation" of
Taking of the
14 July 1789 Bastille
participation in the
storming of the
Bastille, showing the
ﬁghting under a red
muskets, swords, and
pikes against the
Stunning images and
contributed to what
has become the
that the taking of the
Bastille was a
revolt against royal
At the Palais Royal, one of the
many orators roused the
crowd on July 12, 1789,
addressing citizens carrying
wax busts of Necker and the
Duke of Orleans.
people to go
to the streets
and defend the
Lafayette appears on his famous white
charger in a print celebrating his
appointment as commander of the
Paris National Guards.
"National Assembly Relinquishes All Its Privileges "
In late July 1789, as reports poured into Paris from the countryside of several
thousand separate yet related peasant mobilizations, a majority of them
against seigneurial property, the deputies of the National Assembly debated
reforming not just the ﬁscal system or the constitution but the very basis of
In a dramatic all–night session on 4–5 August deputies stepped forward,
one after another, to renounce for the good of the "nation" the particular
privileges enjoyed by their town or region. By the morning, noble, clerical, and
commoner deputies had proposed, debated, and approved even more
systematic reform, voting to "abolish the feudal system entirely," effectively
eliminating noble and clerical privilege, the fundamental principle of French
society since the Middle Ages.
As dramatic a gesture as this was, it was also very abstract—after all, the
"feudal system" had virtually ceased to exist in France for several hundred
years; thus, working out the details of this decree became a primary objective
of the National Assembly for the next two years.
theatre of the
areas in which
The areas in
The dotted line
escape route of
Awakening of the Third Estate -
With the Bastille being destroyed in the
background, a member of the Third Estate
breaks his shackles. Here, the clergy and
nobility recoil in fear, thereby emphasizing
the conﬂict between the estates.
This hand–colored engraving equates the taking of the Bastille with the rise of the Third Estate against the clergy and nobility. A
commoner in a black hat sporting a tricolor cockade plays the bagpipe triumphantly over the fallen lion of the absolutist monarchy. To the
side, a revolutionary soldier raises his sword to menace a priest.
Oath of the New Horaces -
Social discrimination against
old regime elites continued in
this parody of a famous
painting prior to the
Revolution, The Oath of the
Horatii, by Jacques–Louis
David which focused on the
courage of three brothers
who thrust their arms bravely
forward to signal their
willingness to sacriﬁce
themselves for their country.
In this image, three ofﬁcers
recruited from the nobility
offer a weak salute, suggesting
their irresolute allegiance to
the king and a lack of
2 November 1789
They Had Them Too Long –
This image demonstrates the
necessity of nationalizing
It shows a peasant cutting the
ﬁngers off a priest’s hands; a
nobleman cannot bear to
watch, but has no qualms
about putting on the gloves
the clergyman will no longer
Although the focus is on the
clergy, the noble’s greed is
clearly in evidence
This piece of
social unity so
prevalent at the
staff, and bonnet
union of the
In this English cartoon,
entitled ‘French democrats
surprising the royal
runaways’, a startled king
and queen. Still disguised,
are confronted by a
howling mob of citizens of
As a joke, the artist gave
Louis’ profile to Marie.
Towns & villages planted ‘ Liberty Trees’ hung with cockades and topped by revolutionary caps to
demonstrate republican zeal. Above, a group of sans-culottes dance around a tree set up near the Bastille
and rout an Austrian army with their patriotic ardour.
Game of the Great Men, Minot
playing cards in order to
eliminate references to royalty
(kings, queens, jacks) and
replace them with great men
and abstract virtues