Part 4: Ça ira: popular women
Finally, a post with more women, but much lesser information of them. This is because many of them are not even known by their real name. Often, these women would occur during an event of the Revolution, or lead a single, isolated protest some time, be noted by police officers who recorded their names, as they understood it upon hearing, and their offense, and then dissappear entirely. Arguably, this was the case for male one-time-rebels, too. Only relatively few sansculotte women and men gained a fame that lasted over several events and years, but even in their case, many would disappear into obscurity after the revolutionary period. Maybe, with the revolutionary government and/or the self-administration of the sections gone, they would loose their benefits granted to them for revolutionary engagement and fall into poverty again. However, in the most cases, we only know the names of these women, and the case in which they became known for something revolutionary (or counter-revolutionary) they were accused of.
The list, despite its shortness, shows that it was very usual for women to be employed or run an own small business even after marriage. Several of the women were “liberated” from their husbands through death (being a widow was quite a good way of living these days) or separation. Others shared common ideas with their husbands and rather “worked together” in different fields of action, according to their respective social roles. Finally, many women fought together with their sisters and mothers, sometimes fathers, too. Also, female neighbours and friends played an important role in women’s political action. All in all, the women of the people were networkers and often acted in concert, and in the majority of cases they acted not inside the house, but publicly on the streets. The idea of women completely destitute of rights and acting capacity thus is somewhat indifferent towards the nuances of the limitations and liberties of popular women, and applies arguably better to the situation of bourgeois women, who - surprise - were those to criticise the corseted state they lived in, the only criticism of the female condition we have now, for popular women often were illiterate or semi-literate (able to sign with their name and do every-day scribbeling, but little more).
This part owes much to the really worthy book by Dominique Godineau: Citoyennes Tricoteuses. I have most information from this book. However, it covers only sansculotte women in Paris. The actions of women in the provinces are even less known, and will be treated in a following part. Also, the women which operated mainly as members of political clubs, or which became known predominantly through their membership to clubs, will be presented in a following part.
Louise-Reine Audu, orig. Louise-Renée Leduc, also „Reine des Halles“, fruit seller, one of the leaders of the journée on 5th/6th October 1789; later employee at the Commune de Paris, where she was responsible for the food supply. Here is her Wikipedia entry.
Marie-Louise Adbin, veuve Monnard (born 1748), Babouvist, accused in the trial of Babouvists but acquitted.
Jeanne Ansiot-Breton, Babouvist, accused in the trial of Babouvists but acquitted.
Nicole Pognon-Martin, Babouvist, accused in the trial of Babouvists but acquitted.
Marie-Adelaide Lambert, Babouvist, accused in the trial of Babouvists but acquitted.
Marie Anne Victoire Langlet-Babeuf (1757– after 1840), wife of Gracchus Babeuf, she served as a bearer of his pamphlets.
Hardon, signed a petition to the legislative to punish all the traitors, 1792.
Louise-Catherine Vignot “La Charbonnière”, coal loader, took part in the insurrection in Prairial III (May 1795), in which she led a battaillon of about 400 women to the Convention, dressed and armed as a Republican national guard.
Mme Marquet, laundress; laundresses were supporters of the Babouvists.
Mme Vignon, arrested for having distributed insurrectional brochures and newspapers (in March 1795)
Mme and Mlle Mazurier
Mme Dubouy/Dubuis “Mère Duchesne”, cook without employment, known at the Jacobins, assisted at every meeting of the revolutionary assemblies. After Thermidor, she was accused of being a “satellite” to Robespierre, keeping him informed about “suspects”. She was also accused to have been present at the revolutionary tribunal, the Commune or the Jacobins regularly and having voiced her opinion loudly and aggressively. She had defendes Robespierre around Thermidor, and later Collot, barére and Billaud. (The name of Mère Duchesne was granted to her - and many other radical women - in police reports.)
Marie-Jeanne Trumeau-Bertin, fish seller, condamned to be hanged for initiating pillage in the name of the Third Estate during an economic uprising in April 1789
Mme Léon, mother of Pauline Léon, chocolate manufacturer, took part in the Journée on 17th July 1791
Barbe Audibert-Sergent, born before 1766, chamber maid, later rented rooms, especially to prostitutes. Was linked to Hébert and acquainted with his wife. Was present at the Jacobins every evening with the women of her quarter. Stirred the people and especially women in Prairial III, incarcerated afterwards. Later, she was close to the babouvists.
Mme Saint-Prix, producer of tools for miniature painters. Associated with the uprising in Spring III, arrested, but later released.
“Mère Duchesne”, anonymous cake seller, constantly present at the Tuileries during the crisis in Mai 1793, where she stirred anti-Girondin sentiments. (The sobriquet was given to her by the author of a police report.)
Madame Monge and her three daughters, signed in 1793 a petition of radical republicans demanding the compulsory wearing of cocards.
Madame Janisson, defender of Hébert in spring 1794, arrested in Prairial.
Madame Lecreps, Cordelière, voiced her indignation about the Hébertists’ arrest and execution; arrested in Prairial.
Marie Gaillot-Dubois, present at the Jacobins on 8th Thermidor an 2, took part in the uprising on 9thThermidor
Marie Françoise Victoire Guillomet-Lance(widow Castel), (born 1731/32), worker, but in possession of a house. She was a reknown follower of the Jacobins, for which she was arrested in Prairial III.
Mlle Lebrun, proposed to attack the Convention on 9th Thermidor an 2
Geneviève Antoinette Julie Gauthier, pastry manufacturer in her family’s business, defended, together with her father, Robespierre and his friends on 9 Thermidor, headed a group of women marching to the Convention on 1st Prairial III. Upon the decree of her arrest, her (ailing) mother, who had sometimes participated in her daughter’s and husband’s calls for revolt, is to have advised her to go into hiding, which Geneviève did.
Citoyennes Marie Marguerite and Marie Elisabeth Barbot/Barbeau, signed several petitions, either together or single, e.g. in favour of women’s armament, defended Robespierre and his friends on 9 Thermidor, took part in the uprisings in Spring 1795, were arrested afterwards. Their sister Marie Anastasie was present at the Champ-de-Mars massacre, but otherwise less politically active.
Marie Pierre Deffaut-Périot, (born around 1755), shopkeeper, suscriber to the Ami du Peuple (revived and edited by Lebois in 1794), which she discussed publicly. She visited the Jacobins sometimes together with her (female) neighbours accused for having stirred the people on 9 Thermidor, arrested in Prairial an III.
Madame Dembreville, accused for having dragged a canon for the Commune on 9 Thermidor.
Madame Butikere, criticised the Thermidorian reaction.
Françoise Dupont, femme Barbant/Barbaux/Barbaut, born 1768, laundress; took an active part in the section meetings, accused of being a “terroriste”, political conspirator in 1795, she was part of the illegal circle that organised aids for the families of incarcered sansculottes.
Marthe Pingot-Chaladon, (born in 1760), signed a petition for womens’ right to bear arms. Was arrested after Paririal III and accused of influencing the revolutionary committee’s deliberations, being vexed about the fact that women were denied access to the general assembly, being a terroriste and the donation of the biens nationaux to the people instead of selling them.
Françoise Borne-Grimont, (born 1741), unemployed and living on public welfare, handed in a complaint for being discriminated against by her landlords for her jacobin convictions. Declared herself that she was “very often” at the Convention. After Prairial, she was arrested for voicing criticism about social injustice.
Madame Maubuisson, regular visitor of the tribunes.
Widow Salignac, regular visitor of the tribunes, later accused of taking part in illegal political (democratic) gatherings.
Madame Villarmé, regular visitor of the tribunes.
Madame Huzard, regular visitor of the tribunes, later accused of organising illegal democratic gatherings.
Madame Fragère, regular visitor of the tribunes.
Madame Pampelun, regular visitor of the tribunes.
Pommier, baker, was accused for defending Robespierre after Thermidor and denouncing the Girondin representatives who “had their money, maybe not in blood, but in assignats”.
Madame François, political conspirator in 1795, she was part of the illegal circle that organised aids for the families of incarcered sansculottes.
Leblanc, helped prepare the Prairial insurrection by assembling combattants.
Madame Devaux, stirred the people into insurrection in Prairial III and forced, with other women, to be handed over the keys to the general assembly’s hall.
Joséphine Rouillère, took part in the Prairial insurrection.
Gonthier, took part in the Prairial insurrection.
Madame Houssel, took part in the Prairial insurrection.