Women in the French Revolution - Series
When we talk about women in the French Revolution, we tend to focus on Marie Antoinette and her friends, Madame Roland and other salonnières, Lucile Desmoulins and other family members, Olympe de Gouges, when we try to be feminist, Théroigne de Méricort when trying to be militant, and Rose Lacombe and Pauline Léon when we are better instructed. Not to mention the wifes and families of male revolutionaries, who may not even have been active in politics. All of them are certainly women who played a role during the Revolution, and with the exeption of Marie Antoinette, they forwarded the ideas of the revolutionary movement in one way or the other. On the other hand, the names of women from the more popular milieus have been obscured. The same is true for women who did not play their role in the political centres - geographically spoken, Paris. And it is true for women who served in the French Republican army, for the most part, and unlike many other contemporary armies, as women and without disguise.
|Meeting of a political women's club, Gouache by Le Sueur|
In this list, I try to present the names of the many known women who took an active part in favour of the Revolution, in one or the other way. I will only count women who reportedly played an active political or social role, so mere “wifes and family” whose engagement is not clear will not be considered. On the other part, some women (as well as men) were not active throughout the Revolution, but only partly at some events. I will consider them anyway. Many contemporary reports claim that women were present at certains events or in political clubs, in administrative meetings etc., but give no names, even when these women made public speeches. These women are lost to historiography. Even so, many names in my list are not determined, for spelling was not as fixed as it is today and people tended to write proper names just the way they understood them.
I will divide this list in sveral section; each section is very diverse, some more, some less. Additionally, the assignment of individual women to this or that section is not always unambiguous. In doubt, I chose that section which best reflects the nature of revolutionary engagement. These are the sections of the list, which will be published serially:
1. La République des Lettres: literary and artistic women
2. Les Tigresses des Salons: social women
3. Révolution et Providence: religious women
4. Ça ira: popular women
5. Sociétés patriotiques et Révolutionnaires: clubbist women
6. Allons Enfants de la Patrie: military women
7. La Citoyenne du Monde: women in the provinces, women from abroad