Women in the French Revolution (peasant women)



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Women's March to Versailles


Women played a role in the French Revolution. Some chose to influence the event through writing, meetings, and publications. For example, Olympe de Gouges was a writer who published plays, novels, and short stories. Gouges' emphasis was on the equality of men and women although the two sexes were different. In her "Declaration on the Rights of Woman", she focused on the rights of women regarding marriage, divorce, and children. Not only did she write about gender-specific rights, but also about non-gender political views. For instance, she gave a pseudonym "Polyme" to Robespierre to address his infamy and shame. By indirectly singling one individual, she was able to send a significant message to not only the individual, but also to the public. Her passion in her writing caught the attention of the French citizenry and warned them of Robespierre.

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Marie Antoinette


However, not all women were able to write or articulate enough to express their thoughts on paper. Therefore, some women (mostly peasants) chose to fight the revolution violently, employing weapons such as pitchforks, pikes, and muskets. For example, Women's March on Versailles started on October 5th, 1789. These working women women marched in the rain from paris to Versailles. Outraged by the starvation of their children, and harsh economic situations they faced, the mob directed its anger toward Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette who continued to feast in the times of citizens' starvation. When these women reached Versailles, they chanted, "Let them eat cake". Though twenty thousand National Guardsmen responded to keep order, the members of the mob did not back down– they broke into the palace to search for Marie Antoinette. The scared Antoinette emerged from her palace and stood on the balcony to "communicate" with the angry throng. Women, then, demanded that King Louis XVI allocate his food and mainly bread to the citizens. The King finally agreed to the demand. From the next day, the Third Estate– the "common people"– presided over this royal family. Soon, however, the king and queen were executed in 1791.

These hungry and poor women ultimately ended the absolutism of Versailles. In addition, the march changed the view of women and their role in the revolution. In just one month after the success of these women, they presented a request for equality in The Women's Petition to the National Assembly.



Citations (pictures & websites)

"Marie Antoinette." Media.comicvine. 1 Dec. 2011 <http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/5/50532/1379024-mari2.jpg>.

"The March To Versailles." Canyon Crest Academy Library Media Center. Web. 01 Dec. 2011. <http://teachers.sduhsd.net/tpsocialsciences/world_history/dem_ideals/versailles.htm>.

"Women's March." Historywiz. 1 Dec. 2011 <http://www.historywiz.com/images/frenchrevolution/womensmarch1.jpg>.

"Women's March on Versailles." Onthisdeity. 1 Dec. 2011 <http://www.onthisdeity.com/5th-october-1789-%E2%80%93-the-womens-march-on-versailles/>.

"Women's March to Versailles." Historywiz. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. <http://www.historywiz.com/womensmarch.htm>

"Women in the French Revolution." Angelfire: Welcome to Angelfire. 01 Dec. 2011 <http://www.angelfire.com/ca6/frenchrevolution89/Revwomen.html>.

No guiding question. 9/10