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26 October 2014


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Of publishing and promulgating:
Publishing would have included distribution... but not royal approval of the content. On its face, that wasn't a provocation and the King's decision was phrased in a friendly and reassuring way.
The issue was that the Assembly was divided and had chosen to focus on abstract and contradictory principles as well as constitutional matters instead of addressing the urgent matters raised by the ongoing insurrections. The King was supposed to approve laws but was handed babble instead. So did the King need to do anything about that? If yes, it would effectively give him something like a power of veto over any pronouncement of the Assembly. If not, he didn't have to commit to anything at that stage. The Assembly could in principle have voted for the actual, straightforward abolition of all priviledges which would have forced the King's hand but the delegates weren't willing to do anything like that. The promulgating thing was a wonky compromise devised as a way to compel the King to sort of commit to something without conceding him more authority than the Assembly could stomach.
The King apparently thought he could afford delaying tactics and insisted he wouldn't approve anything as long as the Assembly hadn't settled on actual laws. He may have expected that the Assembly would be unable to settle on anything solid for years and he may have been concerned that promulgation would morally obligate him not to pressure the Assembly into watering down even further their non-abolition of feudalism.


Since there seems to be a large female component to this revolution, will we get any information on the leaders of that side of the movement? Were there any female leaders?


Yes. Madame Defarge :-)


The main woman I think of is Charlotte Corday. Appropriate since Marat has finally entered the picture. Two others would be Madame Roland and the suffragist/abolitionist Olympe de Gouges. Spoiler alert: like Corday, they were both Girondists and did not survive the political purges, joining Corday and several Royalists in the heavily-used Madeleine Cemetery.

Only slightly OT, but the latest BBC In Our Time podcast covered the Haitian revolution when Haitian slaves rebelled against France in 1791.


Even though she was more of a writer, de Gouges arguably was a leader unlike those others. But many of the women such as Lacombe who would become known for their leadership of the women's movement had more humble backgrounds and would not get involved in politics for a few more years.
At that stage of the Revolution, the names of non-aristocratic women were rarely mentionned. We know more about the involvement of traditionally organized groups of women than that of individuals.
Some women would later on more frequently meet formally, print political non-fiction using their own names (or individual pseudonyms, as opposed to the anonymous "a female citizen" de Gouges had been using at first for instance), involve themselves in factions (or stand accused of having done so), make rank in the military and generally become more widely recognized as having individual agency.

There's a mix of fact, fanciful or convenient fiction and even conspiracy theory about the circumstances of that particular march on Versailles. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reine_Audu http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theroigne_de_Mericourt http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6303311p/f18.image
Whatever their actual involvement was, I think it's fair to say the names of these early militants are only known to us because some men thought bandying about a woman's name could be useful. I don't know that any woman without the benefit of a priviledged education was able to make a name for herself on her own terms so early in the Revolution. But then, there's lots I don't know so please school me...

Andy Seamus Hamilton

Hey Mike, I was just wondering about this crack Flanders Regiment - and what they were doing during the Woman's March to Versailles? Why didn't they have more of a role. any role, to play in keeping the women at an arms length from the palace? Or at preventing the national guard - whose loyalty was questionable - from joining the party? Surely that was the whole point of them being there...

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