I pointed out in my previous lecture how one of the critical dimensions of the minimalist argument about the limited changes brought by the French Revolution has to do with the experience of women. And what I want to do in this lecture, is to look much more carefully at the revolutionary experience of the women of France because some of the most interesting and revealing work by scholars, over the last few decades, has concerned precisely this. The first point that I'd want to make, is that the French Revolution is an upheaval, which involves women at every turn, from the very outset of the Revolution. For example, as early as the start of 1789, when Louis XVI calls for a list of grievances, cahiers de doleances, to be formulated in Third Estate assemblies, there are women who gather together in some communities and say, well, we want the right to do that as well, even though they have not been explicitly given the right to do that. From up in the north comes this list of grievances and demands of women. In the lower classes, it says, women are regarded as good only for spinning, sewing and keeping house. In the upper classes, they are supposed to be good only for singing, dancing, making music, playing and smiling. However, it's in working like men, in the toil of the fields, in commerce, et cetera, that some have been seen to hold the reins of government, as well as men. The people is recovering its rights; there is talk of freeing the negroes; why not free women as well? We believe it only just to allow wives, widows or daughters possessing land or other property, to carry their grievances to the King and that it is equally just to count their votes. From the outset of the Revolution, we find women present, assuming that this is their revolution too, that the issues concern them directly. So remember most importantly, in October 1789, when Louis, under pressure from his court had refused to give his consent to those two key revolutionary statements, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and the August Decrees on feudalism, it is the market women of Paris who march out to Versailles, confront the court and the royal family and bring the King and the family back to Paris, ensuring that he gives his consent to those Revolutionary decrees. At moments of great festivity, such as the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on the 14th of July 1790, women are plainly present, in equal numbers to their men folk. A year later on that same place, we know that among the 50,000 people who had signed the petition calling for the abdication of Louis the XVI, after he was caught trying to flee the Revolution, among the 50,000 signatures on the petition are many women who've made it their business to go and sign that petition for abdication, before Lafayette and the national guard move in and expel that demonstration. One of the people who'd been at that signing in 1791, is a woman named Simone Evrard who's shown here in July 1793, two years later, attending to the body of her partner Jean-Paul Marat, who's been stabbed to death in his bath by Charlotte Corday, a politically committed Girondin, moderate Republican supporter. Key moments of the Revolution involve women, every bit as much as men. The last great act of the sans-culottes, the last great insurrection, from the streets of Paris, in May 1795, involves sans-jupons, women of the people as much as sans-culottes, men of the people who invade the National Convention in a last attempt to push the revolution back on course, towards what they hope it will achieve in terms of a republican settlement that guarantees employment and the food supply. There are individual women who make a particular mark for themselves because of their activism, their demands that we would classify as in some sense feminist, even though that's a word that's not formerly used until the 1830s. Among them is a woman named Théroigne de Méricourt, an actress who adopts a seemingly noble name, which tells you something about her particular politics as well. But Théroigne is certainly someone who demands the right, indeed the responsibility, of women to be involved in the Revolution and in the military struggles of the revolution against counter-revolution. This is part of her declaration of 1792. To Frenchwomen, let us raise ourselves to the height of our destinies, let us break our chains. At last, the time is ripe for women to emerge from their shameful nullity, where the ignorance, pride and injustice of men had kept them enslaved for so long a time. Let us return to those times, when our mothers, the Gauls and the proud Germans debated in the public assemblies, fought side by side with their husbands and repulsed the enemies of Liberty. Théroigne is someone, however, who is a defender of Louis the XVI and earns the enmity of pro-Jacobin women, the market women of Paris, seen here in this image, inflicting a terrible beating on her, in May 1793. And it's true to say, that Théroigne never recovers completely, from that terrible experience of being publicly humiliated and beaten in the streets of Paris. There are other women who are rather more militant, in terms of their social engagement, in terms of their support for the sans-culottes than Mericourt. This club, for example, of Revolutionary Republican Citizenesses, in 1793, claims to have 8,000 women among it's members. Certainly, it has meetings where there are thousands of women present and it's demands go beyond those of Théroigne de Mericourt, in terms of bearing arms and include the demand to be part of the Revolutionary administration, to have access to all employment and ultimately, to have significant political rights as well. One of them, Claire Lacombe, is invited to address the National Convention in 1793 and addresses in particular, in rather mocking terms, Monsieur Robespierre, rather than citizen Robespierre. It's a way of mocking the fact that Robespierre refused to dress as a sans-culotte, he always retained his pre-revolutionary, middle class attire and she says this in the convention: Our sex has produced only one monster, Marie Antoinette. While for years, for four years, we have been betrayed, assassinated by monsters without number of the masculine sex. Our rights are those of the people and, if we are oppressed, we will know how to provide resistance to oppression. The problem that Lacombe and other women activists have, however, is that very few men support their goals. Among them, certainly, is Condorcet a prominent Girondin politician, a philosophe from the Age of the Enlightenment, who certainly supports the rights of women. But most politically active men have a far more restrictive attitude towards the roles that women should play, ideally. Amar, one of the governing Jacobins, in October 1793, on hearing that confronting statement that Lacombe makes to the Convention says this and it's something most men in the Convention would have agreed with; Each sex, he says, is called to that kind occupation which is proper to it, its action is circumscribed within a circle which cannot be broken, since nature, which has placed these limitations on mankind, imperiously commands. If we reflect that the political education of men is at it's dawning, that the principles are not developed, and that we still stutter over the word liberty, how much less are women, whose political education is almost nil, enlightened in those principles. Their presence in the popular societies will concede an active role in government to those persons who exposed to wrong thinking and being led astray. In other words, they should be denied access to political societies, political clubs, let alone being able to form them themselves and they are closed down in October 1793. Women, argued Amar, and many other men should be present in political life, in public life, only to the extent of participating in the great festivals of the Revolution. Here the planting of a liberty tree - but they should not seek to go beyond that and play an active role in making political decisions. The imagery of the French Revolution is often mocking, of women who do become involved. This is a painting done by a painter named Chevreux, of a meeting in a church in Paris, which has been turned into a women's political club and as we look at that painting, we can see the negative stereotyping that Chevreux is engaged in, as he depicts the members of that womens club as screeching fish wives, as unattractive, as menacing. Here's the president of the club, for example. Here are men, of the people, leering up the skirts of member's of that women's club. They're behaving, in some sense he would say, unnaturally, they're going beyond women's place. Part of the reason for this hostility towards women in politics is a hostility which began to emerge even before the Revolution towards Marie-Antoinette, in particular. Accused before the Revolution of having, in some sense, emasculated Louis the XVI, having desexed him, of playing far too powerful a role as queen. And Marie-Antoinette, above all, among politically active women is subject to all sorts of obscene, even pornographic attacks during the course of the French Revolution. So certainly, there's no doubt that on the one hand, women actively participate in the Revolution at every turn, whether positively or negatively, whether as supporters of the Revolution, as supporters of the militant sans-culottes or as supporters of the clergy and of the counter-revolution. But, at the same time, they are confronted with an almost overwhelmingly negative response from politically active men. Does that suggest, however, that nothing changes for women, as a result of the French Revolution? Let me suggest some ways in which, in fact, that is far from the case and suggest that the minimalist argument, that the experience of women is a negative one, is wide of the mark. In September 1792, at a time of the greatest crisis of the French Revolution, the final session of the legislative assembly makes all personal acts of birth, deaths and marriage into civil acts, rather than religious acts. People from now on are to be married in the local town hall, rather than the church and they'll also have the right of divorce. In September 1792, French men and women are given the right to divorce on remarkably broad grounds of incompatibility, desertion, violence and so on and certainly, across the next decade, there are about 30,000 divorces of which we know, there might have been many more, that women overwhelmingly initiate for those reasons. This is certainly, a gain for women who want to escape an unhappy or violent marriage but it is a gain, which is nullified by Napoleon Bonaparte. In his Napoleonic code that I spoke about in my last lecture, he changes the legislation on divorce. A husband owes protection to his wife, he says. A wife owes obedience to her husband. A wife is bound to live with her husband and to follow him wherever he deems proper to reside. A husband may sue for divorce on account of his wife's adultery. A wife may sue for divorce only in the case in which the husband introduces a permanent mistress into the marital household. An extraordinary blunt statement of a double standard. One of the other changes that the Revolution introduces, however, will be durable, unlike the change to the divorce law, which is not reintroduced until the 1880s. In April 1791, the Revolutionary National Assembly introduces an inheritance law, which does away with old regime systems of inheritance, which in most provinces required primogeniture, that's to say, that the first born son was to inherit but gave testamentary freedom, the power of leaving property to the parents. In 1791, it's decreed that all children will inherit equally, sons and daughters. It has a marked and dramatic impact on family life because what it means is thereafter, that no parent can threaten to disinherit a daughter because she chooses to marry someone not of their liking or not to marry someone. She has a right to inherit, in the same way as her brother. Napoleon introduces a modification of that inheritance law, to enable one child to be favored, rather more than the others but no French government ever again, tries to interfere with the principle of equal inheritance between sons and daughters. So that from now on, within households across the country, there had to be discussions between children and their parents, about who was to receive the property, the farm, the building, or whatever and who was to be compensated by cash or in some other way. It's a major change, in the position of daughters within households. This early photograph of a rural family comes from 1885, shows a beaming woman, surrounded by men. One of the reasons she's beaming is that she's the farmer and they are her farm workers. The right to inheritance is of crucial importance. It's almost as important, as the other great change that the French Revolution brings to the living conditions, the material experience of the women of France, represented by this extraordinary painting of a peasant women, looking at us straight in the eyes, from a perspective of dignity. On the 17th of July 1793, the Jacobin dominated National Convention, finally, abolishes completely and without compensation, feudalism, the remaining sensorial dues. The single most important social change affected by the French Revolution is the abolition of feudalism and let us not forget that half the peasants of France are women. What I want to do in my next lecture, is turn to another major group, this time outside France and that is the slave population of the colonies.