Quotations – Ancien Régime


This selection of French Revolution quotations contains remarks about the Ancien Régime from significant leaders, political figures, philosophes and observers. It has been selected and compiled by Alpha History authors. New quotations are regularly added. If you would like to submit a relevant and interesting quotation, please contact Alpha History.

“It belongs exclusively to the king to deliberate and decide. All the functions of the members of government consist in the execution of the commands which have been given them.”
Louis XIV, Memoires, c.1700

“The laws of an assembly is the last calamity which can befall a man of our rank.”
Louis XIV, Memoires, c.1700

“After us [comes] the deluge. I care not what happens when I am dead and gone.”
Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, circa 1762

“I think it impossible that the great monarchies of Europe can last much longer.”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1762

“Seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness. The king seems to understand this truth. As for myself, I know that in my whole life, even if I live for a hundred years, I shall never forget the day of the coronation.”
Marie Antoinette, 1774


“There is not nor never was a nation in the world who have less religion than the modern French. The lower class of people, and also the clergy, may keep up the show of religion, but the generality of the genteel people make a scoff of the faith, and think it ridiculous to be Christian. The deistic works of Rousseau and Voltaire are everywhere distributed through the kingdom, are universally read and studied, and in my opinion have been the cause of undermining the whole structure of Christianity in France… The course of half a century more, in all human probability, will totally erase all vestiges of revealed religion in the French nation.”
James St. John, Irish physician, October 1787

“In France, the judiciary, the nobles, the clergy, the rich, gave the original impulse to the revolution. The people appeared on the scene only later. Those who gave the first impulse have long since repented [the revolution]… but it was they who started it. Without their resistance, and their mistaken calculations, the nation would still be under the yoke of despotism.”
Maximilien Robespierre, 1793

“Louis XVI was too well intentioned not to try to remedy abuses which have shocked him. But he possessed neither the character nor the talents to control an impetuous nation, in a situation which cried out for reform. His reign was a succession of feeble attempts at doing good, shows of weakness and clear evidence of his inadequacy as a ruler.”
Antoine Barnave, 1793

“The most perilous moment for a bad government is one when it seeks to mend its ways.”
Alexis de Tocqueville, 1856


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