Quotations – the bourgeois revolution


This selection of French Revolution quotations contains remarks about the bourgeois revolution, 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.

“The nation, when assembled, cannot be given orders.”
Jean-Sylvian Bailly, June 1789

“We should be governed by the best among us, the best are the most highly educated. If you grant unlimited political rights to men without property, they will provoke disturbances, or cause them to be provoked, without fear of the consequences.”
Francois Boissy d’Anglas, National Assembly deputy

“The king would offer the greatest proof of his love for the French nation if he accepted to live in the most beautiful palace in all of Europe [the Tuileries] in the centre of the largest city in his empire [Paris] and among the greatest number of his subjects.”
A member of the Paris Commune, early October 1789


“When one meddles with the direction of a revolution, the problem is not how to make it go but how to keep it under control.”
Honore Mirabeau, 1790

“I shall make it my chief business to see that the [royal] executive power has its place in the constitution.”
Honore Mirabeau, April 1790

“I trust we shall never be reduced to the painful extremity of seeking the aid of Mirabeau.”
Marie Antoinette, 1790

“When the government violates the people’s rights then insurrection is, for the people and for every section of the people, the most sacred of their rights and the most indispensable of their duties.”
Marquis de Lafayette, 1790

“Lafayette saw himself as the protector of royalty; they [the king and his family] considered him its gaoler.”
William Doyle, historian

“Louis XVI started to die on June 21st 1791. For his flight tore away the veil of that false constitutional monarchy, and once more confronted the Patriot party with the whole problem of the revolution’s future.”
Francois Furet, historian

“[The Champ de Mars massacre] was the result of open political conflict within the Parisian Third Estate, which had acted so decisively in 1789. The king’s flight and the [National] Assembly’s response had divided the country.”
Peter McPhee, historian

“The ministers and the Jacobins are making the king declare war tomorrow on Austria. The ministers are hoping that this move will frighten the Austrians and that within three weeks we will be negotiating (God forbid that this should happen). May we at last be avenged for all the outrages we have suffered from this country!”
Marie Antoinette in April 1792

“After bread, education is the first need of the people.”
Georges Danton, 1793


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