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French Revolution

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History >> French Revolution

There were many people involved with the French Revolution. Below we list some of the royalty, the revolutionaries, and other influential people of this time.

The Royalty

Portrait of King Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI
by Antoine-Francois Callet
Louis XVI - Louis XVI was king of France when the French Revolution began. The French economy struggled under Louis XVI due to large debt and massive expenses. When drought and poor grain harvests led to rising bread prices, the people began to revolt against their king. He was executed by guillotine in 1792 when revolutionary radicals took control of the French government.

Marie Antoinette - Marie Antoinette was Queen of France during the Revolution. Rumor had it that she spent lavishly on palaces, dresses, and wild parties while the people starved. She was the subject of much gossip and became reviled by the commoners. She was beheaded by guillotine at the beginning of the Reign of Terror.

The Dauphin - The Dauphin was the heir-apparent (like the prince) to the throne of France. After his elder brother died from tuberculosis in 1789, Louis-Charles became the Dauphin of France. This was about the time the French Revolution began. After his father (King Louis XVI) was executed, the Dauphin was held in prison in Paris. This was because the revolutionaries viewed his existence as a threat to the republic. He became sick while in prison and died in 1795.

The Revolutionaries

Portrait of Charlotte Corday
Charlotte Corday
by Francois Delpech
Charlotte Corday - Charlotte Corday was a revolutionary who sided with a group called the Girondins. She opposed the more radical groups of the revolution. One of the radical leaders was journalist Jean-Paul Marat. Charlotte decided that Marat needed to die in order to preserve peace in France. She went to his home and stabbed him to death in the bathtub. She was executed four days later by guillotine.

Georges Danton - Georges Danton was one of the early leaders of the French Revolution and is often credited with leading the overthrow of the French monarchy. He was president of the Cordeliers club (an early group of revolutionaries), the President of the National Convention, and the 1st President of the Committee of Public Safety. In 1794, he gained some enemies among the more radical groups of the revolution. They had him arrested and executed by guillotine.

Olympe de Gouges - Olympe de Gouges was a playwright and author who wrote political pamphlets during the French Revolution. She thought that women should be treated as equals to men under the new government. Unfortunately, she allied herself with the Girondins and was executed by guillotine during the Reign of Terror.

Maximilien Robespierre - Robespierre was one of the most powerful and radical leaders of the French Revolution. He led the Mountain group within the Jacobin Club. Once elected President of the Committee of Public Safety, he instituted the Reign of Terror, making laws that allowed anyone suspected of treason to be put in prison or executed. Eventually, the other leaders grew weary of the Terror and had Robespierre arrested and executed by guillotine.

Portrait of Jean-Paul Marat
Jean-Paul Marat
by Joseph Boze
Jean-Paul Marat - Jean-Paul Marat was a radical journalist during the French Revolution who defended the poor people of France and fought for their basic rights. He produced political pamphlets including one called the Friend of the People. In the end, his fame and radical ideas got him killed when he was assassinated while taking a bath (see Charlotte Corday above).

Madame Roland - Madame Roland held early revolutionary meetings of the Girondins in her home where she greatly influenced the political ideas of the day. As the revolution grew, she became at odds with Robespierre and was put in prison around the start of the Reign of Terror. After five months in prison she was executed by guillotine. Her last words were "Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!"


Marquis de Lafayette - After serving as a military leader in the American Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette returned home to France. During the French Revolution, Lafayette wanted the people to have more say in the government. He was on the side of the people and worked to help form the new government, but the more radical revolutionaries only cared that he was an aristocrat. He eventually had to flee France.

Mirabeau - Mirabeau was an early leader of the revolution and President of the National Constituent Assembly for a short while. He died of natural causes in 1791, early in the revolution. Despite his early work for the revolution, it was discovered that he was taking money from the king and the Austrians. Was he a royalist, a traitor, or a revolutionary? No one is quite sure.

Napoleon - Napoleon Bonaparte was a military leader who allied himself with the Jacobins during the French Revolution. He became a national hero when he defeated the Austrians in Italy. In 1799, Napoleon put an end to the French Revolution when he overthrew the Directory and established the French Consulate. He would eventually crown himself Emperor of France.


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  • More on the French Revolution:

    Timeline and Events
    Timeline of the French Revolution
    Causes of the French Revolution
    Estates General
    National Assembly
    Storming of the Bastille
    Women's March on Versailles
    Reign of Terror
    The Directory
    Famous People of the French Revolution
    Marie Antoinette
    Napoleon Bonaparte
    Marquis de Lafayette
    Maximilien Robespierre

    Symbols of the French Revolution
    Glossary and Terms

    Works Cited

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