1. Marie Antoinette

The wife of King Louis XVI and, in the French commoners’ eyes, the primary symbol of the French royalty’s extravagance and excess. When Marie-Antoinette was executed in 1793, she was dressed in a plain dress, common to the poorest in French society.

  1. Louis XIV (The Sun King)

His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days, and is the longest documented reign of any European monarch Louis began personally governing France in 1661 after the death of his prime minister, the Italian Cardinal Mazarin.[3] An adherent of the theory of the divine right of kings, which advocates the divine origin and lack of temporal restraint of monarchical rule, Louis continued his predecessors' work of creating a centralized state governed from the capital. He sought to eliminate the remnants of feudalism persisting in parts of France and, by compelling the noble elite to inhabit his lavish Palace of Versailles, succeeded in pacifying the aristocracy, many members of which had participated in the Fronde rebellion during Louis' minority.

  1. Versailles

The royal palace built by King Louis XIV a few miles outside of Paris. Known for its extraordinary splendor, extravagance, and immense size, Versailles was the home of the king, queen, and all members of the royal family, along with high government officials and select nobles. On October 5, 1789, a mob of angry and hungry French women marched on Versailles, bringing the royal family back to Paris to deal with the food shortage.

  1. Rococo

Also referred to as "Late Baroque" is an 18th century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly more ornate, florid, and playful. Rococo rooms were designed as total works of art with elegant and ornate furniture, small sculptures, ornamental mirrors, and tapestry complementing architecture, reliefs, and wall paintings. It was largely supplanted by the neoclassic style. In 1835 the Dictionary of the French Academy stated that the word Rococo "usually covers the kind of ornament, style and design associated with Louis XV's reign and the beginning of that of Louis XVI". It includes therefore, all types of art produced around the middle of the 18th century in France. The word Rococo is seen as a combination of the French rocaille, meaning stone, and coquilles, meaning shell, due to reliance on these objects as motifs of decoration.[1] It may also be related to the Portuguese barocco (which refers to an irregularly shaped pearl),[2] or Baroque style. Owing to Rococo love of shell-like curves and focus on decorative arts, some critics used the term to derogatively imply that the style was frivolous or merely modish; when the term was first used in English in about 1836, it was a colloquialism meaning "old-fashioned". However, since the mid 19th century, the term has been accepted by art historians. While there is still some debate about the historical significance of the style to art in general, Rococo is now widely recognized as a major period in the development of European art.

  1. Tuiliers

The palace in Paris in which King Louis XVI and his family were placed under house arrest after they were forcibly taken from their court at Versailles. The point of removing the royal family to Paris was to allow the people to keep a close watch on their actions.

  1. Louis XVI

The French king from 1774 to 1792 who was deposed during the French Revolution and executed in 1793. Louis XVI inherited the debt problem left by his grandfather, Louis XV, and added to the crisis himself through heavy spending during France’s involvement in the AmericanRevolutionfrom1775to1783. Because this massive debt overwhelmed all of his financial consultants, Louis XVI was forced to give in to the demands of the Parlement of Paris and convene the Estates-General—an action that led directly to the outbreak of the Revolution. Louis XVI was deposed in 1792 and executed a year later.

  1. Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre

One of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. He largely dominated the Committee of Public Safety and was instrumental in the period of the Revolution commonly known as the Reign of Terror, which ended with his arrest and execution in 1794. Robespierre was influenced by 18th century Enlightenmentphilosophes such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu, and he was a capable articulator of the beliefs of the left-wingbourgeoisie. He was described as being physically unimposing and immaculate in attire and personal manners. His supporters called him "The Incorruptible", while his adversaries called him the "Tyrant".

  1. Georges Danton

A leading figure in the early stages of the French Revolution and the first President of the Committee of Public Safety. Danton's role in the onset of the Revolution has been disputed; many historians describe him as "the chief force in the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the First French Republic".[2] A moderating influence on the Jacobins, he was guillotined by the advocates of revolutionary terror after accusations of venality and leniency to the enemies of the Revolution.

  1. Guillotine

The guillotine was a device used for carrying out executions by decapitation. It consisted of a tall upright frame from which a blade is suspended. This blade is raised with a rope and then allowed to drop, separating the head from the body. The device is noted for long being the main method of execution in France and, more particularly, for its use during the French Revolution, when it "became a part of popular culture, celebrated as the people's avenger by supporters of the Revolution and vilified as the pre-eminent symbol of the Terror by opponents".[1] Nevertheless, the guillotine continued to be used long after the French Revolution in several countries. It was originally designed by Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, a professor of anatomy at the facility of medicine in Paris. He was on the committee for the National Assembly.

  1. Jean-Paul Marat

A Prussian-born physician, political theorist and scientist better known as a radical journalist and politician from the French Revolution. He wrote in La Peuple. His journalism was renowned for its fiery character and uncompromising stance towards the new government, "enemies of the revolution" and basic reforms for the poorest members of society. Marat was one of the more extreme voices of the French Revolution and he became a vigorous defender of the Parisian sans-culottes; he broadcast his views through impassioned public speaking, essay writing, and newspaper journalism, which carried his message throughout France.

  1. Jacques-Louis David

A highly influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the preeminent painter of the era. In the 1780s his cerebral brand of history painting marked a change in taste away from Rococo frivolity toward a classical austerity and severity, heightened feeling[1] chiming with the moral climate of the final years of the ancien régime.

  1. Sans coulette

Urban workers and peasants, whose name—literally, “without culottes,” the knee-breeches that the privileged wore—signified their wish to distinguish themselves from the high classes. The mob mentality of the sans-culottes constituted the most radical element of the Revolution.

  1. The Fall of Bastille: A medieval fortress-prison in eastern Paris. Frequently used for the subjects/victims of arbitrary royal authority, it held only seven prisoners in 1789. Yet, the Bastille remained a potent symbol of royal power. It was seized by the Paris crowd on 14 July 1789; this event marked the end of the absolute monarchy and the beginning of a new era. The date of the fall of the Bastille is a French national holiday.
  1. Bourgeois/Bourgeoisie: Term with many meanings that must be determined from context. Under the old regime, anyone who lived in an urban area was a bourgeois or member of the bourgeoisie, but the term was usually applied only to wealthier people who did no manual labor. Bourgeois were also those who lived from their invested income or property, thus “living nobly” and constituting a distinct social category that had its own representation in municipal politics. In addition, the bourgeoisie often enjoyed certain privileges that were called the “rights of the city.” After the Revolution, the term “bourgeoisie” became associated with the concept of a capitalist social class. In the nineteenth century, most notably in the work of Karl Marx and other socialist writers, the French Revolution was described as a bourgeois revolution in which a capitalist bourgeoisie overthrew the feudal aristocracy in order to remake society according to capitalist interests and values, thereby paving the way for the Industrial Revolution. Thus, when many nineteenth and twentieth century commentators write about the bourgeoisie, they mean something quite different from what contemporaries meant in the eighteenth century. Careful attention to the proper definition in use is essential.
  1. Cahier de Doleances

List of grievances written by each order (estate) for every bailliage and sénéchaussée (as well as a few other institutions) in France as part of the electoral process of the spring of 1789. The cahiers were intended to inform and instruct the deputies of local views and authorize reform. Cahiers of the third estate were written at the parish level, then consolidated at the bailliage/sénéchaussée level by order, providing a superb source for those interested in public opinion in the spring of 1789. Nobles and clergy began on the bailliage/sénéchaussée level.

  1. Dauphin
    Heir of the body to the King of France. Successively in this period: Louis-Auguste (1769–74), grandson of Louis XV who became Louis XVI; and Louis-Charles (1785–95), declared King as Louis XVII in January 1793.
  1. Cockades

(Fr: cocardes) were rosettes or ribbons worn as a badge, typically on a hat.

Black cockade - Primarily, the cockade of the anti-revolutionary aristocracy.

Also, earlier, the cockade of the American Revolution.

Green cockade - As the "color of hope", the symbol of the Revolution in its early days, before the adoption of the tricolor.

Tricolor cockade - The symbol of the Revolution (from shortly after the Bastille fell) and later of the republic. Originally formed as a combination of blue and red -- the colors of Paris -- with the royal white.

White cockade - French army or royalist.

  1. Flight to Varennes

The Royal Family's attempt to flee France June 20–21, 1791.

  1. Tricolor

The flag of the Republic, consisting of three vertical stripes, blue, white, and red.

  1. Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

(Fr. Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen - 1789; in summary, defined these rights as "liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression."

  1. Jacobins

strictly, a member of the Jacobin club, but more broadly any revolutionary, particularly the more radical bourgeois elements.

  1. Napoleon Bonaparte

A general in the French army and leader of the 1799 coup that overthrew the Directory. Napoleon’s accession marked the end of the French Revolution and the beginning of Napoleonic France and Europe.

  1. Jacques-Pierre Brissot

A member of the Legislative Assembly and National Convention who held a moderate stance and believed in the idea of a constitutional monarchy. Brissot’s followers, initially known simply as Brissotins, eventually became known more generally as the Girondins. After unsuccessfully declaring war on Austria and Prussia, Brissot was removed from the National Convention and, like many Girondin leaders, lost his life at the guillotine during the Reign of Terror in 1793–1794.

  1. Les Merveilleuse

Women in the Directoire era of France, a subculture that featured semi-transparent tunics in gauze or linen, wigs of blonde, black, blue or green colors,. The “r” was not pronounced in reaction against the Revolution.

  1. Committee of Public Safety

A body, chaired by Maximilien Robespierre, to which the National Convention gave dictatorial powers in April 1793 in an attempt to deal with France’s wars abroad and economic problems at home. Although the committee led off its tenure with an impressive war effort and economy-salvaging initiatives, things took a turn for the worse when Robespierre began his violent Reign of Terror in late 1793.

  1. Reign of Terror

A ten-month period of oppression and execution from late 1793 to mid-1794, organized by Maximilien Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety to suppress any potential enemies of the radical Revolution. The Reign of Terror ended with the fall of Robespierre, who was arrested and executed in July 1794. Robespierre’s execution ushered in the Thermidorian Reaction of 1794–1795 and the establishment of the Directory as the head of France’s executive government.

  1. Les Incroyables

Men in the Directoire Era of France, the group emerged as a subculture. They typically wore eccentric outfits and carried bludgeons (to express “executive power”). The style often featured wide trousers, big neckties, thick glasses, or bicorn hats.

1Fashion in Revolution: Fashion History from Rococo to the Napoleonic Era