The French revolution began in the month of June, 1789, when a part of the States-General, without the concurrence of the two higher orders, and in opposition to the will of the king, constituted themselves a national assembly, and were acknowledged by the nation as their representatives with unlimited powers. From the very first moment of the Revolution, an incredible infatuation seized the minds of almost the whole of the nation. Liberty was the magic word which inflamed every imagination; and the love of liberty became a reigning fashion, which, under a variety of shapes, drove a fickle and volatile people from one extreme to another, and impelled men destitute both of virtue and of patriotism, to sacrifice their own real interests, nay, their lives themselves, not merely without murmuring, but even with a playful gayety [sic].
In a city so sunk in effeminacy and voluptuousness as Paris, the love of liberty must have seemed as great a stranger as luxury in ancient Sparta. And yet the people, or the mob of Paris, raised insurrection after insurrection, till the throne and all that surrounded it was laid in the dust, and out of its ruins rose the monster of anarchy, to which nowhere so many victims were sacrificed as in Paris itself. The fashion of liberty was just as capricious and changeable in Paris as any other fashion; but finally, after the most dramatic oscillation between monarchy and democracy, the national convention decreed the abolition of monarchy.
A Vital Question
Neither the nobility nor the dignified clergy lost more by a change of the established constitution than the female sex, which for nearly three centuries past had reigned at the French court, and from the court had extended its sway over every town and province of the kingdom. If there were to be no more despotic kings, no ruling ministers or favorites of monarchs, no more festivities, levees, and brilliant assemblies at the court, how could the all-influencing mistresses of kings and ministers, how could the arbitresses [sic] of taste and fashion, of literary and every other kind of merit, continue to exist? Yet even the women sacrificed all the advantages which had formerly been the most dear to them, with enthusiastic ardor. They took the most active part in all the festivals of liberty, particularly in the memorable festival of confederation, held at Paris on July 14, 1790.
The women in the provinces, who were not able themselves to attend this festival, expressed their attachment to the cause of liberty by going in procession, in their best attire, to meet the sons of the country going to swear the oath of liberty and equality, or by attending them on their return, and presenting them with refreshments. In some places the women waiting for hours and days upon the high roads, in order to receive the deputies to the festival of confederation, and to invite them to civic entertainments and dances. If the patriots accepted these invitations, the ladies took off their martial accoutrements with their own fair hands, and the deputies imagined themselves transported back to the romantic days of chivalry.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.