No period in history has probably been more remarkable in its influence upon women than the so-called period of the French revolution, embracing the regal decades, also, leading up to this remarkable subversion. Upon the immediate successor of Louis XV., the most ancient and to all appearances the most firmly established throne in Europe was subverted, and the most brilliant court suddenly dissolved.
A nation which had hitherto considered its inviolable attachment and loyalty to its monarchs as one of its principal virtues, which had viewed even the vices and foibles of its rulers and of those who enjoyed their favor with reverential awe, first incarcerates the best of sovereigns, the most amiable of kings, in a dungeon of misery, then drags him to the fatal scaffold, and both under circumstances the most repugnant to every feeling heart. The same nation renounces the religion of its ancient constitution, and with it two higher orders of society, which it had fought for centuries; annihilates its ancient constitution, and with it the two higher orders of society, which it had been accustomed to consider as the strength of flower of the community; abrogates its laws, its institutions for instruction and education; relinquishes its former way of thinking and modes of life, and even no small part of its peculiar characteristics; in taking the first steps toward promised freedom, is involved in the most ignominious slavery; endures and perpetrates the most atrocious crimes, and, at the very time when it is bleeding under the axes of its tyrants, achieves the most brilliant victories, which excite not less admiration than the enormities committed and tolerated, inspire destination and contempt.
The French revolution is one of those phenomena, the causes of which no finite intellect can fully enumerate, and still less can it accurately appreciate the effects of each of these causes. Upon the whole it may be asserted, that whatever tended to establish the arbitrary power of the French monarchs, and encourage the abuse of that power with its attendant vices, corruption, oppression, and financial embarrassment, must be reckoned among its concurrent causes. Upon the whole it may be asserted, that whatever tended to establish the arbitrary power of the French monarchs, and encouraged the abuse of that power with its attendant vices, corruption, oppression, and financial embarrassment, must be reckoned among its concurrent causes.
During the reign of Louis XIV., the disorders of the court and the distractions of the kingdom increased with rapid progress. In the first twenty years of the reign of Louis XV., Cardinal Fleury retarded the fall of the tottering kingdom by his frugality and solicitude for the preservation of peace. But after his death it advanced with accelerated velocity towards its dissolution, which could not even be checked by the accession of so promising a monarch as Louis XVI.
Under Louis XVI., as under his predecessors, the women were very important factors in governing the men who enjoyed the confidence of the monarch. The deficiency of virtue and talent, however, proved more detrimental than did in other times the greatest criminality. This deficiency both of great vices and crimes, and of great virtues and abilities, is perhaps one of the most certain symptoms of decline or degeneracy.
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.