History's Women: Misc. Articles: The Period of the Renaissance and Following - Public Executions during the French Revolution

Public Executions

Long before the Revolution, the French women had been reproached for attending public executions, regardless of the delicacy and modesty natural to their sex. This peculiarity in their character was displayed during the Revolution in the most striking manner. The executions daily and hourly increased in number, so far from the fatiguing and satiating either the women or men, seemed only to increase their thirst for blood, and their desire of witnessing these horrible sights. The spectators went from these scenes of carnage to the theaters, which even in the days of the execution of the king and of the queen were not less numerously attended than at other times, there, possibly, to forget their crimes of contemplation amid other diversions.

Such arrests, such imprisonments, such tribunals, and such executions as France exhibited during the Reign of Terror, had never been witnessed in any civilized nation of modern times: neither, also, the undaunted fortitude and the cheerful alacrity with which thousands of every age, rank, and sex met death. It does not appear surprising that military men, magistrates, and courtiers should meet death with fortitude; but it justly excites astonishment, that mere striplings, and even females, some of them quite young girls, some of them newly married women, who had but just begun to enjoy the pleasures of life, should ascend the scaffold with the same tranquil fortitude.


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.