French Revolution Quotes

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French Revolution quotes are amongst some of the best known and most important quotations in the history of mankind. The French Revolution, dated roughly from 1789-1799, was a fight by the lower classes of French society for a redistribution of power in France at a time when the country was run by the royal elite and nobility, together with the Catholic Church. The under-classes were subject to heavy tithes and taxes and lived in poverty while the church and monarchs owned more than one-fifth of the land and lived in opulence and luxury.

Not only did the French Revolution bring about a dramatic shift in the social, political, religious, and legal order in France, but these events are thought to have created the winds of change in many other countries across Europe and America. French Revolution quotes bring to mind French philosopher and scholar Jean Jacques Rousseau, who was considered one of the fathers of the Enlightenment, the period that directly preceded the French Revolution. Although Rousseau died 11 years prior to the storming of the Bastille, the landmark event which sparked a chain leading to the eventual upheaval of France and its oppressive regime, the Enlightenment is said to have sowed the seeds of the Revolution. When Rousseau said: "All beings live long when they live in their natural states," he was alluding to unnatural distribution of wealth and power in France and the disempowerment and impoverishment of the French masses.

french revolution quotes

This next set of French Revolution quotes comes from the landmark Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a legal document which was considered a victory for the French underclass and which outlined the inalienable rights entitled to each and every person by nature rather than by birth. In contradistinction to the then-state of royal absolutism, the 1789 Declaration stated that:

  • "Men are born and remain free and equal in rights; social distinctions can be established only for the common benefit."

  • "The source of all sovereignty is located in the nation; no body, no individual can exercise authority which does not emanate from it expressly."

  • "Property being an inviolable and sacred right, no one may be deprived of it except when public necessity, legally determined, requires it, and on condition of a just and predetermined compensation."

When you think of the French Revolution, the name of one of the most prominent generals in history immediately comes to mind: Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon became the emperor of France on the heels of the Revolution, and under his leadership major changes were made to the French political, religious, economical, and social systems. Known as one of the strongest personalities and great leaders of all times, the following French Revolution quotes are attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte:

  • "A revolution can be neither made nor stopped. The only thing that can be done is for one of several of its children to give it a direction by dint of victories."
  • "Among those who dislike oppression are many who like to oppress."
  • "A true man hates no one."
  • "He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat."
  • "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
  • "Public opinion is the thermometer a monarch should constantly consult."
  • "Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent."

The French revolution timeline

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