During the French Revolution, hundreds of domestic and working-class women of Paris were interrogated, examined, accused, denounced, arrested, and imprisoned for their rebellious and often hostile behavior. Here, for the first time in English translation, Dominique Godineau offers an illuminating account of these female revolutionaries. As nurturing and tender as they are belligerent and contentious, these are not singular female heroines but the collective common women who struggled for bare subsistence by working in factories, in shops, on the streets, and on the home front while still finding time to participate in national assemblies, activist gatherings, and public demonstrations in their fight for the recognition of women as citizens within a burgeoning democracy.
Relying on exhaustive research in historical archives, police accounts, and demographic resources at specific moments of the Revolutionary period, Godineau describes the private and public lives of these women within their precise political, social, historical, and gender-specific contexts. Her insightful and engaging observations shed new light on the importance of women as instigators, activists, militants, and decisive revolutionary individuals in the crafting and rechartering of their political and social roles as female citizens within the New Republic.
Dominique Godineau is Professor of Social Science at the Université de Rennes 2. This work originally appeared in French as Citoyennes tricoteuses: Les femmes du peuple à Paris pendant la Révolution française.