On Madam Rolands letter to a friend 18/7/1891

Essay by diamondize1 May 2004

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This is a private letter written by Madame Roland to a close friend the day after the massacre at the Champs de Mars. The date would suggest this to be a strong document, however there is no indication within the text that it is an eye-witness account. We do know from the contextual information that Madame Roland was a supporter of a constitutional monarchy and would therefore be unlikely to go to the Champs de Mars in order to sign the petition. The evidence of the petition itself shows that it demanded the removal of the King, yet Madame Roland tells her confidant it was 'demanding the nominees of deputies for the next legislature'. Bearing in mind the political involvement of the correspondent, it would be advisable to evaluate this letter against other sources.

There is reference to the 'National Guards wanting to cut their brothers throats'. The National Guard was set up and run by Layfayette for the people following the storming of the Bastille.

The use of the word Citizen is one that would have been recognised by contemporaries.

The 'municipality' would have also been familiar to her friend as it refers to the division of Paris (and other areas) into districts with elected representatives for each. The 'alter of the fatherland' had been a major feature of the celebrations three days earlier at the fete de la federation. The 'sacred rights' would probably refer to those granted in the declaration of the rights of man and the citizen' the nature of which her correspondent would be well aware. There is mention of the 'municipal officers', and the 'Ecole Militaire' which was a military school on the site. The 'Red flag' would have been recognised as a symbol for the crowd to disperse.

The letter opens dramatically.