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Picturing the French Revolution


The French Revolution Digital Archive is now online, providing us access to 14,000 digitized images from the time. Good stuff for all you who teach this stuff and for those who are generally curious. They include some rather NSFW politicized erotic images as well. Although does NSFW apply to the 18th century?


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  • Are there easy to follow Build-a-Tumbril diagrams?

  • Citoyen LaPlace

    Check out any issue of Popular Mechanics.

  • LeeEsq

    Least erotic, erotic images ever.

    • Anonymous

      Oh, I dunno. Chacun a son gout, as they say.

    • Ken

      We have been spoiled by Rule 34.

  • It was political pornography, not pornography with a political topic like Who’s Nailin’ …………

    • stickler

      Yup. “Want a good reason why your social betters deserve the guillotine? Here’s what they’re really like.”

      See also: stories about Marie Antoinette and her perversions, or Catherine the Great and the horses. True? Probably not. Propaganda? Oh, yeah.

      (and if anybody deserved that kind of defamation, the French aristocracy is top of the list. True or not.)

      • Ahuitzotl

        Oh hardly – the court aristos, perhaps, but you misestimate the bulk of the aristocrats of the time. Now the British aristoctrats, there was a real nest of vipers

  • aimai

    Uh…surely the distinction between “political pornography” and “not political pornography” is a bit illusory– I mean, isn’t it like saying “I only read Playboy for the articles?” Come on: pornography is pornography regardless of the text. It may also serve as some kind of political statement but I’m guessing that the average French peasant and would be revolutionary was under no illusion that his/her aristocratic betters weren’t doing the deed pretty much all the time. Wasn’t that the entire point of being an aristocrat or a member of the clergy? That you could get away with sex and gambling and carousing that ordinary people were denied? Hard to believe these things circulated as real provocation and not as simple erotic aide memoires.

  • Western Dave

    For non-francophones or those who find 14,000 images overwhelming, there’s George Mason’s http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/ which is a bit less intimidating for newbies. I use images from it with my HS students. Lot’s of context provided.

  • Matt_L

    Super cool! Your European History Colleagues thank you Dr. Loomis!

  • wjts

    The pornographic revolutionary pamphlet Les Fureurs utérines de Marie-Antoinette (“The Uterine Furors of Marie Antoinette”) is just begging for a big-screen adaptation. (To be followed by Les Fureurs utérines de Marie-Antoinette II: la vengeance de l’Mecha-utérus.)

    • Halloween Jack

      Featuring, one would assume, a cunningly placed mini-guillotine instead of vagina dentata, and a special appearance by Napoleon Bone-apart.

  • jkay

    I’ve been missing Dr. Guillotine more and more…..

    The Royal corruption of every kind was mostly real. After all, they had a whole lifetime in power to get corrupt, and had far more power than our Kennedies or Catholic Church. And it’s true that absolute power corrupts

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