The gender bias of the day is linked to the gender bias of both Christianity and Judaism.
Women were included in the emerging sense of the French people and nation, but their participation in politics and the public realm was restricted.
They were not given equal political rights in any of the constitutions of the 1790s.
French currency, postage stamps, and public statues would feature Liberty as a woman for the next two centuries after the Revolution.
She was portrayed in a painting by Eugene Delacroix as "leading the people" on the barricades in 1830, and is featured on the cover of this volume.
The Statue of Liberty was given to the United States by the French Republic in 1886.
Female virtues were associated with higher levels of civilization.
Liberty, equality, and Fraternity were potent ideals with some concrete implications but also with a mystical legacy allowing for different interpretations by generations.
What was actually being fought for in France after 1789 is not easy to describe or comprehend.
The concept of progress itself has so much emotionally laden ambiguity that it's hard to say whether the Revolution moved France forward or not.
The Revolution achieved liberty, equality, and Fraternity, but it also threatened them in other ways.
It is difficult to describe the Paris mob as a progressive force because most of its members were driven by immediate and often ugly resentments, and they often expressed themselves in brutally violent ways.
Conservative fear of the Paris mob helped reformers get their measures passed.
Since the mob was ambiguously a force for progress, Louis XVI cannot be described as simply against progress, since he and the French kings before him favored rational reform, which promised to increase the wealth, efficiency, and power of the state.
The reforms of the Revolution, in centralizing the state and curtailing the power of the nobility and the Church, succeeded in achieving the centralizing and rationalizing goals that French kings had been working on for a long time.
The principle of royal privilege was not progressive by Louis XVI.
Privilege's strange and confusing meanings need to be carefully scrutinized.
The range of meanings meshes at one extreme with the concept of "rights" and at the other extreme with the idea of "sinecure", a paid position involving minimal work or service.
The king considered royal privilege to be a divine right.
After their own privileges came up for scrutiny by revolutionaries, most nobles rallied to the king and to a general defense of the merits or sacred nature of privilege.
The members of the bourgeoisie, or the middle spectrum of society, were scandalized when their own private property was denounced as an unacceptable privilege by those who represented the poor.
Few could imagine a world like that.
All of them would have their identities changed beyond recognition.
The escalating claims were often incoherently presented and translated into more coherent and literate form by the lawyers and other intellectuals who wrote up the revolutionary constitutions.
The intellectual elites were not speaking for the bourgeoisie.
One can say that certain basic and interrelated notions were supported by a lot of people.
Those included popular sovereignty, an end to the legal privileges of the older estates, and a reorganization of government to make it more efficient.
The members of the initial national assembly were divided into "right" and " left" based on where they sat in the meeting hall.
The left had a more critical attitude to tradition and privilege.
The left believed in the possibility of improvement.
In the meeting halls of the revolutionary assembly of the 1790s, those on the extreme right were forced out, often fleeing the country to avoid being sent to prison or to the guillotine, whereas those on the left were pushed to the side.
The game of musical chairs began in the opposite direction, with those on the left pushed to emigrate, prison, or the guillotine, as the music stopped in the summer of 1794.
Even though the left favored change based on Enlightened principles of rationality and utility, elements resembling the old religiosity and dogmatism came back in.
The left's beliefs came down to a new kind of faith and convictions that were less rational than religious beliefs.
Similar to those that are common to all religions, these eventually merged intosacred narratives.
The left's vocabulary was filled with allusions to such events as the storming of the Bastille and the crucifixion of Christ, as well as the writing of a cleansing revolutionary blood in ways that recalled Christian notions of Christ's sacrifice.
An excellent overview of the French Revolution can be found in 1995.