Sunday, July 15, 2012

Liberté, Egalité, Hilarité

The best political cartoons of the French Revolution.


Bastille Day, which falls on July 14is now celebrated as France's national holiday. But the anniversary of the 1789 storming of the Bastille prison in Paris wasn't always remembered so fondly. Right after the revolution, the new government was buffeted by domestic challenges and faced hostile neighbors throughout largely monarchist Europe. Whether the fragile new democracy could survive was unclear, and detractors lambasted the revolutionaries, especially as the first seeds of what became known as "The Reign of Terror" appeared.
Caricature was incredibly popular in magazines and daily newspapers at the end of the 18th century. France's Revolution was an especially popular subject because of the controversy it provoked on the rest of the continent, particularly among the upper classes.
In this political cartoon from 1789 -- the year the revolution began -- a gleeful peasant representing France's lower classes or Third Estate sits astride an aristocrat who in turn leans on a clergymen for support.

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