Some Symbols of the Revolution

The use of symbols dates back to antiquity. The symbols are codified in a very precise way in compendia of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Revolution revises them, makes great use of them while modifying some and inventing its own.


Symbol of collective work, of the community.

The Phrygian Cap

But the artists, especially the painters of historical events, following the models of antiquity, had the custom of using a different cap, one which covered the nape of the neck and the ears -- the Phrygian cap. This cap competed with the red one in images, took on the latter’s special symbolic meaning and ended by supplanting it. The Phrygian cap became synonymous with republican liberty.



Red Cap

The image of "Liberty" in Roman antiquity carried at the end of a pike a conical hat that covered the head of a freed slave. It is a cap similar to what the common people of the eighteenth century wore and, in particular, the conquerors of the Bastille. Often it had a red color. At the theater, it went along with Janot, the man of the people in farces. It became, according to the Révolutions de Paris, "the symbol of the liberation from all servitudes, the sign for unification of all the enemies of despotism.


Attribute of the bishop, it symbolizes the clergy. It was used more than the miter or the cross, emblem of the lower clergy.






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