October Days: Deposition of a Marcher

The commission investigating the October Days took testimony from twenty–five women who had participated, including Marie–Rose Barré, a twenty–year old unmarried lace–worker, whose testimony is excerpted below. Barré had been one of the women chosen to meet directly with the King to present the women’s concerns.


Deposition 343 18 June 1790

Marie-Rose Barre, age twenty, unmarried, a lace-worker, residing at 61, rue Meslay, upon oath . . .

Deposes that on 5 October, last, at about eight o'clock in the morning, going to take back some work, she was stopped at the Pont Notre Dame by about a hundred women, who told her that it was necessary for her to go with them to Versailles to ask for bread there. Not being able to resist this great number of women, she decided to go with them. . . . At Versailles they found the King's Guards lined up in three ranks before the palace. A gentleman dressed in the uniform of the King's Guards, who, she was told, was the duc de Guiche, came to ask them what they wanted of the king, recommending peaceful behavior on their part. They answered that they were coming to ask him for bread. This gentleman was absent for a few minutes and then returned to take four of them to introduce them to the king. . . .

They spoke first to M. de Saint-Priest, and then to His Majesty, whom they asked for bread. His Majesty answered them that he was suffering at least as much as they were, to see them lacking it, and that so far as he was able he had taken care to prevent them from experiencing a dearth. Upon the king's response they begged him to be so good as to arrange escorts for the flour transports intended for the provisioning of Paris, because according to what they had been told at the bridge in Sevres by the two young men of whom she spoke earlier, only two wagons out of seventy intended for Paris actually arrived there. The king promised them to have the flour escorted and said that if it depended on him, they would have bread then and there. They took leave of His Majesty and were led by a gentleman in a blue uniform with red piping into the apartments and courts of the palace to the ranks of the Flanders Regiment, to which they called out, "Vive le Roi!"

Source: From Women in Revolutionary Paris, 1789–1795, edited and translated by Darline Gay Levy, Harriet Branson Applewhite, and Mary Durham Johnson. Copyright 1979 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. Used with the permission of the University of Illinois Press, 49–50.