Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

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A hymn written by Joseph Gossec to celebrate national unity on the first anniversary of the taking of the Bastille. Combining old and new, Gossec set a traditional Latin text to music scored for wind instruments (rather than the common organ), the…

In 1713, the Pope had issued a bull entitled Unigenitus, condemning as heretical 101 beliefs held by some French Catholic priests who were known as "Jansenists." To Jansenists, this bull, or "constitution," was the religious equivalent of…

In June 1749, the priest of the St.–Etienne–du–Mont parish in Paris, acting on instructions from the Archbishop of Paris, refused the Eucharist and last rites to one of his parishioners who could not produce a "certificate of confession"…

As the controversy over the refusal of sacraments came to dominate political and religious discussions in Paris, Versailles, and across the kingdom, the magistrates argued all the more strenuously that the King should compel the Archbishop to drop…

Voltaire was the pen name of François–Marie Arouet (1694–1778), an Enlightenment writer known for his plays and histories and his acerbic criticism of the French Catholic Church. Although Voltaire eventually became a kind of cultural icon…

When the Jews of Paris and the eastern provinces presented their case to the National Assembly, they leaned heavily on the precedent of granting full rights to the Protestants and on the language of human rights philosophy. They insisted that the…

After several tumultuous discussions about the Jewish communities still excluded from political rights, the National Assembly finally voted to regularize the situation of all the different Jewish communities on 27 September 1791.…

Once they had agreed on the necessity of drafting a declaration of rights, the deputies of the National Assembly still faced the daunting task of composing one that a majority could accept. The debate raised several questions: should the declaration…

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 to provide an authoritative list of human rights that could serve as an international standard for all peoples and nations. An affirmation of…

The National Convention drew up this new declaration of rights to attach to the republican constitution of 1793. The constitution was ratified in a referendum, but never put into operation. It was suspended for the duration of the war and then…
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