The Women's March on Versailles-By: Drea Hance

The Women's March on Versailles-By: Drea Hance
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Storyboard Description

A young woman struck a marching drum at the edge of the marketplace. Standing with a group of women who were infuriated by the chronic shortage and the high price of bread The Women’s March had just begun. The Women’s March on Versailles had just begun in a marketplace in Pairs on the morning of October 5th, 1789. Many women armed themselves with kitchen blades and other makeshift weapons, as the tocsins rang from church towers throughout several districts. Everybody in the mob converged on the steps of The City Hall of Paris where they demanded not only bread but arms. As more and more women - men - arrived the crowd had reached outside the city hall reached between six and seven thousand, and perhaps as many as ten thousand people on the steps of City Hall of Paris. The City Hall itself was ransacked; as the crowd surged through taking its provisions and weapons, but Maillard helped prevent it from burning down the entire building. In due course, the rioters' attention turned again to Versailles, and they filtered back to the streets. Maillard deputized a number of women as group leaders and gave a loose sense of order to the proceedings as he led the crowd out of the city in the driving rain. The goal for the many young women and men was what they wanted not just one meal but the assurance that bread would once again be plentiful and cheap. When the crowd finally reached Versailles, it was met by another group that had assembled from the surrounding area. Members of the Assembly greeted the marchers and invited Maillard into their hall, where he fulminated about the Flanders Regiment and the people's need for bread. Hungry, fatigued, and bedraggled from the rain, they seemed to confirm that the siege was a simple demand for food. The crowd traveled the distance from Paris to Versailles in about six hours. Among their makeshift weaponry, they dragged along several cannons taken from the Hôtel de Ville. Boisterous and energetic, they recruited (or impressed into service) more and more followers as they surged out of Paris in the autumn rain. In their ambiguous, they chattered enthusiastically about bringing the king back home. Less affectionately, they spoke of the queen, Marie Antoinette, and many had no restraint in calling for her death. The crowd ominously shouted for the children to be taken away, and it seemed the stage might be set for a regicide. Yet, as the queen stood with her hands crossed over her chest, the crowd – some of whom had muskets leveled in her direction – warmed to her courage. Amid this unlikely development, Lafayette cannily let the mob's fury drain away until, with dramatic timing and flair, he knelt reverently and kissed her hand. The demonstrators responded with a muted respect, and many even raised a cheer which the queen had not heard for quite a long time: "Vive la Reine!". The goodwill generated by this surprising turn of events defused the situation, but to many observers, the scene on the balcony was mere theatricality without long-term resonance. However pleased it may have been by the royal displays, the crowd insisted that the king come back with them to Paris.

Storyboard Text

  • The Women's March on Versailles
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