Olympe de Gouges
1748 - Her Story - 1793
Marie Gouze was born in Montauban to a modest family ; her father was a butcher and her mother a servant.
Rumour would have it that she was the illegitimate child of the poet, the Marquis Le Franc de Pompignan, or even that she could be an illegitimate child of King Louis XV.
In 1765, Marie Gouze married Louis Aubry, a master of fine dining to the Intendant (provincial administrator), with whom she had a child 2 years later. Her husband died shortly afterwards and she moved with her child to Paris, not wishing to fulfil her role as a middle-class provincial. Dreaming of celebrity, she took the pseudonym of Olympe de Gouges, formed from her mother’s first name and her family name.
She became a woman of letters, publishing, from 1780 onwards, novels and plays defending her modern opinions. The French Revolution gave Olympe de Gouges the occasion to show how much she was in advance of the times. In opposition to the Assemblée Constituante (Parliament), which excluded women from political rights, she published a text which is one of the foundations of original feminism and the counterpart of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the “Declaration of Women’s and Female Citizens’ Rights”.
In it she argues for women’s emancipation and total and unconditional equalitybetween the two sexes.
Olympe de Gouges is considered as one of the first feminists. In other writings she attacked slavery and the death penalty, and argued in favour of divorce. Politically, Olympe de Gouges supported King Louis XVI, during his trial. Then she took the side of the Girondins and published pamphlets against Marat and Robespierre.
After the fall of the Girondins, she was accused of being the author of a Girondin poster. She was arrested on 20 July 1793, condemned to death and guillotined on 3 November 1793, mainly becauseof her writings on male-female equality.