A s excitement mounted in France early in 1789 with the calling of the States-General, the cahier of the Third Estate of Rouen (no. 10) provided evidence as to the strength of specifically revolutionary feeling among the upper ranks of the commoners of an important seaport. Similarly, the Declaration of the Rights of Man (no. 11) reflected the interests both of those classes which elected the deputies of the States-General — electors who, of course, included those of Rouen — and of the legislators who drafted and ratified it. The Declaration may also be related to more general considerations regarding the influence of the thought of the Enlightenment and the possibly universalist aspirations of the National Assembly. What wider relevance had a document which has often been seen as expressing primarily the interests of a well-off, educated Western bourgeoisie? What, indeed, was the Declaration’s relevance to the sombre revolutionary situation of 1793, when, under the impact of foreign war and after the execution of the king, important areas of France and large elements of the French population were openly struggling against the Revolution?
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