Romantic Patriotism as Feminist Critique of Empire: Helen Maria Williams, Sydney Owenson and Germaine de Staël

  • Caroline Franklin


The rise of nationalism in republican France, and in Britain after the outbreak of war in 1793, rendered ‘feminism’ unpatriotic in both countries.1 In France, the Jacobin administration, after overthrowing the Girondins, excluded women from public affairs, and Marianne was replaced by Hercules as the symbol of the republic. Salonnières and female polemicists were silenced by the execution of Manon Roland and Olympe de Gouges. In Britain, Pitt’s Tory government mirrored the militarisation and masculinisation of political life across the channel. Hannah More became the preferred female role model: her formidable Evangelical energies channelled into loyalist voluntary associations supporting the armed forces and the militia; her publications combating the lower-class ‘enemy within’ through a mixture of religious quietism and jingoism; her public role conceded in return for her repeated insistence that most women were intellectually inferior to men and belonged in the home.


French Revolution Feminist Critique Childbed Fever Woman Writer Sentimental Patriotism 
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© Caroline Franklin 2005

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  • Caroline Franklin

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