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The French Revolution: The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen

Updated on May 30, 2012

The Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen is a document written during the French Revolution as preamble to a new constitution. It was approved by the National Constituent Assembly on August 26, 1789.


The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen reflected the ideas of the Enlightenment, and so the key principles were liberty and equality.

The influence of the philosophers is evident, with Voltaire's support of religious freedom being expressed in the Declaration by saying that "no man may be accused, because of his opinions, even religious..." and Rousseau's belief about personal liberty expressed in "The Social Contract" is reflected through the statement that "All men are born free and equal in rights."

The interests of the bourgeoisie influenced the Declaration also, as the majority of the members of the National Constituent Assemblywere bourgeois and the Declaration was shaped with their interests in mind. This is evident when the Declaration states that "the right to property is inviolable and sacred". The bourgeois owned a lot of property as they were wealthy, and so this protected themselves. Because of this, various historians such as Peter McPhee and George Rude say that the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen is bourgeois idealism.

The Declaration also took ideas of equality and liberty from the American Declaration of Independence (1776).

Although the bourgeois wrote the document in their own best interests, it still cemented the principles of liberty and equality, and provided a positive starting point to the making of a constitution for France.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen


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    • vinner profile image

      vinner 5 years ago from India

      Good and informative article. Looking forward to reading more of your hubs

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Great article! Detailed information!

    • Doctor Kristy profile image

      Kristy Callan 5 years ago from Australia

      JKenny - I guess an angry mob is more memorable than the bourgeois. Thanks for commenting!!

      Vrijdag Pages - Haha, thanks for your enthusiasm. Glad you enjoyed it. I hope you do finish your hub, I'll look out for it. It sounds like an interesting topic. Hopefully I'll be writing a few more French Revolution hubs soon (if time permits).

    • profile image

      Vrijdag Pages 5 years ago

      OMG (ok Iittle childish) but I love this. At last, I have found someone interested and can write about good history. This is amazing. You have infused me to continue writing about my hub on prostitution in the French Revolution's terror epoch.

    • JKenny profile image

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Great article Dr. Kirsty. It's all too easy to forget that it wasn't the peasants that ignited the Revolution, instead it was the bourgeois who all got swept up in the Enlightenment Movement. Thanks for sharing.