The Rights of Woman: To the Queen

Olympe de Gouges. 1791.

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Olympe de Gouges was a playwright who criticized slavery and, in this work, argued that the “rights of man” included women. Two years after publishing The Rights of Woman, Gouges was executed as an opponent of the government.

The Rights of Woman. To the Queen.

Madam: Little accustomed to the language which one speaks to royalty, I will not employ the adulation of courtiers by dedicating this unusual production to you. My goal, Madam, is to speak to you frankly. I did not wait for the present time of freedom to express myself thus. I declared myself with the same energy when the blindness of despots punished such a noble audacity.

But when all the Empire held you responsible for its calamities, I alone, in a time of disorder and storm, had the force to take your defense. I never could persuade myself that a Princess, high within the state, had all the defects of lowness.

[Gouges goes on to warn the queen that if she is, indeed, conspiring with other countries against France, then she is France’s implacable enemy.]

Translated by Andrew Roberts (

Image of The Rights of Woman: To the Queen

For the National Assemby to decree in its last sessions, or in those of the next legislature:


Mothers, daughters, sisters [and] representatives of the nation demand to be constituted into a national assembly. Believing that ignorance, omission, or scorn for the rights of woman are the only causes of public misfortunes and of the corruption of governments, [the women] have resolved to set forth a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable, and sacred rights of woman in order that this declaration, constantly exposed before all members of the society, will ceaselessly remind them of their rights and duties; in order that the authoritative acts f women and teh athoritative acts of men may be at any moment compared with and respectful of the purpose of all political institutions; and in order that citizens' demands, henceforth based on simple and incontestable principles, will always support the constitution, good morals, and the happiness of all.

Consequently, the sex that is as superior in beauty as it is in courage during the sufferings of maternity recognizes and declares in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following Rights of WOman and of Female Citizens.

Article I

Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights. Social distinctions can be based only on the common utility.

Article II

The purpose of any political association is the conservation of the natural and impresciptible rights of woman and man; these rights are liberty property, security, and especially resistance to oppression… .

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Metadata Details
Item Type Book
Title The Rights of Woman: To the Queen
Short Title The Rights of Woman, 1791
Place of Publication France
Publisher s.n.
Creator Olympe de Gouges
Publication Date 1791
Language French
Call Number Case FRC 19262
Location Special Collections 4th floor