(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Feb. 25, 2015)
Madame Roland (17 March 1754 – 8 November 1793), was, together with her husband Jean-Marie Roland de la Platière, a supporter of the French Revolution and influential member of the Girondist faction. She fell out of favour during the Reign of Terror and died on the guillotine. The history of Madame Roland embraces the most interesting events of the French Revolution, that most instructive tragedy which time has yet enacted. There is, perhaps, contained in the memoirs of no other woman so much to invigorate the mind with the desire for high intellectual culture, and so much to animate the spirit heroically to meet all the ills of this eventful life. Madame Roland, born Marie-Jeanne Phlippon, the sole surviving child of eight pregnancies, was born to Gratien Phlippon and Madame Phlippon in March 1754. From her early years she was a successful, enthusiastic, and talented student. In her youth she studied literature, music and drawing. From the beginning she was strong willed and frequently challenged her father and instructors as she progressed through an advanced, well-rounded education. Enthusiastically supporting her education, Jeanne's parents enrolled her in the convent school of the Sisterhood of the Congregation in Paris - for one year only. She was enthusiastically religious, leading John Abbott to state "God thus became in Jane's mind a vision of poetic beauty".Following her convent school education, she pursued her education independently, Abbott relating that "Heraldry and books of romance, lives of the saints and fairy legends, biography, travels, history, political philosophy, poetry, and treatises upon morals, were all read and meditated upon by this young child". Several literary figures influenced Roland's philosophy, including Voltaire, Montesquieu, Plutarch, and others. Most significantly, Rousseau's literature strongly influenced Roland's understanding of feminine virtue and political philosophy, and she came to understand a woman's genius as residing in Rousseau's definition of feminine virtue as "a pleasurable loss of self-control", which for Roland meant the courage of maternal self-sacrifice and suffering. Manon Phlippon (as her close friends and relatives called her) also, as she traveled, developed an increasing awareness of the outside world. In 1774, on a trip to Versailles, some of her most famous letters were sent to her friend Sophie Cannet, wherein she first begins to display an interest in politics, describing admiringly (if not presciently) the enthronement of Louis XVI and his queen Marie Antoinette fifteen years before the start of the French Revolution: The ministers are enlightened and well disposed, the young prince docile and eager for good, the queen amiable and beneficent, the court kind and respectable, the legislative body honourable, the people obedient, wishing only to love their master, the kingdom full of resources. Ah but we are going to be happy!