The Working Classes in Revolutionary France




  • 1830 / 1832

  • 1848

    Works Cited

  • Trade Festivals

    Many trades had festival days where all the members of a trade would assemble together for a huge banquet dinner, followed by dancing until dawn. Some would also have parades and assemblies. The festivals would usually be on a particular saint's day, although the saint might have no relation ship to the trade. Often, business would be comdicted at these festivals, because everyone was assembled together and could voice their concerns.

    Agricol Perdiguier, a joiner, on Saint Anne's Feast Day

    "In Nimes I took part in the festival of Saint Anne. In the morning, we went to mass. We then held an election for the new head of the chapter, an office that rotated every six months. In the evening the banquet took place. There is nothing as beautiful, as sweet, as fraternal as these compagnons' celebrations! We would sing in chorus and join together in friendship and enthusiasm. We developed the capacity for mutual sacrifice, to the point of being ready to die for each other"

    (Traugott, 138-139)

    First Communion

    First Communion was one of the primary events of childhood, and working class families often went to great lengths to make sure that their children learned the catechism, and had appropriate clothing, even if it meant doing without.

    "Then there will be her first communion. . . She will have a white veil and open worked stockings, and will look like a little lady."

    Fantine on plans for Cosette's first communion. (Hugo,250)

    "I reached the age of ten. It was time to learn the catechism and make my First Communion. Because the school was too far away for me to attend class regularly, my parents arranged for me to be a boarder at a religious establishment in Epinouze. . . I made my First Communion. What made me very happy was being dressed in white muslin and having a handsome crown on my head."

    (Jeanne Bouvier, in Traugott p342)