Our high school history classes taught us that during the French Revolution, oppressed citizens stormed the Bastille, marched on Versailles, and were slaughtered by the thousands at the guillotine during the Reign of Terror. But did your history teacher ever tell you about the farting angels, glowing illuminati triangles, monstrous harpies, and other truly bizarre images that filled Revolution-inspired art?
The French Revolution Digital Archive, launched on January 28th by a partnership between Stanford University and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, makes approximately 14,000 Revolution-related images available to the public. Mined from the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale, this trove of political cartoons, medals, and coins is history nerd porn. Many of these images are what you’d expect: portraits of white-wigged royalty, like Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette; bloody battle scenes; and glorification of the “National Razor,” as the guillotine was lovingly called.
But other images seem straight out of a Monty Python movie. An angel farts through a trumpet over a Jacobin funeral procession in one satirical sketch. Catherine II of Russia kicks a French soldier in the butt with her little slipper. A hydra-headed beast wearing aristocratic hats on each of its heads attacks sword-wielding commoners. And countless cartoons depict Marie Antoinette as a grinning harpy licking her chops, devouring hogs. Click the slide show above for some of the most awesomely weird images from the French Revolution Digital Archive, or browse the vaults yourself here.
[All images via French Revolution Digital Archive]CD