Marie-Jeanne Philipon

[Madame Roland]

Biography of Marie-Jeanne Philipon

Marie-Jeanne Phlippon Roland, better known simply as Madame Roland and born Marie-Jeanne Phlippon (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.

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 Multiple 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 "a pleasurable loss of self-control."

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, wherein she first begins to display an interest in politics, describing the perfect government as one which contained "enlightened and well-meaning ministers, a young prince docile to their council who wants to do good, a lovable and well doing queen, an easy court, pleasant and decent, an honorable legislative body, a charming people who wants nothing but the power to love its master...". Already, Manon was disregarding the idea of an absolute monarchy by placing the authority and importance of government ministers before the crown.

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