Les Tricoteuses were the women who sat around the guillotine, keeping track of the number of executions with their knitting. They embodied the Terror of the French Revolution, for they seemed to be drawn to the blood and the violence, so consumed were they by hatred. When women are out for blood, they can be more ruthless than men, and far more cruel. Most of les tricoteuses, "the knitters," were simple and ignorant women, manipulated both by their own passions and by the leaders of the various factions. The manipulation was facilitated by famine, war and social chaos, all of which spiraled out of control amid the violence of the Revolution.
Les tricoteuses took part in the great massacres of the Revolution, such as when the mob attacked the Tuileries in August 1792, and during the slaughter of the following September. They were instrumental in storming the palaces and terrorizing the royal family. The were used by the new power elite. It is a sad but thought-provoking example of how low women can go when reduced by circumstances as well as by rage and hatred. The nastiness of les tricoteuses make those like Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, Madame Elisabeth, and many others from all walks of life, who behaved with courage, dignity, and courtesy throughout every outrage, shine like lights in the darkness. Share