Pauline Léon

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Pauline Léon (28 September 1768 – 5 October 1838), was a radical organizer and feminist during the French Revolution.


Léon was born to chocolate makers Pierre-Paul Léon and Mathrine Telohan in Paris on 28 September 1768, one of six children. Her father died in 1784, after which time Léon worked alongside her mother in exchange for free room and board and supported her siblings. It is believed that she became a political radical after witnessing the execution of leaders of a bread riot.

On 6 March 1792 she addressed the Legislative Assembly on behalf of Parisian women, suggesting that a female militia be formed so that women could protect their homes from counter-revolutionary assaults. In July 1791 she signed the petition at the Champ de Mars. Léon was a founder of the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women (Société des Républicaines-Révolutionnaires) with Claire Lacombe and became its president on 9 July 1793. The Société only lasted for about a year before authorities shut it down. She was also a leader of the Femmes Sans-Culottes in 1793. She also was a frequenter of the Cordeliers Club. At age 29, she married Théophile Leclerc, the leader of the enragés, although they were arrested and held separately in the Luxembourg prison from April to August, 1794. Léon and Lacombe both held strong hatred towards Lafayette, mostly due to his wartime opinions and actions.

Little is known about Léon's later life. She died at home in Bourbon-Vendée on 5 October 1838.