What Was the Women's March on Versailles?

The Women's March on Versailles was a mass demonstration by the poor women of Paris at the palace of King Louis XVI that resulted in the resettlement of the king and his family inside the city of Paris. The crowds of women were angry about the high price of food.

After bad harvests in 1788 and 1789, France's grain reserves had declined, causing shortages and high prices that made it difficult to find adequate nutrition for France's working classes. On Oct. 5, 1789, a group of women angered by the scarcity, and by a recent lavish royal banquet, began a mass demonstration. They first forced the Hôtel de Ville, an administrative building, to open its food stores. Then, accompanied by a large number of revolutionaries and sympathetic soldiers, the women marched to Versailles, a palace 13 miles away from the city center.

At Versailles, the women and men occupied the palace grounds and the National Constituent Assembly, and after some time the king granted some of the women an audience. After listening to their concerns, he promised them an immediate disbursement of grain and assured them he would allow more disbursements later. Some of the mob were satisfied with these promises and went back to Paris. Others, however, had a larger goal: the removal of the king, his court and the Assembly from Versailles to Paris, the heart of the revolution.

Seeing the huge crowd and the reluctance of his soldiers to oppose them, the king officially moved to Paris the next morning.