Germaine de Staël

(1766 - 1817)

The daughter of Louis XVI’s finance minister, Germaine de Staël was protected from violence during the French Revolution by her Jacobin sympathies as well as the diplomatic status of her first husband, a Swedish ambassador, which allowed the couple to flee to Switzerland at the beginning of the Reign of Terror in 1793. “Public safety,” she writes, is “a fatal expression that implies the sacrifice of morality to what it has been agreed to call the interest of the state, that is, to the passions of those who govern.”

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