The notions of liberty, equality and fraternity were not invented by the Revolution. Closer ties between the concepts of liberty and equality were frequent during the Enlightenment, particularly with Rousseau and Locke. However, it was not until the French Revolution that they were brought together as a tripartite motto. In a speech on organizing the national guards in December 1790, Robespierre proposed that the words “The French people” and “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” should be emblazoned on uniforms and flags, but his suggestion was not adopted.
As of 1793, Parisians, quickly imitated by people from other cities, painted the front of their houses with the inscription: “Unity, indivisibility of the Republic: liberty, equality or death”. The last part of the motto, too closely associated with Reign of Terror, quickly disappeared.