The promise of intellectual emancipation that reason could achieve after 1789 came up against a political pragmatism that required conspicuous manifestations of loyalty. Verbal and visual displays added rhetorical and symbolic dimensions to the crisp political principles derived from ‘reason and nature’. The revolutionaries stated concrete aims in quasi-metaphorical ways, for instance, the creation of a new individual or the regeneration of the nation. Once the political will inspired by reason was backed by power, the way was open for attempts to turn utopian intentions into reality. Education and, later, a more varied pedagogical offensive were to achieve the transformation of people’s minds.