Pasquale Paoli, who led the Corsican republic from 1755 to 1769, probably never considered himself a revolutionary. To him, the struggle to liberate Corsica from its Genoese masters was a nation state’s legitimate bid for independence and he regarded himself on a par with other heads of state. Today, he is much less well known outside Corsica than his compatriot Napoleon Bonaparte, and yet he was a towering figure of his era.
Finding out about the daily lives and concerns of your characters is hard, especially when they aren’t famous historical figures. You don’t want to put all the details of food, dress, housing, etc. into your novel, but you still have to provide a convincing social background to the story.