Author

Maximilien Robespierre cover

photo credits: CC-PD-Mark

Maximilien Robespierre

French revolutionary lawyer and politician

1758   -   1794

country of citizenship: France
native language: French
educated at: Lycée Louis-le-Grand
occupation: politician, lawyer, journalist, revolutionary
award received: Concours général
position held: member of the French National Assembly

Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre (French: [mak.si.mi.ljɛ̃ fʁɑ̃.swa ma.ʁi i.zi.dɔʁ də ʁɔ.bɛs.pjɛʁ]; 6 May 1758 – 28 July 1794) was a French lawyer and politician, as well as one of the best known and most influential figures associated with the French Revolution. As a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Jacobin Club, he campaigned for universal manhood suffrage, abolition of celibacy and of slavery. Robespierre was an outspoken advocate for the citizens without a voice, for their unrestricted admission to the National Guard, to public offices, and for the right to carry a weapon to defend the revolution. Robespierre played an important part in the agitation which brought about the fall of the French monarchy in August 1792 and the summoning of a National Convention.As one of the leading members of the insurrectionary Paris Commune, Robespierre was elected as a deputy to the French Convention early September 1792, but was soon criticised trying to establish a triumvirate or a dictatorship. In Spring 1793 he urged the creation of a "Sans-culotte army" to sweep away conspirators. In July he was appointed as a member of the powerful Committee of Public Safety being popular and well connected to the Paris Commune. Robespierre is best known for his role during the "reign of Terror". He exerted his influence to suppress the Girondins to the right, the Hébertists to the left and the Dantonists to the middle. As part of his attempts to use extreme measures to control political activity in France, Robespierre moved against his former friends, the more moderate Danton, and Desmoulins, who were executed in April 1794. He opposed dechristianization of France, introduced the Cult of the Supreme Being and became subject of his colleague's spot. Robespierre would be brought down with his obsession with the vision of an ideal republic and his indifference to the human costs of installing it. The Terror ended with Robespierre's arrest on 9 Thermidor and his execution on the day after, events that initiated a period known as the Thermidorian Reaction.Robespierre's personal responsibility for the excesses of the Terror remains the subject of intense debate among historians of the French Revolution. Each time, the controversy is around two different points of view: for some, Robespierre was the incarnation of Terror during Year II (of the French Revolutionary calendar); for others, he was its principal ideologist and recalls the first democratic experience, marked by the French Constitution of 1793. Current interest in the role of women in the past, the cultural dimension of history, the historical role of violence, and the interaction on European and non-Western peoples have directed attention to areas often ignored in earlier studies.
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