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The story of the orator of the French Revolution, Maximilien de Robespierre

 Maximilien de Robespierre was born in 1758 and died in 1794. French lawyer known for his hostile and rejectionist positions towards the monarchy in the country, he was one of the most influential figures of the French Revolution. Assembly (House of Representatives) and has held a number of leadership positions in the Constituent Assembly, the Executive Body and other institutions. The politics that emerged after the revolution.

He was one of those who called for the execution of King Louis XVI, which gave him great popularity and influence, until the people and leaders of the revolution nominated him to lead the government that followed. the overthrow of the king's regime.

Robespierre executed more than 16,000 people from 1793 to 1794, then members of the government and leaders of the revolution decided to get rid of him by arresting him and then executing him on the “guillotine” with 100 of his collaborators .

Birth and education

His full name is Maximilien Marie Isidore de Robespierre. He was born on May 6, 1758 in the commune of Arras, located in the far north of France and in the province of Pas-de-Calais.

He is the eldest son of Maximilien Barthélemy François de Robespierre, lawyer at the Supreme Council of the commune of Artois, and of his mother, Jacqueline Marguerite Carotte, daughter of a winegrower from the commune of Arras.

He had two younger sisters, Charlotte and Henriette, and two younger brothers, Augustin and Benjamin, born and died on the same day in 1764.

His mother died on July 15, 1764, when he was six years old, which pushed his father to give up raising him with his brothers. His two sisters go to live with their aunts, while he and his brother Augustin are taken in by their father. grandfather.

He neither married nor married any woman, and he lived a very modest life in a simple residence belonging to a carpenter named "Du Blay", to the point that he was described as an honest man whose “loyalty cannot be bought”.

study and training


On May 15, 1781, his name was entered in the archives of the Parliament's lawyers in Paris, then he returned to his hometown of Arras, where he settled with his sister Charlotte.

He registered his name on the Regional Council of the Commune of Artois on November 8, 1781, and began pleading on January 16, 1782. He was then appointed judge at the Episcopal Court on March 9 of the same year.

Intellectual and political experience

One of the positions that marked him greatly and made him hate the monarchy was when he chose his period of law studies to make a declaration of welcome to King Louis Robespierre had to go out and make a welcome declaration in front of the king's carriage. in the rain.

While practicing as a lawyer, Robespierre was known for his ability to convince and argue, which made some of his most famous pleadings in the French courts and made him a prominent figure in his city.

In 1786, he was appointed general secretary and then director of the Academy of Letters, Sciences and Arts of the commune of Arras. This rapid social ascension was met with ostracism from local citizens due to his outspokenness (either in his speeches or in his writings) in his criticism of the corruption that was prevalent in the justice system at that time. He aimed his criticisms particularly at the nobility. , whom he accuses of seeking to preserve his social and economic privileges by subjecting justice to his whims.

This confrontation with the nobility constitutes the gateway through which Robespierre enters the political world, since this unusual "extremism" of positions allows him to win, although with difficulty, the membership elections to the General Assembly in 1789 as as representative of the Third Reich. Estate, which was a designation for representatives of the people at that time, and came in order after members of the General Assembly of the first class of the nobility, then members of the second class of the clergy.

He was able to stand out for his numerous interventions in the General Assembly, which exceeded a thousand interventions from 1789 to 1794, and revealed himself to be a fierce defender who believed in the supremacy of the public interest of the people.

After the fall of the “Bastille” on July 14, 1789, Robespierre believed that the aristocracy did not capitulate despite its attempt to show its sympathy and support for the popular movement which was shaking the country, and that it was waiting for the opportune moment. reap the fruits of the revolution.

His defense of popular movements dominated his speeches, prompting revolutionary newspapers to publish them even after he was isolated and excluded from participation in the founding phase that followed the revolution. Hence his insistence on continuing to publish his ideas and speeches. The general impression around him strongly believed in his victory of the people against the aristocracy, as he always demanded the liberation of the oppressed and slaves in the colonies and granting the people their basic rights.

He also had positions rejecting the death penalty and the role of clerics in public life, in addition to his demands for the restructuring and organization of the French judicial system and security services.

For Robespierre, the value of equality represented a fundamental pillar of the principles he defended, because he considered that “absolute justice, if it is not accompanied by the love of equality and the fatherland, then the The word freedom in the republic will only be a vague word devoid of any meaning.

The set of principles of social democracy - which he defended and tried to spread in a society still feeling its new path after the revolution - was not a means to achieve goals in a political battle, but rather a moral battle. drew the foundation of these universal principles from the principle of virtue that the French philosopher Charles Louis de Sucunda, famous for Montesquieu, who was influenced by Robespierre.

Battle of Robespierre

Robespierre did not suspect the existence of a conspiracy led by the aristocracy against popular movements in order to return to the power and privileges they had enjoyed over the centuries of French history, and in 1790 he led the “Jacobin movement” (Les Jacobins). Jacobins), also called the Friends of the Constitution, supporters and promoters of the revolution, he was thus elected member of the National Conference.

The conference was divided between two opposing currents: the “Les Girondins” movement, representatives of the noble aristocracy most of whom belonged to the “Gironde” region, and the “Les Montagnards” movement, of which Robespierre was one of the symbols. This movement played an important role in the revolution and formed the core of what would later be known as the French Left.

On May 31, 1793, under the leadership of Robespierre, the front of the “Mountain Bedouins” at the National Convention overthrew the political rivals, the “Girondins”, who defended the interests of the aristocrats.

On June 27 of the same year, Robespierre reached the peak of his political power by becoming a member of the Rescue Committee, created on April 6, 1793. It was the first committee created by the National Convention and resulting from the revolutionary movement. government to confront the threat of occupation and civil war, in addition to monitoring ministers and expanding state control.

In July, the “Mountain Bedouin” movement began to move closer to political extremism, based on Robespierre’s idea of virtue, which must rely on force and terror to achieve victory.

Robespierre contributed to the trial and execution of many opponents of the revolutionary government, and even many political figures who supported him throughout his career, and who expressed some reservations about his policies and decisions, such as Georges Jacques Danton and Jacques Ronnie Hébar.

In June 1794 he became president of the National Congress, which allowed him to strengthen his control over the highest authority in the country and, with his growing sense of the need to tighten his grip on power, he established the law on " suspicions.” , which allows the judgment and execution of any person on the basis of his declarations or even his actions which could “suggest that he is opposed to the new regime.

This new measure, which raises fears of the fall of other political figures, has aroused some concern among members of the National Congress, in addition to the opposition of the Public Security Committee to this new law, and therefore of a front of 'opposition. in Robespierre began to form, with the ongoing campaign of executions that did not stop throughout the year. Across France, the number of prisoners in prisons reached half a million citizens, and the number of guillotines reached 16,000.

the fall

Robespierre withdrew from the National Congress, no longer exercising his functions from the official headquarters, contenting himself with following the course of events from his personal residence, which historians have interpreted as a feeling of superiority over the official institutions of the country and a hidden message. to the people of their uselessness.

This retreat and reluctance to carry out tasks from the conference headquarters raised many questions and made things more ambiguous among the people and politicians, especially as Robespierre relied throughout his career on the power of words and revolutionary speeches which mobilized supporters of his policies. .

Some historians, such as Joël Schmidt, have claimed that Robespierre's retirement was the result of a severe nervous breakdown resulting from his conviction of the failure of the policies he was following, which contributed to the increase in frequency and coordination of the executions carried out. in most French cities.

On July 26, 1794, he gave a long speech to the members of the National Convention in which he promised to purge the committees and punish traitors among the members of Congress, without indicting specific people, which triggered a wave of anger and of fury which led to a rapprochement between the political parties and the Public Security Committee.

In an attempt to absorb the anger of the conference, Robespierre attempted to deliver a new speech on July 27, "more moderate" than the previous one, but this time he was prevented from speaking in a new revolutionary scene which directly and clearly declared his rejection. suddenly, and voices were raised to demand the immediate suspension of Robespierre and his collaborators.

Robespierre was able to leave the headquarters of the National Convention and return to municipal headquarters and gave the order to storm the conference, but the Public Security forces refused to execute him, which incited the crowds to anger from supporters of members of Congress to step down. declared Robespierre and his collaborators outlaws, which allowed them to be executed without trial, then they headed towards his presence and arrested him on July 28, 1794 at two in the morning.

There is one story that says Robespierre attempted suicide and shot himself, but he injured his face at the chin, seriously, but not fatally, and a second story says that it was a member of the Public Safety Committee who injured. facing him this way.


During his political career and after his execution, Robespierre's personality was the subject of numerous criticisms which wanted to make him responsible for the events which marked the period of "terror" or "terror" as it was more commonly called. later, which lasted from 1793 to 1794.

Some critics and historians considered him a surprisingly contradictory person, swimming in the world of abstract theories and principles he derived from the works of the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, without any field experience in political practice.

Other criticisms leveled at him include:

His inability to raise a family and his inability to assume a formal administrative or leadership position.

His failure to achieve self-settlement as he lived his life begging for simple accommodation.

His isolation from the people, which was at the center of his speeches and at the forefront of his concerns, earned him numerous criticisms going so far as to question his psychological and behavioral health.

His defense of the poor and socially oppressed classes, but on the other hand, he is a very elegant man, to the point that he spends long hours in front of the mirror paying attention to his appearance and his clothes.

He rejects the death penalty, but does not hesitate to send thousands of opponents to the guillotine.

His hostility towards the monarchy, but on the other hand, he showed a hidden admiration for Queen Marie Antoinette, Louis' 16th wife.

His writings

Robespierre wrote articles in which he expressed his positions on the revolution and his vision of society and the different components of its political scene. They were published in French revolutionary newspapers and collected in 1830 in two volumes published by the printing house and Editions Moreau Rosey in . Paris. The two volumes included all the bills, proposals and decisions he had drafted and presented at the national conference.


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