Maximilien RobespierreFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, search Maximilien Robespierre Robespierre c. 1790, (anonymous), Musée Carnavalet, Paris, France Deputy and member of the Committee of Public Safety In office 27 July 1793 – 27 July 1794Constituency Paris President of the National Convention In office 4 June 1794 – 17 June 1794 In office 22 August 1793 – 5 September 1793 Member of the National Convention In office 20 September 1792 – 27 July 1794 Member of the National Constituent Assembly In office 9 July 1789 – 30 September 1791
Member of the National Assembly In office 17 June 1789 – 9 July 1789 Deputy for the Third Estate of the Estates- General Constituency of Artois In office 6 May 1789 – 17 June 1789 Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre Born 6 May 1758 Arras, France 28 July 1794 (aged 36) Died Paris, France Nationality FrenchPolitical party Jacobin Alma mater Lycée Louis-le-Grand Profession Lawyer and Politician Deism Religion (Cult of the Supreme Being) SignatureMaximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre (IPA: swa maʁ i izidɔ ʁdə ʁ ɔ bɛ spjɛ ʁ ]; 6 May 1758 – 28 July 1794) is one of the best-known and most influentialfigures of the French Revolution. He largely dominated the Committee of Public Safety and wasinstrumental in the period of the Revolution commonly known as the Reign of Terror, whichended with his arrest and execution in 1794.Robespierre was influenced by 18th-century Enlightenment philosophes such as Jean-JacquesRousseau and Montesquieu, and he was a capable articulator of the beliefs of the left-wingbourgeoisie. He was described as being physically unimposing yet immaculate in attire andpersonal manners. His supporters called him "The Incorruptible", while his adversaries calledhim dictateur sanguinaire (blood-thirsty dictator).ested that his surname could be a corruption of Robert Speirs. George Henry Lewes, ErnestHamel, Jules Michelet, Alphonse de Lamartine and Hilaire Belloc have all cited this theoryalthough there appears to be little supporting evidence.His paternal grandfather, Maximilien de Robespierre, established himself in Arras as a lawyer.His father, Maximilien Barthélémy François de Robespierre, also a lawyer at the Conseil
dArtois, married Jacqueline Marguerite Carrault, the daughter of a brewer, in 1758. Maximilienwas the oldest of 4 children and was conceived out of wedlock - his siblings were Charlotte,Henriette and Augustin. To hide the fact as best they could, his father and mother had a rushedwedding (which the grandfather refused to attend). In 1764, Madame de Robespierre died inchildbirth. Her husband left Arras and wandered around Europe until his death in Munich in1777, leaving the children to be brought up by their maternal grandfather and aunts.Maximilien attended the collège (middle school) of Arras when he was eight years old, alreadyknowing how to read and write. In October of 1769, on the recommendation of the bishop, heobtained a scholarship at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. Here he learned to admire theidealised Roman Republic and the rhetoric of Cicero, Cato and other classic figures. His fellowpupils included Camille Desmoulins and Stanislas Fréron. He also was exposed to Rousseauduring this time and adopted many of the same principles. Robespierre became more intriguedby the idea of a virtuous self, a man who stands alone accompanied only by his conscience.Shortly after his coronation, Louis XVI visited Louis-le-Grand. Robespierre, then 17 years old,had been chosen out of five hundred pupils to deliver a speech to welcome the king; as a prize-winning student, the choice had been clear. On the day of the speech, Robespierre and the crowdwaited for the king and queen for several hours in the rain. Upon arrival, the royal coupleremained in their coach for the ceremony and immediately left thereafter. Robespierre wouldbecome one of those who eventually sought the death of the king. Early politicsAs an adult, and possibly even as a young man, the greatest influence on Robespierres politicalideas was Jean Jacques Rousseau. Robespierre’s conception of revolutionary virtue and hisprogram for constructing political sovereignty out of direct democracy came from Rousseau, andin pursuit of these ideals he eventually became known during the Jacobin Republic as ―theIncorruptible.‖ Robespierre believed that the people of France were fundamentally good andwere therefore capable of advancing the public well-being of the nation.After having completed his law studies, Robespierre was admitted to the Arras bar. The Bishopof Arras, Louis François Marc Hilaire de Conzié, appointed him criminal judge in the Diocese ofArras in March 1782. This appointment, which he soon resigned to avoid pronouncing a sentenceof death, did not prevent his practicing at the bar. He quickly became a successful advocate andchose in principle to represent the poor. During court hearings he was known to often advocatethe ideals of the Enlightenment and argue for the rights of man: i.e., his clients. Later in hiscareer, he read widely and also became interested in society in general. He became regarded asone of the best writers and most popular young men of Arras.In December 1783, he was elected a member of the academy of Arras, the meetings of which heattended regularly. In 1784, he obtained a medal from the academy of Metz for his essay on thequestion of whether the relatives of a condemned criminal should share his disgrace. He andPierre Louis de Lacretelle, an advocate and journalist in Paris, divided the prize. Many of hissubsequent essays were less successful, but Robespierre was compensated for these failures byhis popularity in the literary and musical society at Arras, known as the "Rosatia", of which
Lazare Carnot, who would be his colleague on the Committee of Public Safety, was also amember.In 1788, he took part in a discussion of how the French provincial government should be elected,showing clearly and forcefully in his Addresse à la nation artésienne that if the former mode ofelection by the members of the provincial estates were again adopted, the new Estates-Generalwould not represent the people of France. It is possible he addressed this issue so that he couldhave a chance to take part in the proceedings and thus change the policies of the monarchy. KingLouis XVI later announced new elections for all provinces, thus allowing Robespierre to run forthe position of deputy for the Third Estate.Portrait of Robespierre after his election to the Estates General, 1789Although the leading members of the corporation were elected, Robespierre, their chiefopponent, succeeded in getting elected with them. In the assembly of the bailliage rivalry ranstill higher, but Robespierre had begun to make his mark in politics with the Avis aux habitantsde la campagne (Arras, 1789). With this he secured the support of the country electors and,although only thirty, comparatively poor and lacking patronage, he was elected fifth deputy ofthe Third Estate of Artois to the Estates-General. When Robespierre arrived at Versailles, he wasrelatively unknown, but he soon became part of the representative National Assembly which thentransformed into the Constituent Assembly.While the Constituent Assembly occupied itself with drawing up a constitution, Robespierreturned from the assembly of provincial lawyers and wealthy bourgeois to the people of Paris. Hewas a frequent speaker in the Constituent Assembly; he voiced many ideas for the Declaration ofthe Rights of Man and Constitutional Provisions, often with great success. He was eventuallyrecognized as second only to Pétion de Villeneuve - if second he was - as a leader of the smallbody of the extreme left; "the thirty voices" as Mirabeau contemptuously called them.Robespierre soon became involved with the new Society of the Friends of the Constitution,known eventually as the Jacobin Club. This had consisted originally of the deputies fromBrittany only. After the Assembly moved to Paris, the Club began to admit various leaders of theParisian bourgeoisie to its membership. As time went on, many of the more intelligent artisansand small shopkeepers became members of the club. Among such men, Robespierre found a
sympathetic audience. As the wealthier bourgeois of Paris and right-wing deputies seceded fromthe club of 1789, the influence of the old leaders of the Jacobins, such as Barnave, Duport,Alexandre de Lameth, diminished. When they, alarmed at the progress of the Revolution,founded the club of the Feuillants in 1791, the left, including Robespierre and his friends,dominated the Jacobin Club.On 15 May 1791, Robespierre proposed and carried the motion that no deputy who sat in theConstituent could sit in the succeeding Assembly, his only successful proposition in thisassembly.The flight on 20 June, and subsequent arrest at Varennes of Louis XVI and his family resulted inRobespierre declaring himself at the Jacobin Club to be "ni monarchiste ni républicain" ("neithermonarchist nor republican"). But this was not unusual; very few at this point were avowedrepublicans.After the massacre on the Champ de Mars on 17 July 1791, in order to be nearer to the Assemblyand the Jacobins, he moved to live in the house of Maurice Duplay, a cabinetmaker residing inthe Rue Saint-Honoré and an ardent admirer of Robespierre. Robespierre lived there (with twoshort intervals excepted) until his death. In fact, according to some sources[who?], including hisdoctor, Souberbielle, Vilate, a juror on the Revolutionary Tribunal, and his hosts youngestdaughter (who would later marry Philippe Le Bas of the Committee of General Security), hebecame engaged to the eldest daughter of his host, Éléonore Duplay.On 30 September, on the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, the people of Paris crownedPétion and Robespierre as the two incorruptible patriots in an attempt to honor their purity ofprinciples, their modest ways of living, and their refusal of bribes.With the dissolution of the Assembly he returned to Arras for a short visit, where he met with atriumphant reception. In November he returned to Paris to take the position of Public Prosecutorof Paris. Opposition to war with Austria
Terracotta bust of Robespierre by Claude André Deseine, 1792 (Musée de la Révolutionfrançaise)On February 1792, Jacques Pierre Brissot, one of the leaders of the Girondist party in theLegislative Assembly, urged that France should declare war against Austria. Marat andRobespierre opposed him, because they feared the possibility of militarism, which might then beturned to the advantage of the reactionary forces. Robespierre was also convinced the stability ofthe internal country was more important; he was suspicious of traitors and counter-revolutionaries hidden among the people. This opposition from expected allies irritated theGirondists and political rivalry arose between them.In April 1792, Robespierre resigned the post of public prosecutor of Versailles, which he hadofficially held, but never practiced, since February, and started a journal, Le Défenseur de laConstitution, in his own defence against the accusations of the Girondist leaders.Because of his popularity, his reputation for virtue and his influence over the Jacobin Club, thestrongmen of the Commune of Paris were glad to have Robespierres aid in the face of food riotsand factionalism. On 16 August, Robespierre presented the petition of the Commune to theLegislative Assembly, demanding the establishment of a revolutionary tribunal and thesummoning of a Convention.Robespierre has often been reproached with failing to stop the September Massacres.[by whom?]In September, he was elected first deputy for Paris to the National Convention. Robespierre andhis allies took the benches high at the back of the hall, giving them the label the Montagnards;below them were the Manège of the Girondists and then the Plain of the independents.At the Convention, the Girondists immediately attacked Robespierre. On 26 September, theGirondist Marc-David Lasource accused Robespierre of wanting to form a dictatorship. Rumoursspread that Robespierre, Marat and Danton were plotting to establish a triumvirate. On 29October, Louvet de Couvrai attacked Robespierre in a speech, possibly written by MadameRoland. On 5 November, Robespierre defended himself and denounced the federalist plans of the
Girondists. Robespierre was one of the most popular orators in the Convention and his carefullyprepared speeches often made a deep impression. Execution of Louis XVIIn December 1792, personal disputes were overshadowed by the question of the kings trial. Inthis instance, Robespierre held the position that the king must be executed, whereas previouslyhe had opposed the death penalty. The position of Robespierre was that if one man’s life had tobe sacrificed to save the Revolution, there was no alternative: it had to be that of King Louis. Inhis speech on 3 December 1792 Robespierre argued that the king, having betrayed the peoplewhen he tried to flee the country, and by being a king in the first place, posed a danger to thestate as a unifying entity to enemies of the republic. Destruction of the GirondistsAfter the Kings execution, the influence of Robespierre, Danton, and the pragmatic politiciansincreased at the expense of the Girondists. The Girondists refused to have anything more to dowith Danton and because of this the government became more divided. In May 1793,Desmoulins, at the behest of Robespierre and Danton, published his Histoire des Brissotins, anelaboration on the earlier article Jean-Pierre Brissot, démasqué, a scathing attack on Brissot andthe Girondists. Maximin Isnard declared that Paris must be destroyed if it came out against theprovincial deputies. Robespierre preached a moral "insurrection against the corrupt deputies" atthe Jacobin Club. On 2 June, a large crowd of armed men from the Commune of Paris came tothe Convention and arrested thirty-two deputies on charges of counter-revolutionary activities. Reign of TerrorMain article: Reign of Terror “ ” To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is barbarity. — Maximilien Robespierre, 1794After the fall of the monarchy, France faced more food riots, large popular insurrections andaccusations of treasonous acts by those previously considered patriots. A stable government wasneeded to quell the chaos. On 11 March 1793, a Revolutionary Tribunal was established inParis. On 6 April, the nine-member Committee of Public Safety replaced the larger Committee ofGeneral Defense. On 27 July 1793, the Convention elected Robespierre to the Committee,although he had not sought the position. The Committee of General Security began to managethe countrys internal police.Though nominally all members of the committee were equal, Robespierre has often beenregarded as the dominant force and, as such, the de facto dictator of the country. He is also seenas the driving force behind the Reign of Terror—Louis-Sébastien Mercier called him a
"Sanguinocrat"—although, after 1794, other participants may have exaggerated his role todownplay their own contribution.As an orator, he praised revolutionary government and argued that the Terror was necessary,laudable and inevitable. It was Robespierres belief that the Republic and virtue were of necessityinseparable. He reasoned that the Republic could only be saved by the virtue of its citizens, andthat the Terror was virtuous because it attempted to maintain the Revolution and the Republic.Therefore, "Robespierre didn’t see the use of terror as a compromise of virtue, but as theenforcement of it." For example, in his Report on the Principles of Political Morality, givenon 5 February 1794, Robespierre stated:If virtue be the spring of a popular government in times of peace, the spring of that governmentduring a revolution is virtue combined with terror: virtue, without which terror is destructive;terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it isthen an emanation of virtue; it is less a distinct principle than a natural consequence of thegeneral principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing wants of the country ... Thegovernment in a revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny.Robespierre’s popularity and appeal to the community came out mostly in the way that he spoke.His speeches were exceptional, and he had the power to change the views of almost anyaudience. (This is one of the reasons why he became such a strong force in the Terror.) Hisspeaking techniques included talk of virtue and morals, and also quite often he had a fewrhetorical questions in his speeches in order to identify with the audience. He would alsogesticulate and use ideas and personal experiences in life to keep the listeners’ attention. And hisfinal method was to state that he was always prepared to die in order to save the Revolution.(Ironically, his death would be an end to the Revolution.)Robespierre believed that the Terror was a time of discovering and revealing the enemy withinParis, within France, the enemy that hid in the safety of apparent patriotism. Because hebelieved that the Revolution was still in progress, and in danger of being sabotaged, he madeevery attempt to instill in the populace and Convention the urgency of carrying out the Terror. Inhis Report and others, he brought tales and fears of traitors, monarchists, and saboteursthroughout the Republic and also the Convention itself.Robespierre expanded the traditional list of the Revolutions enemies to include moderates and"false revolutionaries". In Robespierres understanding, these were not only ignorant of thedangers facing the Republic, but also in many cases disguised themselves as active contributorsto the Revolution, who simply repeated the work of others, or even impeded the progress of thepatriots. Anyone not in step with the decrees of Robespierres committee is said to have beeneventually purged from the Convention, and thoroughly hunted in the general population. Whileit is debated whether Robespierre targeted moderates to accelerate his own agenda, or out oflegitimate concern for France, it is known that his policy led to the execution of many of theRevolutions original and staunchest advocates.Robespierre saw no room for mercy in his Terror, stating that "slowness of judgments is equal toimpunity" and "uncertainty of punishment encourages all the guilty". Throughout his Report on
the Principles of Political Morality, Robespierre assailed any stalling of action in defense of theRepublic. In his thinking, there was not enough that could be done fast enough in defence againstenemies at home and abroad. A staunch believer in the teachings of Rousseau, Robespierrebelieved that it was his duty as a public servant to push the Revolution forward, and that the onlyrational way to do that was to defend it on all fronts. The Report did not merely call for blood butalso expounded many of the original ideas of the 1789 Revolution, such as political equality,suffrage, and abolition of privileges. Despite executing a good number of his fellowrevolutionaries, Robespierre was still one of them in his theory, even if his practice wasquestionable.In the winter of 1793–1794, a majority of the Committee decided that the Hébertist party wouldhave to perish or its opposition within the Committee would overshadow the other factions dueto its influence in the Commune of Paris. Robespierre also had personal reasons for disliking theHébertists for their "atheism" and "bloodthirstiness", which he associated with the oldaristocracy."On the 4th of February 1794 under the leadership of Maxmilien Robespierre, the French Convention voted forthe abolition of slavery. The Jacobins had established the idea of liberty, but it was a conception whichfavoured the emergent bourgeoisie, and it was this idea of liberty signifying the freedom to trade which tookprecedence over the ideas of equality and fraternity. It was this corruption of the French revolution by arapacious cabal of the French bourgeoisie that Robespierre fought so fanatically against. In fact, during theReign of Terror, Robespierre had huge support among the poor of Paris and he is still revered by the poor ofHaiti today."— Centre for Research on GlobalizationIn early 1794, he broke with Danton who had more moderate views on the Terror and hadCamille Desmoulins protest against it in the third issue of Le Vieux Cordelier. Robespierreconsidered an end of the Terror as meaning the loss of political power he hoped to use to createthe Republic of Virtue. Subsequently, he joined in attacks on the Dantonists and the Hébertists.Robespierre charged his opponents with complicity with foreign powers.From 13 February to 13 March 1794, Robespierre withdrew from active business on theCommittee due to illness. On 15 March, he reappeared in the Convention. Hébert and nineteen ofhis followers were arrested on 19 March and guillotined on 24 March. Danton, Desmoulins andtheir friends were arrested on 30 March and guillotined on 5 April.After Dantons execution, Robespierre worked to develop his own policies and hoped that theConvention would pass whatever measures he might dictate. He used his influence over theJacobin Club to dominate the Commune of Paris through his followers. Two of them, Jean-Baptiste Fleuriot-Lescot and Claude-François de Payan, were elected mayor and procurator ofthe Commune respectively. Robespierre tried to influence the army through his follower Louisde Saint-Just, whom he sent on a mission to the frontier.In Paris, Robespierre increased the activity of the Terror. To secure his aims, another ally on theCommittee, Georges Couthon, introduced and carried on 10 June the drastic Law of 22 Prairial.
Under this law, the Tribunal became a simple court of condemnation without need of witnesses.The result of this was that until Robespierres death, 1,285 victims were guillotined in Paris. Cult of the Supreme BeingRobespierres desire for revolutionary change was not limited to the political realm. He sought toinstill a spiritual resurgence in the French nation based on his Deist beliefs. Accordingly, on 7May 1794, Robespierre had a decree passed by the Convention that established an officialreligion, the Cult of the Supreme Being. The notion of the Supreme Being was based on ideasthat Jean-Jacques Rousseau had outlined in The Social Contract. A nationwide "Festival of theSupreme Being" was held on 8 June (which was also the Christian holiday of Pentecost). Thefestivities in Paris were held in the Champ de Mars, which was renamed the Champ de laRéunion ("Field of Reunion") for that day. This was most likely in honor of the Champ de MarsMassacre where the Republicans first rallied against the power of the Crown. Robespierre, asPresident of the Convention, walked first in the festival procession and delivered a speech inwhich he emphasised his concept of a Supreme Being:Is it not He whose immortal hand, engraving on the heart of man the code of justice and equality,has written there the death sentence of tyrants? Is it not He who, from the beginning of time,decreed for all the ages and for all peoples liberty, good faith, and justice? He did not createkings to devour the human race. He did not create priests to harness us, like vile animals, to thechariots of kings and to give to the world examples of baseness, pride, perfidy, avarice,debauchery and falsehood. He created the universe to proclaim His power. He created men tohelp each other, to love each other mutually, and to attain to happiness by the way of virtue.Throughout the "Festival of the Supreme Being", Robespierre was beaming with joy; not eventhe negativity of his colleagues could disrupt his delight. He was able to speak of the thingsabout which he was truly passionate, including Virtue and Nature, typical deist beliefs, and, ofcourse, his disagreements with atheism. Everything was arranged to the exact specifications thathad been previously set before the ceremony; the ominous and symbolic guillotine had beenmoved to the original standing place of the Bastille, all of the people were placed in theappropriate area designated to them, and everyone was dressed accordingly. Not only waseverything going smoothly, but the Festival was also Robespierre’s first appearance in the publiceye as an actual leader for the people, and also, as President of the Convention to which he hadbeen elected only four days earlier.While for some it was an excitement to see him at his finest, many other leaders involved in theFestival agreed that Robespierre had taken things a bit too far. Multiple sources state thatRobespierre came down the mountain in a way that resembled Moses as the leader of the people,and one of his colleagues, Jacques-Alexis Thuriot, was heard saying, ―Look at the bugger; it’snot enough for him to be master, he has to be God.‖ While these words may have been a simplerelease of resentment at the time, this same idea would come back in an attempt to removeRobespierre from his high and lofty position in the very near future.Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier was not one of Robespierre’s devotees, and was actuallyattempting to find something that Robespierre had done wrong. Vadier was on a mission to
attack Robespierre and his faith, and was also trying to bring down Robespierre’s politicalstature as well. This is when he found Catherine Théot, who was a seventy-eight-year old, selfdeclared ―prophetess‖ who had, at one point, been imprisoned in the Bastille. By Théot statingthat he was the ―herald of the Last Days, prophet of the New Dawn,‖ (because his Festival hadfallen on the Pentecost, which she claimed would be the day revealing a ―divine manifestation‖)Catherine Théot made it seem as though Robespierre had made these claims himself to her.Many of her followers were supporters or friends of Robespierre as well, which made it seem asthough he was attempting to create a new religion with himself as its god. While Robespierre hadnothing to do with Catherine Théot or her followers, many assumed that he was on his way todictatorship, and it sent a current of fear throughout the Convention, which led to his downfallthe following July. DownfallMain article: Thermidorian ReactionThe execution of RobespierreOn 25 May, only two days after the attempted assassination of Collot d’Herbois, Robespierre’slife was also in danger as a young woman by the name of Cécile Renault approached him withtwo small knives in an attempt to murder him. At this point, the decree of 22 Prairial (also knownas law of 22 Prairial) was introduced to the public without the consultation from the Committeeof General Security, which in turn doubled the number of executions permitted by theCommittee of Public Safety.This law permitted executions to be carried out even under simple suspicion of citizens thoughtto be counter-revolutionaries without extensive trials. When Robespierre allowed this law to bepassed, the people of France began to question him and the Committee because they wereexecuting people for seemingly meaningless reasons, and also because they had passed a lawwithout the help of the Committee of General Security. This was part of the beginning ofRobespierre’s downfall.Reports were coming into Paris about excesses committed by the envoys sent en-mission to theprovinces particularly Jean-Lambert Tallien in Bordeaux and Joseph Fouché in Lyons.Robespierre had them recalled to Paris to account for their actions and expelled from theJacobins club. However they evaded arrest. Fouché spent the evenings moving house to housewith a spurious whispering campaign among members of the Convention warning them thatRobespierre was after them and set about organising a coup détat.Robespierre appeared at the Convention on 26 July (8th Thermidor, year II, according to theRevolutionary calendar), and delivered a two-hour-long speech. He defended himself againstcharges of dictatorship and tyranny, and then proceeded to warn of a conspiracy against theRepublic. Robespierre implied that members of the Convention were a part of this conspiracy,though when pressed he refused to provide any names. The speech however alarmed membersparticularly given Fouchés warnings. These members who felt that Robespierre was alluding tothem tried to prevent the speech from being printed, and a bitter debate ensued until Bertrand
Barère forced an end to it. Later that evening, Robespierre delivered the same speech again at theJacobin Club, where it was very well received.The next day, Saint-Just began to give a speech in support of Robespierre. However, those whohad seen him working on his speech the night before expected accusations to arise from it. Heonly had time to give a small part of his speech before Jean-Lambert Tallien interrupted him.While the accusations began to pile up, Saint-Just remained uncharacteristically silent.Robespierre then attempted to secure the tribune to speak but his voice was shouted down.Robespierre soon found himself at a loss for words after one deputy called for his arrest andanother, Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier, gave a mocking impression of him. When one deputyrealised Robespierres inability to respond, the man shouted, "The blood of Danton chokeshim!"The Convention ordered the arrest of Robespierre, his brother Augustin, Couthon, Saint-Just,François Hanriot and Le Bas. Troops from the Commune, under General Coffinhal, arrived tofree the prisoners and then marched against the Convention itself. The Convention responded byordering troops of its own under Barras to be called out. When the Communes troops heard thenews of this, order began to break down, and Hanriot ordered his remaining troops to withdrawto the Hôtel de Ville, where Robespierre and his supporters also gathered. The Conventiondeclared them to be outlaws, meaning that upon verification the fugitives could be executedwithin twenty-four hours without a trial. As the night went on, the forces of the Communedeserted the Hôtel de Ville and, at around two in the morning, those of the Convention under thecommand of Barras arrived there. In order to avoid capture, Augustin Robespierre threw himselfout of a window; Couthon was found lying at the bottom of a staircase; Le Bas committedsuicide; another radical jumped out of the window, only to break both of his legs; yet anothershot himself in the head. Robespierre tried to kill himself with a pistol but only managed toshatter his lower jaw, although some eye-witnesses claimed that Robespierre was shot byCharles-André Merda.For the remainder of the night, Robespierre was moved to a table in the room of the Committeeof Public Safety where he awaited execution. He lay on the table bleeding abundantly until adoctor was brought in to fix up his jaw. Although Robespierre was known for his speeches, thelast words that have been recorded of him saying are, ―Merci, monsieur,‖ to a man that hadkindly given him a handkerchief to sop up some of the blood from his face and his clothing.Later, Robespierre was held in the same containment chamber where Marie Antoinette, the wifeof King Louis XVI, had been held.The next day, 28 July 1794, Robespierre was guillotined without trial in the Place de laRévolution. His brother Augustin, Couthon, Saint-Just, Hanriot and twelve other followers,among them the cobbler Simon, were also executed. Only Robespierre was guillotined face-up. When clearing Robespierres neck the executioner tore off the bandage that washolding his shattered jaw in place, producing an agonised scream until the fall of the bladesilenced him. Together with those executed with him, he was buried in a common grave at thenewly opened Errancis cemetery (cimetière des Errancis) (March 1794-April 1797) (now thePlace de Goubeaux). Between 1844 and 1859 (probably in 1848), the remains of all those buriedthere were moved to the Catacombs of Paris.
 LegacyMaximillien Robespierre remains a controversial figure to this day. Apart from one Metro stationin Paris, there are no memorials or monuments to him in France. He was a bourgeois whochampioned the cause of the poor city workers, the sans-culottes. By making himselftheir spokesman, he took control of the Revolution in its most radical and bloody phase - theJacobin republic. His goal in the Terror was to use the guillotine to create what he called arepublic of virtue, wherein terror and virtue, his principles, would be imposed. He argued,"Terror is nothing more than speedy, severe and inflexible justice; it is thus an emanation ofvirtue; it is less a principle in itself, than a consequence of the general principle of democracy,applied to the most pressing needs of the patrie.In terms of historiography, he has a few defenders, who agree on the use of terror to purifysociety. Marxist historian Albert Soboul viewed most of the measures of the Committee forPublic Safety necessary for the defense of the Revolution and mainly regretted the destruction ofthe Hébertists and other enragés.Robespierre’s main ideal was to ensure the virtue and sovereignty of the people. He disapprovedof any acts which could be seen as exposing the nation to counter-revolutionaries and traitors,and became increasingly fearful of the defeat of the Revolution. He instigated the Terror and thedeaths of his peers as a measure of ensuring a Republic of Virtue; but his ideals went beyond theneeds and wants of the people of France. He became a threat to what he had wanted to ensureand the result was his downfall.The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica sums up Robespierre as a bright young theorist but out of hisdepth in the matter of experience:At Paris he wasnt understood till he met with his audience of fellow disciples of Rousseau at theJacobin Club. His fanaticism won him supporters; his singularly sweet and sympathetic voicegained him hearers; and his upright life attracted the admiration of all. As matters approachednearer and nearer to the terrible crisis, he failed, except in the two instances of the question ofwar and of the kings trial, to show himself a statesman, for he had not the liberal views andpractical instincts which made Mirabeau and Danton great men. His admission to the Committeeof Public Safety gave him power, which he hoped to use for the establishment of his favouritetheories, and for the same purpose he acquiesced in and even heightened the horrors of the Reignof Terror ... Robespierres private life was always respectable: he was always emphatically agentleman and man of culture, and even a little bit of a dandy, scrupulously honest, truthful andcharitable. In his habits and manner of life he was simple and laborious; he was not a man giftedwith flashes of genius, but one who had to think much before he could come to a decision, andhe worked hard all his life. Gallery
19th Century engraving of Robespierre.Robespierre by Boilly Louis Léopold (1761-1845)The arrest of Robespierre.The arrest of Robespierre on the night of 9 Thermidor, 27 July 1794 (Jean-Joseph-François Tassaert)
Robespierre and his Followers on their Way to the Scaffold on 28 July 1794.