Maximilien Robespierre

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Maximilien Robespierre

In Brief:

Maximilien  Robespierre (6 May 1758 – 28 July 1794) is one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. He was a qualified lawyer and as the French Revolution took hold he led the radical party, the Jacobins, in the National Covention. He also  dominated the Committee of Public Safety that was set up to clamp down on ‘anti-revolutionary activities’ during the period of the Revolution commonly known as the Reign of Terror, which ended with his arrest and execution in 1794.


Early Life

Maximilien de Robespierre was born in Arras, France.
He is sometimes rumoured to have been of Irish descent.

Maximilien was the oldest of four children and was conceived out of wedlock. In 1764, Madame de Robespierre died in childbirth. Her husband left Arras and wandered around Europe until his death in Munich in 1777, leaving the children to be brought up by their maternal grandfather and aunts.

Maximilien attended the collège of Arras when he was eight years old, already knowing how to read and write. In October of 1769, on the recommendation of the bishop, he got a scholarship at the Lycee Louis-le- Grand in Paris. Here he learned to admire the idealised Roman Republic.
Robespierre became more intrigued by the idea of a virtuous self, a man who stands alone accompanied only by his conscience.
Robespierre was a student of Rousseau, one of the most important writers of the enlightenment.

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. On the day of the speech, Robespierre and the crowd waited for the king and queen for several hours in the rain. When they arrived, the royal couple remained in their coach for the ceremony and immediately left after it. Robespierre would become one of those who eventually sought the death of the king.

He gained the nickname ‘the incorruptible’ because he was regarded as a very honest and sincere man.

Early Politics

Robespierre believed that the people of France were fundamentally good and therefore the people needed only to speak in order to advance the well being of the nation.

In 1781, the bishop of Arras appointed him as judge but he quickly left his position because he could not bring himself to sentence people to death.

In 1789, aged only 30, Robespierre was elected as one of the representatives of the Third Estate at the meeting of the Estates-General called by Louis XVI. One of his fellow representatives, Mirabeau, said, “That young man believes what he says – he will go far!’. He was immensely popular with the sans culottes and the Paris mob.

He later became a member of the National Assembly. He joined a group called the Jacobins, who sat on the left side of the of the Assembly, and called for rapid change to the way France was governed. In January 1793, he, along with other allies like Jean-Paul Marat and Georges Danton, argued for the execution of King Louis following the Flight to Varennes.

The execution of Louis XVI

Robespierre’s Demise

On 2 June 1793, Robespierre and his fellow Jacobins seized power and he was voted leader of the Committee of Public Safety. Robespierre really believed that he was acting to save France and the Revolution during The Terror.

During this period, he ordered the arrest of nearly half a million people and the execution of over 40,000. He was eventually arrested himself and, on 27 July 1794, he was executed by guillotine.

The ececution of Robespierre




Key Dates

6 May 1758 – Robespierre was born.
Oct. 1769 – He got a scholarship at the Lycee Louis-le-Grand in Paris.
1781 – He was appointed judge, but quickly left his position because he could not bring himself to sentence people to death.
1789 – He was elected as one of  the representatives of the Third Estate at meeting of the Estates General called by Louis XVI.
1793 – He became a member of the National Assembly and joined a group called the Jacobins.
2 June 1793 – Robespierre and his fellow Jacobins seized power and he was voted leader of the Committee of Public Safety.
24 July 1794 – He was executed by guillotine.


History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna.

Published on May 8, 2010 at 2:11 pm Comments (4)
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4 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. on May 25, 2010 at 9:45 pm Eoin Egan Said:

    it is interesting that he couldn’t sentence someone to death!

  2. on May 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm Siobhan Kelly Said:

    He realy got out of hand when he was voted leader of the Committee of Public Safety!!!!!!!

  3. on May 27, 2010 at 6:00 pm clodagh redmond Said:

    I didnt know that he was brought up by his aunts and grandfather!

  4. on May 6, 2011 at 4:28 am jigahh Said:

    tell more about the revolution and the terror……as you had to make a speach on it.

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