Maximilien de Robespierre Biography
Died At Age: 36
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Maximilien Robespierre,Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre
Born Country: France
Born in: Arras, France
Famous as: Influential Figure of the French Revolution
political ideology: (1789–1794) - Political party Jacobin Club, Other political affiliations - (1792–1794) - The Mountain
father: Maximilien Barthélémy François de Robespierre
mother: Jacqueline Marguerite Carrault
siblings: Augustin Robespierre
place of death: Paris
Cause of Death: Execution
education: 1781 - Lycée Louis-le-Grand
Maximilien Robespierre was a French lawyer who became one of the most influential figures of the French Revolution. A major political figure in 18th century France, he served as a member of the Committee of Public Safety which he dominated in the latter months of 1793. He is accused of being one of the principal architects of the ‘Reign of Terror’, a period of large-scale violence during the onset of the French Revolution, marked by mass executions of “enemies of the revolution". Born as the son of a lawyer, Robespierre went on to become a lawyer himself. As a young man he was greatly influenced by the writings of social philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and developed strong moral values. He was against the death penalty and advocated the abolition of slavery. He entered into politics and over a period of time became the president of the powerful Jacobin political faction. He was opposed to monarchy and played a pivotal role in the uprising against King Louis XVI in August 1792 following which monarchy was abolished and France was made a republic. Robespierre was a revolutionary at heart, and even though he was once opposed to death penalty, he ruthlessly began eliminating those whom he considered to be the enemies of revolution. He became increasingly unpopular because of his autocracy and was arrested and executed in July 1794.
- Maximilien Marie Isidore de Robespierre was born in Arras on 6 May 1758. His father, François Maximilien Barthélémy de Robespierre, was a lawyer at the Conseil d'Artois, and his mother Jacqueline Marguerite Carrault, was the daughter of a brewer. Maximilien was the eldest of the couple’s four children.
- He lost his mother when he was just six years old. Unable to cope with the loss of his wife, his father abandoned the children who were then brought up by their paternal aunts Eulalie and Henriette de Robespierre.
- At the age of eight, Maximilien went to the collège (middle school) of Arras. The bishop then recommended him to a scholarship to the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris in 1769. There he was trained to be a lawyer and graduated at the age of 23.
- As a student, he became greatly influenced by the thoughts of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and adopted many of his principles. He also admired the rhetoric of Cicero, Cato and other classic figures.
- He was admitted to the Arras bar after the completion of his legal studies, and he was appointed the criminal judge in the Diocese of Arras in March 1782. As a young man he was opposed to the death penalty and thus faced difficulty in ruling on capital cases. Eventually he resigned.
- With time he became a successful advocate and often campaigned for the ideals of the Enlightenment and argued for the rights of man.
- He ventured into politics and was elected fifth deputy of the Third Estate of Artois to the Estates-General. Soon he became very popular among the masses for his attacks on the French monarchy and his advocacy for democratic reforms.
- He became the president of the powerful Jacobin political faction in April 1789. The following year he participated in writing the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, the foundation of the French constitution.
- He was very active during the uprising against King Louis XVI in August 1792 following which the monarchy was abolished. At that time Robespierre was elected to head the Paris delegation to the new National Convention.
- Under his leadership the Convention effectively ended monarchy and established France as a republic on 21 September 1792. The king was put on trial for treason and Robespierre argued for the king’s execution which was carried out in January 1793.
- After the king’s execution, Robespierre’s influence increased manifold. However, France’s troubles also continued to increase and the need of a state government was felt. The Jacobins established a Revolutionary Tribunal in March 1793 and replaced the Committee of General Defense with the Committee of Public Safety, of which Robespierre was a member.
- He quickly became a dominant force in the committee which launched the’ Reign of Terror’ in September 1793 to deal with the threat of foreign invasion and increasing disorder in the country. It was a period marked by extreme violence in which tens of thousands of "enemies of the revolution" were mass executed. Robespierre became a much hated figure following the killings.
- The unprecedented violence unleashed during the Reign of Terror led to the Thermidorian Reaction, a coup d'état against the leaders of the Jacobin Club who had dominated the Committee of Public Safety. Robespierre was accused of being the soul of the terror, and was arrested along with several others who had played a major role in the Reign of Terror.
- Maximilien Robespierre is primarily remembered as the architect of the Reign of Terror, the period of bloodshed and violence that occurred at the onset of the French Revolution. Robespierre had several of the “enemies of the revolution” executed through his role on the Revolutionary Tribunal and the Committee of Public Safety, which made him highly unpopular and ultimately led to his downfall.
- Maximilien Robespierre remained a bachelor throughout his life.
- Following the Thermidorian Reaction which was triggered by a vote of the National Convention to execute Maximilien Robespierre, he was arrested, declared an outlaw, and condemned without judicial process. He was executed on 28 July 1794 along with several of his close aides. His death ended the most radical phase of the French Revolution.
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