French revolutionary lawyer and politician (1758-1794)
Top 10 Maximilien Robespierre related articles
- 1 Early life
- 2 Early politics
- 3 Jacobin Club
- 4 Opposition to war with Austria
- 5 The insurrectionary Commune of Paris
- 6 The National Convention
- 7 Reign of Terror
- 8 Abolition of slavery
- 9 Cult of the Supreme Being
- 10 Downfall
- 11 Legacy and memory
- 12 Screen portrayals
- 13 Notes
- 14 References
- 15 Sources (selection)
- 16 Further reading
- 17 External links
Maximilien de Robespierre
|Member of the Committee of Public Safety|
27 July 1793 – 28 July 1794
|Preceded by||Thomas-Augustin de Gasparin|
|Succeeded by||Jacques Nicolas Billaud-Varenne|
25 March 1793 – 3 April 1793 member of the Commission of Public Safety
|24th President of the National Convention|
4 June 1794 – 19 June 1794
|Preceded by||Claude-Antoine Prieur-Duvernois|
|Succeeded by||Élie Lacoste|
22 August 1793 – 7 September 1793
|Preceded by||Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles|
|Succeeded by||Jacques-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne|
|Deputy of the National Convention|
20 September 1792 – 27 July 1794
|Deputy of the National Constituent Assembly|
9 July 1789 – 30 September 1791
|Deputy of the National Assembly|
17 June 1789 – 9 July 1789
|Deputy to the Estates General|
for the Third Estate
6 May 1789 – 16 June 1789
|President of the Jacobin Club|
31 March – 3 June 1790
7 August – 28 August 1793
Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre
6 May 1758
Arras, Artois, France
|Died||28 July 1794 (aged 36)|
Place de la Révolution, Paris, France
|Cause of death||Execution by guillotine|
|Political party||The Mountain (1792–1794)|
|Jacobin Club (1789–1794)|
|Alma mater||Collège Louis-le-Grand|
University of Paris
|Profession||Lawyer and politician|
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 statesman who was one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. As a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Jacobin Club, he campaigned for universal manhood suffrage and the abolition both of celibacy for the clergy, and slavery. In 1791, Robespierre became an outspoken advocate for the citizens without a political voice, for their unrestricted admission to the National Guard, to public offices, and for the right to carry arms in self-defence. Robespierre played an important part in the agitation which brought about the fall of the French monarchy on 10 August 1792 and the summoning of a National Convention. His goal was to create a one and indivisible France, equality before the law, to abolish prerogatives and to defend the principles of direct democracy.
As one of the leading members of the insurrectionary Paris Commune, Robespierre was elected as a deputy to the French Convention in early September 1792 but was soon criticised for trying to establish either a triumvirate or a dictatorship. In April 1793, Robespierre urged the creation of a sans-culotte army to enforce revolutionary laws and sweep away any counter-revolutionary conspirator, leading to the armed Insurrection of 31 May – 2 June 1793. Because of his health Robespierre announced he was to resign but in July he was appointed as a member of the powerful Committee of Public Safety, and reorganized the Revolutionary Tribunal. In October, after Robespierre proposed in vain to close the convention, the Committee declared itself a revolutionary government. Those who were not actively defending France became his enemy. He exerted his influence to suppress the republican Girondins to the right, the Hébertists to the left and then the Dantonists in the centre.
Robespierre is best known for his role as a member of the Committee of Public Safety as he personally signed 542 arrests, especially in spring and summer 1794.[a] George Rudé estimates that Robespierre made some 900 speeches. The question of how responsible Robespierre was for the law of 22 Prairial remains controversial. Coming into effect at the height of the Reign of Terror, the law removed the few procedural guarantees still afforded to the accused, vastly expanded the power of the tribunal, and ultimately resulted in the number of executions in France rising dramatically. Although Robespierre always had like-minded allies, the politically motivated bloodshed that he incited disillusioned many. Moreover, the deist Cult of the Supreme Being that he had founded and zealously promoted generated suspicion in the eyes of both anticlericals and other parties who felt he was developing grandiose delusions about his place in French society.
Robespierre was eventually undone by his obsession with the vision of an ideal republic and his indifference to the human costs of installing it, turning both members of the Convention and the French public against him. Already on 5 February 1791 he declared: "True religion consists in punishing for the happiness of all, those who disturb society." The Terror ended when he and his allies were arrested in the Paris town hall on 9 Thermidor. Robespierre was wounded in his jaw, but it is not known if it was self-inflicted or the outcome of the skirmish. About 90 people, including Robespierre, were executed in the days after, events that initiated a period known as the Thermidorian Reaction.
Robespierre is one of the most controversial figures in world history. His legacy and reputation have since remained matters of academic and popular debate. To some, Robespierre was the Revolution's principal ideologist and embodied the country's first democratic experience, marked by the often revised and never implemented French Constitution of 1793. To others, he was the incarnation of the Terror, and provided in his speeches a justification of civilian armament.
Maximilien Robespierre Intro articles: 25
Maximilien de Robespierre was born in Arras in the old French province of Artois. His family has been traced back to the 15th century in Vaudricourt, Pas-de-Calais; one of his ancestors, Robert de Robespierre, worked as a notary in Carvin the mid-17th century. His paternal grandfather, also named Maximilien de Robespierre, established himself in Arras as a lawyer. His father, François Maximilien Barthélémy de Robespierre (1732-1777), was a lawyer at the Conseil d'Artois who married Jacqueline Marguerite Carrault (1735-1764), the daughter of a brewer, when she fell pregnant. Maximilien was born five months after their marriage as the eldest of four children. His siblings were Charlotte (1760–1834),[b] Henriette (1761–1780),[c] and Augustin (1763–1794).
Early in July 1764, Madame de Robespierre gave birth to a stillborn daughter; she died twelve days later, at the age of 29. Devastated by his wife's death, François de Robespierre left Arras around 1767.[d] His two daughters were brought up by their paternal aunts, and his two sons were taken in by their maternal grandparents. Already literate at age eight, Maximilien started attending the collège of Arras (middle school). In October 1769, on the recommendation of the bishop fr:Louis-Hilaire de Conzié, he received a scholarship at the Collège Louis-le-Grand. His fellow pupils included Camille Desmoulins and Stanislas Fréron. In school, he learned to admire the idealised Roman Republic and the rhetoric of Cicero, Cato and Lucius Junius Brutus. In 1776 he was awarded first prize for rhetoric. He also studied the works of the Genevan philosophe Jean-Jacques Rousseau and was attracted to many ideas, written in his "Contrat Social". Robespierre became intrigued by the idea of a "virtuous self", a man who stands alone accompanied only by his conscience. His study of the classics prompted him to aspire to Roman virtues, but he sought to emulate Rousseau's citizen-soldier in particular. Robespierre's conception of revolutionary virtue and his programme for constructing political sovereignty out of direct democracy came from Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Mably.[e] With Rousseau, Robespierre considered the "volonté générale" or the general will of the people as the basis of political legitimacy.
Maximilien Robespierre Early life articles: 22
Robespierre studied law for three years at the Sorbonne. Upon his graduation on 31 July 1780, he received a special prize of 600 livres for exemplary academic success and personal good conduct. On 15 May 1781, Robespierre gained admission to the bar. The bishop of Arras, Hilaire de Conzié, appointed him as one of the five judges in the criminal court in March 1782. Robespierre soon resigned, owing to discomfort in ruling on capital cases arising from his early opposition to the death penalty. His most famous case took place in May 1783 and involved a lightning rod in St. Omer. His defence was printed and he sent Benjamin Franklin a copy.
On 15 November 1783, he was elected a member of the literary Academy of Arras. In 1784 the Academy of Metz awarded him a medal for his essay on the question of whether the relatives of a condemned criminal should share his disgrace, which made him a man of letters. He and Pierre Louis de Lacretelle, an advocate and journalist in Paris, divided the prize. Robespierre attacked inequality before the law: the indignity of illegitimate or natural children (1786), three years later the lettres de cachet (imprisonment without a trial) and the sidelining of women in academic life. (Robespierre had particularly Louise-Félicité de Kéralio in mind). He became acquainted with Martial Herman, a lawyer, the young officer and engineer Lazare Carnot and with the teacher Joseph Fouché, all of whom would play a role in his later life. Robespierre also claimed to have seen Rousseau, shortly before he died.
In August 1788, King Louis XVI announced new elections for all provinces and a gathering of the Estates-General for 1 May 1789 to solve France's serious financial and taxation problems. Robespierre participated in a discussion regarding how the French provincial government should be elected, arguing in his Address to the Nation of Artois that if the former mode of election by the members of the provincial estates was again adopted, the new Estates-General would not represent the people of France. In late February 1789, France saw a pressing crisis due to its desire for a new constitution, according to Gouverneur Morris.
In his electoral district, Robespierre began to make his mark in politics with his Notice to the Residents of the Countryside of 1789 in which he attacked the local authorities.[f] With this, he secured the support of the country electors. On 26 April 1789, Robespierre was elected as one of 16 deputies for Pas-de-Calais to the Estates-General; others were Charles de Lameth and Albert de Beaumetz. [g] When the deputies arrived at Versailles they were presented to the king and listened to Jacques Necker's three-hour-long speech about institutional and political reforms. They were informed that all voting in the Estates General of 1789 would still be "by order" not "by head", so their double representation as promised in December 1788 was to be meaningless. It resulted in Abbé Sieyès opposing the veto of the King, suggesting that the Third Estate meet separately and change its name. On 6 June Robespierre made his first speech of note, attacking the church hierarchy. On 13 June, Robespierre joined the deputies, who would call themselves the National Assembly representing 96% of the nation. On 9 July, the Assembly moved to Paris. It transformed itself into the National Constituent Assembly to discuss a new constitution and taxation system.
On 13 July, the National Assembly proposed to reestablish the "bourgeois militia" in Paris to control the riots. On 14 July, the people demanded arms and stormed the Hotel des Invalides and the Bastille. Without going into detail the militia changed its name into National Guard, keeping the very poorest citizens at arm's length. Marquis de La Fayette was acclaimed their commander-in-chief. On 20 July, the Assembly decided to establish National Guards in every commune in the country. The Gardes Françaises were admitted and supported to elect "new chefs". Discussing the matter and attacking Lally-Tollendal who called for law and order Robespierre reminded to the citizens who had defended liberty a few days before, but were not allowed to have access to it.
In October he and Louvet supported Maillard after the Women's March on Versailles. The original group of nascent all-female protesters had a relatively conciliatory message, and they were augmented by more militarized and experienced male groups by the time they reached Versailles. While the Constituent Assembly occupied itself with male census suffrage, Robespierre and a few more deputies opposed the property requirements for voting and holding office. In December and January Robespierre succeeded in attracting the attention of the excluded classes, particularly Protestants in France, Jews, blacks, servants and actors.
As a frequent speaker in the Assembly, Robespierre voiced many ideas in support of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) and constitutional provisions for the Constitution of 1791 but rarely attracted a majority among fellow deputies, according to Malcolm Crook. Robespierre, who never gave up wearing a culotte and always 'poudré, frisé, et parfumé', seems to have been nervous, timid and suspicious. Madame de Staël described Robespierre as 'very exaggerated in his democratic principles'. He supported the most absurd propositions with a coolness that had the air of conviction.
Maximilien Robespierre Early politics articles: 46
From October 1789, Robespierre lived at 30 Rue de Saintonge in Le Marais. Pierre Villiers claimed he was his secretary for several months, and they shared the apartment on the third floor. Robespierre associated with the new Society of the Friends of the Constitution, commonly known as the Jacobin Club. Originally, this organization (the Club Breton) comprised only deputies from Brittany, but after the National Assembly had moved to Paris into a former and empty monastery, the Friends of civic participation admitted non-deputies, supporting the changes in France. Among these 1,200 men, Robespierre found a sympathetic audience. Equality before the law was the keystone of the Jacobin ideology. In January he held several speeches in response to the decision making the exercise of civil rights dependent on a certain sum in the tax. During the debate on the suffrage, Robespierre ended his speech of 25 January 1790 with a blunt assertion that ‘all Frenchmen must be admissible to all public positions without any other distinction than that of virtues and talents’. He began to acquire a reputation, and on 31 March 1790 Robespierre was elected as their president. On 28 April Robespierre proposed to allow an equal number of officers and soldiers in the court martial, based on his democratic principles. Unlike Niccolò Machiavelli who promoted the creation of local or regional citizen militia, a system which after three centuries seemed to be outdated, Robespierre supported the cooperation of all the National Guards in a general federation on 11 May. On 19 June he was elected secretary of the National Assembly.
In Spring 1790 the departments of France were reorganized; the Paris Commune was divided up in 48 sections and allowed to discuss the election of a new mayor. In July Robespierre demanded "fraternal equality" in salaries. On 2 August Jean Sylvain Bailly became Paris' first elected mayor with 12.500 votes; Georges Danton had 49, Marat and Louis XVI only one. Discussing the future of Avignon Robespierre and his supporters on the galleries succeeded in silencing Mirabeau. Before the end of the year, he was seen as one of the leaders of the small body of the extreme left. Robespierre was one of "the thirty voices", as Mirabeau referred to Barnave with contempt: "That man will go far—he believes everything he says." On 5 December Robespierre delivered a speech on the urgent topic of the National Guard. "To be armed for personal defense is the right of every man, to be armed to defend freedom and the existence of the common fatherland is the right of every citizen". Robespierre coined the famous motto "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" by adding the word fraternity on the flags of the National Guard.[h] On 18 December it was decreed to supply the National Guard with 50,000 fusils.
In 1791 Robespierre held 328 speeches. On 28 January Robespierre discussed the organisation of the National Guard in the Assembly; for three years a hot topic in French newspapers. Early March provincial militias were abolished and the Paris Department was placed above the Commune in all matters of general order and security. According to Jan ten Brink it had the right to suspend the Commune's decisions and to dispose of the army against her in case of emergency. On 27 and 28 April 1791, Robespierre opposed plans to reorganize the National Guard and restrict its membership to active citizens. It was regarded as too aristocratic. He demanded the reconstitution of the National Guard on a democratic basis. He felt that the National Guard had to become the instrument of defending liberty and no longer be a threat to it.
On 9 May, the Assembly discussed the right to petition. Article III specifically recognised the right of active citizens to meet together to draw up petitions and addresses and present them to municipal authorities. On 16–18 May when the elections began, Robespierre proposed and carried the motion that no deputy who sat in the Constituent assembly could sit in the succeeding Legislative assembly. The principal tactical purpose of this self-denying ordinance was to block the ambitions of the old leaders of the Jacobins, Antoine Barnave, Adrien Duport, and Alexandre de Lameth, aspiring to create a constitutional monarchy roughly similar to that of England.[i]
In a debate on the legitimacy of slavery Robespierre uttered the famous words: "Let the colonies perish, rather than a principle". On 28 May, Robespierre proposed all Frenchmen should be declared active citizens and eligible to vote. On 30 May, he delivered a speech on the abolishment of the death penalty but without success. According to Hillary Mantel: It is perfectly constructed, a brilliant fusion of logic and emotion: as much a work of art as a building or a piece of music could be. The following day, Robespierre attacked Abbé Raynal, who sent an address criticising the work of the Constituent Assembly and demanding the restoration of the royal prerogative.
On 10 June, Robespierre delivered a speech on the state of the army and proposed to dismiss officers. The next day, he accepted the function of the public prosecutor in Paris. Two days later, L'Ami du Roi, a royalist pamphlet, described Robespierre as a "lawyer for bandits, rebels and murderers". On 14 June, the abolition of the guild system was sealed; the Le Chapelier Law prohibited any kind of workers' coalition or assembly. (It concerned in the first instance as much collective petitioning by the political clubs as trade associations.) Proclaiming free enterprise as the norm upset Jean-Paul Marat, but not the urban labourer nor Robespierre. On 15 June, Pétion became president of the "tribunal criminel provisoire", after Duport refused to work with Robespierre.
After Louis XVI's failed flight to Varennes, the Assembly decreed that the king be suspended from his duties on 25 June until further notice. Between 13 and 15 July the Assembly debated the restoration of the king and his constitutional rights. Robespierre declared in the Jacobin Club on 13 July: The current French constitution is a republic with a monarch. It is therefore neither a monarchy nor a republic. She is both. The crowd on the Champ de Mars approved a petition calling for the king's trial. Alarmed at the progress of the Revolution, the moderate Jacobins in favour of a constitutional monarchy founded the club of the Feuillants on the next day, taking with them 264 deputies. In the evening, the King was restored in his functions.
On Saturday 17 July, Bailly and La Fayette declared a ban on gathering followed by martial law. After the Champ de Mars massacre, the authorities ordered numerous arrests. Robespierre, who attended the Jacobin club, did not dare to go back to the Rue Saintonge where he lodged, and so asked Laurent Lecointre if he knew a patriot near the Tuileries who could put him up for the night. Lecointre suggested Duplay's house and took him there. Maurice Duplay, a cabinetmaker and ardent admirer, lived at 398 Rue Saint-Honoré near the Tuileries. After a few days, Robespierre decided to move in permanently, although he lived in the backyard and he was constantly exposed to the sound of working. He was motivated by a desire to live closer to the Assembly and the Jacobin club. In September 1792, his younger sister and brother joined him and lived in the front house, but Charlotte insisted on moving to 5 Rue St Florentin because of his increased prestige and her tensions with Madame Duplay. According to his friend, the surgeon Joseph Souberbielle, Joachim Vilate, and Duplay's daughter Élisabeth, Robespierre became engaged to Duplay's eldest daughter Éléonore, but his sister Charlotte vigorously denied this; also his brother Augustin refused to marry her.
On 3 September, the French Constitution of 1791 was installed. On 29 September, the day before the dissolution of the Assembly, Robespierre opposed Jean Le Chapelier, who wanted to proclaim an end to the revolution and restrict the freedom of the clubs. Robespierre had been carefully preparing for this confrontation and it was the climax of his political career up to this point. Pétion and Robespierre were brought back in triumph to their homes.[j] On 16 October, Robespierre held a speech in Arras; one week later in Béthune, a small town he wished to settle. Robespierre noticed the inns in Pas de Calais were filled with émigrés. On 28 November, he was back in the Jacobin club, where he met with a triumphant reception. Collot d'Herbois gave his chair to Robespierre, who presided that evening.
Maximilien Robespierre Jacobin Club articles: 49
Opposition to war with Austria
At the time of the Declaration of Pillnitz (27 August 1791), Brissot headed the Legislative Assembly. The declaration was from Austria and Prussia, warning the people of France not to harm Louis XVI or these nations would "militarily intervene" in the politics of France. Threatened by the declaration, Brissot rallied the support of the Legislative Assembly. As Marat, Danton and Robespierre were not elected in the new legislature thanks to the Self-Denying Ordinance, oppositional politics often took place outside the Assembly. On 18 December 1791, Robespierre gave a (second) speech at the Jacobin club against the declaration of war. Robespierre warned against the threat of dictatorship stemming from war, in the following terms:
If they are Caesars, Catilinas or Cromwells, they seize power for themselves. If they are spineless courtiers, uninterested in doing good yet dangerous when they seek to do harm, they go back to lay their power at their master's feet and help him to resume arbitrary power on condition they become his chief servants.
On 25 December, Guadet, the chairman of the Assembly, suggested that 1792 should be the first year of universal liberty. stated on 29 December that a war would be a benefit to the nation and boost the economy. He urged that France should declare war against Austria (War of the First Coalition). Marat and Robespierre opposed him, arguing that victory would create a dictatorship, while defeat would restore the king to his former powers; neither end, he said, would serve the revolution.
The most extravagant idea that can arise in a politician's head is to believe that it is enough for a people to invade a foreign country to make it adopt their laws and their constitution. No one loves armed missionaries... The Declaration of the Rights of Man... is not a lightning bolt which strikes every throne at the same time... I am far from claiming that our Revolution will not eventually influence the fate of the world... But I say that it will not be today (2 January 1792).
This opposition from expected allies irritated the Girondins, and the war became a major point of contention between the factions. In his third speech on the war, Robespierre countered in the Jacobin club, "A revolutionary war must be waged to free subjects and slaves from unjust tyranny, not for the traditional reasons of defending dynasties and expanding frontiers..." Indeed, argued Robespierre, such a war could only favour the forces of counter-revolution, since it would play into the hands of those who opposed the sovereignty of the people. The risks of Caesarism were clear, for, in wartime, the powers of the generals would grow at the expense of ordinary soldiers, and the power of the king and court at the expense of the Assembly. These dangers should not be overlooked, he reminded his listeners; "...in troubled periods of history, generals often became the arbiters of the fate of their countries." Already, Robespierre knew that he had lost, as he failed to gather a majority. His speech was nevertheless published and sent to all clubs and Jacobin societies of France.
On 10 February 1792, he gave a speech on how to save the State and Liberty and did not use the word war. He began by assuring his audience that everything he intended to propose was strictly constitutional. He then went on to advocate specific measures to strengthen, not so much the national defences as the forces that could be relied on to defend the revolution. Not only the National Guard but also the people had to be armed, if necessary with pikes. Robespierre promoted a people's army, continuously under arms and able to impose its will on Feuillants and Girondins in the Constitutional Cabinet of Louis XVI and in the Legislative Assembly. The Jacobins decided to study his speech before deciding whether it should be printed.
The Girondins planned strategies to out-manoeuvre Robespierre's influence among the Jacobins. He was accused by Brissot and Guadet of trying to become the idol of the people. On 26 March, Guadet accused Robespierre of superstition, relying on divine providence; being against the war he was also accused of acting as a secret agent for the Austrian Committee. When in Spring 1792, under pressure from the Assembly, the king accepted a few Girondin ministers into his cabinet, according to Louvet it was only due to a smear campaign by Robespierre and his followers that he was not also appointed. On 10 April, Robespierre resigned the post of public prosecutor, which he had officially held since 15 February. He explained his resignation to the Jacobin Club, on 27 April, as part of his speech responding to the accusations against him. He threatened to leave the Jacobins, claiming he preferred to continue his mission as an ordinary citizen.
On 17 May, Robespierre published the first issue of his journal Le Défenseur de la Constitution (The Defender of the Constitution), in which he attacked Brissot and publicised his scepticism over the whole war movement. The journal, printed by his neighbor Nicolas served multiple purposes: to print his speeches, to counter the influence of the royal court in public policy, to defend him from the accusations of Girondist leaders and to give voice to the economic and democratic interests of the broader masses in Paris and defend their rights.
Maximilien Robespierre Opposition to war with Austria articles: 17
The insurrectionary Commune of Paris
When the Legislative Assembly declared war against Austria on 20 April 1792, Robespierre stated that the French people must rise and arm themselves completely, whether to fight abroad or to keep a lookout for despotism at home. Robespierre responded by working to reduce the political influence of the officer class and the king. On 23 April Robespierre demanded Marquis de Lafayette, the head of the Army of the Centre, to step down. While arguing for the welfare of common soldiers, Robespierre urged new promotions to mitigate the domination of the officer class by the aristocratic and royalist École Militaire and the conservative National Guard.[k] Along with other Jacobins, he urged in the fifth issue of his magazine the creation of an "armée révolutionnaire" in Paris, consisting of at least 20,000 men, to defend the city, "liberty" (the revolution), maintain order in the sections and educate the members in democratic principles; an idea he borrowed from Jean-Jacques Rousseau. According to Jean Jaures, he considered this even more important than the right to strike.
On 29 May 1792, the Assembly dissolved the Constitutional Guard, suspecting it of royalist and counter-revolutionary sympathies. In early June 1792, Robespierre proposed an end to the monarchy and the subordination of the Assembly to the General will. Following the king's veto of the Assembly's efforts to suppress on proposal of Carnot and Servan to raise a (permanent) militia of volunteers on 8 June, the monarchy faced an abortive demonstration of 20 June. Sergent-Marceau and Panis, the administrators of police, were sent out by Pétion to urge the Sans-culottes to lay down their weapons, telling them it was illegal to present a petition in arms (to demand the king to apply the constitution, accept the decrees, and recall the ministers). Their march to the Tuileries was not banned. They invited the officials to join the procession and march along with them.
Because French forces suffered disastrous defeats and a series of defections at the onset of the war, Robespierre and Marat feared the possibility of a military coup d'état. One was led by the Lafayette, head of the National Guard, who at the end of June advocated the suppression of the Jacobin Club. Robespierre publicly attacked him in scathing terms:
"General, while from the midst of your camp you declared war upon me, which you had thus far spared for the enemies of our state, while you denounced me as an enemy of liberty to the army, National Guard and Nation in letters published by your purchased papers, I had thought myself only disputing with a general... but not yet the dictator of France, arbitrator of the state."
On 2 July, the Assembly authorized the National Guard to go to the Festival of Federation on 14 July, thus circumventing a royal veto. On 11 July, the Jacobins won an emergency vote in the wavering Assembly, declaring the nation in danger and drafting all Parisians with pikes into the National Guard. (Meanwhile, Fédérés entered the city for the celebration of 14 July; Pétion was reinstalled.) On 15 July, Billaud-Varenne in the Jacobin club outlined the program following the uprising; the deportation of all the Bourbons, the cleansing of the National Guard, the election of a Convention, the "transfer of the Royal veto to the people", the deportation of all "enemies of the people" and exemption of the poorest from taxation. This sentiment reflected the perspective of more radical Jacobins including those of the Marseille Club, who wrote to the mayor and the people of Paris, "Here and at Toulon, we have debated the possibility of forming a column of 100,000 men to sweep away our enemies... Paris may have need of help. Call on us!" 
A few days later the news of the Brunswick Manifesto began sweeping through Paris. It was frequently described as unlawful and offensive to national sovereignty. On 1 August the Assembly voted on Carnot's proposal and ordered the municipalities that pikes should be issued to all citizens, except vagabonds, etc. On 3 August the mayor and 47 sections demanded the deposition of the king. On 4 August the government planned to evade; during the night volunteers from Marseille led by Charles Barbaroux moved into the Cordeliers Convent. On 5 August Robespierre announced the uncovering of a plan for the king to escape to Château de Gaillon. On 7 August Pétion suggested to Robespierre to contribute to the departure of Fédérés to appease the capital. The Council of Ministers suggested arresting Danton, Marat and Robespierre if they visited the Jacobin club. On 9 August, when the Assembly refused to impeach LaFayette, the tocsin called the sections into arms. In the evening the "commissionaires" of several sections (Billaud-Varenne, Chaumette, Hébert, Hanriot, Fleuriot-Lescot, Pache, Bourdon) gathered in the town hall. At midnight the municipal government of the city was dissolved. Sulpice Huguenin, head of the sans-culottes of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, was appointed provisional president of the Insurrectionary Commune.
Early in the morning on (Friday, 10 August) 30,000 Fédérés (volunteers from the countryside) and Sans-culottes (militants from the Paris sections) led a successful assault upon the Tuileries; according to Robespierre a triumph for the "passive" (non-voting) citizens. The frightened Assembly suspended the king and voted for the election of a National Convention to take its place. On the night of 11 August Robespierre was elected to the Paris Commune as a representative for the "Section de Piques"; the district where he lived. The governing committee called for the summoning of a convention chosen by universal male suffrage, to form a new government and reorganize France. Camille Desmoulins thinks everything is over and they can finally rest, but Robespierre overruled this by pointing out it could only be the beginning. On 13 August Robespierre declared himself against the strengthening of the départments. The next day Danton invited him to join the Council of Justice. Robespierre published the twelfth and last issue of "Le Défenseur de la Constitution", both an account and political testament. On 16 August, Robespierre presented a petition to the Legislative Assembly from the Paris Commune to demand the establishment of a provisional Revolutionary Tribunal that had to deal with the "traitors" and "enemies of the people". The next day Robespierre was appointed as one of eight judges, but he refused to preside over it. He declined any position that might take him out of the political arena. (Fouquier-Tinville was appointed as president.) The Prussian army crossed the French frontier on 19 August. The Paris armed sections were incorporated in 48 battalions of the National Guard under Santerre. The Assembly decreed that all the non-juring priests had to leave Paris within a week and the country within two weeks. On 27 August, in the presence of almost half the population of Paris, a funeral ceremony was held on Place du Carrousel for the victims who were killed during storming the Tuileries.
The passive citizens still strived for acceptance and the supply of weapons. Danton proposed that the Assembly should authorize house searches ‘to distribute to the defenders of the "Patrie" the weapons that indolent or ill-disposed citizens may be hiding’. The section Sans-culottes organized itself as surveillance committee, conducting searches and making arrests all over Paris. The gates were closed to prevent (royalist) suspects and deputies would leave the city. The raids began on 29 August which seem to have gone on for another two days. Marat and Robespierre both disliked Condorcet who proposed that the "enemies of the people" belonged to the whole nation and should be judged constitutionally in its name. A sharp conflict developed between the Legislative and the Commune and its sections. On 30 August the interim minister of Interior Roland and Guadet tried to suppress the influence of the Commune because the sections had exhausted the searches. The Assembly, tired of the pressures, declared the Commune illegal and suggested the organization of communal elections.
Robespierre was no longer willing to cooperate with Brissot, who promoted the Duke of Brunswick, and Roland, who proposed that the members of the government should leave Paris, taking the treasury and the king with it. On Sunday morning 2 September the members of the Commune, gathering in the town hall to proceed the election of deputies to the National Convention, decided to maintain their seats and have Rolland and Brissot arrested. Madame de Staël who tried to escape Paris was forced by the crowd to go to the town hall. She noted that Robespierre was in the chair that day, assisted by Collot d'Herbois and Billaud-Varenne as secretaries.
Maximilien Robespierre The insurrectionary Commune of Paris articles: 35
The National Convention
On 2 September 1792 French National Convention election began. At the same time, Paris was organizing its defence, but it was confronted with a lack of arms for the thousands of volunteers. Danton delivered a speech in the assembly and possibly referring to the (Swiss) inmates: "We ask that anyone who refuses to serve in person, or to surrender their weapons, is punished with death. Not long after the September Massacres began. Charlotte Corday held Marat responsible, Madame Roland Danton. Robespierre visited the Temple prison to check on the security of the royal family. The next day on proposal of Collot d'Herbois the Assembly decided excluding royalist deputies from re-election to the Convention. Robespierre made sure Brissot (and his fellow Brissotins Pétion and Condorcet) could not be elected in Paris. According to Charlotte Robespierre, her brother stopped talking to his former friend, mayor Pétion de Villeneuve, accused of conspicuous consumption by Desmoulins, and finally rallied to Brissot. On 5 September, Robespierre was elected deputy to the National Convention but Danton and Collot d'Herbois received more votes than Robespierre.[l] Madame Roland wrote to a friend: "We are under the knife of Robespierre and Marat, those who would agitate the people."
On 21 September Pétion was elected as president of the convention; nearly all members were lawyers. The Jacobins and Cordeliers took the high benches at the back of the former Salle du Manège, giving them the label the "Montagnards", or "the Mountaineers"; below them were the "Manège" of the Girondists, moderate Republicans. The majority the Plain was formed by independents (as Barère, Cambon and Carnot) but dominated by the radical Mountain. On 25 and 26 September, the Girondists Barbaroux and Lasource accused Robespierre of wanting to form a dictatorship. Danton was asked to resign as minister as he was also a deputy. Rumours spread that Robespierre, Marat and Danton were plotting to establish a triumvirate to save the First French Republic. (From October 1791 until September 1792 the French Legislative Assembly saw an unprecedented turnover of four ministers of Justice, four ministers of Navy, six ministers of the interior, seven ministers of foreign affairs, and eight ministers of war.) On 30 September Robespierre advocated for better laws; the registration of marriages, births and burials was withdrawn from the church. On 29 October, Louvet de Couvrai attacked Robespierre. He accused him of star allures, and have done nothing to stop the September massacre; instead, he had used it to have more Montagnards elected. Robespierre, who seems to have been sick was given a week to respond. On 5 November, Robespierre defended himself, the Jacobin Club and his supporters in and beyond Paris:
Upon the Jacobins, I exercise, if we are to believe my accusers, a despotism of opinion, which can be regarded as nothing other than the forerunner of dictatorship. Firstly, I do not know what a dictatorship of opinion is, above all in a society of free men... unless this describes nothing more than the natural compulsion of principles. This compulsion hardly belongs to the man who enunciates them; it belongs to universal reason and to all men who wish to listen to its voice. It belongs to my colleagues of the Constituent Assembly, to the patriots of the Legislative Assembly, to all citizens who will invariably defend the cause of liberty. Experience has proven, despite Louis XVI and his allies, that the opinion of the Jacobins and the popular clubs were those of the French Nation; no citizen has made them, and I did nothing other than share in them.
Turning the accusations upon his accusers, Robespierre delivered one of the most famous lines of the French Revolution to the Assembly:
I will not remind you that the sole object of contention dividing us is that you have instinctively defended all acts of new ministers, and we, of principles; that you seemed to prefer power, and we equality... Why don't you prosecute the Commune, the Legislative Assembly, the Sections of Paris, the Assemblies of the Cantons and all who imitated us? For all these things have been illegal, as illegal as the Revolution, as the fall of the Monarchy and of the Bastille, as illegal as liberty itself... Citizens, do you want a revolution without a revolution? What is this spirit of persecution which has directed itself against those who freed us from chains?
In November 1792 Condorcet considered the French Revolution as a religion and Robespierre had all the characteristics of a leader of a sect, or a cult. As his opponents knew well, Robespierre had a strong base of support among the women of Paris. John Moore (Scottish physician) was sitting in the galleries, and noted that the audience was ‘almost entirely ﬁlled with women’. He is a priest who has his devotees but it is evident that all of his power lies in the distaff. Robespierre tried to appeal to women because in the early days of the Revolution when he had tried to appeal to men, he had failed. The Girondines called on the local authorities to oppose the concentration and centralization of power.
Execution of Louis XVI
The convention's unanimous declaration of a French Republic on 21 September 1792 left the fate of the former king open to debate. A commission was therefore established to examine the evidence against him while the convention's Legislation Committee considered legal aspects of any future trial. Most Montagnards favoured judgment and execution, while the Girondins were more divided concerning how to proceed, with some arguing for royal inviolability, others for clemency, and others advocating lesser punishment or banishment. On 13 November Robespierre stated in the Convention that a Constitution which Louis had violated himself, and which declared his inviolability, could not now be used in his defence. Robespierre had been taken ill and had done little other than support Saint-Just, a former colonel in the National Guard, who gave his first major speech to address and argue against the king's inviolability. On 20 November, opinion turned sharply against Louis following the discovery of a secret cache of 726 documents consisting of Louis's personal communications with bankers and ministers. At his trial, he claimed not to recognize documents clearly signed by himself.
With the question of the king's fate now occupying public discourse, Robespierre delivered on 3 December a speech that would define the rhetoric and course of Louis's trial. All the deputies from the Mountain were asked to attend. Robespierre argued that the dethroned king could now function only as a threat to liberty and national peace and that the members of the Assembly were not to be impartial judges but rather statesmen with responsibility for ensuring public safety:
Louis was a king, and our republic is established; the critical question concerning you must be decided by these words alone. Louis was dethroned by his crimes; Louis denounced the French people as rebels; he appealed to chains, to the armies of tyrants who are his brothers; the victory of the people established that Louis alone was a rebel; Louis cannot, therefore, be judged; he already is judged. He is condemned, or the republic cannot be absolved. To propose to have a trial of Louis XVI, in whatever manner one may, is to retrogress to royal despotism and constitutionality; it is a counter-revolutionary idea because it places the revolution itself in litigation. In effect, if Louis may still be given a trial, he may be absolved, and innocent. What am I to say? He is presumed to be so until he is judged. But if Louis is absolved, if he may be presumed innocent, what becomes of the revolution? If Louis is innocent, all the defenders of liberty become slanderers. 
In arguing for a judgment by the elected Convention without trial, Robespierre supported the recommendations of Jean-Baptiste Mailhe, who headed the commission reporting on legal aspects of Louis's trial or judgment. Unlike some Girondins, Robespierre specifically opposed judgment by primary assemblies or a referendum, believing that this could cause a civil war. While he called for a trial of Queen Marie-Antoinette and the imprisonment of the Dauphin of France, Robespierre advocated that the king be executed despite his opposition to capital punishment:
Yes, the death penalty is, in general, crime, unjustifiable by the indestructible principles of nature, except in cases protecting the safety of individuals or the society altogether. Ordinary misdemeanours have never threatened public safety because society may always protect itself by other means, making those culpable powerless to harm it. But for a king dethroned in the bosom of a revolution, which is as yet cemented only by laws; a king whose name attracts the scourge of war upon a troubled nation; neither prison nor exile can render his existence inconsequential to public happiness; this cruel exception to the ordinary laws avowed by justice can be imputed only to the nature of his crimes. With regret, I pronounce this fatal truth: Louis must die so that the nation may live.
On 4 December the Convention decreed all the royalist writings illegal. 26 December was the day of the last hearing of the King. On 14 January 1793, the king was unanimously voted guilty of conspiracy and attacks upon public safety. On 15 January the call for a referendum was defeated by 424 votes to 287, which Robespierre led. On 16 January, voting began to determine the king's sentence; the session continued for 24 hours. Robespierre worked fervently to ensure the king's execution. The Jacobins successfully defeated the Girondins' final appeal for clemency. On 20 January half of the deputies voted for an immediate death. The next day Louis XVI was guillotined.
Destruction of the Girondists
After the execution of the king, the influence of Robespierre, Danton and the pragmatic politicians increased at the expense of the Girondins who were largely seen as responsible for the inadequate response to the Flanders Campaign they had themselves initiated. At the end of February, more than a thousand shops were plundered in Paris. Protesters claimed that the Girondins were responsible for the high prices. On 24 February the Convention decreed the first, but unsuccessful Levée en Masse as the attempt to draft new troops set off an uprising in rural France. The Montagnards lost influence in Marseille, Toulon and Lyon. On 10 March 1793, a provisional Revolutionary Tribunal was established; the Convention appointed Fouquier-Tinville as the public prosecutor and Fleuriot-Lescot as his assistant.
On 12 March Charles-François Dumouriez criticized the interference of officials of the War Ministry which employed many Jacobins. The Jacobin leaders were quite sure that, after the Battle of Neerwinden (1793), France had come close to a military coup mounted by Dumouriez and supported by the Girondins. On 18 March Barère proposed to establish a Committee of Public Safety. On 22 March Dumouriez urged the Duke of Chartres to join his plan to dissolve the Convention, to restore the French Constitution of 1791, the restoration of a constitutional monarchy and to free Marie-Antoinette and her children. On 25 March Robespierre became one of the 25 members of the Committee of General Defence to coordinate the war effort. He demanded that relatives of the king should leave France, but Marie-Antoinette should be judged. He spoke of vigorous measures to save the Convention, but left the committee within a few days. Marat began to promote a more radical approach, war on the Girondins. He would be arrested a few weeks later.
On 3 April Robespierre declared before the Convention that the whole war was a prepared game between Dumouriez and Brissot to overthrow the First French Republic. On 5 April the Convention substantially expanded the power of the Tribunal révolutionnaire; the Montagne raised the stakes by sending out a circular from the Jacobin Club in Paris to all the sister Jacobin clubs across France, appealing for petitions demanding the recall – that is, the expulsion from the Convention – of any deputés who had tried to save the life of ‘the tyrant’. On 6 April the Committee of Public Safety was installed with deputies from the Plaine and the Dantonists but no Girondins or Robespierrists. Robespierre who was not elected was pessimistic about the prospects of parliamentary action and told the Jacobins that it was necessary to raise an army of Sans-culottes to defend Paris and arrest infidel deputies, naming and accusing Brissot, Vergniaud, Guadet and Gensonné. There are only two parties according to Robespierre: the people and its enemies. Robespierre's speeches during April 1793 reflect the growing radicalization. "I ask the sections to raise an army large enough to form the kernel of a Revolutionary Army that will draw all the sans-culottes from the departments to exterminate the rebels ..." "Force the government to arm the people, who in vain demanded arms for two years." Suspecting further treason, Robespierre invited the convention to vote the death penalty against anyone who would propose negotiating with the enemy. Marat was imprisoned calling for widespread murder as well as the suspension of the convention. On 15 April the convention was stormed by the people of from the sections, demanding the removal of the Girondins. Till 17 April the convention discussed the Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen of 1793, a French political document that preceded that country's first republican constitution. On 18 April the Commune announced an insurrection against the convention after the arrest of Marat. On 19 April Robespierre opposed article 7 on equality before the law; on 22 April the convention discussed article 29 on the right of resistance. On 24 April 1793 Robespierre presented his version with four articles on the right of property. Robespierre was in effect questioning the individual right of ownership. He advocated a progressive tax and fraternity between the people of all the nations. On 27 April the convention decreed (on proposal of Danton) to send 20,000 additional forces to the departments in revolt. Pétion called for the help of supporters of law and order.
On 1 May, according to the Girondin deputé Dulaure 8,000 armed men prepared to go to the Vendée surrounded the convention and threatened not to leave if the emergency measures (a decent salary and maximum on food prices) demanded were not adopted. On 4 May the convention agreed to support the families of soldiers and sailors who left their home to fight the enemy. Robespierre pressed ahead with his strategy of class war. On 8 and 12 May in the Jacobin club, Robespierre restated the necessity of founding a revolutionary army to be funded by a tax on the rich and would be intended to defeat aristocrats and counter-revolutionaries inside both the convention and across France. He said that public squares should be used to produce arms and pikes. Mid May Marat and the Commune supported him publicly and secretly. After hearing these statements, the Girondins became concerned. On 18 May Guadet called for the closing of all the political institutions in Paris and to examine the "exactions" and to replace municipal authorities. Within a few days the Convention decided to set up a commission of inquiry of twelve members, with a very strong Girondin majority. On 24 May the Twelve proposed reinforcing the National Guard patrols round the convention. Jacques Hébert, the editor of Le Père Duchesne, was arrested after attacking or calling for the death of the 22 Girondins. The next day, the Commune demanded that Hébert be released. The president of the Convention Maximin Isnard, who had enough of the tyranny of the Commune, threatened with the total destruction of Paris.
On 26 May, after a week of silence, Robespierre delivered one of the most decisive speeches of his career. He openly called at the Jacobin Club "to place themselves in insurrection against corrupt deputies". Isnard declared that the Convention would not be influenced by any violence and that Paris had to respect the representatives from elsewhere in France. The Convention decided Robespierre would not be heard. (During the whole debate Robespierre sat on the gallery.) The atmosphere became extremely agitated. Some deputies were willing to kill if Isnard dared to declare civil war in Paris; the president was asked to give up his seat. On 28 May a weak Robespierre excused himself twice for his physical condition, but attacked in particular Brissot of royalism. He referred to 25 July 1792 where their points of view split. Robespierre left the Convention after applause from the left side and obviously went to the town hall. There he called for an armed insurrection against the majority of the Convention. "If the Commune does not unite closely with the people, it violates its most sacred duty", he said. In the afternoon the Commune demanded the creation of a Revolutionary army of sansculottes in every town of France, including 20,000 men to defend Paris. On 29 May, the Commune decided to create a revolutionary army of 20,000 men to protect and defend Paris. The delegates representing 33 of the Paris sections formed an insurrectionary committee. Robbepierre admitted he almost gave up his career because of his anxieties since he became a deputy. On 30 May Saint-Just was added to the Committee of Public Safety; Couthon became secretary. The next day the tocsin in the Notre-Dame was rung and the city gates were closed; the Insurrection of 31 May - 2 June began. Hanriot, "Commandant-General" of the Parisian National Guard since the evening before was ordered to fire a cannon on the Pont-Neuf as a sign of alarm. Vergniaud suggested to arrest him. Robespierre urged the arrest of the Girondins, who had supported the installation of the Commission of Twelve. Around ten in the morning 12,000 armed citizens appeared to protect the Convention against the arrest of Girondin deputies. On Saturday 1 June the Commune gathered almost all day. The "Comité insurrectionnel" ordered the arrest of Roland and Étienne Clavière. It ordered Hanriot to surround the Convention ‘with a respectable armed force’. In the evening 40,000 men surrounded the building to force the arrest. Marat lead the attack on the representatives, who in January had voted against the execution of the King and since then paralyzing the Convention. The Committee of Public Safety postponed decisions on the accused deputies for three days; Marat demanded a decision within a day.
Unsatisfied with the result the commune demanded and prepared a "Supplement" to the revolution. Hanriot was ordered to march his National Guard from the town hall to the National Palace. In the early evening on 2 June, a large force of armed citizens, some estimated 80,000 or 100,000, but Danton spoke of only 30,000, surrounded the Convention with artillery. "The armed force", Hanriot said, "will retire only when the Convention has delivered to the people the deputies denounced by the Commune." The Girondins believed they were protected by the law, but the people on the galleries called for their arrest. The accused Girondins attempted to exit, walked around the palace in a theatrical procession and confronted on all sides by bayonets and pikes, returned to the meeting hall and submitted to the inevitable. Twenty-two Girondins were seized one by one after some juggling with names. They finally decided that 31 deputies were not to be imprisoned,[m] but only subject to house arrest.
The Montagnards now had unchallenged control of the convention; according to Couthon the citizens of Paris had saved the country. The Girondins, going to the provinces, joined the counter-revolution. Within two weeks and for three months almost fifty departments were in rebellion.
During the insurrection of 31 May – 2 June 1793 Robespierre had scrawled a note in his memorandum-book:
What we need is a single will (il faut une volonté une). It must be either republican or royalist. If it is to be republican, we must have republican ministers, republican newspapers, republican deputies, a republican government. The internal dangers come from the middle classes; to defeat the middle classes we must rally the people. ... The people must ally itself with the Convention, and the Convention must make use of the people.
On 3 June French the convention decided to split up the land belonging to Émigrés and sell it to farmers. On 12 June Robespierre wanted to resign lacking strength. On 13 July Robespierre defended the plans of Le Peletier to teach revolutionary ideas in schools. On the following day the convention rushed to praise Marat - who was murdered in his bath tube - for his fervor and revolutionary diligence. Opposing Pierre-Louis Bentabole Robespierre simply called for an inquiry into the circumstances of his death. On 17 or 22 July the Émigres were expropriated by decree; proofs of ownership had to be collected and burnt.