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Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre ( ) (6 May 1758 – 28 July 1794) is one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. He largely dominated the Committee of Public Safety and was instrumental in the period of the Revolution commonly known as the Reign of Terror, which ended with his arrest and execution in 1794.

Robespierre was influenced by 18th century Enlightenment philosophes such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu, and he was a capable articulator of the beliefs of the left-wing bourgeoisie. He was described as physically unimposing and immaculate in attire and personal manners. His supporters called him "The Incorruptible", while his adversaries called him the "Tyrant" and dictateur sanguinaire (bloodthirsty dictator).

Early life

Maximilien de Robespierre was born in Arras, Francemarker. His family has been traced back to the 12th century in Picardy, Northern France; some of his direct ancestors in the male line were notaries in the little village of Carvinmarker near Arras from the beginning of the 17th century. He is sometimes rumoured to have been of Irish descent, and it has been suggested that his surname could be a corruption of 'Robert Speirs'. Lewes, Hamel, Michelet, Lamartine and Bellocmarker have all cited this theory although there appears 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 Conseil d'Artois, married Jacqueline Marguerite Carrault, the daughter of a brewer, in 1758. Maximilien was the oldest of four children and was conceived out of wedlock - his siblings were Charlotte, Henriette and Augustin. To hide the deed as best they could, his father and mother had a rushed wedding (which the grandfather refused to attend). In 1764 Madame de Robespierre died in childbirth. Her husband left Arras and wandered around Europe until his death in Munichmarker in 1777, 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, already knowing how to read and write. In October of 1769, on the recommendation of the bishop, he obtained a scholarship at the Lycée Louis-le-Grandmarker in Paris. Here he learned to admire the idealised Roman Republic and the rhetoric of Cicero, Cato and other classic figures. His fellow pupils included Camille Desmoulins and Stanislas Fréron. He also was exposed to Rousseau during this time and adopted many of the same principles. Robespierre became more intrigued by 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 speech, Robespierre and the crowd waited for the king and queen for several hours in the rain. Upon arrival, the royal couple remained in their coach for the ceremony and immediately left thereafter. Later, Robespierre would be one of those who would eventually work towards the death of the king.

Early politics

After having completed his law studies, Robespierre was admitted to the Arras bar. The Bishop of Arras, Louis François Marc Hilaire de Conzié, appointed him criminal judge in the Diocese of Arras in March 1782. This appointment, which he soon resigned to avoid pronouncing a sentence of death, did not prevent his practicing at the bar. He quickly became a successful advocate and chose in principle to represent the poor. During court hearings he was known often to advocate the ideals of the Enlightenment and argue for the rights of man: i.e. his clients. Later in his career he read widely and also became interested in society in general and became regarded as one of the best writers and popular young men of Arras.

In December 1783, he was elected a member of the academy of Arras, the meetings of which he attended regularly. In 1784, he obtained a medal from the academy of Metzmarker for his essay on the question of whether the relatives of a condemned criminal should share his disgrace. He and Pierre Louis de Lacretelle, an advocate and journalist in Paris, divided the prize. Many of his subsequent essays were less successful, but Robespierre was compensated for these failures by his 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 a member.

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 of election by the members of the provincial estates were again adopted, the new Estates-General would not represent the people of France. It is possible he addressed this issue so that he could have a chance to take part in the proceedings and thus change the policies of the monarchy. King Louis XVI later announced new elections for all provinces, thus allowing Robespierre to run for the position of deputy for the Third Estate.

Portrait of Robespierre after his election to the Estates General, 1789

Although the leading members of the corporation were elected, Robespierre, their chief opponent, succeeded in getting elected with them. In the assembly of the bailliage rivalry ran still higher, but Robespierre had begun to make his mark in politics with the Avis aux habitants de 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 of the Third Estate of Artoismarker to the Estates-General. When Robespierre arrived at Versailles, he was relatively unknown, but he soon became part of the representative National Assembly which then transformed into the Constituent Assembly.

While the Constituent Assembly occupied itself with drawing up a constitution, Robespierre turned from the assembly of provincial lawyers and wealthy bourgeois to the people of Paris. He was a frequent speaker in the Constituent Assembly; he voiced many ideas for the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Constitutional Provisions, often with great success. He was eventually recognized as second only to Pétion de Villeneuve - if second he was - as a leader of the small body 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 Breton deputies only. After the Assembly moved to Paris the Club began to admit various leaders of the Parisian bourgeoisie to its membership. As time went on, many of the more intelligent artisans and 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 to the 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 deputies who sat in the Constituent could sit in the succeeding Assembly, his only successful proposition in this assembly.

The flight of Louis XVI and his family on 20 June and his subsequent arrest at Varennes resulted in Robespierre declaring himself at the Jacobin Club to be "ni monarchiste ni républicain" ("neither monarchist nor republican"). But this was not unusual; very few at this point were avowed republicans.

After the massacre of the Champ de Marsmarker on 17 July 1791, in order to be nearer to the Assembly and the Jacobins, he moved to live in the house of Maurice Duplay, a cabinetmaker residing in the Rue Saint-Honoré and an ardent admirer of Robespierre. Robespierre lived there (with two short intervals excepted) until his death. In fact, according to some sources, including his doctor, Souberbielle, Vilate, a juror on the Revolutionary Tribunal, and his host's youngest daughter (who would later marry Philippe Le Bas of the Committee of General Security), he became engaged to the eldest daughter of his host, Éléonore Duplay.

On 30 September, on the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, the people of Paris crowned Pétion and Robespierre as the two incorruptible patriots in an attempt to honor their purity of principles, their modest ways of living, and their refusal of bribes.

With the dissolution of the Assembly he returned for a short visit to Arras, where he met with a triumphant reception. In November he returned to Paris to take the position of Public Prosecutor of Paris.

Opposition to war with Austria

On February 1792, Jacques Pierre Brissotmarker, one of the leaders of the Girondist party in the Legislative Assembly, urged that France should declare war against Austria. Marat and Robespierre opposed him, because they feared the possibility of militarism, which might then be turned to the advantage of the reactionary forces. Robespierre was also convinced the stability of the internal country was more important; he was suspicious of traitors and counter-revolutionaries hidden among the people. This opposition from expected allies irritated the Girondists and political rivalry arose between them.

In April 1792, Robespierre resigned the post of public prosecutor of Versailles, which he had officially held, but never practiced, since February, and started a journal, Le Défenseur de la Constitution, 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, the strongmen of the Commune of Paris were glad to have Robespierre's aid in the face of food riots and factionalism. On 16 August, Robespierre presented the petition of the Commune to the Legislative Assembly, demanding the establishment of a revolutionary tribunal and the summoning of a Convention.

Robespierre has often been reproached with failing to stop the September Massacres.

In September, he was elected first deputy for Paris to the National Convention. Robespierre and his 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, the Girondist Marc-David Lasource accused Robespierre of wanting to form a dictatorship. Rumours spread that Robespierre, Marat and Danton were plotting to establish a triumvirate. On 29 October, Louvet de Couvrai attacked Robespierre in a speech, possibly written by Madame Roland. 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 carefully prepared speeches often made a deep impression.

The execution of Louis XVI

In December 1792, personal disputes were overshadowed by the question of the King's trial. In this instance, Robespierre held the position that the King must be executed, whereas previously he had opposed the death penalty. The position of Robespierre was that if one man’s life had to be sacrificed to save the Revolution, there was no alternative: it had to be that of King Louis. In his speech on 3 December 1792, he said:

This is no trial; Louis is not a prisoner at the bar; you are not judges; you are—you cannot but be—statesmen, and the representatives of the nation.
You have not to pass sentence for or against a single man, but you have to take a resolution on a question of the public safety, and to decide a question of national foresight.
It is with regret that I pronounce, the fatal truth: Louis ought to perish rather than a hundred thousand virtuous citizens; Louis must die, so that the country may live.
Robespierre argued that the King, having betrayed the people when he tried to flee the country, and by being a king in the first place, posed a danger to the State as a unifying entity to enemies of the Republic.

Destruction of the Girondists

After the King's execution, the influence of Robespierre, Danton, and the pragmatic politicians increased at the expense of the Girondists. The Girondists refused to have anything more to do with 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, an elaboration on the earlier article Jean-Pierre Brissot, démasqué, a scathing attack on Brissot and the Girondists. Maximin Isnard declared that Paris must be destroyed if it came out against the provincial deputies. Robespierre preached a moral "insurrection against the corrupt deputies" at the Jacobin Club. On 2 June, a large crowd of armed men from the Commune of Paris came to the Convention and arrested thirty-two deputies on charges of counter-revolutionary activities.

The Reign of Terror

After the fall of the king, France faced more food riots, large popular insurrections and accusations of treasonous acts by those previously considered patriots. A stable government was needed to quell the chaos. On 11 March, a Revolutionary Tribunal was established in Paris. On 6 April, the nine-member Committee of Public Safety replaced the larger Committee of General 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 manage the country's internal police.

Though nominally all members of the committee were equals, Robespierre has often been regarded as the dominant force and as such the de facto dictator of the country. He is also seen as 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 to downplay their own contribution.

As an orator, he praised revolutionary government and argued that the Terror was necessary, laudable and inevitable. It was Robespierre's belief that the Republic and virtue were of necessity inseparable. He reasoned that the Republic could only be saved by the virtue of its citizens, and that the Terror was virtuous because it attempted to maintain the Revolution and the Republic. For example, in his Report on the Principles of Political Morality, given on 5 February, 1794, Robespierre stated:

If virtue be the spring of a popular government in times of peace, the spring of that government during 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 is then an emanation of virtue; it is less a distinct principle than a natural consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing wants of the country.
The government in a revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny.

Robespierre believed that the Terror was a time of discovering and revealing the enemy within Paris, within France, the enemy that hid in the safety of apparent patriotism. Because he believed that the Revolution was still in progress, and in danger of being sabotaged, he made every attempt to instill in the populace and Convention the urgency of carrying out the Terror. In his Report and others, he brought tales and fears of traitors, monarchists, and saboteurs throughout the Republic and also the Convention itself.

Robespierre expanded the traditional list of the Revolution's enemies to include moderates and "false revolutionaries". In Robespierre's understanding, these were not only ignorant of the dangers facing the Republic, but also in many cases disguised themselves as active contributors to the Revolution, who simply repeated the work of others, or even impeded the progress of the patriots. Anyone not in step with the decrees of Robespierre's committee is said to have been eventually purged from the Convention, and thoroughly hunted in the general population. While it is debated whether Robespierre targeted moderates to accelerate his own agenda, or out of legitimate concern for France, it is known that his policy led to the execution of many of the Revolution's original and staunchest advocates.

Robespierre saw no room for mercy in his Terror, stating that "slowness of judgments is equal to impunity" and "uncertainty of punishment encourages all the guilty". Throughout his Report on the Principles of Political Morality, Robespierre assailed any stalling of action in defence of the Republic. In his thinking, there was not enough that could be done fast enough in defence against enemies at home and abroad. A staunch believer in the teachings of Rousseau, Robespierre believed that it was his duty as a public servant to push the Revolution forward, and that the only rational way to do that was to defend it on all fronts. The Report did not merely call for blood but also expounded many of the original ideas of the 1789 Revolution, such as political equality, suffrage, and abolition of privilege. Despite executing a good number of his fellow revolutionaries, Robespierre was still one of them in his theory, even if his practice was questionable.

In the winter of 1793–1794, a majority of the Committee decided that the Hébertist party would have to perish or its opposition within the Committee would overshadow the other factions due to its influence in the Commune of Paris. Robespierre also had personal reasons for disliking the Hébertists for their "atheism" and "bloodthirstiness", which he associated with the old aristocracy.

In early 1794, he broke with Danton who had more moderate views on the Terror and had Camille Desmoulins protest against it in the third issue of Le Vieux Cordelier. Robespierre considered an end of the Terror as meaning the loss of political power he hoped to use to create the 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 the Committee due to illness. On 15 March, he reappeared in the Convention. Hébert and nineteen of his followers were arrested on 19 March and guillotined on 24 March. Danton, Desmoulins and their friends were arrested on 30 March and guillotined on 5 April.

After Danton's execution, Robespierre worked to develop his own policies and hoped that the Convention would pass whatever measures he might dictate. He used his influence over the Jacobin 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 of the Commune respectively. Robespierre tried to influence the army through his follower Louis de 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 the Committee, 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 Robespierre's death, 1,285 victims were guillotined in Paris.

Robespierre's desire for revolutionary change was not limited to the political realm. He sought to instill a spiritual resurgence in the French nation based on his Deist beliefs. Accordingly, on 7 May 1794 Robespierre had a decree passed by the Convention that established a Supreme Being. The notion of the Supreme Being was based on ideas that Jean-Jacques Rousseau had outlined in The Social Contract. In honour of the Supreme Being, a celebration was held on 8 June. Robespierre, as President of the Convention, walked first in the festival procession and delivered a speech in which he emphasised that his concept of a Supreme Being, which he termed a radical Democrat, was far different from the traditional God of Christianity:

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 create kings to devour the human race.
He did not create priests to harness us, like vile animals, to the chariots 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 to help each other, to love each other mutually, and to attain to happiness by the way of virtue.


The execution of Robespierre

Robespierre appeared at the Convention on 26 July (8th Thermidor, year II, according to the Revolutionary calendar), and delivered a two-hour-long speech. He defended himself against charges of dictatorship and tyranny, and then proceeded to warn of a conspiracy against the Republic. Robespierre implied that members of the Convention were a part of this conspiracy, though when pressed he refused to provide any names. Members who felt that Robespierre was alluding to them 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 the Jacobin Club, where it was very well received.

The next day, Saint-Just began to give a speech in support of Robespierre. However, those who saw him working on his speech the night before expected accusations to arise from it. He only 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 and another, Marc Guillaume Valdiergave, gave a mocking impression of him. When one deputy realised Robespierre's inability to respond, the man shouted, "The blood of Danton chokes him!"

The Convention ordered the arrest of Robespierre, his brother Augustin, Couthon, Saint-Just, Le Bas, and François Hanriot. Troops from the Commune, under General Coffinhal, arrived to free the prisoners and then marched against the Convention itself. The Convention responded by ordering troops of its own under Barras to be called out. When the Commune's troops heard the news of this, order began to break down, and Hanriot ordered his remaining troops to withdraw to the Hôtel de Villemarker. Robespierre and his supporters also gathered at the Hôtel de Ville. The Convention declared them to be outlaws, meaning that upon verification the fugitives could be killed within twenty-four hours without a trial. As the night went on, the Commune forces at the Hôtel de Ville deserted until none of them remained. The Convention troops under Barras approached the Hôtel around 2 a.m. As they came, Robespierre's brother Augustin threw himself out of a window. Couthon was found lying at the bottom of a staircase. Le Bas committed suicide. Another radical jumped out of the window, only to break both of his legs; yet another shot himself in the head. Robespierre tried to kill himself a pistol but only managed to shatter his jaw., although some sources claimed that Robespierre was shot by Charles-André Merda.

For the remainder of the night, Robespierre was moved to a table in the room of the Committee of Public Safety where he awaited execution. Later, Robespierre was held in the same containment chamber where Marie Antoinette, the wife of King Louis XVI, had been held.

The next day, 28 July 1794, Robespierre was guillotined without trial in the Place de la Révolutionmarker. Couthon, Saint-Just, Hanriot, Augustine Robespierre and twelve other followers, among them the cobbler Simon, were also executed. Only Robespierre was guillotined face-up. When clearing Robespierre's neck the executioner tore off the bandage that was holding his shattered jaw in place, producing an agonising scream until the fall of the blade silenced him. His corpse and head both were buried in the common cemetery of Errancis (now the Place de Goubeaux), but were accidentally moved to the Catacombs of Parismarker.


Maximillien Robespierre remains a controversial figure to this day. His defenders, such as Marxist historian Albert Soboul, viewed most of the measures of the Committee for Public Safety necessary for the defense of the Revolution and mainly regretted the destruction of the Hébertists and other enragés.
Robespierre’s main ideal was to ensure the virtue and sovereignty of the people.
He disapproved of 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 the deaths of his peers as a measure of ensuring a Republic of Virtue; but his ideals went beyond the needs and wants of the people of France.
He became a threat to what he had wanted to ensure and the result was his downfall.
The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica sums up Robespierre as a bright young theorist but out of his depth in the matter of experience:


Image:Hw-robespierre.jpgImage:Robespierre2.jpg|19th Century engraving of Robespierre.Image:Robespierre3.jpg|Robespierre by Boilly Louis Léopold (1761-1845)Image:Arrestation_de_Robespierre.jpg|The arrest of Robespierre.Image:Shot.jpg|The arrest of Robespierre on the night of 9 Thermidor, 27 July 1794 (Jean-Joseph-François Tassaert)Image:RobespierreExecution.jpg|Robespierre and his Followers on their Way to the Scaffold on 28 July 1794.

Cultural depictions

Mixed media portrait sculpture of Robespierre by artist George S.
Stuart, Ojai, CA in the permanent collection of the Museum of Ventura County, Ventura, CA

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge together with Robert Southey wrote a verse drama, The Fall of Robespierre in 1794, Coleridge writing Act 1 and Southey, Acts 2 and 3, although the work was published under Coleridge's name. Coming very soon after Robespierre's execution, it may be regarded as the first literary portrayal of the man. Indeed, much of the material was drawn from contemporary newspaper accounts of the events in Paris.
  • In Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables, Robespierre and Rousseau are mentioned being deeply admired by the character Enjolras, the leader of the student revolutionaries.
  • In another novel by Hugo, Quatrevingt-Treize, Robespierre is featured in the "Three Gods" scene, along with Danton and Marat.
  • Robespierre is a significant character in the 1912 novel The Gods Will Have Blood by Anatole France, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • He appears frequently in The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. He also plays a prominent role in the BBC miniseries version.
  • Robespierre is featured in the play Danton's Death, written by German playwright Georg Buchner.
  • A highly-idealized Robespierre is featured in the anime and manga series Rose of Versailles by Riyoko Ikeda. He's initially shown in his younger and more idealistic self, prior to the Terror days, and as the series advances he becomes closer to the embittered leader usually portrayed in media. He's voiced by Katsuji Mori.
  • A more cruel and ruthless portrayal of Robespierre is featured in Tow Ubukata's novel (later adapted as an anime series) Le Chevalier D'Eon. He appears as a villain of the story and a mysterious occultist. He is voiced by Takahiro Sakurai. However, the Robespierre known to history (as seen in the anime, being beheaded at the end of the Terror) is the main character named Robin, who assumed the name after the first Robespierre's death.
  • He plays an important role in the short story "Thermidor" from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.
  • He, along with Louis de Saint-Just, gives his name and role to Rob S. Pierre in the Honorverse.
  • One of the two primary plot lines of Katherine Neville's 1988 novel The Eight features Robespierre alongside other famous figures of the French Revolution.
  • In the 1927 silent film Napoléon, he is played by Edmond Van Daële. Although this six-hour long epic is about the rise of Napoleon, it does incorporate some aspects of Robespierre's presence.
  • In the 1949 film The Black Book (also known as Reign of Terror), Robespierre is played as a bloodthirsty tyrant by Richard Basehart, with Robert Cummings and Arlene Dahl as adversaries.
  • He is featured in the 1964 Doctor Who serial The Reign of Terror as a somewhat sympathetic figure, proclaiming that he wishes he did not have to undertake so many executions, and appearing as a pathetic beggar during and after his arrest.
  • In the 1983 French and Polish film Danton, Robespierre is played by Wojciech Pszoniak. The film depicts the last days of Danton and is based on The Danton Case by Stanislawa Przybyszewska. Meanwhile Przybyszewska's Robespierre is a heroic figure, Wajda's film radically changes the message of the play and offers a negative portrait of him.
  • In the 1989 film La Révolution Française, he is played by Andrzej Seweryn; this film spans six hours, or the entire revolution from 1789 to 1794.
  • "The Palace of Versailles", a song about the French Revolution from the 1978 Al Stewart album Time Passages, includes the lyrics "We burned out all their mansions/In the name of Robespierre."
  • In Frank Wildhorn's 1997 The Scarlet Pimpernel , Robespierre, played by David Cromwell in the original Broadway cast, makes a brief appearance.
  • In The French Revolution, a 2005 History Channel documentary, he is played by George Ivascu.
  • In Joni Mitchell's song "Sex Kills", she sings "Doctor's pills give you brand new ills and the bills bury you like an avalanche, and lawyers haven't been this popular since Robespierre slaughtered half of France."
  • In an episode of Blackadder The Third, Edmund Blackadder claims to have broken into Monsieur Robespierre's bedroom and left him a box of chocolates and an insulting note.
  • The 1996 Marge Piercy Novel; City of Darkness, City of Light, features Robespierre as one of six first-person characters.
  • The Brooklynmarker-based punk band Team Robespierre is named after him.
  • It is customary for practitioners of socionics to refer to the Logical Intuitive Introvert personality type as "Robespierre", who is a recognized representative of the type.
  • Famous British children's series ChuckleVision has featured Robespierre as a villain trying to steal the Countess and defeat the Purple Pimple (who is actually Sir Percy with a purple headcover in the series). Citizen Robespierre calls himself "the best swordsman of France". He was featured in Series 17 and 18 (2005/2006), where Barry and Paul go back in time during the French Revolution.
  • Robespierre is featured in Hilary Mantel's novel A Place of Greater Safety, along with Camille Desmoulins and George-Jacques Danton. The novel traces the lives of the three men beginning when they meet as young men through to the end of their respective careers.

See also


  1. Robespierre: the force of circumstance by J. L. Carr (Constable, 1972) p.10
  2. Schama 1989, p. 841-842
  3. Schama 1989, p. 842–844.
  4. John Laurence Carr, Robespierre; the force of circumstance, Constable, 1972, p. 54.
  5. Schama 1989, p. 845-846.
  6. The French Revolution (2005) (TV)

  • Good summary that relies almost entirely on primary source documents with short summarizing essays that explain those documents
  • A Romantic account more useful for historiographical studies than as accurate history
  • A collection of essays covering not only Robespierre's thoughts and deeds but also the way he has been portrayed by historians and fictional writers alike.
  • Presents Robespierre as the origin of Fascist dictators.
  • Presents three contrasting views
  • Sympathetic but not un-critical left-wing study
  • Lenotre, G., Robespierre's Rise and Fall, London: Hutchinson & Co. (1927) Critical
  • Linton, Marisa. "Robespierre and the Terror", History Today, August 2006, Volume 56, Issue 8, pp. 23–29
  • A sympathetic study of the Committee of Public Safety.
  • Sympathetic Marxist analysis comparing him with Lenin and Mao.
  • A revisionist account.
  • Scurr, Ruth. Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution. London: Metropolitan Books, 2006 (ISBN 0-8050-7987-4).
  • Sobel, Robert, The French Revolution (1967)
  • Soboul, Albert. "Robespierre and the Popular Movement of 1793–4", Past and Present, No. 5. (May, 1954), pp. 54–70.
  • Traditional biography with extensive and reliable research.
  • Merriman, John(2004). "Thermidor"(2nd ed.). A history of modern Europe: from the Renaissance to the present,p 507. W.W. Norton & Company Ltd. ISBN 0-393-92495-5

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