Justification of the Use of Terror: How it Ultimately Led to the Downfall of Maximilien Robespierre

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The French Revolution is arguably the bloodiest period in French history, with men such as Maximilien Robespierre leading the country into a situation of state sponsored terror. Originally being quite a liberal thinker inspired by the works of Rousseau, Robespierre quickly gained a reputation for being a radical throughout the course of the Revolution, especially during the Terror. Early on terror was justified as a means to root out foreign and domestic enemies of the Revolution, however; once the foreign threat had been taken care of it became increasingly difficult for Robespierre to rationalize his use of terror to bring about a supposed Republic of Virtue. In his speech, the “Justification of the use of Terror” which he presented to…show more content…
So that leaves question as to how it was that Robespierre transformed from a man who believed in a government for the people to nearly becoming a tyrant himself. To understand this, one must understand the circumstances which arose in France during the late eighteenth century that forced him to take action. The driving problem throughout, however; was essentially the monarchy. The regime of Louis XVI could hardly be considered that of a tyrant, but nevertheless his inability to properly govern his country led to frustration and anger among the people of France. Robespierre shared this sentiment in his speech, stating that “a nation is truly corrupted when, having by degrees lost its character and its liberty, it passes from democracy to aristocracy or to monarchy; that is the decrepitude and death of the body politic....” This also hints at Robespierre’s earlier ideologies concerned with Rousseau as he does make reference to the need for a nation to have a democratic system. Louis XVI was a failing king, and even long before the National Convention had come into power much of France vowed to see the monarchy abolished. By 1791 it had become increasingly clear that Louis was no longer fit to govern – a moment marked by his attempted flight to Varennes. This cost the king his credibility and he effectively ‘died’

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