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’
With all of the chaos and commotion going on with the Revolution, a sense of victory without the people was impossible. Robespierre once said, "The domestic danger comes from the bourgeois; to defeat the bourgeois we must rally the people." This concept helped to create a defense policy that rested on the Sansculottes and the middle bourgeoisie, this of which Robespierre became that symbol (Soboul 56). The Jacobins and Sansculottes forced this revolutionary of national defense upon the French leadership and upper class. This is where Robespierre 's villainous side begins to emerge. Upon implementation of this strategy, overthrow and mass executions began to appear.
The French Revolution was based on an assortment of Enlightenment ideals. French philosophers, including Voltaire and Rousseau led the revolution leading up to the revolution, so to speak, coming up with progressive ideals as to government, social structure, and the nature of people. Indeed, the ideals which the revolution was fought in the name of progressed throughout France and, eventually, Europe. Though the revolution took wrong turns along the way, the ideals which it was based on never wavered. Even during the heart of his Reign of Terror, Robespierre spoke of a state where each citizen wants to do good by his country. This shows Robespierre with an unwavering commitment to the state, an ideal which came out of the Enlightenment. Though he may have carried out his beliefs in a gruesome and perhaps wrong way, his ideals were the same as the Enlightenment philosophers: make the state better for all to live in.
Robespierre was honestly working for the good of the people. He once stopped 75 Girondins from being tried for signing a secret protest against their leaders’ arrests, knowing they would be executed (Hampson 139). Much of the public understood and loved Robespierre. When he was finally arrested, the prison guard refused to hold him (Gaxotte 223). Instead of fleeing, he returned to Paris where a crowd of his followers congregated. He absolutely forbid them to fight for him, as they were planning (Geib). His altruistic efforts suggest some outside force caused the change in his allowing of the more brutal manner of reformation, later, when the many thousands of people were executed. Jean-Jacques Rousseau may have influenced Robespierre with his strong nationalist views, being an important, and influential role-model for Robespierre. It is said that Robespierre slept with a copy of Rousseau’s Social Contract next to him (Halsall). Rousseau thought that it was the greatest of all sins to continue in life when one believes there is a better way (Searle). Robespierre knew there was another way; a republic, free of the uncaring rule of powerful monarchs. This idea may have encouraged Robespierre to press for reformation at all costs.
The initial impulse of the French revolution was destructive. For those who lived through all, or even part, of these vast upheavals, the shock was overwhelming. Maximilien Robespierre was a proud disciple of the enlightenment and declared that no political writer had foreseen this revolution. Robespierre (1758-1794) was one of the leaders of the Committee of Public Safety, the effective governing body of France during the most radical phase of the revolution. The leaders of this revolution attempted, perhaps more than any other revolutionary leaders before or since, to totally transform human society in every way. (Supreme Being) Although Robespierre began with patriotic intent he still was the face of the Reign of Terror and was viewed as being a radical person.
Sources A and B support the claim established by contemporaries and historians that Robespierre was “incorruptible”, however Robespierre was also despotic, extreme, and radical. Robespierre’s strong opinions, extremism, and despotism support that he was not easily persuaded or corruptible. Source A shows Robespierre saying “the sword that gleams in the hands of the heroes of liberty resembles those in the hands of the henchmen of tyranny”. This statement supports that the government was despotic, which shows that Robespierre was a brutal leader not easily persuaded or corrupted. His statement, “Let the despot govern by terror his brutalised subjects; he is right, as a despot” supports that Robespierre had very strong opinions, showing that
King Louis XVI and Marie Antionette were two people that should not have been ruling a country. King Louis was always gone on hunting trips and Marie Antionette spent every dime of French money. Once the Monarchy ran out money, they started to tax the Third, and poorest, estate. The third estate took up 97% of the population. 97% of the population was starving and the royal family kept spending large amounts of money until the people revolted. The people of France tried to reason with King Louis, but he refused to change his ways and kept taxing the third estate. When the people revolted, they stormed the Bastille and took all of the weapons they could. The people then went to the King’s palace and demanded he fix the way he was ruling before they killed him. The King didn’t listen and was executed along with his wife. Of the three kids that Marie Antionette had, the two boys died of Tuberculosis in jail and the daughter was sent to live the remainder of her life in exile in Austria. It may seem as though the people of France had successfully overgrown their monarchy and could begin a life of freedom, however this is not the case. The French had rushed into combat too fast and did not have a plan for what to do after they had killed their rulers. The right of Terror begins where Maximilian Robespierre beheads 40,000 people in the span of ten months for speaking against the revolution. In the end, Robespierre ends up getting
Revolutions are often started as a response to an unjust form of government, and the Reign of Terror’s new revolutionary government was no exception. Although the revolutionary government was meant to replace a tyrannical government, it quickly turned into the dictatorial government it tried to replace and in many cases stepped far outside of the bounds of lawful or just action. During late 18th century France in the time period between the execution of King Louis XVI and the execution of Maximilien de Robespierre, the Reign of Terror senselessly guillotined thousands of people. Conditions in France in 1793 and 1794 were not serious enough to justify the revolutionary government’s response due to the response to external threats, response to internal threats, and the extreme methods deployed.
As the Reign of Terror came into effect, triggering the most radical phase of the Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre was determined to reconstruct France as a new republican democracy. According to Robespierre, this system could only be achieved if every and all forms of resistance to the Republic were to be eradicated. He declared that anyone who did not support the revolution as radically as he did was a traitor, a threat to the country, and deserved to be executed.
Robespierre was the main person to implement the laws he put forth.[Footnote] He believed in solving all his problems through violence. Those who were born to a particular family, having certain opinions, or simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time, would fall victim to him. Although Robespierre was obsessed with violence, he never actually performed acts himself, unless assured he would succeed, he’d have other people to do his work for him. The most common device used to punish people was the guillotine. Robespierre used other methods at times; he’d burn, hack, stab, shoot, and even cannonade a person. Those he objected, or had been his enemy would soon be imprisoned, and eventually executed. He was relentless and ordered people dead with no trial, killing people without proving or even knowing if they were truly “guilty”. He believed the mass murders he was responsible for were justified.
The published letter of the king’s reasoning for departure also served the public with rage, and, “equally significant for the future of the Revolution was the dramatic change in attitude toward the king…everything was transformed by the king’s flight.” (Tackett, 101) People in the streets of Paris were throwing out their portraits of the royal family and were seeing the king, the one they praised a week ago, as a deserter and conspirator to their newly-formed and praised government. The use of rumor and newspapers by members of The Cordelier Club also helped spread certain radical ideals in which prompted the idea of turning France into a republic, and of dissembling the monarchy and the king altogether. It was this power in the streets of Paris that would soon grow with every day after the king fled, as, “Outside the Legislative Assembly, however, the more radical revolutionaries had managed to hold the loyalty of most of the provincial club network, giving them a powerful propaganda tool.” (Popkin, 58) The National Assembly was still strong in its number of members favorable of this new constitutional monarchy, but it was in the streets and with the people that the actual aspect of the Revolution was shifting. Members of the National Assembly were getting restless
Timothy Tackett’s book When the King Took Flight focuses on arguably the most consequential event in the French Revolution. King Louis XVI and his family’s attempt to escape France would influence an atmosphere of violence that would only continue to worsen. King Louis XVI regretted signing and accepting the Civil Constitution of the Clergy earlier in July 1790. Deciding to flee the country he assumed that through foreign intervention or negotiating he could change parts of the constitution he disagreed with. However he would be recognized and captured in Varennes. The king underestimated the true meaning and appeal of the revolution (87). His misunderstanding of the revolution led the way for the destruction of kingship and the monarchy itself. This decision had given power to the sans-culottes and the idea of a republic. While the kings flight to Varennes had many unintended consequences it serves as a crucial turning point for the revolution.
The French Revolution began as an expression of rebellion against centuries of absolute rule in France. After an interim of experimental liberalism under the rule of Jacobins and Girondins and then the infamous reign of terror, the people of French were drawn to a man who promised them a return to stability, and honor through the expansion of empire. France and it’s people had long yearned for this sens eof honour, it had seemed, and could finally sens eit in a lasting rpesence under the rule of their prodigious, unbeatable general, Napoleon Bonaparte. He would soon take the reigns of civil government as well and become yet another Absolutist ruler, yet this
Robespierre states in his speech “Virtue and Terror” that ‘If the strength of popular government in peacetime is virtue, the strength of popular government in revolution is both virtue and terror; terror without virtue is disastrous, virtue without terror is