Robespierre, Maximilien: His Reason Behind The Terror Essay, Research Paper

Maximilien Robespierre: His Reason Behind the Panic

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No figure of the Gallic Revolution has aroused so much contention as that of Maximilien Robespierre. He is known to most people as the symbol of the Reign of Terror, a period where about 17,000 people died while digesting atrocious prison conditions or were executed due to the mere intuition of being a treasonist. The inquiry of whether or non these actions were truly justified is an of import 1. Robespierre seems to hold thought so. I, nevertheless, will demo that the usage of panic by Robespierre during the Gallic Revolution was non merely or necessary, and that he was moving in his ain best involvement instead than the State? s.

First to understand Robespierre it is of import to look into his yesteryear. He was born on May 6, 1758 in the town of Arras to Francois Robespierre. Although he belonged to a hapless household, he was able to analyze jurisprudence in Paris by agencies of a scholarship. He was extremely dedicated to his surveies which left him isolated from company. Returning to Arras, he practiced jurisprudence and gained a repute. He so became familiar of the plants of Jean Jacques Rousseau? s theories of democracy, free thought, and virtuousness ( which Robespierre understood as civic morality ) . These beliefs finally led to his name? the Incorruptible? ( Lycos ) .

In 1789 he was elected into the States-General and attached himself to the extreme left wing. His influence grew over the Jacobin Club and finally he became its leader. In 1791 he made a jurisprudence which stated that no member of the current Component Assembly would be able to sit in the undermentioned Legislative Assembly. For this, he was appointed Public Accuser. Robespierre opposed the Girondist? s war proposals in 1792 which caused him to lose popularity with the populace. He resigned as Public Accuser and was so elected as first deputy for Paris to the National Convention where he was bitterly attacked by the Girondists. Robespierre continually opposed the Girondist? s thought of a particular entreaty to the people on the male monarch? s decease. Louis was executed on January 21, 1793, which signaled the beginning of the Jacobin? s victory. In April of 1793, the Committee of Public Safety came into being. Robespierre, who was elected in July, so became one of the swayers of France. His authorization and prestigiousness increased, and when France became endangered by foreign invasion and pandemonium, the Committee initiated the Reign of Terror ( Lycos ) .

Robespierre opposed the extreme left, led by Jacques Hebert, and the centrists, led by Georges Danton and Camille Desmoulins. By March of 1794, both groups were arrested and sentenced to the closure by compartment. Robespierre had a strong clasp on France and nominated the members of the authorities commissions and placed them in influential places in the commune of Paris which gave him complete control of the Revolutionary Tribunal ( Lycos ) .

To further mold Gallic society to his liking, Robespierre initiated the Cult of Supreme Reason which subsequently turned into the Cult of the Supreme Being. This was a state-wide faith that demanded that the Convention acknowledge the being of God. Because of this, Robespierre received much unfavorable judgment ( Lycos ) .

At this point Robespierre was considered the dictator of France. However, the Convention, who originally passed his edicts, became weary of Robespierre. A address that he gave threatened more panic, and the members of the Plain ( revolutionists within the Convention ) wanted to subvert Robespierre. He complained that he was being accused of offenses below the belt. At his hearing, a deputy proposed his apprehension which led to his ruin. He fled to the Common Hall and the Convention so declared him an criminal. In an effort at self-destruction, he put a gun to his caput but missed, go forthing him with a broken jaw. The following twenty-four hours, he and 19 others were sentenced to the closure by compartment because he himself had became a menace to the State ( Lycos ) .

Once the Panic ended, the inquiry of whether or non the use of panic was necessary had become an issue of argument. We look to Robespierre? s ain logical thinking in hope to see his logic. In two of his addresss he addresses the impression of capital penalty. However, it is evident in these two addresss that he contradicts his beliefs and is, in fact, a dissembler. In his latter address he attempts to warrant his incompatibility, which merely shows that he is willing to compromise his beliefs in order to hold his ain political dockets carried out.

In his first address, Robespierre argues for the entire abolishment of the decease punishment on broad and human-centered evidences. He tells us:

Listen to the voice of ground and justness ; it cries out to us that human judgements are ne’er certain plenty for society to be able to set to decease a adult male who has been condemned by fellow work forces who portion his fallibility? The legislator? s foremost responsibility is to organize and to continue public morality, which is the beginning of all autonomy and of all societal wellbeing. When in chase of a peculiar end, he departs from this basic and general purpose, he commits the most coarse and the most black of mistakes ( Robespierre, 1791, p. 26 ) .

Harmonizing to this statement, Robespierre is saying that world does non hold the right to set another individual to decease because people all have the same innate falliabilities. He besides says that it is, in fact, the legislator? s responsibility to continue public morality which in this instance one would presume that he means non to penalize people by the agencies of decease.

In another address one twelvemonth subsequently, Robespierre makes alibis for why he has changed his sentiment of the decease punishment in the instance of Louis Sixteen:

You are confounding the regulations of civil and positive jurisprudence with the rules of the jurisprudence of states. You are confounding the common relationships of citizens with the relationship of a state with an enemy cabaling against it. You are confounding the state of affairs of a people in revolution with that of a people with a s

ettled authorities. You are confounding a state penalizing a public functionary with one that is destructing the authorities itself? You ask for an exclusion to the punishment of decease for the one adult male in whose instance it would be justified! Yes, the decease punishment in general is a offense, and for this one ground: that, harmonizing to the indestructible Torahs of nature, it can be justified merely in instances where it is necessary for the security of the individual or the State? But Louis must decease in order that our state may populate ( Robespierre, 1792, pp. 27-31 ) .

Here is where Robespierre becomes a dissembler and reverses his old address in order to warrant his ain political docket to hold Louis and other? treasonists? to the State executed.

In his earlier yearss, Robespierre stressed the importance of virtuousness in political relations. To him, virtuousness is basically what contributes to the populace good which encompasses the love of your state and the subjugation of the private to the public involvement. His thought of revolution was to make a democracy of socially independent citizens, exercise a common sovereignty, to reconstruct authorities by leting a individual? s natural and unalienable rights of personal freedom, and to make political equality. Robespierre believed in the natural goodness of people, but distrusted representation. His chief concern was equality. However, during the Revolution he was invariably looking for marks of lese majesty and confederacy for counter-revolutions. He instituted the usage of panic because he believed it to be virtuous. Robespierre called it justness that was fleet and merciless ( Rude, 1975 ) .

This is where Robespierre? s justification of the usage of panic comes into inquiry. How can a adult male who believes in virtuousness perchance institute panic as a manner to model society to his liking? If he is so concerned with the equality of all citizens, so based on his ain statements, how is anyone capable of condemning another individual to decease if we all portion the same faliabilities? His statements are evidently unlogical and inconsistent. He seems to believe that the universe is split into two classs: the societal and the political. Harmonizing to him each class is governed by a different set of Torahs, which, even Plato would hold to differ with. Robespierre expects moralss to flex at his ain will, but any positivist can see how unlogical and na? ve that is. It is because of this incompatibility and naivet? that I believe that Robespierre? s usage of panic was unneeded and undue.

The agencies that Robespierre sought out treasonists greatly resembles the ulterior Salem enchantress tests. He had an docket: to advance his ain power by transfusing fright in the citizens and to kill off any menaces by others who challenged his authorization. His usage of panic was non to advance a more peaceable province or to? deliverance? the State from Louis. He knew that he could mistreat his power and impeach any individual or group that he wanted, and he would in turn become more powerful. He accused people even if they were somewhat suspected of being a treasonist. He did non offer a just test to these suspects, if a test was even offered. Because of his skewed logic, he felt that it was better to direct suspects to the closure by compartment. Although the accused were less of import wrongdoers, Robespierre still gave the same statement he gave against Louis for their executing ( Rude, 1967 ) . The same logic that was used in the enchantress tests, viz. that a suspect was better off dead than to take a opportunity, was wholly abused in the instance of the Terror. Robespierre was? on a axial rotation? with executings, and found no ground to halt because his power over the citizens kept increasing. This adult male who claimed to be a retainer to the State was merely power-hungry.

Another ground why Robespierre? s justification for the usage of panic is illicit is because it appears that his logic runs parallel to a similar construct known as the matter-of-fact theory of truth. This theory states that something is true if it accomplishes one? s personal ends. In the instance of Robespierre, he compromised his belief that the decease punishment is incorrect to carry through his end of fring the State of possible resistance therefore doing himself more powerful. Assuming that there is a remarkable normative moral principle, his actions were unneeded and oppressive. He was non moving in the best involvement of the State, instead, himself.

It is dry that Robespierre was executed for the same grounds that he had Louis executed for. Robespierre had become a autocrat in his ain idealistic society. His compulsion with deriving more power over the citizens of France led him to perpetrate unneeded and unlogical Acts of the Apostless that contradicted his anterior beliefs of virtuousness. He had become a hypocrite and a power-hungry monster. His account for the usage of panic still goes undue because of his critical defects in logic. Does the terminal truly warrant the agencies? In Robespierre? s instance, no. The agency he used were to advance his ain power, non to protect the State. The deficiency of logic in his ain justifications is his major defect. Possibly it is proper, though, that he was persecuted with his ain logic.


Lycos. Robespierre, Maximilien Marie Isidore. [ On-line ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //

Robespierre, Maximilien Marie Isidore de. ( 1791 ) . On the abolishment of the decease punishment. In Gerald Emanuel Stearn ( Series Ed. ) & A ; George Rude ( Vol. Ed. ) , Great Lives Observed. Robespierre ( pp. 23-27 ) . Englewood, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Robespierre, Maximilien Marie Isidore de. ( 1972 ) . On the action to be taken against Louis XVI. In Gerald Emanuel Stearn ( Series Ed. ) & A ; George Rude ( Vol. Ed. ) , Great Lives Observed. Robespierre ( pp. 27-31 ) . Englewood, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Rude, George. ( 1967 ) . On capital penalty. In Gerald Emanuel Stearn ( Series Ed. ) & A ; George Rude ( Vol. Ed. ) , Great Lives Observed. Robespierre ( p. 23 ) . Englewood, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Rude, George. ( 1975 ) . Robespierre: Portrayal of a radical Democrat ( p. 119 ) . New York, NY: The Viking Press.

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