Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre

Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005



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Maximillian Robespierre—Revolutionary

(1758-1794) May 6, 1758, Arras, France, 2:00 AM, LMT (Source: chart pictured in AdamsOne Hundred Horoscopes. Same chart pictured in Leo’s Esoteric Astrology.)                                                                                                                 

(Ascendant, Aquarius; MC in Sagittarius with Jupiter and Pluto conjuncted and conjunct the MC; Sun in Taurus; Moon and Venus in Aries; Mercury in Gemini; Mars and Neptune conjunct in Leo; Saturn and Uranus in Pisces)

An orphan, small in stature, pale, and sincere. Became a lawyer; entered politics; as a fanatical idealistic called "the incorruptible," became the symbol of the French Revolution.


"The revolution ate its children"

It is with regret that I pronounce the fatal truth: Louis ought to perish rather than a hundred thousand virtuous citizens; Louis must die that the country may live.
(Mars/Neptune in Leo trine Jupiter/Pluto in Sagittarius)

Omelettes are not made without breaking eggs.
(Moon in Aries in the third; a common turn of phrase)

When work is a pleasure, life is a joy! When work is a duty, life is slavery.
(Neptune/Mars in 6th)

Any institution which does not suppose the people good, and the magistrate corruptible, is evil




Maximilien Robespierre (Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre) was born on May 6th, 1758, in Arras where his father was based as an advocate. Robespierre and his three younger siblings were brought up by diverse relatives after their father dramatically lost his way in life after the death of his wife in chilbirth in 1767. Robespierre was educated for a short time at a College in Arras and then in Paris initially at the very prestigious College of Louis-le-Grand and later at the College of Law.

Robespierre qualified as an advocate in 1781 and sought to establish a legal practice at his home town of Arras. He became known both as a successful advocate and as a participant in local literary and philosophic circles. He was elected as a "Third Estate" (i.e. a Commoner rather than an Aristocratic or Clerical) deputy of Artois to the Estates-General that convened at the Palace of Versailles, on May 5th 1789, on the eve of the French Revolution, and subsequently served in the National Constituent Assembly, where his earnest and skillful oratory soon commanded attention.

As he had grown into manhood Robespierre had become a fanatical devotee of the social theories of the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau. He and some thirty other like-minded deputies became associated in a "Society of the Friends of the Constitution" later known as the Jacobin Club. In April 1790 he was elected president of the Jacobin Club and became increasingly popular as an enemy of the monarchy and as an advocate of democratic reforms. When the Constituent Assembly was dissolved on September 30th 1791 Robespierre and another prominent Jacobin Petion de Villeneuve were the only outgoing deputies recognised as "incorruptible patriots" by the more radically inclined amongst the people of Paris. Robespierre "The Incorruptible" subsequently opposed the more moderate Girondists, the dominant faction in the newly formed Legislative Assembly, particularly over their support for war with Austria.

In June 1791 King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette attempted to flee from France in order to seek refuge with powers opposed to the revolution - they were however recognised and detained at Varennes. Robespierre had hitherto been content with the sort of constitutional monarchy that had been in operation in France. The King's attempted defection altered the way he was perceived by Robespierre and others.

In late August 1792 France was threatened with invasion by a mixed Austrian, Prussian, and French émigré force. The leader of this force, the Duke of Brunswick, issued the so-called " Brunswick Manifesto " which threatened all Frenchmen with dire punishment if they defended themselves against the advance of Brunswick's forces and threatened to lay waste to Paris if the French royal family were harmed. Given that King Louis XVI was suspect since his abortive " flight to Varennes " there was a move led by Danton and others for the overthrow of the French monarchy. The palace of Versailles was stormed and the royal family were arrested after seeking refuge with the assembly.

On September 21st a recently elected new assembly that called itself the Convention declared that the French monarchy was abolished and France was a Republic. On September 25th the Convention proclaimed that the "French Republic is one and indivisible".

Robespierre spoke at King Louis XVI's trial as follows:-

"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 a fatal truth: Louis ought to perish rather than a hundred thousand virtuous citizens; Louis must die that the country may live."

Citizen Louis Capet (formerly known as King Louis XVI) was subsequently sent to the guillotine on 21st January 1793.

Girondin led France had little success in conflicts with foreign adversaries. There was an open "royalist" revolt against the central authority in the Vendée and there were demands for greater 'federalist' autonomy expressed by interests in southern regions of France.

Over the last days of May and first days of June 1793, Robespierre, supported by the Commune of Paris, forced the expulsion of the Girondists from the National Convention. On July 27th he was elected a member of the chief executive body, the Committee of Public Safety. Although Robespierre was from one point of view only one of twelve members of the committee he was the only one who, through the full support he enjoyed from the Jacobin Clubs and the Commune of Paris, represented a close link to the more radical supporters of the Revolution.

France was in turmoil, and with the aim of restoring order and reducing the danger of invasion from abroad, Robespierre, backed by the committee, proceeded to ruthlessly eliminate all whom he considered to be enemies of the Revolution, both extremists and moderates. This policy led to the so-called Reign of Terror and to the execution of the revolutionary leaders Jacques René Hébert (March 24th 1794) and Georges Jacques Danton (April 6th 1794). Both Hébert and Danton were politicians whose preferred policies were inconsistent with the pure Rousseauism that was Robespierre's guiding principle. The Hébertists had been suspected of preparing for a coup d'état and this may have contributed to the harshness with which they were treated. Danton was one of several prominent persons who were suspected of financial corruption thus polluting the virtue of the Revolution. Whilst the aims of the Terror were perhaps laudable from Robespierre's revolutionary perspective the means adopted towards those ends were terrible indeed.

On May 7th, at Robespierre's insistence, the National Convention proclaimed as an official religion the Cult of the Supreme Being, which was based on Rousseau's theory of Deism. This decree antagonized both Roman Catholics and atheists, but Robespierre still had the powerful backing of the Commune of Paris. A Grand Fête in honour of the Supreme Being was celebrated on 8th June 1794 where Robespierre, who had been elected as the President of the Convention four days previously, played a major role.

Whatever appearance of justice the revolutionary tribunals that had been set up to investigate people's political loyalties may have had prior to these times a law of June 10th 1794 established a situation where witnesses could no longer be called for the defence and where such tribunals effectively became committees of condemnation. Between June 12th and July 28th almost 1300 people were sent to the Guillotine (an average of 28 beheadings a day).

This intensification of the Reign of Terror, caused many influential members of the Convention and of the Jacobin Club to fear for their own safety. In recent months French military fortunes had been transformed largely as a result of a mass levy of all unmarried men between the ages of 18 and 25 that had been authorised by the Convention on 23rd August 1793. A series of significant French military victories that were reported from diverse battlefields made the extreme security measures that had been followed seem less imperative, and a conspiracy was formed for the overthrow of Robespierre.

On July 27th 1794 Robespierre was accused of tyranny, barred from speaking at the National Convention, and was placed under arrest as were several key supporters. Although these captives were promptly rescued by soldiers loyal to the Commune of Paris and brought to the Hotêl de Ville the Convention ordered the National Guard to move to recapture Robespierre who subsequently received a gunshot wound to the lower jaw during his recapture.

On July 28th Robespierre together with his closest associates Louis Saint-Just and Georges Couthon and nineteen other supporters died on the guillotine.
Eighty more followers of Robespierre were executed the next day.

Thus perished a man who had been a successful, popular, and cultured provincial lawyer but who gained power in turbulent times and was able to pursue certain unproven social theories with a singleness of mind that could tolerate grievious human suffering if it was perceived as 'necessary' to the realisation and defence of a theoretically ideal society.

With the demise of Robespierre the truly Revolutionary phase of the Revolution in France more or less came to an end. Power shifted away from the radicals and towards the conservatives. The Jacobin Clubs were closed down in November and freedom of worship was restored in February 1795.

MAXIMILIEN MARIE ISIDORE DE ROBESPIERRE was born on the 6th of May, 1758, at Arras, where his father was an unsuccessful advocate. Having distinguished himself at the college of his native place, he was sent, through the influence of a canon of the cathedral of Arras, to complete his education in Paris, at the college of Louis le Grand. In his studies he was noted for diligence, regularity and intelligence; on the completion of his course at college, he devoted himself to the study of jurisprudence. After some years thus passed, he returned to Arras, to follow the profession of his father. In this his success was decided and previous to the commencement of his more public career, he had become a person of considerable local note.

On the memorable convocation of the States-general in 1789, he had local influence sufficient to secure his election as one of the deputies, in which capacity he immediately repaired to Versailles. Though in the Constitutional Assembly he spoke frequently, and - despite the disadvantages of a mean person, a harsh, shrill voice, and an ungainly manner - always with increasing acceptance, it was outside, as a popular demagogue and leader in the famous Jacobin Club, that his chief activity was exerted, and in this field his influence speedily became immense. In May, 1791, he proposed and carried the decree by which members of the assembly were excluded from a place in the legislature; a measure obviously disastrous, as deteriorating the quality of the assembly, and more and more insuring its subjection to the Jacobins, of whom Robespierre was now the idol. On the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly in October, 1791, Robespierre, now famous, revisited his native town, where he was received with enthusiasm. After a stay of seven weeks; he returned to Paris and resumed his activity as leader of the Jacobin Club. To the National Convention, which was now formed, he was returned as the head of the Paris deputies, and as recognized chief of the extreme party, called the Mountain, he was one of the main agents in procuring the execution of the king, which took place in December, 1792. In the year following, occurred his final struggle with the Girondists, who had twice before attacked him with a view to compass his destruction, and the chief men among whom he now triumphantly sent to the scaffold. The period of "the Terror" followed; Marie Antoinette and the infamous Duke of Orleans were the first victims; Petion, Danton, and Camille Desmoulins were next immolated, on a suspicion of favoring a reactionary policy; and for months, under the so-called Committee of Public Safety, Paris became the scene of an indiscriminate, quasi-judicial slaughter, in which some thousands of lives were sacrificed. With these enormous atrocities, the name of Robespierre, along with those of his friends, Couthon, and St. Just, remains peculiarly associated. But the end was near; men were weary of "the Terror," and the general sense of insecurity it induced. Robespierre had many enemies; in particular the friends of Danton were eager to avenge his death. A conspiracy was organized against "the tyrant," as he was now called, and after a scene of fierce tumult in the Convention, his arrest was accomplished. A rescue by the populace followed, but he lacked the courage and promptitude to turn the opportunity to account; while he hesitated, his enemies acted, and in July, 1794, he closed his career on the scaffold to which he had sent so many others.

Birth Date: May 6, 1758

Death Date: July 28, 1794

Place of Birth: Arras, France

Place of Death: Paris, France

Nationality: French

leader, political leader, lawyer

The French Revolutionary leader Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre (1758-1794) was the spokesman for the policies of the dictatorial government that ruled France during the crisis brought on by civil and foreign war.

Maximilien de Robespierre was an early proponent of political democracy. His advanced ideas concerning the application of the revolutionary principle of equality won for him the fervent support of the lower middle and working classes (the sans-culottes) and a firm place later in the 19th century in the pantheon of European radical and revolutionary heroes. These ideas and the repressive methods used to implement and defend them, which came to be called the Reign of Terror, and his role as spokesman for this radical and violent phase of the French Revolution also won for him the opprobrium of conservative opponents of the Revolution ever since.




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