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Robespierre and the Terror
Marisa Linton reviews the life and career of one of the most vilified men in history.

Bloody aftermath of the French Revolution (HT Archive)

Maximilien Robespierre has always provoked strong feelings. For the English he is the ‘sea-green incorruptible’ portrayed by Carlyle, the repellent figure at the head of the Revolution, who sent thousands of people to their death under the guillotine. The French, for the most part, dislike his memory still more. There is no national monument to him, though many of the revolutionaries have had statues raised to them. Robespierre is still considered beyond the pale; only one rather shabby metro station in a poorer suburb of Paris bears his name.

 

Although Robespierre, like most of the revolutionaries, was a bourgeois, he identified with the cause of the urban workers, the sans-culottes as they came to be known, and became a spokesman for them. It is for this reason that he came to dominate the Revolution in its most radical phase. This was the period of the Jacobin government, which lasted from June 1793 to Robespierre’s overthrow in July 1794; the months when the common people became briefly the masters of the first French republic, which ...


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Articles in Volume: 56 Issue: 8
Pass It On
Morbid History
History From The Air
Landscape and Memory
The Californian Missions
Contrasting Empires
A Very British Massacre
Robespierre and the Terror
Belsen and the BBC
Mary Magdalen and the Kings of France
John Martin and the Prometheans
A Newspaperman in Madrid
Secrets of Eternal Youth
The Scourge of Napoleon
Birth of Keir Hardie
Adlai Stevenson�s Second Run
The Prussians Invade Saxony
Letters - August 2006
Cleopatra�s Make-over
History Today August 2006
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