Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Robespierre, Maximilian (1758-94), revolutionist, was born at Arras, in the north of France, was educated at Paris, and, like his father and grandfather before him, became a barrister. He was a very ambitious and vain man, and the dawn of the Revolution found him amongst its strongest supporters. He saw his opportunity, and made the most of it; but for a long time, despite the rapid rise of even shallower men, he acted a merely subordinate part. By his violent speeches and uncompromising action, however, he attained popularity, and took his seat in the National Convention opened after the cruel massacres of September, 1792. The party known as "The Girondists" vehemently opposed his high-handed conduct, and very early proclaimed his dangerous character and tyrannical disposition. On one historic occasion he challenged them to declare his tyranny, and Louvet, one of their number, immediately replied with a startling philippic, which staggered even his effrontery. He was given a week to prepare his defence, and managed to get an acquittal. He in his turn denounced the Girondists, accusing them of sympathising with the unfortunate king, whom he savagely attacked. The Girondists weakly relaxed their good efforts, seeing that the inflamed mob was with Robespierre, and the king was executed in January, 1793. Having glutted the popular thirst for the moment, Robespierre became almost supreme, and was hailed as incorruptible. As head of the Committee of Public Safety, as it was called, he exercised his power without restriction, aided by Couthon and St. Just. Marie Antoinette was executed in October, 1793, and the leading Girondists were the next victims, though it must be admitted that Robespierre also sent some of his most savage followers to the scaffold. The worship of Reason was established in June, 1794, and on July 28th of the same year the arch-tyrant himself was guillotined, owing to the efforts of the friends of the Gironde. He presented a fearful spectacle, as his jaw was smashed by a bullet, an injury either self-inflicted or at the hands of a gendarme. His sister lived until 1834.