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The Fall of Robespierre, Edited by Daniel E. White

Character Names

Adelaide *
Barrere *
Billaud Varennes *
Bourdon l'Oise *
Brissot
Capet
Collot d'Herbois *
Couthon *
Danton
Daubignè
D'Eglantine
Camille Desmoulines
Dubois Crance *
Dumas
Fleuriot
Freron *
Hebert
Henriot
La Fayette

* Speakers in the drama

 

La Valette
Lebas *
Lecointre *
Legendre *
Louvet
Marat
Merlin of Douay *
Orleans
Petion
Regnault
Robespierre *
Robespierre, Junior *
Roland
Rousin
St. Just *
Tallien *
Vergniaud
Vivier

Thermidorians

Barrere *
Billaud Varennes *
Bourdon l'Oise *
Collot d'Herbois *
Dubois Crance *
Freron *
Lecointre *
Legendre *
Merlin of Douay *
Tallien *

Robespierrists

Couthon *
Dumas
Fleuriot
Henriot
Lebas *
Robespierre *
Robespierre, Junior *
St. Just *
Vivier

 

Adelaide

The only invented character in the play, Adelaide, whose name approximates that of the sentimental heroine Adeline in Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest (1791), is loosely based on Thérèse de Cabarrus (1773-1835), Tallien's mistress and then wife. She was imprisoned in Bordeaux for being the former wife of an emigré nobleman, from whom she had obtained a divorce in 1791. Tallien encountered her there in 1793, and they married at the end of 1794. Her royalist connections brought Tallien under suspicion of moderation, and after the events depicted in the play she kept an influential salon that set the cultural tone of the Directory period.

 

Barrere

Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac (1755-1841) sat in the National Convention and was an original and prominent member of the Committee of Public Safety. After being denounced by Robespierre on 8 Thermidor, Barère turned against his former ally, giving a report to the National Convention on the morning of the following day that largely initiated the anti-Robespierrist reaction.

Barère studied law in his youth, and as magistrate at Tarbes in 1789 he oversaw the drafting of the cahier of the Third Estate of Bigorre, which called for the abolition of seigniorial rights. By the end of that year, Barère had joined the Jacobin club, siding with the constitutional monarchist Feuillants in their split from the club. In the National Convention, he initially sided with the Girondin Plain and sought to play a conciliatory role in the schism between the Girondins and the Montagnards, with whom he voted in favor of the execution of the king. In January 1793 he gave one of his most important speeches, his "Report to the French Nation," in which he called for war against royalist European nations that opposed the French Revolution. After the treason of General Dumouriez in April, he turned away from Brissot and the Girondins, thus surviving the purge of May to June. Also in April, he and Danton were influential in founding the Committee of Public Safety, as a member of which he became responsible for propaganda, foreign affairs, military affairs, and the navy.

Barère was largely loyal to Robespierre throughout the Terror, only turning against his friend after Robespierre delivered a paranoid speech on 8 Thermidor, which included a surprise attack upon Barère. That night, with other estranged members of the Committees for Public Safety and General Security, Barère conspired to save his own life. The following morning, he read a report before the National Convention. Although he did not single out Robespierre by name, he called for the Convention's members to resist "certain chiefs" who were the enemies of public liberty, setting in motion the events that led to Robespierre's downfall.

Following 9 Thermidor, Barère's popularity quickly declined, and after his arrest and deportation were ordered in 1795, he escaped to Bordeaux. He was later pardoned and installed as a deputy under Napoleon but fled to Belgium after the Second Restoration of 1815. After the July Revolution of 1830, Barère was able to return to Paris, where he was elected to the general council of Hautes-Pyrénées in 1833.

STC and RS follow the newspaper accounts of Barère as an opportunist and intriguer: "This Barrere, who was the intimate friend of Pethion, and of the Brissotine faction, the eulogist of Danton, and the admirer of Robespierre. But he has been master of all their secrets, and when he saw them on the precipice of ruin, he has had the address to intrigue with the party the most likely to succeed to power, and thus saved himself from the guillotine" (MP, 16 August 1794). Carlyle captured his reputation as follows: "Truth may lie on both sides, on either side, or on neither side; my friends, ye must give and take: for the rest, success to the winning side! This is the motto of Barrère" (613).

 

Billaud-Varennes

Jacques-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne (1756-1819) was a Jacobin and Cordeliers member who sat in the National Convention and was elected to the Committee of Public Safety, where he played a key role in ousting Robespierre.

Billaud-Varenne studied law and initially practiced with his father in Poitiers before being admitted to the bar in Paris in 1785. Through the latter half of the 1780s he wrote anonymous tracts against the French church and state, and became a member of the Jacobin club in 1789.

An active politician, Billaud-Varenne was a member of the Paris Commune and helped plan the assault on the Tuileries that overthrew the monarchy on 10 August 1792. He was elected to the National Convention soon after, and it was on his motion that France was declared a republic. Billaud-Varenne developed a close association with the Parisian sans-culottes and became an outspoken advocate for the leveling demands of the Hébertists.

Billaud-Varenne was installed with Collot d'Herbois on the Committee of Public Safety by the Hébertists following popular demonstrations against rising prices in September 1793. Among the most radical of the committee's members, Billaud-Varenne was soon vying for its leadership, and conspired with Collot d'Herbois to depose Robespierre on 9 Thermidor. In the subsequent Thermidorian Reaction against those associated with support for the terror, Billaud-Varenne was deported to French Guiana in April 1795, and he died in Haiti in 1819, having refused Napoleon's offer of a pardon in 1800.

 

Bourdon l'Oise

François-Louis Bourdon (1758-98), known as Bourdon de l'Oise, represented the Oise in the National Convention and aligned himself with the conspiracy against Robespierre in the spring of 1794.

In 1783 he acquired the office of procureur in the Parlement (royal court of law) of Paris. In 1789 his role in the agitation among law clerks and officials in the city launched his career as a minor Parisian militant. He also engaged actively in the uprising against King Louis XVI on 10 August 1792. His admission to the National Convention resulted from an electoral mix-up, when electors from the Oise nominated "Bourdon, substitute procureur at Paris and one of the conquerors of the Bastille." A vicious quarrel ensued between François-Louis Bourdon and Léonard Bourdon, deputy city attorney of Paris, who also claimed the seat but was eventually elected by the Loiret to the National Convention.

François-Louis Bourdon's alcoholism meant that he was often intoxicated in the Convention's evening sessions. Robespierre considered him to be a faction leader and therefore treated him with great suspicion. Although Bourdon initiated criticism of Robespierre's speech in the Convention on 8 Thermidor by arguing that the speech should not be printed, his role in the debates of 8 Thermidor and 9 Thermidor was minimal.

STC and RS conflated the two Bourdons. Leonard Bourdon was the one who went to the Commune to capture Robespierre, but the play brings both characters together under the name Bourdon L'Oise.

 

Brissot

Jacques-Pierre Brissot de Warville (1754-93) was a leader of the Girondins, also known as the Brissotins, the faction originally to the left of the Feuillants (who supported a constitutional monarchy) but ultimately seen by more radical Jacobins as the faction of moderation.

As founder of the abolitionist Société des Amis des Noirs and publisher of the revolutionary newspaper Le Patriote français, Brissot became a famous figure of the early Revolution. A dominant member of the National Assembly, he called for war against Austria. Following early defeats and the defection of General Dumouriez in April 1793, Brissot lost popularity and was accused by Robespierre of collusion and responsibility for the war with the British and the Dutch. Brissot responded in May by calling for the dissolution of the Jacobin club and the Paris municipal council. Arrested in the purge of the Girondins on 2 June 1793, he went to the guillotine on 31 October 1793.

Brissot's New Travels in the United States of America. Performed in 1788 (1792) was among the books that Coleridge read (in London in the first half of September 1794) while preparing for the proposed emigration to carry out the Pantisocracy scheme in Pennsylvania (Holmes 77). In The Watchman for 13 May 1796, Coleridge wrote that "M. Brissot retained his antient simplicity of manners. He was never intoxicated with power, nor did he ever suffer his mind to be debased by avarice. Robespierre and his associates knowing what effect such a charge would have upon the people, accused him of wallowing in riches: — when his wife was arrested, she was employed in mending his linen, and nursing their offspring" (CC 2.357).

 

Capet
also last Louis

Louis XVI (1754-93), until 1774 Louis-Auguste, duc de Berry, was the Bourbon monarch of France from 1774 until 1792, when the monarchy was officially abolished on 21 September. Known as Citizen Capet in the last months of his life, he was guillotined on charges of counterrevolution in the Place de la Révolution in Paris on 21 January 1793.

In 1770 he married Austrian archduchess Marie-Antoinette, daughter of Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I. Following the death of his two elder brothers and his grandfather, Louis XV, he ascended the throne on 10 May 1774. Aristocratic reaction to the economic and administrative reforms of the controller general of finance in 1787 forced the king in August 1788 to summon the Estates General - representatives of the three estates of clergy, nobility, and commoners - to convene in 1789, for the first time since 1614, a move that set the Revolution in motion.

When the Third Estate declared itself the National Assembly on 17 June 1789 and then swore in the Tennis Court Oath (20 June 1789) not to disband until a constitution had been written, Louis XVI was at first unwilling to sanction its declarations. His call for troops and his dismissal of the minister Jacques Necker precipitated the fall of the Bastille on 14 July. Faced with a new situation in Paris, Louis refused to assent to the decrees limiting feudal privileges after the night of 4 August or to sign the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which was presented to the Constituent Assembly on 26 August. Only after the royal family's coerced return from Versaille to Paris during the October Days of 5-6 October did he sign the decrees and the Declaration. He participated in the Festival of Federation on 14 July 1790, but from this point the king's authority steadily eroded until the royal family's attempt to flee from Paris to the eastern frontier ended in Varennes on 21 June 1791. Louis reluctantly accepted the new constitution on 13 September and became a constitutional monarch until 10 August 1792, when a mob and contingent of provincial militia captured the Tuileries Palace, and the royal family was imprisoned. On 21 September the monarchy was abolished and the First French Republic was declared. That autumn, proof of Louis' counterrevolutionary plots with foreign powers was discovered in a secret cupboard in the Tuileries Palace. Louis was tried for treason in the National Convention from December 1792 to January 1793. Condemned to death, he was guillotined on 21 January.

 

Collot d'Herbois

Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois (1749-96), allied with the Hébertists and the sans-culottes, sat on the Committee of Public Safety and helped to bring about Robespierre's downfall on 9 Thermidor. He was president of the National Convention at the time of the uprising.

A professional actor, playwright, and theater manager at the beginning of the Revolution, his abilities gave him political sway with the working classes. As a member of the revolutionary Paris Commune, he helped to organize the overthrow of the monarchy on 10 August 1792, and, as a member of the National Convention, he voted for the execution of Louis XVI.

With his friend Billaud-Varenne, Collot d'Herbois was installed as a sans-culotte member of the Committee of Public Safety after popular unrest in September 1793. At the end of October, he was sent with Joseph Fouché to secure and purge Lyons in the wake of a counterrevolutionary uprising. Their solution to the resistance was to organize mass executions of the city's bourgeoisie, earning them a reputation for ruthless violence. Upon returning to Paris, Collot d'Herbois supported the Hébertist-aligned "dechristianizers," who were dismantling Roman Catholic institutions, placing him in direct opposition to Robespierre. After Robespierre had the leaders of the ultra-radical Hébertists executed in March 1794, Collot d'Herbois was able, with Billaud-Varenne, to force Robespierre to bring about the execution of George Danton, who had come to oppose the excesses of the terror. Collot d'Herbois played an important role in the 9 Thermidor coup, but was deported in the resulting Thermidorian reaction as a former terrorist. He died of yellow fever in French Guiana.

 

Couthon

Georges-Auguste Couthon (1755-94), with Robespierre and Saint-Just, made up the triumvirate that controlled the Committee of Public Safety, the committee of twelve that constituted the executive power of France during the Reign of Terror.

Couthon worked as a lawyer in Clermont-Ferrand in the late 1780s, until he was sent to Paris in 1791 as a deputy to the Legislative Assembly. By January 1793, when he called for the King's death with the Montagnards, Couthon had already lost the use of his legs, probably due to meningitis, and was confined to a wheelchair. Despite his infirmity, he continued to go on missions to the provinces.

Couthon was elected to the Committee of Public Safety on 30 May 1793, and was sent in August to direct the military action against Lyons, a counterrevolutionary stronghold. Immediately after the surrender of Lyons, Couthon relieved himself of duty so that he would not have to carry out the National Convention's demand for the destruction of the city.

In the spring of 1794, Couthon was instrumental in the execution of the radical leftist Jacques Hébert, the moderate or "indulgent" Jacobin Georges Danton, and their followers. After helping to pass the Law of 22 Prairial (10 June 1794), which simplified the proceedings of the Revolutionary Tribunal and thus accelerated the Reign of Terror during its final six weeks, Couthon and the other Robespierrist leaders faced mounting resistance, culminating on 9 Thermidor, when they and their followers were arrested. Couthon was sent to the guillotine the following day.

 

Danton

Georges-Jacques Danton (1759-94) was perhaps the individual most responsible for toppling the monarchy and establishing the French Republic. Though he sat as first president of the Committee of Public Safety, he was sent to the guillotine for his political moderation and opposition to the excesses of the terror.

After studying law in Paris and practicing in Reims, Danton moved to Paris in 1787, where he joined the Freemasons and became an active member of the Cordeliers club. He was forced to flee to England after the Champ-de-Mars massacre (17 July 1791) but returned to help lead the uprising of 10 August 1792, and he was later elected to the National Convention from Paris.

From its inception in April 1793 until July, Danton served on and dominated the Committee of Public Safety, effectively leading the government, but he retired to Arcis in October of 1793 due to poor health. Upon his return to Paris in November, he successfully opposed the radical, leveling revolutionary politics of the Hebértists, who were purged in March 1794, but his moderate policy of "indulgence" put him in direct opposition to Robespierre. He was arrested on 30 March 1794 with a handful of his supporters, and was executed on 5 April.

 

Daubignè

Jean-Louis-Marie Villain d'Aubigny (or Daubigny) (1754-1801).

Procureur in the Parlement (royal court of law) of Paris, he became an early supporter of the Revolution and a friend of Danton. As a member of the Commune, he took part in the uprising of 10 August 1792, during which he was accused of being responsible for a theft from the Tuileries. Although the case was dismissed on 25 May 1793, the accusation resurfaced after d'Aubigny was nominated to serve as adjunct to the Minister of War at the recommendation of Robespierre, who defended d'Aubigny against charges of further misconduct. After 9 Thermidor, he was arrested, tried, and imprisoned until the amnesty of 4 Brumaire (26 October 1795), and, following the assassination attempt upon Napoleon of 3 Nivôse (24 December 1800), was deported to Cayenne, where he died soon after his arrival.

The lower case "villain" (2.235) for "Villain" is either a pun or a printer's error.

 

D'Eglantine

Philippe-François-Nazaire Fabre d'Églantine (1750-94) was an actor and playwright, Cordeliers member, and deputy in the National Convention. He appended the appellation d'Églantine to his surname in a hoax in which he claimed to have won a golden eglantine in a literary contest.

Fabre d'Églantine became active in Parisian politics in 1789. He joined the Cordeliers club, became acquainted with Camille Desmoulins, and served as secretary to Georges Danton in the Ministry of Justice. He is responsible for the invention of the names of the months of the Revolutionary calendar, adopted in October 1793. He sat with the Montagnards in the National Convention, voted in favour of the death of Louis XVI, and assisted in the convictions of prominent Girondin deputies. By July 1793 he began to suspect tampering with stock offerings for certain French companies, and some of the conspirators, including François Chabot, tried to bribe him to keep quiet. When bribe attempts failed, they tricked him into signing a forged document that brought about the liquidation of the French East India Company. He was put on trial along with the conspirators and was executed with the Dantonists on 5 April 1794.

 

Camille Desmoulines

Lucie-Camille-Simplice Desmoulins (1760-94) was a schoolfriend of Robespierre at the collège Louis-le-Grand in Paris, where Desmoulins was a scholarship boy. Publisher of the influential Le Vieux Cordelier, which called for a moderation of the terror, he sat in the National Convention as a Montagnard and participated in the purging of the Girondins. Accused as an "indulgent," he was guillotined along with other Dantonists in April 1794.

In the early years of the Revolution, Desmoulins' public orations incited popular insurrection in Paris, culminating in the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. Soon thereafter Desmoulins published his pamphlet La France Libre, which summarized the charges against France's rapidly crumbling ancien régime. His Discours de la lanterne aux Parisiens (September 1789) supported the bourgeois-democratic reforms of the National Assembly and expounded republican ideals. Desmoulins then launched his newspaper Les Révolutions de France et de Brabant, which opposed anti-democratic policies.

Desmoulins befriended Danton via his participation in the Jacobin and Cordeliers clubs and was made secretary-general under Danton in the Ministry of Justice. As a deputy in the National Convention, Desmoulins struggled against the moderate Girondins. Desmoulins's Histoire des Brissotins, printed in May 1793, severely undermined the Girondins by representing them as agents of foreign enemies. By June 1793 the Montagnards expelled the leading Girondins from the National Convention.

By December 1793, however, Desmoulins and Danton had formed a moderate faction, known as the Indulgents or Dantonists, within the Jacobin camp. Their chief opponents were Jacques Hébert's left-wing ultra-radical Jacobins who, in tandem with the Parisian sans-culottes lower classes, had forced the National Convention to institute a state-controlled economy and enact the Terror against suspected counterrevolutionaries. In the first two issues of his newspaper, Le Vieux Cordelier (December 1793), Desmoulins attacked the Hébertists for supporting the dechristianizing movement that sought to suppress all Roman Catholic institutions. In this he was allied with Robespierre, who supported this anti-Hébertist campaign and opposed Hébert's atheism, but in the next four issues of his paper Desmoulins distanced himself from Robespierre by condemning the Committee's use of economic controls and political terror. The leading Hébertists were guillotined on 24 March, and Desmoulins along with the Dantonists followed on 6 April 1794.

 

Dubois Crance

Edmond-Louis-Alexis Dubois-Crancé (1747-1814) was a Montagnard member of the National Convention who conspired against Robespierre's triumvirate on 9 Thermidor.

A king's Musketeer at age 14, Dubois-Crancé remained active in the military until 1789. He was a member of the Breton club, the forerunner of the Jacobin club, and represented the Third Estate in the Estates-General. As a member of the National Convention after the overthrow of the monarchy, Dubois-Crancé sat with the Montagnards, was affiliated with Danton, and voted for the death of Louis XVI. After presiding over the Convention in the spring of 1793, he was promoted to brigadier-general and urged military action against Lyons, a counterrevolutionary stronghold. Upon his return from a mission to western France, Dubois-Crancé plotted against Robespierre and his followers, and, after their overthrow, returned to military service. He opposed the coup of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799), which paved the way for the rule of Napoleon, and retired from political life.

 

Dumas

René-François Dumas (1757-94) was invited by Robespierre to Paris to become vice-president of the Revolutionary Tribunal.  He enrolled as a member of the Jacobin club and succeeded Hermann as president of the Tribunal.  He was executed with the Robespierrists on 10 Thermidor.

 

Fleuriot
also Fluriot

Jean-Baptiste-Edmond Fleuriot-Lescot (ca. 1761-94), whose name is also recorded as Lescot-Fleuriot, became the Jacobin mayor of Paris in May 1794. A supporter of Robespierre, whom he defended on the night of 9 Thermidor, Fleuriot-Lescot was executed along with Robespierre and his followers on 10 Thermidor.

 

Freron

Louis-Stanislas Fréron (1765-1802) was a journalist and leader of the jeunesse dorée ("gilded youth"), the group of privileged young men who retaliated against the Jacobins during the Thermidorian reaction or "White Terror" of late 1794-95.

Shortly after the Revolution began in 1789, Fréron established the Orateur du peuple, which opposed the new system of constitutional monarchy. He became a member of the Cordeliers, sat with the Montagnards in the National Convention, and voted for the king's execution. In the fall of 1793, he and Barras led the violent repression of the counterrevolutionary movement in Toulon, where he ordered mass executions of suspected insurgents. He was recalled to Paris by Robespierre in early 1794. Fréron's fear that Robespierre would order his execution precipitated his involvement in the plot to topple Robespierre on 9 Thermidor. During the Thermidorian reaction, Fréron used his newspaper as an organ to condemn the Jacobins and set up gangs of well-dressed jeunesse dorée who attacked sans-culottes workmen in Paris. He spearheaded the raid on the Parisian Jacobin club, which was closed in November 1794. In November 1801, under Napoleon, Fréron was appointed sub-prefect of Santo Domingo, where he died of yellow fever in 1802.

 

Hebert

Jacques-René Hébert (1757-94) was a Cordeliers activist and journalist who through his newspaper Le Père Duchesne, which was written in the language of the streets, became an important spokesman of the Parisian sans-culottes.

Overlapping in their political and economic agenda with the enragés led by Jacques Roux, Hébert and his followers supported an "ultra-radical" program of direct democracy, the levelling regulation of the economy by the state, and dechristianization (it was under Hébert's direction that Notre-Dame Cathedral was ransacked and converted into the Temple of Reason). Hébert played an active role in the overthrow of the monarchy in August 1792 and the assault on the Girondins in May-June 1793, but his ultra-radicalism, especially his atheism and extreme populism, brought him into conflict with Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety, which turned upon him and his followers. He was arrested and sent to the guillotine on 24 March 1794.

 

Henriot

François Hanriot (1759-94), or Henriot, was commander-in-chief of the Paris National Guard during the years of Jacobin dominance in the National Convention (1793-94).

Hanriot was elected commander of the sans-culotte contingent of the Paris national guard after his participation in the uprising against Louis XVI on 10 August 1792. He assisted in the purging of the Girondins from the National Convention in May-June 1793, and on 31 May 1793 the Paris Commune appointed him provisional commander-in-chief of the Paris national guard. Two days later, he surrounded the National Convention with an armed force of 80,000 men, thereby compelling the Convention to order the arrest of 29 Girondin deputies. Hanriot's position as provisional commander-in-chief of the Paris national guard was then made permanent. In spite of his contacts with the ultra-radical Hébertists, he remained loyal to Robespierre during the Terror. On the night of 9-10 Thermidor (27-28 July 1794), Hanriot failed to lead troops of the Commune against the Convention. He was guillotined along with Robespierre and his supporters on 10 Thermidor.

 

La Fayette

Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert Motier, marquis de Lafayette (also La Fayette) (1757-1834) was a hero of the American Revolution and one of the most powerful members of the liberal aristocracy.

After returning from the American War, Lafayette advocated the abolition of the slave trade and religious toleration. He was elected as a representative of the nobility to the Estates General in May 1789 and supported the Third Estate's attempt to control that body and convert it into the revolutionary National Assembly. The day after the storming of the Bastille, Lafayette was elected commander of the new Parisian national guard. It was under his command that the guard resolved the violent days of 5-6 October 1789, ending in the return of the royal family from Versailles to Paris. Throughout the next year, Lafayette's popularity continued to grow as he supported the transfer of power from the elite classes to the bourgeoisie. On 17 July 1791, a month after the royal family attempted its failed escape from France, however, a crowd gathered on the Champ de Mars, calling for the abdication of the King. Guardsmen under Lafayette's command opened fire on the crowd, killing or wounding about 50 people. His reputation in tatters after the incident, he resigned as commander of the guard in October, but did command an army against the Austrians the following winter. After the overthrow of the monarchy on 10 August 1792, Lafayette defected to the Austrians, in order to avoid being tried for treason. He was held captive by the Allies until September 1797.

 

La Valette

Louis-Jean-Baptiste de Lavalette (1753-94), a former noble turned Robespierrist, served under Hanriot as a commander of a battalion of the French National Guard. He was guillotined on 10 Thermidor.

 

Lebas

Philippe-François-Joseph Le Bas (1764-94), or Lebas, a member of the National Guard and a Montagnard in the National Convention, was one of Robespierre's few allies on the Committee of General Security. He was elected president of the Jacobin club in April 1794 and served as one of the two administrators of the School of Mars, the military academy established by Saint-Just. He married the daughter of Robespierre's landlord, Duplay, in August 1793, and was a close friend of Saint-Just, who was engaged to his sister. Le Bas (along with Augustin Robespierre) offered to share the fate of the Robespierrist triumvirate of Robespierre, Saint-Just, and Couthon, but he shot and killed himself at the Hôtel de Ville in the early morning of 10 Thermidor.

 

Lecointre

Laurent Lecointre (1742-1805), a merchant, was introduced to revolutionary politics as an officer in the national guard at Versailles. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly and then the Convention, where he was a vocal Montagnard in opposition to the Girondins. He played an active role in the 9 Thermidor rebellion, and in the following months was noted for denouncing former Robespierrists as terrorists.

 

Legendre

Louis Legendre (1752-97), a Parisian butcher, distinguished himself in various movements in the early years of the Revolution, especially the journées of 14 July and 5-6 October 1789, and was elected to represent Paris in the National Convention. He joined the Jacobin club, sat with the Montagnards in the Convention, tried to negotiate an agreement between the Montagnards and the Girondins in the spring of 1794, and was a key figure in the Thermidorian reaction after the fall of Robespierre.

Legendre's friendship with Danton began by way of local politics and led to the founding of the Cordeliers club; Legendre was subsequently described as Danton's lieutenant. Legendre was in the vanguard of the assault on the Tuileries Palace on 10 August 1792. When elected to represent Paris in the National Convention, he adopted a conciliatory role between Montagnard and Girondin factions. In the summer of 1793 he served on the Committee of General Security, where his moderate views were criticized by his fellow Jacobins. He hid Jean-Paul Marat in his cellar for nearly two years. In March 1794, shortly before the arrest of Danton and his followers, Legendre presided over the Jacobin club. He initially defended his friend Danton but eventually renounced him. During the Thermidorian reaction, he prosecuted Jacobin leaders and was elected president of the Convention.

 

Louvet

Perhaps Jean-Baptiste Louvet de Couvray (1760-97), a prominent author and Girondin during the revolution, but he was well known as an enemy, not a supporter, of Robespierre. We can only attribute the presence of his name in these lines (1.91-93) to The Morning Chronicle for 18 August 1794, where a "Louvet" appears in proximity to Dumas, Fleuriot-Lescot, and Hanriot as opponents of the Convention.

Louvet established his fame with the novel Les Amours du chevalier de Faublas (1787-88). A member of the Jacobin club, he published a journal called La Sentinelle in the spring of 1792, which criticized monarchical policy and supported Girondin positions. In the Convention Louvet sided with the Girondins, and quickly became an enemy of Robespierre, attacking Robespierre in a speech on 29 October 1792, in which he held Robespierre responsible for the September massacres, and publishing the pamphlet À Maximilien Robespierre et à ses royalistes. Louvet escaped Paris after the Girondins were overthrown on 2 June 1793, only returning in October 1794, after Thermidor, upon which he was reseated in the Convention and upheld republican principles in La Sentinelle, becoming a target of attack by the jeunesse dorée ("gilded youth").

 

Marat

Jean-Paul Marat (1743-93), a journalist, physician, and politician, was a prominent and independent radical who through his newspaper L'Ami du Peuple ("The Friend of the People") served as an influential shaper of opinion among the sans-culottes. He was assassinated in his bath by Charlotte Corday, a young liberal noble who supported the politically moderate Girondins, thus making him one of the great martyrs of the Revolution.

Born in Switzerland, Marat was educated after age 16 in France and Scotland. In London during the 1770s as a doctor and writer of philosophical and scientific books, he published The Chains of Slavery (1774), in which he urged British readers to fight against despotism. Marat returned to France in 1777 and served as physician to the bodyguard of the comte d'Artois, the youngest brother of Louis XVI and the future Charles X. Starting the newspaper L'Ami du Peuple in September 1789, Marat became an important voice for the Parisian radical left. The paper became popular due to its incendiary, attacking mode of denouncing counterrevolutionary conspiracies against the common good. His calls for popular action played a role in instigating the march to Versailles on 5-6 October 1789, after which Marat was imprisoned until 8 November and then arrested again in January 1790, at which point he went into hiding in England. Returning to Paris in May, he renewed his denunciations of plots and began to call for mass beheadings and massacres of counterrevolutionaries. He also advocated that the Revolution be led by a dictator until the eradication of the Revolution's enemies. For his extremism, in May he was briefly forced into hiding in the sewers and catacombs, where he contracted a skin disease. Having occasionally supported a limited monarchy, after the flight to Varennes in June 1791 Marat called for the king's execution and the creation of a Regency. (He only became a republican after the declaration of the Republic in September 1792.) After the Champ de Mars massacre in July 1791, Marat called for the death of the members of the Assembly, and in December he again went into hiding in England, not returning to Paris until April 1792, when he became associated with the Cordeliers club. His journalism played a moderate role in encouraging the uprising against the monarchy on 10 August, earning him a seat in the insurrectionary Paris Commune and its Committee of Surveillance. He was held responsible by many for inciting the September massacres. When the Convention was elected that month, Marat took a seat as deputy from Paris and voted for the execution of the king. His association with the September massacres, his denunciations of the Girondins after the defection of General Dumouriez, and his advocacy of Montagnard positions brought him into opposition with the Girondins, who succeeded in having him brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal on 13 April 1793. Unanimously acquitted, he immediately began to call for the purging of the Girondins, culminating in the insurrection of May to June. At the height of his popularity, on 13 July, Charlotte Corday was admitted to Marat's room under the pretext that she required his protection, upon which she stabbed him to death in his medicinal bath. His embalmed heart was displayed in the Cordeliers club, and he was buried in the club's garden.

 

Merlin of Douay

Philippe-Antoine, Comte de Merlin de Douai (1754-1838), an influential lawyer and legal scholar before the revolution, was elected to the Estates General and then the Constituent Assembly, as a member of which he wrote a report on the abolition of feudalism. Elected to the National Convention in 1792, he voted for the execution of Louis XVI but opposed the Robespierrists during Thermidor, after which he was elected to the Committee of Public Safety.

 

Orleans

Louis-Philippe-Joseph, duc d'Orléans (1747-93), known as Philippe Egalité after 15 September 1792, was a liberal Bourbon prince and cousin of Louis XVI.

Orleans represented the nobles in the Estates General and supported the Third Estate, which he joined in June 1789. He converted his residence, the Palais-Royal, into a centre of popular activity. In July 1790 he took a seat in the National Assembly and in 1791 was given membership in the Jacobin club. He renounced his noble title after the fall of the monarchy in 1792 and was renamed Philippe Égalité by the Paris Commune. When elected to the National Convention, he was loyal to the Montagnards in their struggle against the Girondins. During the trial of Louis XVI in December 1792 and January 1793, the Girondins accused the Montagnards of conspiring to put Égalité on the throne. He voted in favour of Louis XVI's execution, but he came under the scrutiny of the Jacobins when his son Louis-Philippe, duc de Chartres, defected to the Austrians along with General Dumouriez on 5 April 1793. Accused of being an accomplice of Dumouriez, Égalité was arrested the next day and guillotined on 6 November 1793.

 

Petion

Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve (1756-93) was first president of the National Convention, beginning his revolutionary career closely tied to Robespierre and ending it in vehement opposition to the Jacobin leader.

Pétion practiced law before taking a seat with the Third Estate in the Estates General. He joined Robespierre in advocating democratic reforms in the National Assembly. He accompanied the royal family back to Paris after their attempted flight was arrested in Varennes in June 1791, and the following November he was elected mayor of Paris. In September 1792, Pétion was elected as first president of the National Convention. As Robespierre became increasingly prominent in the Montagnard faction, Pétion joined the Girondins. In early June 1793, he was expelled, along with 28 other Girondin leaders, from the Convention. He escaped arrest and fled to the area of Saint-Émilion, where he committed suicide.

 

Regnault

Aimée Cécile Renault (1773?-94), daughter of a Parisian paper merchant, tried to assassinate Robespierre in May 1794.

On 23 May 1794, the day after a different would-be assassin meaning to kill Robespierre had fired on Collot d'Herbois, Renault made her attempt on Robespierre's life. She was discovered, and the ensuing trial resulted in fifty-four executions. Robespierre was deeply affected by these two attempts on his life, and Renault's is generally seen as a substantial precipitating factor of the Terror.

 

Robespierre

Maximilien-François-Marie-Isidore de Robespierre (1758-94) was a chief Jacobin and one of the most famous figures of the French Revolution. A Rousseauian advocate of republican moral virtue and the general will, he came to be known as "the Incorruptible." From late 1793 to the end of July 1794 he composed with Saint Just and Couthon the triumvirate which dominated the Committee of Public Safety, the executive wing of the Revolutionary government during the Reign of Terror. On 9 Thermidor, he was deposed from his position on the Committee and was guillotined the following day.

Robespierre was the son of a lawyer and grew up in Arras. He attended a local college and in 1769 won the prestigious Louis-le-Grand scholarship in philosophy and law. In 1781 he received a degree in law and subsequently practiced in Arras. In April 1789, at the age of 30, Robespierre was elected to the Estates General, where he represented Artois as member of the Third Estate. He joined the Jacobin club, of which he was elected president in April 1790. His democratic politics and ideology of moral virtue were forged as a leading member of the club, especially after the royal family's flight to Varennes in June 1791 and subsequent schism with the Feuillants, who advocated a constitutional monarchy. Elected to the Insurrectionary Commune of Paris and to the National Convention after he supported the sans-culottes in the 10 August 1792 overthrow of the monarchy, he became a leader of the Montagnard faction. He supported the execution of the king, and his opposition to the war with Austria brought him into conflict with Brissot and the Girondins, whose expulsion he took part in orchestrating in May and June 1793. In July, Robespierre was elected to the Committee of Public Safety, where he began to consolidate his power, especially after the Convention declared that "Terror is the order of the day" on 5 September. In the spring of 1794, Robespierre succeeded in purging first the ultra-radical Hébertists and then the "indulgent" Dantonists. A deist and an opponent of atheism, in May Robespierre presided over the Cult of the Supreme Being, intended to replace the Hébertists' Cult of Reason. The Law of 22 Prairial (June 10) accelerated the Terror, and from then until 9 Thermidor (27 July) opposition to Robespierre's policies and power quickly grew. After a month's absence from the National Convention, Robespierre reappeared in late July. With his last speech, he turned on many of his supporters, alienating them and ensuring his downfall. The following day, 9 Thermidor, he was arrested along with his supporters. Aided by Fleuriot, mayor of Paris, they managed to escape custody, retreating in the evening to the Hôtel de Ville, Paris' city hall. After a failed attempt on the part of Hanriot to lead troops loyal to the Commune against the Convention, Hanriot joined the others at the Hôtel de Ville, where troops loyal to the Convention, led by Barras, arrived in the early morning hours. A melee ensued in which Robespierre was shot (or shot himself) in the jaw. He and his surviving followers were again taken into custody, and on 10 Thermidor (28 July) he and 21 of his followers went to the guillotine. In total, 108 Robespierrists would be executed.

 

Robespierre, Junior

Augustin-Bon-Joseph de Robespierre (1763-94), also known as Robespierre the Younger, was the younger brother of Maximilien Robespierre. A practicing lawyer, he was elected deputy to the National Convention and participated actively in the purging of Girondin leaders from the Convention in May and June 1793. Despite the increasing tension in his relationship with his brother on account of the latter's endorsement of the Terror's violence, Augustin asked to share Maximilien's fate in the Convention on 9 Thermidor.

In the early years of the Revolution, Augustin Robespierre was procureur-syndic (elected judiciary official at the district level) of the city of Arras and then administrator of the department of the Pas-de-Calais (1790-91). On 16 September 1792 he was elected as deputy to the National Convention, where he sat with the Montagnards, voted for the death of Louis XVI, and opposed the Girondins. He assisted in the capture of Toulon in December 1793, noticing the military acumen of the young Napoleon Bonaparte in the battles there. Like his brother, he did not support the dechristianization movement, but he was critical of the excessive violence of the Terror. Nonetheless, Augustin demanded to share Maximilien's fate on 9 Thermidor, when both Robespierre brothers were condemned. Augustin's suicide attempt — he jumped from an upper-story window at the Hôtel de Ville — failed and he was guillotined, while still bloody and unconscious, on 10 Thermidor, along with his brother.

 

Roland

Jean-Marie Roland (1734-93) was named minister of the interior in March 1792, and after his resignation in early 1793 he was denounced along with other Girondins, eventually committing suicide while in hiding.

Roland held a number of administrative and political posts in Lyons in the decades preceding the Revolution and in its early years. In February 1791 the city sent Roland on a mission to Paris to report to the Constituent Assembly on the dire straits of the silk industry in Lyons and to plead for financial aid. In Paris Roland allied himself with Brissot. After taking up residence in Paris, Roland joined the Jacobin club and was made minister of the interior in March 1792. His term in this office was interrupted when Louis XVI dismissed him on account of the king's disagreement with the ultimatums offered to him by the Brissotins. After the collapse of the monarchy in August, Roland returned to his post, but endangered himself by mishandling his discovery of a safe in the Tuileries Palace when he failed to supervise the inventory of the papers, and some property was stolen. He also described the prison killings in the September Massacre as unfortunate but necessary. His wife, Manon Roland, oversaw a salon that became the focal point for the Girondin faction, and in May 1793, when the Girondins were about to be proscribed, Roland escaped from Paris. He committed suicide with his sword after hearing of his wife's execution on 8 November.

 

Rousin

Charles-Philippe-Henri Ronsin (1751-94), whose name is here misspelled as Rousin, was a playwright, a Cordeliers member, and a general in the revolutionary armies fighting the federalist revolt in the Vendée in the fall of 1793. For his criticism of the military leadership there, he was recalled to Paris and imprisoned in December. After his release in February 1794, he became associated with calls for sans-culotte insurrection and with the faction of Hébert, with whom he was executed on 24 March.

 

St. Just

Louis-Antoine-Léon de Saint-Just (1767-94) was the youngest member of both the National Convention and Committee of Public Safety. One of the most thorough advocates of the Terror and a radical ideologue, he was perhaps Robespierre's most staunch supporter.

Saint-Just became active in politics early in his life, quickly rising through the ranks of the National Guard. In 1792, shortly before turning 25, he was elected to represent Aisne in the National Convention, in which he distinguished himself by speaking in favor of the trial, and then execution, of Louis XVI. He joined the Jacobin club and allied himself with Robespierre. In May 1793 he was elected to the Committee of Public Safety, for which he was commissioned to write the new constitution. Saint-Just was also involved in formulating the Ventôse Decrees, which called for a radically egalitarian redistribution of property but were never implemented. During the Reign of Terror, Saint-Just was one of the most vocally bloodthirsty of the members of the Committee of Public Safety, and became increasingly feared and isolated until his arrest on 9 Thermidor and execution the following day.

 

Tallien

Jean-Lambert Tallien (1767-1820) was a deputy in the National Convention who was suspended from the Jacobin club in June 1794 on account of his moderate views and subsequently played a central role in the conspiracy against Robespierre.

He first engaged in Parisian revolutionary politics in 1789 as a typesetter in the printing shop of the Moniteur Universel, an important daily newspaper that reported events and recorded debates in the various national assemblies. He joined the Paris Jacobin club and in August 1791 began publishing a newspaper, L'Ami du Citoyen, modeled on Jean-Paul Marat's L'Ami du Peuple. He participated in the uprising of 10 August 1792, became secretary of the Paris Commune, and subsequently represented Seine-et-Oise in the National Convention. He sat with the Montagnards in the Convention, where he voted in favour of the death of Louis XVI and was active in the May 1793 uprising against the Girondin deputies. In October 1793 Tallien was sent on mission to Bordeaux, where he met and fell in love with Thérèse de Cabarrus. Accused of political moderation, he was recalled to Paris, where he took part in the conspiracy against Robespierre. In the Convention on 9 Thermidor, he launched the attack on Robespierre and his supporters by interrupting a speech by Saint-Just, presenting an indictment of Robespierre, and urging deputies to return the debate to the issue of Robespierre's arrest. Tallien served on the Committee of Public Safety after 9 Thermidor and was chiefly responsible for commerce and food supply. He was elected to the Council of Five Hundred in 1795 and accompanied Napoleon Bonaparte on the Egyptian campaign in 1798, where he was captured by the British and contracted yellow fever. He never fully recovered from his illness, though it meant that he was not exiled as a regicide in 1816.

 

Vergniaud

Pierre-Victurnien Vergniaud (1753-93) was a lawyer who gained renown as an eloquent spokesman for and leader of the Girondin faction, having acted as president of the Legislative Assembly, critic of the Paris Commune after 10 August 1792, and representative of the Gironde to the National Convention.

Vergniaud was enthusiastic about the Revolution in its early days, supporting the National Assembly's abolishment of France's feudal institutions and its restriction of the absolute powers of the King. He joined other Girondin deputies in the Legislative Assembly, which succeeded the National Assembly, and exposed Louis XVI's counterrevolutionary plots, arguing that the King should be deposed. In the face of the threat of popular insurrection in Paris, Vergniaud attempted secretly to negotiate with Louis XVI in July 1792. When the Parisian populace agitated against Louis XVI on 10 August 1792, Vergniaud, as president of the Assembly, was obliged to propose the suspension of the King and the summoning of a National Convention. In the following weeks, he criticized the decisions of the Paris Commune.

When Vergniaud was reelected to the National Convention from the Gironde, he joined deputies who proposed the declaration of the Republic on 21 September 1792, called for the prosecution of those who had incited the September Massacres, supported the declaration of war against Austria, sought to strengthen the departments in relation to Parisian authority, and resisted the Montagnard program of economic regulation by the state. He was concerned about anarchy in Paris and eventually distanced himself from the Jacobins. He often faced off against Robespierre in the Convention's debates, advocating that Louis XVI's fate be put to the public vote but eventually voting for the death sentence in January 1793. In the spring of 1793 Parisian insurgents, allied with the Montagnards, urged the Convention to purge its Girondin deputies, including Vergniaud. Placed under house arrest after the purge of 2 June, Vergniaud sought to play a conciliatory role and did not attempt to escape from Paris. He was imprisoned on 26 July 1793 and guillotined on 31 October.

 

Vivier

N. J. Vivier was the interim president of the Jacobin club, presiding over the meetings of 8 and 9 Thermidor, in which Robespierrists shouted down Collot d'Herbois and Billaud-Varenne. He was denounced on 9 Thermidor for his support of Robespierre and his rebellion against the Convention. He was subsequently arrested and guillotined along with Robespierre on 10 Thermidor.

Published @ RC

March 2008

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