Maximilien Robespierre: The Reign of Terror
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Maximilien Robespierre: The Reign of Terror

October 9, 2019


Maximilien Robespierre Maximilien Robespierre promised to usher a
fairer, more representative form of government to the French people. What they got was a reign of terror that saw
thousands facing the horror of the guillotine. Among Robespierre’s victims were the king
and queen of France. When justice finally came it was a swift as
the slice of a blade. In this week’s Biographics, we wade into
the terror with Maximilien Robespierre. The Early Robespierre Maximilien Robespierre entered the world on
May 6th, 1758. He was born in Arras, France though historians
have suspected for centuries that his family originated from Ireland. By the time that Max was born, however, they
had been French citizens for many generations. The child was conceived out of wedlock but
by the time he was born his parents had married. Like his own father before him, Max’s father
was a lawyer, but not a very successful one. This left the family with a constant debt
hanging over its head. Things didn’t get any easier for the Robespierre’s
when Max’s mother died giving birth to a sibling when he was six years old. Looking after four children was too much for
Robespierre senior, so his offspring were divided among his relatives. His mother’s death had a profound effect
upon young Max. No longer was he the carefree child of old. Now he was sullen and serious. He also applied himself diligently to his
schooling as if drowning his grief in his studies. When he was eleven years of age, young Robespierre
was awarded a scholarship to the Lycee-Louis-le-Grand in Paris. He would continue studying there for the next
twelve years, emerging at age twenty-three with a law degree. As well as law, he also studied literature,
rhetoric and the classics. Life at the prestigious school was very structured. Formerly a Jesuit institution, it was now
under the control of the University of Paris. The day began and ended with formal prayers
and bible study. The school also had an excellent library,
which Robespierre made liberal use of. The most well-known incident arising from
Robespierre’s time at the school occurred when he was seventeen. His excellent oratory skills led to him being
selected to give a speech before King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. He perfected his wording and practised his
delivery only to be snubbed by the royal couple who never even bothered to get out of their
carriage. It was a personal violation that he would
never forget. During his time at the Lycee, Robespierre
was also exposed to enlightenment philosophy, especially the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau was a powerful advocate for a more
democratic form of government coupled with social empowerment. However, Robespierre was not able to read
Rousseau in the Lycee’s library. His works were considered to be dangerous
and so copies of his famous discourse, published twenty years earlier, had to be smuggled in. In his later life, Robespierre would label
his later years at the Lycee as a nursery for republicanism. By the time he had reached his early twenties,
Robespierre was a vocal advocate for natural rights. He championed the rights of the underprivileged,
speaking at every public opportunity. In fact, he was such an enthusiastic champion
of basic human rights that he became physically exhausted to the point of collapse. Robespierre proved to be an unstoppable force
of nature. This led to him becoming a familiar and well-known
figure in and around his home-town of Arras. In the mid-1780’s he joined the Academy
of Arras. His first speech before the Academy was part
of a competition and shone a spotlight upon the lack of morality in politics. It didn’t win first prize, but he was rewarded
with a large cash prize. This whet his appetite and over the next few
years he entered a number of essay and poetry competitions. He also joined an elite literary society known
as the Rosatia Club. Since graduating from the Lycee, Robespierre
had established a modest law practice. From the start he began taking on cases that
were controversial. In 1789, he took on the state in a case that
directly challenged the notion of lettres-des-cachet, or imprisonment without trial. During the course of the trial he actually
wrote to the king and personally requested his assistance in getting rid of this abuse. On the Brink By the 1780’s France was desperately running
out of money. They had spent a lot of money in assisting
the Americans in the previous decade. This was compounded by a lavish amount of
spending on the part of the monarchy. The appointment of a succession of finance
ministers to try to turn around the country’s flagging economy had little effect. By the end of the decade there was a growing
call for a meeting of the Estates General, representing the clergy, the nobility and
the people. Meanwhile, the King unilaterally enacted a
series of laws to fill the royal coffers. This included the raising of taxes and the
cutting of spending on essential services. The following day the French parliament condemned
the king’s actions, labelling the raising of taxes as illegal. The king’s response was to exile the parliament. This led to growing public protests in Paris. In response to this desperate situation, a
new finance minister was put in place. This was Etienne-Charles de Loménie de Brienne. He proposed a new five-year plan which was
designed to restore French credit as well as presenting a full accounting of the French
government’s finances to whoever wanted to see it. He called for the return of the Parisian parliament
after their normal autumn break. The parliament reconvened on November 17,
1787 in the rare presence of the king. After an 8-hour debate the parliament failed
to authorise Brienne’s five-year plan. However, King Louis XVI went ahead and authorised
the loans needed to restore credit anyway. The king left the chamber but the debate continued. It was resolved that the parliament would
officially condemn the king’s action. The following day the leading members of the
parliament were exiled by the king. In response to this, provincial parliaments
across the country began to refuse to register laws as a protest to the apparently despotic
actions of the king. On May 3, 1788 the Parliament of Paris issued
a declaration on the fundamental laws of the realm. It included the right of parliament to register
new laws, the role of the Estates General and the freedom of all subjects from arbitrary
arrest. Despite this, the leaders of the parliament
were taken into custody the following day. A few days later the king issued a series
of judicial reforms which were designed to cement his absolute power. The reforms effectively neutralized the Parliament
of Paris. In response to this outrage, provincial parliaments
around the country refused to uphold any of the government’s laws. France was now operating without any formal
justice system. France in Revolt The country was approaching widespread public
revolt. In an attempt to control the damage, Finance
minister Brienne, called for a sitting of the Estates General on May 1, 1789. Meanwhile the French government was completely
bankrupt. With no ideas to get the country out of the
red, Brienne was forced to resign and former Finance Minister Jacques Necker was put back
in office. Necker had the general confidence of the people
and managed to recall the parliaments around the country. The Paris parliament announced that the Estates
General would meet according to the historic precedent where the representation of the
people – the Third Estate – would be numerically less than that of the clergy and the nobility. This was met with widespread public disapproval. Through long negotiations with the king, Necker
was able to announce in December, 1788 that the representation of the third estate would
be doubled in the Estates General. Meanwhile hundreds of pamphlets had been appearing
around Paris with titles such as ‘What is the 3rd Estate?’ Rather than being comprised of peasants, workers
or artisans, the Third Estate was made up of lawyers and office holders, the well to
do who had enough time to engage in the slow processes involved. The pamphleteers strongly criticized the power
of the clergy and the nobility and the lack of representation of the masses. Several leaders arose among the Third Estate,
including Maximilien Robespierre. By 1788, Robespierre was positioning himself
to play a key role in the coming revolution. He participated in a series of debates regarding
the make-up of the Third Estate and the ratio of the three components of the Estates General. He published a pamphlet which addressed local
issues in Arras with the view of getting himself elected onto the Third Estate. In the pamphlet he strongly stressed two key
ideas; the importance of elected representation and concern for the poor. By now, Robespierre had a clearly defined
notion of who the enemy was – the clergy and the nobility. In March, 1789 he was elected as a representative
from Arras to the Third Estate. He was chosen to participate in the drafting
of a list of grievances. At the same time, he pushed for new initiatives
that would give the lower classes access to the political system. Robespierre’s second pamphlet was a foretaste
of things to come. It was called ‘the Enemies of the Country
Unmasked.’ The Estates General The Estates General met on May 5, 1789 at
Versailles. Thirty-year-old Robespierre was one of eight
representatives from Arras. In the formal opening of proceedings, he and
his fellow Third Estate members refused to bow before the king. That first day, Robespierre began to stand
out. He was not an imposing physical figure and
his voice was less than inspiring. But he dressed impeccably and had an amazing
ability to recall details. He customarily wore a powdered wig and a formal
waistcoat. In the first week of the assembly, he formed
a breakaway group, known as the Breton Club, which held their own meetings to discuss the
abolition of the privileges of the clergy and nobility. On June 7th, Robespierre gave a passionate
speech criticizing the excesses of the clergy. It was one of the major motivators for the
establishment of the National Assembly three days later. On that date the Third Estate sent messages
to the Clergy and Nobility requesting that they agree to common verification by a head
count. Receiving no response, they declared themselves
the only legitimate representative body renaming themselves the ‘Commons’. The public received this news with great enthusiasm. Eventually the clergy, under much public pressure,
joined the National Assembly. On the morning of June 20th, the National
Assembly turned up to their meeting place at Versailles to find the gates locked and
the entrance manned by guards. They quickly retreated to a nearby tennis
court on the grounds of Versailles. The members were enraged at the despotism
of the king in shutting out the National Assembly. They unanimously asserted what has become
known as the ‘Tennis Court Oath’ – they vowed to remain in session until ‘the constitution
of the Realm and public regeneration are established and assured.’ On June 17th, the King opened the Royal Session. His first move was to declare the National
Assembly invalid. He then put forward a 35-point plan for reform. His final move was to announce that nothing
that the Estates general did was valid without his personal consent. A New National Assembly Once the king had dismissed the assembly,
the nobility and clerics filed out. But the members of the National Assembly,
comprising the Third Estate and the Clergy, remained where they were. It was declared that they would only leave
at the end of bayonets. With the entire country in support of the
National Assembly, the king backed down. He ordered the First and Second Estates to
join the National Assembly. Still the riots did not end. Louis sent troops to surround the city of
Paris. The national assembly now got to work and
hammered out a list of demands to put to the king. Robespierre was one of those who presented
them, with the first one being that he remove the troops. The king ignored the demand. By the beginning of July, there were 20,000
soldiers around the city. Robespierre responded by making the following
public statement . . . No one loves armed missionaries; the first
lesson of nature and prudence is to repulse them as necessary. And so it proved to be. On July 11th, the king dismissed finance minister
Necker, who was still publicly popular. This led to rage among the people. Two days later rumors spread like wildfire
that the French army was about to launch an attack on the people. A mob of citizens reacted to the impending
threat by seizing 28,000 rifles from a veteran’s hospital. They now needed gunpowder to use them. They found it at an unused prison in the city
called the Bastille. The guards tried to hold of the crowds but
then fired into them. Hundreds of people fell down dead. The now out of control mob overpowered and
killed the guards and then gained access to the gunpowder. When the King sent soldiers to bring order,
they switched loyalties and joined the people. Louis now knew that he could trust no one,
not even his protective army. Meanwhile, the National Assembly remained
in session. In a desperate attempt to restore order, the
king re-appointed Necker. But the finance minister refused to work with
the National Assembly and was unable to stem the flow of rebellion. On July 19th the king rode through Paris in
a carriage along with key members of the National Assembly, including Robespierre. Rather than crying out ‘Long live the king!’,
the people called out ‘Long live liberty! Long live the nation!’ Louis tried to placate
the crowds telling them that he had ordered the troops to withdraw. The 150,000-armed citizens who flooded the
streets took it as too little too late. Across the country armed mobs were taking
to the streets, with many of them seizing control of their city governments. Starving people broke into granaries and the
estates of their landlords, helping themselves to food and provisions. While other members of the National Assembly
expressed concern at the growing chaos, Robespierre saw insurrection as the natural expression
of the people’s will. It was those who opposed revolution who were
the real threat. He became fanatical in his resolve to weed
out any and all who showed dissent to the apparent will of the people. The People Speak Meanwhile the National Assembly began working
on a new constitution. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the
citizen was voted on August 26th. The king didn’t respond to the declaration
until October, by which time the riot in the streets were ongoing. He expressed concerns at a number of the articles
in the declaration. At the same time, he called the elite Flanders
Regiment to Versailles to provide extra protection. On the morning of October 5th, a large group
of market women marched on Versailles to demand flour and grain. They were met at the gates by Robespierre,
who while showing empathy for their situation, advised caution. He managed to negotiate for a single woman
to meet the king. Louis agreed to allow the release of two stores
of grains. But, again, it was too little too late. By evening a massive crowd had gathered at
Versailles, many of them armed. They lingered through the night. Then, early on the morning of October 6th,
a group of them managed to break into the Queen’s bedroom. Marie managed to escape but two of her guards
were killed. The royal couple were forced to leave the
palace and seek refuge in an unused palace in Paris, the Tuileries. They were followed by a crowd of 60,000. The king and queen spent the next few months
as virtual prisoners in the palace at Tuileries. Power rested with the National Assembly, among
which Robespierre’s influence was ever more prominent. Over the next year, the Assembly worked towards
a constitutional monarchy. In June 1791, the king had had enough. Along with his wife, he disguised himself
as a servant and fled in a carriage. He left behind a document which clearly denounced
the National Assembly. The carriage only got 160 miles out of Paris
when it was stopped and the king and queen taken under guard back to Tuileries. Causing Division The night after the king’s attempt to flee
the country, Robespierre gave an impassioned speech in which he stated that the deadliest
enemies of the French were not the Austrians, who threatened war, but counter revolutionary
forces within France itself. The king should also be counted among those
enemies of the nation. His speech broke the assembly in two. On the one side were those who clung to the
idea of a constitutional monarchy while those who sided with Robespierre were in favor of
republicanism. Robespierre began to call for the public trial
of the king. On July 17th, a group of petitioners who supported
the call were confronted by National Guardsmen. In the melee that followed fifty of them were
killed. The French constitution was completed in September,
1791, effectively putting and end to the work of the assembly. Robespierre returned to Arras, where he was
welcomed as a hero of the people. Meanwhile the king had declared war on Austria. Robespierre spoke out against the war, stating
that it was not in the interests of the people and he feared that it would galvanize them
around the king and thus destroy the revolution. During the spring of 1792, there were vocal
calls for the creation of a French Republic. Robespierre, however, had changed his tune
and was now in favour of a constitutional monarchy. However, when a large protest outside the
Tuileries on the third anniversary of the tennis court oath turned nasty, he found himself
in a stand-off with the king’s key enforcer, General Lafayette, who stood ready to put
down the marchers forcibly. Protests at the Tuileries continued, culminating
in the king and queen being forced to flee and seek protection from the National Assembly. More than a thousand people were killed that
night. In its wake, the monarchy was officially dissolved
and the royal family were taken into custody as prisoners of the state. Ominous Power Following these events Robespierre was elected
to the Insurrection Commune, which was the governing body which now kept order in Paris. He oversaw a period of interrogation of royalists
for a raft of suspected crimes against the state. Many of these royalist prisoners were pulled
from their prison cells by mobs and massacred. Others were simply handed to vengeful mobs
after mock trials. In the first week of September, 1792 around
1,400 people were killed by such mobs. Robespierre insisted that the Commune also
investigate counter-revolutionary activities. Soon it had condemned 28 people to death by
beheading. In the midst of this carnage, elections were
held for a new constitutional assembly. Robespierre was elected as a first deputy. Still, there were those within the Assembly
who objected to his violent methods of enforcement. Through force of argument he had them side-lined,
winning the day with his conviction that the end justified the means, no matter how violent
that means became. The trial of the king began on December 26,
1792. Three weeks later he was found unanimously
guilty. Robespierre himself summed up the will of
the times . . . “It is with regret that I must pronounce the fatal truth; the king
must die so that the country may live!” France executed its king of January 21st,
1793. Robespierre did not attend the occasion. The Reign of Terror On July 20th, 1793, Robespierre was elected
to the Committee of Public Safety, which had been established a few months earlier. The Committee began to take action against
federalist revolutionists. Mass executions were ordered in Lyons, which
was a hotbed of royalist sympathy. Revolts were breaking out all over, leading
the Convention to declare terror ‘the order of the day’. On September 17th, they passed laws allowing
them to put to death anyone who was implicated as a supporter of tyranny. Caught up in the net of the reign of terror
was Marie Antoinette. After a sham trial, she was sent to the guillotine
on October 16, 1793. Robespierre now set his sights on his former
National Assembly opposers, the Girondists. They were duly tried and found guilty and
sent to the guillotine. Controlling the executions was Robespierre
who famously declared . . . To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency;
to forgive them is barbarity. Those within the assembly who opposed Robespierre
found themselves facing the guillotine themselves. Before long he had absolute power within the
Committee. He had become a virtual dictator, literally
with the power of life or death within his hands. Along with his immense power, Robespierre
grew increasingly paranoid. There was an attempt on his life in May, 1793. The following month he was elected President
of the Convention. He immediately enacted changes to allow him
to condemn even more people to death. Trials were reduced to mere condemnations
and all accused were denied legal representation. He even created a new category of criminal
called ‘enemy of the people’. This blanket term could cover anything from
serving sour wine to sending a letter to England, yet the punishment was always the same – death
by guillotine. Justice of the Blade By this time Robespierre had gone too far. The people were beginning to reject his despotic
rule of terror. His political enemies orchestrated a falsified
letter which appeared to implicate Robespierre in an attempted coup d’etat. He defended himself against charges of dictatorship
in a two-hour speech, in the process warning against a conspiracy that was being hatched
against the Republic. But it was to no avail. The next day he was arrested only to be freed
shortly thereafter by troops from the Paris Commune. Robespierre and his defenders found themselves
holed up at the Hotel de Ville. They were declared outlaws by the Convention,
which meant that when caught they could be put to death immediately. When the Convention forces closed in on the
hotel, Robespierre and those who were with him all tried to commit suicide. Some of them succeeded but Robespierre’s
attempt to blow his brains out only managed to shatter his lower jaw. With blood pouring from his face, Robespierre
was laid on a table in the room of the Committee for Public Safety before being transferred
to the cell that had housed Marie Antoinette prior to her date with the guillotine. The end came for Robespierre on July 28th,
1794 when he became the final victim of his reign of terror. Seconds before the blade fell, the executioner
ripped off the bandage that was keeping his jaw together, causing him to let out an almighty
scream. It was soon silenced by the deadly blade,
finally ending the carnage that Robespierre’s warped view of justice had wrought.

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  1. Interesting the raising of taxes, cutting of services, and loss of the justice system. Here we go again.

  2. Typical tyrant poising as a nationalize….sound familiar?Acting as a savoir of the people to reign a type of his own terror & political bully until the jig was up for him!

  3. The Bolsheviks studied the 1789 French Revolution religiously as well as the term 'Bonapartism'. Note the first use of the 'progressive Leninist-Maoist-left' term demonizing any opposition as '…enemy of the people.' The same brutal insanity descended on Paris in 1870 i.e. The Commune…..this is what the 'Gang of Four' aka 'the squad' would impose on any and all opposition but rather than using the term '…enemy of the people' they'll use ' yer' a racist!"

  4. Robespierre might have been ruthless but hay you can't make an omelette without cracking some eggs!

  5. "There were two “Reigns of Terror,” if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe, compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.”-Mark Twain

  6. The term "parlement" before the revolution meant a French court. The judges were a mix of hereditary judges and ones who had bought their offices, after which they became admitted to the nobility. This caused them to often rule in favour of aristocratic privileges like immunity from taxation, keeping serfdom, upholding noble's powers over the peasantry etc.

  7. Always forgotten in this type of discussion is the role of the Monarchies of Europe which all ganged up on France to destroy the Revolution. It's like with the US and Cambodia after the Vietnam War. As they say, really the only difference between a far left liberal and a far right conservative is a good beating.

  8. The French Nobility still exist to this day. They have learned to excel at keeping a low profile, though. As it should be with Nobility.

  9. A revolution always leads to a birth of a dictatorship. The monarch is the symbol of the State, if you kill him, chaos and riots are obvious

  10. With the notable exception of the "1972" error, that was top shelf. Perhaps to provide more context for Robespierre's paranoia and tyranny, you could have included something about his rivalry with Danton.

  11. Good video – but I've heard some sources say someone shot Robespierre in the face, rather than him shooting himself (see his wikipedia article – While some (Barère) argued that Robespierre tried to commit suicide with a pistol,[323][324] according to Bourdon he was shot by Méda, who wounded him in the left jaw,[325]"

  12. This guy kills me with his constant mispronunciation of words and names. It not rob-es-pierre, it's robes-pierre. Understand how the French language is enunciated.

  13. Nice try, but the lifetime's worth of events of 1789-94, and the many major players, simply cannot be adequately portrayed in a 25-minute focus on the King and Robespieree, with a walk-on by Necker and a cameo by Lafayette. Where are the Jacobins, Marat, Danton etc. ? You could get as much fact, and much more of the emotions of the period, by watching Giordano's "Andrea Chenier." (Chenier went to the blade the day before Max. Bad timing.)

  14. And of course there is Poulenc's opera, "Dialogues of the Carmelites." If you haven't the time for the whole 2 1/2 hour opera, see (here on YT) the last 7 minutes, "Finale & Salve Regina" from the 1987 Met production, with a stellar cast including Maria Ewing and Jesse Norman. (followed by 6 minutes of curtain calls) The libretto is a fictionalized telling of an actual event of 1794. The scene shows the nuns being led one by one to the guillotine, singing the Latin hymn to Mary, "Salve Regina", their voices reduced by one each time the crash of the blade is heard; at the very end the central character, Sister Blanche, who had left the others, returns and joins her friend , the young Sister Constance; they disappear as the others had. A few murmurs from the orchestra–silence. One of the most moving moments of 20th century opera.

  15. I bet that executioner had some cool stories fot the local bar .. he executed a King , Queen and French elites, business was good for him or her.

  16. That totally transfixed me! Brilliantly presented. I had a good history teacher in senior school but this just blew me away.

  17. One must admit he has a cool name. He just headed in a wrong direction in life is all. Y'all take it easy on Max.

  18. Robespierre was the role model in carnage for dictators from Hitler to Stalin to Mao to Latin America. Did Robespierre follow any classical mold or was he an original monster?

  19. Robespierre had good intentions, more often, that's not enough. He got involved into a story he could no longer control, he stepped over his own values once and afterwards it was just easier and easier to slide away. Everyone says that after first kill, it gets easier.

  20. Robespierre has been held responsible for the crime of others. He was the political figure for the sovereignty of the people. The others political figure at that time such as Danton are those responsible for the guillotine. It is a mistake to design the maybe most reasonable man for all the cruelty.

  21. It seems the equation of seeking utopia ending in tyranny (utopia = tyranny) has been shown to be valid numerous times.

  22. Another interesting profile might be Charles Henri Sanson, the executioner who beheaded so many during the reign of terror and the most famous of a large family of French executioners.

  23. He wasn’t an imposing figure and his voice was less than inspiring, but boy did he dress impeccably! That just about tells you everything you need to know about the French!

  24. even with Robespierre's terror, capitalism > monarchism.
    also, the words "jacobin club" did not appear in this video :/ wtf

  25. Checking your archive I don't see videos of these two, whom I find very interesting: Danton, and Saint Just. I enjoy your videos very much.

  26. Okay, two guillotine jokes:
    ONE: During the French reign of terror when people were being put to the guillotine, one lucky fellow was waiting for the blade to fall, when it didn't. While it might have been explained as a simple malfunction and rectified, the executioners declared it an act of God and freed the condemned man, exclaiming "Mon ami, fate has decreed that you are innocent and must be set free!", which he then was, to his great delight!
    The malfunction persisted thwarting three more executions. The next fellow scheduled to be executed was not very bright, and as he was being escorted to the guillotine, he happened to look up and just before being put under the blade he exclaimed "Wait a minute! I think I see the problem!"

    TWO: The 2nd joke begins the same as the 1st all the way down until we get to the not-so-bright fellow, who, when being led to the guillotine, suddenly exclaims, "Oh no you're not! You're not putting me under that dangerous thing until you get it fixed!"

  27. Been catching up on older games recently and wouldn't have bothered watching this video but as it turns out, I just assinated Robespierre in Assassins Creed Unity. He kept his head though 🙁

  28. Even people who used polite terms of address like ‘Monsieur’ (sir) or ‘Madame’ (madam/lady) to address people – instead of using the generic ‘Citizen’ title – were sent to the guillotine during that time. And right now, today, we have political factions and demagogues aggressively lobbying to tell (force?) us not to use the pronouns ‘he’ or ‘she’ to address people but rather they are saying we are supposed (have?) to use the generic ‘they’ word instead. Hmmm… I wonder where all this is heading…? 🤔

  29. In the video, the presenter seems to be saying people (what people?) resented Robespierre's cruelty, and proceeded to get rid of him. That's at odds with what I have read and heard. The whole story reads like a very complicated palace coup, but from what I understand, "the people" didn't execute Robespierre. The Convention (or National Assembly or something?) deputies voted to execute him, and the reason is that they suspected Robespierre's dagger was now pointing at them, and they were probably right. Robespierre had enemies who wanted his life, and he introduced new laws that made it easier to try Convention deputies, and the deputies rightly feared for their lives. It's kind of hilarious because they themselves were implicated in Robespierre's Terror, but then I suppose it's always better to shoot first. Then they blamed all the excess of the Revolution on Robespierre and co. I have no sympathy. He was a cruel, cruel man. But, the people who killed him should share some of the blame as well. At least, it seems that they didn't care as long as they were not killed.

  30. Excellent! I am watching the US lean in a way where something like the French revolution could happen. The government is out of our control. All manner of illumination cults have started, like the Social justice movement and the climate change people. There is a marked attack on the family and children. Very scary time.

  31. The bastille was not empty, there were still prisoners being held there. I believe around 7, so granted, not many, but it was still in use.

  32. How many unfamiliar with modern history can see the link between the French revolution and today's equivalent threat the Postmodern revolution?

  33. So I can see what he saw in that society was systematically unfair as it is today in that it forces people into classes and limits their potential. Also you cannot seek change through total violence

  34. The story of Robespierre really should be a cautionary Tale because what it amounts to is the first of the radical left focused revolutions. It's true that the French Revolution in its outset was not radically left. What it descended into was what happens when the radical left takes over. And almost invariably when the radical left takes over there is a lot of bloodletting. That's not to say the radical right is any better I'm just making an observation about Robespierre and the reign of terror that oftentimes goes on set. Whenever people become radicalized in a political religious or social ideology whether that is to the right or to the left it never ends well. There's always a lot of bloodshed. It might be worth looking at The Decemberists at some point although that's more of a movement then an individual. But you might look at the Marquis de Lafayette. You might consider some of the figures of the Revolutions of 1830 and 1848. I thought the ones you did on Napoleon the Third and Otto von Bismarck were great! It would be interesting if you did a couple that talked about some of those moments in those revolutions in the first half of the nineteenth Century where are you pitted one person against somebody from the other side as a good series of biographies.

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