Augustin Robespierre

Last updated

Augustin de Robespierre Augustin Robespierre.jpg
Augustin de Robespierre

Augustin Bon Joseph de Robespierre (21 January 1763 – 28 July 1794) [1] was the younger brother of French Revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre.

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Maximilien Robespierre French revolutionary lawyer and politician

Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre was a French lawyer and politician, as well as one of the best known and most influential figures associated with the French Revolution. As a member of the Constituent Assembly, the National Convention and the Jacobin Club, Robespierre was an outspoken advocate for the citizens without a voice, for their unrestricted admission to the National Guard, to public offices, and for the right to petition. He campaigned for universal suffrage, abolition of celibacy, religious tolerance and the abolition of slavery in the French colonies. Robespierre played an important role after the Storming of the Tuileries, which led to the establishment of the First French Republic on 22 September 1792.


Early life

He was born in Arras, the youngest of four children of the lawyer Maximilien-Barthelemy-François de Robespierre and Jacqueline-Marguerite Carraut, the daughter of a brewer. His mother died when he was one year old, and his grief-stricken father abandoned the family to go to Bavaria, where he died in 1777. [2] He was brought up by an aunt and trained as a lawyer. His brother Maximilien had won a scholarship from the Abbey of St. Vaast to pay for his studies at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand and had been such an outstanding student that when he obtained his degree in law, he asked the Abbot, Cardinal de Rohan, if he would transfer the scholarship to Augustin to allow him to follow the same career. The Cardinal agreed and Augustin took up his brother's place studying law. [3] [4]

Lycée Louis-le-Grand French school in the heart of the Quartier latin in Paris, France

The Lycée Louis-le-Grand is a prestigious secondary school located in Paris. Founded in 1563 by the Jesuits as the Collège de Clermont, it was renamed in King Louis XIV of France's honor after he extended his direct patronage to it in 1682. It offers both a sixth-form college curriculum, and a post-secondary-level curriculum, preparing students for entrance to the elite Grandes écoles for research, such as the École normale supérieure (Paris), for engineering, such as the École Polytechnique, or for business, such as HEC Paris. Students at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand are called magnoludoviciens.

Cardinal de Rohan Catholic cardinal

Louis René Édouard de Rohan known as Cardinal de Rohan, prince de Rohan-Guéméné, was a French bishop of Strasbourg, politician, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, and cadet of the Rohan family. His parents were Hercule Mériadec, Prince of Guéméné and Louise Gabrielle Julie de Rohan. He was born in Paris.

Although his political views were very similar to those of his brother, Augustin was very different in character. Handsome, he was also fond of good food, gaming and the company of women. [5] At the outset of the Revolution, Augustin was prosecutor-syndic of Arras. [6] He founded a political club in the town and wrote to his brother to secure its affiliation with the Jacobins in Paris. [7] In 1791, he was appointed Administrator of the département of Pas-de-Calais.

In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government below the national level, between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, and five are overseas departments, which are also classified as regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; the last two have no autonomy, and are used for the organisation of police, fire departments, and sometimes, elections.

Pas-de-Calais Department of France

Pas-de-Calais is a department in northern France named after the French designation of the Strait of Dover, which it borders.

The Convention

Proclamation written by Augustin Robespierre and signed by him, Maximilien Robespierre and Couthon calling on the people of Paris to rise up, 10 Thermidor Proclamation Commune de Paris 10 Thermidor An II.jpg
Proclamation written by Augustin Robespierre and signed by him, Maximilien Robespierre and Couthon calling on the people of Paris to rise up, 10 Thermidor

Augustin unsuccessfully stood for election to the new Legislative Assembly in Arras in August 1791, but his views were too radical for the town, which elected another young lawyer, Sixte François Deusy instead. [8] However on 16 September 1792, Augustin was elected to the National Convention, 19th out of 24 deputies, with 392 votes out of 700 cast, [9] by the voters of Paris, [10] and he joined his brother in The Mountain and the Jacobin Club. [11] At the Convention he distinguished himself by the vehemence of his attacks on the royal family and on aristocrats. During the trial of Louis XVI he voted for the death penalty to be applied within 24 hours. [12]

National Convention single-chamber assembly in France from 21 September 1792 to 26 October 1795

The National Convention was the first government of the French Revolution, following the two-year National Constituent Assembly and the one-year Legislative Assembly. Created after the great insurrection of 10 August 1792, it was the first French government organized as a republic, abandoning the monarchy altogether. The Convention sat as a single-chamber assembly from 20 September 1792 to 26 October 1795.

The Mountain

The Mountain was a political group during the French Revolution, whose members called the Montagnards sat on the highest benches in the National Assembly.

Trial of Louis XVI legal process

The trial of Louis XVI was a key event of the French Revolution. It involved the trial of the former French king Louis XVI before the National Convention and led to his execution.

When he first came to Paris to take his seat he was accompanied by his sister Charlotte, and they both lodged with Maximilien in the house of Maurice Duplay. Soon however Charlotte persuaded Maximilien to come with them to a new lodging in the rue Saint-Florentin where she could look after her two brothers. He soon returned to the Duplay's house however, leaving Augustin and Charlotte to live by themselves. However this arrangement did not last long either. A pamphlet Le souper de Beaucaire (The supper at Beaucaire) by Napoleon was read by Augustin Robespierre, who was impressed by the revolutionary context. [13] In August 1793 Augustin was sent on a mission to Alpes-Maritimes to suppress the Federalist revolt, [14] together with another deputy from the Convention, Jean François Ricord, and Charlotte accompanied him. Much of southeastern France was in rebellion against the Republic, and they barely made it alive to Nice after a very dangerous journey. In Nice they felt secure enough to attend the theatre, but on the third occasion they did so, they were pelted with rotten apples. [15] In 19 December 1793 Augustin took part in the military action, led by Dugommier and Napoleon, which retook Toulon from the British. [16] On their return to Paris, Augustin moved out of the lodging with Charlotte and went to live with Ricord and his wife. [17]

Charlotte de Robespierre French writer

Charlotte de Robespierre was the daughter of François de Robespierre and Jacqueline Marguerite Carraut and the sister of Maximilien de Robespierre and Augustin Robespierre, known for the memoirs she dictated about the life of her brothers during the French Revolution.

Maurice Duplay French revolutionary

Maurice Duplay was a French carpentry contractor and revolutionary in the French Revolution. He was landlord to Robespierre.

<i>Le souper de Beaucaire</i> book by Napoleon Bonaparte

Le souper de Beaucaire was a political pamphlet written by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1793. With the French Revolution into its fourth year, civil war had spread across France between various rival political factions. Napoleon was involved in military action, on the government's side, against some rebellious cities of southern France. It was during these events, in 1793, that he spoke with four merchants from the Midi and heard their views. As a loyal soldier of the Republic he responded in turn, set on dispelling the fears of the merchants and discouraging their beliefs. He later wrote about his conversation in the form of a pamphlet, calling for an end to the civil war.

In 1794 Augustin was dispatched once again as a representant en mission, now to the Army of Italy in Haute-Saône. This time he took with him not his sister but his mistress, La Saudraye, the creole wife of a literary man. [18] He used his influence to advance Napoleon Bonaparte's career, after reading Napoleon's pro-Jacobin pamphlet titled Le souper de Beaucaire . [19] [20] On his return to Paris he served as a secretary to the Convention. [21]

Army of Italy (France) field army of the French Revolutionary Army

The Army of Italy was a field army of the French Army stationed on the Italian border and used for operations in Italy itself. Though it existed in some form in the 16th century through to the present, it is best known for its role during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars.

Haute-Saône Department of France

Haute-Saône is a French department of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region named after the Saône River.

A Jacobin was a member of the Jacobin Club, a revolutionary political movement that was the most famous political club during the French Revolution (1789–99). The club was so called because of the Dominican convent in Paris in the Rue Saint-Jacques where they originally met.


Augustin Robespierre led up the steps to the guillotine on 28 July 1794 Execution robespierre, saint just....jpg
Augustin Robespierre led up the steps to the guillotine on 28 July 1794

Augustin was with his brother in the hall of the Convention on the day of 9 Thermidor (27 July 1794), when the deputies voted for the arrest of Robespierre, Saint-Just and Couthon after a heated discussion. Then Augustin rose from his place on the benches and said "I am as guilty as him; I share his virtues, I want to share his fate. I ask also to be charged". He was joined by Lebas. [22] The five were kept under guard in the rooms of the Committee of General Security, where they remained until a place could be found for them. Hearing of the arrests, the Commune of Paris issued orders to all prisons in the city, forbidding them to take any prisoner in, sent by the Convention. Augustin was taken to the prison of La Force while Maximilien was taken to the Luxembourg. [23] Because of the Commune's orders, they were soon released and made their way to the Hôtel de Ville. Escorted by two municipal officers Augustin was the first to arrive. [24] [25] There they spent the evening vainly trying to coordinate an insurrection. In the early morning of 10 Thermidor, the forces of the Convention under Barras burst in and succeeded in taking most of them alive, except Lebas, who had shot himself.

In order to avoid capture, Augustin Robespierre took off his shoes and jumped from a ledge. [26] He landed on the steps or on some bayonets resulting in a pelvic fracture and several serious head contusions, in an alarming state of "weakness and anxiety". [27] Barras ordered that Augustin to be carried back to the rooms of the Committee of General Security. [28] After a couple of hours the prisoners were taken to the Conciergerie prison; four of them were lying on stretchers. In a summary trial at the Revolutionary Tribunal Augustin declared that neither he nor his brother had, for one instant, fallen short in their duty to the Convention. In the early afternoon, the twenty-two convicts were sent to the scaffold on Place de la Révolution. Couthon was the second of the prisoners to be executed, with Augustin as the third, Hanriot as the nineth and Maximilien as the tenth. [29]

Related Research Articles

Committee of Public Safety De facto executive government in France (1793–1794)

The Committee of Public Safety, created in April 1793 by the National Convention and then restructured in July 1793, formed the de facto executive government in France during the Reign of Terror (1793–1794), a stage of the French Revolution. The Committee of Public Safety succeeded the previous Committee of General Defence and assumed its role of protecting the newly established republic against foreign attacks and internal rebellion. As a wartime measure, the Committee—composed at first of nine and later of twelve members—was given broad supervisory powers over military, judicial and legislative efforts. It was formed as an administrative body to supervise and expedite the work of the executive bodies of the Convention and of the government ministers appointed by the Convention. As the Committee tried to meet the dangers of a coalition of European nations and counter-revolutionary forces within the country, it became more and more powerful.

Thermidorian Reaction event in 1794 in which Robespierre was denounced by the National Convention as a tyrant, leading to his (and his 21 associates’) arrest and beheading; named after the month Thermidor of the French Republican calendar in which the event took place

The Thermidorian Reaction was a counter revolution which took place in France on 9 Thermidor of the Year II. On this day, the French politician Maximilien Robespierre was denounced by members of the National Convention as "a tyrant", leading to Robespierre and twenty-one associates including Louis Antoine de Saint-Just being arrested that night and beheaded on the following day.

Cult of the Supreme Being

The Cult of the Supreme Being was a form of deism established in France by Maximilien Robespierre during the French Revolution. It was intended to become the state religion of the new French Republic and a replacement for Roman Catholicism and its rival, the Cult of Reason.

François Hanriot French general and revolutionary

François Hanriot was a French Jacobin leader and street orator of the Revolution. He played a vital role in the Insurrection and subsequently the fall of the Girondins.

Ruth Scurr British writer

Dr Ruth Scurr FRSL is a British writer, historian and literary critic. She is a Fellow of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. She was educated at St Bernard's Convent, Slough; Oxford University, Cambridge University and the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris. She won a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2000.

Nicolas Marie Quinette, Baron de Rochemont was a French politician.

Jules Miot French politician

Jules Miot (1809–1883) was a French republican socialist who participated in the French Revolution of 1848 and in the Paris Commune of 1871. He was also a member of the First International.

Jacques-Alexis Thuriot de la Rosière French noble

Jacques-Alexis Thuriot, known as Thuriot de la Rosière, and later as chevalier Thuriot de la Rosière, chevalier de l'Empire was an important French statesman of the French Revolution, and a minor figure under the French Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Claude-Alexandre Ysabeau was born in Gien on 14 July 1754 and died in Paris on 18 March 1831.

Émile Chautemps was a French politician.

Jacques-Louis Dumesnil French politician and journalist

Jacques-Louis Dumesnil was a French politician.

Louis Charles Antoine de Beaufranchet French politician

Louis Charles Antoine de Beaufranchet, Comte de Beaufranchet d'Ayat, seigneur d'Ayat, de Beaumont, de Saint-Hilaire, etc. was a French general and politician under the French First Republic and French First Empire. He was the son of Marie-Louise O'Murphy and Jacques de Beaufranchet.

Auguste de Talhouët-Roy French politician

Auguste Élisabeth Joseph Bon-Amour de Talhouët-Roy, marquis de Talhouët was a French politician. He was deputy for Sarthe from 1849 to 1876 and senator for Sarthe from 1876 to 1882. He also served as minister for public works in Émile Ollivier's cabinet from 2 January to 15 May 1870.

Pierre Philippe Doublet was a French politician of the French Revolution.

Fall of Maximilien Robespierre

The fall of Maximilien Robespierre refers to the series of events beginning with Maximilien Robespierre's address to the National Convention on 8 Thermidor Year II, his arrest the next day, and his execution on 10 Thermidor Year II. In the speech of 8 Thermidor, Robespierre spoke of the existence of internal enemies, conspirators, and calumniators, within the Convention and the governing Committees. He refused to name them, which alarmed the deputies who feared Robespierre was preparing another purge of the Convention.

Jacques Antoine Rabaut-Pommier French politician and pastor

Jacques Antoine Rabaut known as Rabaut-Pommier,, was a politician of the French revolutionary era. He was a member of the National Convention (1792–95) and of the Council of Ancients (1795-1801). In 1816 he was exiled for regicide under the Bourbon Restoration, though he later benefited from an amnesty. Deeply committed to medicine, he was an ardent advocate of vaccination.

Jean-Bertrand Féraud French politician

Jean Bertrand Féraud, was a French politician of the French revolutionary era.

Denis Toussaint Lesage, was a deputy who represented Eure-et-Loir in the French National Convention and Seine in the Council of Five Hundred.


  1. accessed 17/04/2017
  2. Ruth Scurr, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution Vintage Books 2007 pp.17-19
  3. Ruth Scurr, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution Vintage Books 2007 p.31
  4. John Laurence Carr, Robespierre, History Book Club 1972 p.16
  5. Jean Martrat (trans. Alan Kendall) Robespierre, Angus & Robertson 1975 p.169
  6. J.M.Thompson, Robespierre, Basil Blackwell 1935 p.292
  7. Ruth Scurr, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution Vintage Books 2007 p.115
  8. Jean Matrat, Robespierre (trans. Alan Kendall) Angus & Robertson 1975 p.122
  9. accessed 17 April 2017
  10. Vie politique de tous les députés à la Convention nationale, pendant et après la Révolution Paris 1814 p.565
  11. Ruth Scurr, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution Vintage Books 2007 p.208
  12. Vie politique de tous les députés à la Convention nationale, pendant et après la Révolution Paris 1814 p.565
  13. Chandler, p. 21.
  14. accessed 17 April 2017
  15. Ruth Scurr, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution Vintage Books 2007 p.252
  16. Ruth Scurr, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution Vintage Books 2007 p.258
  17. Jean Matrat, Robespierre (trans. Alan Kendall) Angus & Robertson 1975 p.170-171
  18. J.M.Thompson, Robespierre, Basil Blackwell 1935, p.484
  19. David Chandler, Napoleon, Leo Cooper, 2002 (first published 1973) p.21
  20. Philip Dwyer, Napoleon: The Path to Power 1769, Bloomsbury 2007 p.136
  21. accessed 17 April 2017
  22. J.M.Thompson, Robespierre, Basil Blackwell 1935 p.571
  23. Ruth Scurr (2007) A Fatal Purity, p. 320
  24. E. Hamel (1897) Thermidor : d'après les sources originales et les documents authentiques, p. 322
  25. C. Jones (2014) The Overthrow of Maximilien Robespierre and the “Indifference” of the People
  26. G. Lenotre (Théodore Gosselin) Arrest of Robespierre
  27. Lenotre, G. (1924) Robespierre's rise and fall, p. 271
  28. accessed 17/04/2017
  29. Memoirs of the Sansons by H. Sanson, p. 210

Further reading