Charles-Philippe Ronsin (1 December 1751 – 24 March 1794) was a French general of the Revolutionary Army of the First French Republic, commanding the large Parisian division of l'Armée Révolutionnaire. He was an extreme radical leader of the French Revolution, and one of the many followers of Jacques-René Hébert, known as the Hébertists.
The French Revolutionary Army was the French force that fought the French Revolutionary Wars from 1792 to 1802. These armies were characterised by their revolutionary fervour, their poor equipment and their great numbers. Although they experienced early disastrous defeats, the revolutionary armies successfully expelled foreign forces from French soil and then overran many neighboring countries, establishing client republics. Leading generals included Jourdan, Bonaparte, Masséna and Moreau.
The Hébertists, or Exaggerators were a radical revolutionary political group associated with the populist journalist Jacques Hébert, a member of the Cordeliers club. They came to power during the Reign of Terror and played a significant role in the French Revolution.
Born in 1751 in Soissons, Aisne, a city northeast of Paris, Ronsin was son of a master cooper or barrel maker. At the age of seventeen, Charles-Philippe Ronsin joined the Parisian army. By 1772 he left the army with the position of corporal and soon became a playwright and a tutor. In these years he met the artist Jacques-Louis David and they became good friends.
Soissons is a commune in the northern French department of Aisne, in the region of Hauts-de-France. Located on the Aisne River, about 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast of Paris, it is one of the most ancient towns of France, and is probably the ancient capital of the Suessiones. Soissons is also the see of an ancient Roman Catholic diocese, whose establishment dates from about 300, and it was the location of a number of church synods called "Council of Soissons".
Aisne is a French department in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France. It is named after the river Aisne.
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.
Welcoming the Revolution, Ronsin became the bourgeois Guard Captain in the district of Saint-Roch in 1789. He presented several patriotic pieces in some of the theatres in the capital between the years 1790 and 1792. It was in this period that Ronsin became a club orator and joined the club of the Cordeliers.
The Society of the Friends of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, mainly known as Cordeliers Club, was a populist club during the French Revolution from 1790 to 1794, when the Reign of Terror ended and the Thermidorian Reaction began.
In August and September 1792, the Executive Council entrusted him three missions. In November, the minister of war, Pache, named him commissioner-organizer in Belgium to the army of Dumouriez. In this post, Ronsin denounced the acts of violence of the suppliers to the armed forces, who were protected by the general.
Ronsin was named assistant of the minister of war of Bouchotte on 23 April 1793, without ever commanding a squadron. It is possible that Ronsin received that position thanks to his friendship with Chaumette and Hébert. In May, he left to Vendée, to help the provisioning armies. There was an incident in which Ronsin was upset that his plan for defeating the Vendeans was rejected, therefore, he decided to make sure that General Canclaux was defeated by the Vendeans, ensuring his own victory. He led his troops to Vihiers and Beaulieu and was eventually trapped at Coron. Because of Ronsin's decision the Vendeans took over Beaulieu and managed to convince the Committee to get rid of Canclaux.
Pierre Gaspard Chaumette was a French politician of the Revolutionary period.
Jacques René Hébert was a French journalist, and the founder and editor of the extreme radical newspaper Le Père Duchesne during the French Revolution. He was a leader of the French Revolution and had thousands of followers as the Hébertists ; he himself is sometimes called Père Duchesne, after his newspaper.
The Vendée is a department in the Pays-de-la-Loire region in west-central France, on the Atlantic Ocean. The name Vendée is taken from the Vendée river which runs through the southeastern part of the department.
Ronsin's support among the Cordeliers and the ministry allowed him to cross the rank of captain to that of brigadier general in the army of the coasts of Rochelle. In September, 1793, he becomes chief general of the revolutionary army of Paris. Ronsin had a violent character and was very outspoken. He, however, proved to be a good leader. Ronsin was witty and clever when dealing with his different functions. However, thanks to his quick ascent and his character Ronsin acquired numerous enemies, particularly Pierre Philippeaux and Fabre d'Eglantine.
Pierre Philippeaux, was a French lawyer who was a deputy to the National Convention for Sarthe.
Ronsin created a bill that was posted in Paris after his return from Lyon that stated that there were one hundred and forty thousand people living in Lyon, fifteen hundred of which had nothing to do with the rebellions. Ronsin stated that before the end of September, all of the people who were guilty would die. On 27 September Fabre d'Eglantine denounced Ronsin for being an ultra-revolutionist. Ronsin was arrested along with François-Nicolas Vincent, who was another member of the Cordeliers Club.
While in prison the Cordeliers wrote a petition in favor of both Vincent and Ronsin, stating that they were great patriots and that Ronsin should not be punished for attacking Dumouriez, Custine, and Brissot. Among those who were defending Ronsin was Collot d'Herbois, who was also part of the Committee. Collot d'Herbois defended Ronsin, saying that while fighting in the South along with all of the other patriots of the Revolution, Ronsin showed great determination in enforcing respect for the republic.
With the help of Fouquier-Tinville, Ronsin was believed to be working on a military conspiracy to replace the revolutionary government with a military dictatorship. Fouquier-Tinville called him one of the "new Cromwell".
Ronsin was finally arrested along with Hébert, Momoro, and Vincent. While in prison Ronsin is quoted with saying these words to his co-accused: "...you will be condemned. When you should have acted, you talked. Know how to die. For my part, I swear that you shall not see me flinch. Strive to do the same." Some of his final words before his death were, "Liberty undone!...because a few paltry fellows are about to perish! Liberty is immortal. Our enemies will fall in their turn, and liberty will survive them all!" On 24 March 1794, five carts full of condemned Hébertists were taken to the guillotine, Charles-Philippe Ronsin among them.Ronsin stayed true to his words in prison: as Thomas Carlyle relates the event, he alone among the Hébertists went to the scaffold with an "air of defiance," still maintaining a steely "eye of command." Within a week of his death, Ronsin's army (l'Armée Révolutionnaire de Paris) was disbanded.
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.
Antoine Quentin Fouquier de Tinville was a French prosecutor during the Revolution and Reign of Terror periods.
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 was a political group during the French Revolution, whose members called the Montagnards sat on the highest benches in the National Assembly.
Philippe François Nazaire Fabre d'Églantine, commonly known as Fabre d'Églantine, was a French actor, dramatist, poet, and politician of the French Revolution.
Jacques-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, also known as Jean Nicolas, was a French personality of the Revolutionary period. Though not one of the most well known figures of the French Revolution, Jacques Nicolas Billaud-Varenne was an instrumental figure of the period known as the Reign of Terror. Billaud-Varenne climbed his way up the ladder of power during the period of The Terror, becoming one of the most militant members of the Committee of Public Safety. He was recognized and worked with French Revolution figures Georges Danton and Maximilien Robespierre, and is often considered one of the key architects of the period known as The Terror. "No, we will not step backward, our zeal will only be smothered in the tomb; either the Revolution will triumph or we will all die."
Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois was a French actor, dramatist, essayist, and revolutionary. He was a member of the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror and, while he saved Madame Tussaud from the Guillotine, he administered the execution of more than 2,000 people in the city of Lyon.
Adam Philippe, Comte de Custine was a French general. As a young officer in the Bourbon Royal army, he served in the Seven Years' War. In the American Revolutionary War he joined Rochambeau's Expédition Particulière supporting the American colonists. Following the successful Virginia campaign and the Battle of Yorktown, he returned to France and rejoined his unit in the Royal Army.
The Cult of Reason was France's first established state-sponsored atheistic religion, intended as a replacement for Roman Catholicism during the French Revolution. It also rivaled Robespierre's Cult of the Supreme Being.
The Revolutionary Tribunal was a court instituted by the National Convention during the French Revolution for the trial of political offenders. It eventually became one of the most powerful engines of the Reign of Terror.
François-Nicolas Vincent was the Secretary General of the War Ministry in the First French Republic, and a significant figure in the French Revolution. A member of the Cordelier Club, he is best known as a radical sans-culottes leader and prominent member of the Hébertist faction.
Antoine-François Momoro was a French printer, bookseller and politician during the French Revolution. An important figure in the Cordeliers club and in Hébertisme, he is the originator of the phrase ″Unité, Indivisibilité de la République; Liberté, égalité, fraternité ou la mort″, one of the mottoes of the French Republic.
Jean Antoine Rossignol, was a general of the French Revolutionary Wars.
Jean-Michel Beysser was a French general.
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.
René-François Dumas, born 14 December 1753 in Jussey, in the bailiwick of Amont, was a revolutionary French lawyer and politician, regarded as a "Robespierrist", who died on 28 July 1794 at Paris.