Jacques Roux

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Jacques Roux
Jacques Roux - estampe du musee Carnavalet.jpg
Born(1752-08-21)August 21, 1752
DiedFebruary 10, 1794(1794-02-10) (aged 41)
Bicêtre, France
Cause of deathSuicide
Occupation Priest, revolutionary
Known forRadical revolutionary leader
Movement Enragés
Opponent(s) Jacobins, Girondins

Jacques Roux (21 August 1752 – 10 February 1794) was a radical Roman Catholic priest who took an active role in politics during the French Revolution. [1] He skillfully expounded the ideals of popular democracy and classless society to crowds of Parisian sans-culottes, working class wage earners and shopkeepers, radicalizing them into a dangerous revolutionary force. [1] He became a leader of a popular far-left. [2]

French Revolution Revolution in France, 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.

Popular democracy is a notion of direct democracy based on referendums and other devices of empowerment and concretization of popular will. The concept evolved out of the political philosophy of Populism, as a fully democratic version of this popular empowerment ideology, but since it has become independent of it, and some even discuss if they are antagonistic or unrelated now. Though the expression has been used since the 19th century and may be applied to English Civil War politics, at least the notion is deemed recent and has only recently been fully developed.

Classless society society in which no one is born into a social class

Classless society refers to a society in which no one is born into a social class. Such distinctions of wealth, income, education, culture, or social network might arise and would only be determined by individual experience and achievement in such a society.


Radical revolutionary

In 1791 Roux was elected to the Paris Commune. When the French First Republic started in 1792, Roux became aligned with the political faction dubbed by their enemies as the Enragés (French pronunciation:  [ɑ̃.ʁa.ʒe] ) (French for The Enraged Ones but also a "madman" [3] ). He was considered the most extreme spokesman on the left for the interests of the Parisian sans-culottes.

Paris Commune (French Revolution) government during French Revolution

The Paris Commune during the French Revolution was the government of Paris from 1792 until 1795. Established in the Hôtel de Ville just after the storming of the Bastille, it consisted of 144 delegates elected by the 48 divisions of the city. The Paris Commune became insurrectionary in the summer of 1792, essentially refusing to take orders from the central French government. It took charge of routine civic functions but is best known for mobilizing extreme views and actions among the people and for its campaign to dechristianize the churches and the people. It lost much power in 1794 and was replaced in 1795.

French First Republic Republic governing France, 1792–1804

In the history of France, the First Republic, officially the French Republic, was founded on 22 September 1792 during the French Revolution. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First Empire in 1804 under Napoleon, although the form of the government changed several times. This period was characterized by the fall of the monarchy, the establishment of the National Convention and the Reign of Terror, the Thermidorian Reaction and the founding of the Directory, and, finally, the creation of the Consulate and Napoleon's rise to power.

A political faction is a group of individuals within a larger entity, such as a political party, a trade union or other group, or simply a political climate, united by a particular common political purpose that differs in some respect to the rest of the entity. A faction or political party may include fragmented sub-factions, "parties within a party," which may be referred to as power blocs, or voting blocs. Members of factions band together as a way of achieving these goals and advancing their agenda and position within an organization.

Roux consistently fought for an economically equal society, turning the crowds of sans-culottes against the bourgeois torpor of the Jacobins. [4] He demanded that food be made available to every member of society, and called for the wealthy to be executed should they hoard it. [1] Roux tirelessly voiced the demands of the poor Parisian population to confiscate aristocratic wealth and provide affordable bread. [1]

Bourgeoisie polysemous French term which denotes the wealthy stratum of the middle class that originated during the latter part of the Middle Ages

Bourgeoisie is a polysemous French term that can mean:

He became popular enough that, as the split between the Girondins and the Montagnards grew wider, his voice helped remove the Girondins from the National Convention in 1793. [5]

The Mountain

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

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.

Manifesto of the Enragés

In a controversial 1793 address to the National Convention that's been dubbed the Manifesto of the Enragés, Roux demanded the abolition of private property and class society in the name of the people he represented. [6] In many ways Roux and the Enragés were prescient in anticipating many of the themes Karl Marx would develop in his analytical theory decades later.

Private property legal designation of the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities

Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which is owned by a state entity; and from collective property, which is owned by a group of non-governmental entities. Private property can be either personal property or capital goods. Private property is a legal concept defined and enforced by a country's political system.

Social class Hierarchical social stratification

A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences and political theory centered on models of social stratification in which people are grouped into a set of hierarchical social categories, the most common being the upper, middle and lower classes.

Karl Marx German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist and journalist

Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary.

Soon, Roux's incendiary rhetoric was igniting food riots and upsetting the balance of power within the Paris Commune. Maximilien Robespierre, fearing Roux threatened the dominance of the Jacobin government, presented accusations of him being a foreign spy intentionally trying to disrupt the revolutionary government and the Committee of Public Safety. [1] During this time, Roux's former friend, Jean-Paul Marat, also turned against him, writing in his newspaper, L'Ami du peuple , that Roux was a false priest that was only interested in religion as long as it provided income. [7] On July 7, 1793, Roux's enemies brought Elizabeth Marguerite Hébert in for questioning in an attempt to charge Roux with extortion and "misappropriation of charitable funds." Hébert was a recent widow with no means to support herself and, two years earlier, Roux had agreed to raise funds for her and her family. When asked if Roux had an ulterior motive, she replied that she did not believe he did. [5] He wasn't arrested then, but in August 1793, Roux was arrested under the charges that he had withheld funds from both the widow Hébert and another widow, Mlle Beaurepaire. Roux assured the revolutionary committee of section Gravilliers that he did nothing of the sort and that his enemies were working against him. [5] Roux was released into the custody of two of his friends, where he continued fighting for his ideals. On September 5, 1793, Roux was thrown into prison again.

Food riots may occur when there is a shortage and/or unequal distribution of food. Causes can be food price rises, harvest failures, incompetent food storage, transport problems, food speculation, hoarding, poisoning of food, or attacks by pests. Hence, the pathway between food related issues such as crop failure, price hike or volatility and an actual “riot” is often complex.

Maximilien Robespierre French revolutionary lawyer and politician

Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre was a French lawyer and politician who was one of the best known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. As a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Jacobin Club, he campaigned for universal manhood suffrage, and the abolition both of celibacy for the clergy and of slavery. 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 carry arms in self-defence. Robespierre played an important part in the agitation which brought about the fall of the French monarchy in August 1792 and the summoning of a National Convention.

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, interim, and 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.


On January 14, 1794, Roux was informed that his case was going to be tried by the Revolutionary Tribunal. Upon hearing this news, Roux pulled out a knife and stabbed himself several times, but failed to land a fatal blow. Less than a month later, on February 10, 1794 while recovering in prison, Roux stabbed himself again, this time succeeding in killing himself. He was 41. [5]

As the Enragés movement began falling apart, Jacques Hébert's more moderate left-wing faction known as the Hébertists tried to win over his former supporters and continue where he had left off. [1]

Roux (played by Elias Toufexis) is featured in a mission in French Revolution-set Assassin's Creed Unity , in which the player is tasked with assassinating him. In Peter Weiss's Marat/Sade , Roux is portrayed by an asylum patient in the Marquis de Sade's dramatization of Jean-Paul Marat's assassination. The actor's lines come under fire by the asylum directors, who have cut his dialogue. In most productions, the actor portraying Roux is costumed in a straight jacket, which symbolizes the asylum's desire to restrain political radicals such as himself.

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Jacques Roux. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 04 Mar. 2011.
  2. Levy, Darline (August 1, 1981). Women in Revolutionary Paris 1789-1795. University of Illinois Press. p. 145.
  3. "Enragé". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2011.
  4. Higonnet, Patrice (October 25, 1998). Goodness beyond Virtue: Jacobins during the French Revolution. Harvard University Press. p. 118.
  5. Slavin, Morris. "Jacques Roux: A Victim of Vilification." French Historical Studies, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Autumn, 1964), pp. 525–537.