28 July 1794 – Maximilien Robespierre

The darling of the French Revolution had a spectacular fall from grace today in 1794.

Maximilien François Marie Odenthalius Isidore de Robespierre was an esteemed leader and a great orator, yet it was his over-zealousness that was to be the death of him.

OK, so the French craved change. Sick of the aristos having everything and the working classes nothing, there was an air of discontent, but Robespierre took the backlash to such extraordinary lengths that even his once supporters turned on him.

On the block

He was a key exponent of the gruesome Reign of Terror – a bloody period in French history during which the French king and queen were deposed. Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette were beheaded and the massacre of many more kicked off as the left-wing contingent took hold.

Even moderates were given the chop as Robespierre began passing more and more extremist laws. Visionaries such as Danton and Desmoulins lost their heads, while Robespierre used an unhealthy dose of nepotism to install his cohorts in positions of power in a seemingly irresistible rise.


During the Terror, nearly 1,300 people were sent to the guillotine. So what stopped the zealot in his treacherous tracks? His own actions – Robespierre was unable to display more liberal sensibilities as he truly believed in his methods and would not even consider wavering.

Soon, he’d morphed from a respected leader into a tyrant and a despot. And when Robespierre tried to assert the existence of a Supreme Being, well that was a step too far for the French and he lost his support.


A warrant was issue for his arrest alongside his remaining loyal brethren. Sensing the end was nigh as the troops closed in, Robespierre’s brother jumped out of a hotel window, during a coup d’état. His mission failed – he fell alright, but he merely broke his legs so he couldn’t even make a run for it.

Robespierre, on the other hand, decided to top himself with a gun, but just at the crucial moment a policeman knocked the gun to prevent it and the bullet bound for his brain caught his jaw instead and shattered it. They were taken into custody and such was the animosity for Robespierre, that they didn’t even afford him a trial.

Face up

Instead they took him to be executed at the Place Louis XV, and in a sinister twist, they made him face his killer blade face up.

While he was being prepared, his executions ripped off the bandages holding his jaw together. So he endured his final excruciating minutes both in mind and body, before the self-same fate he’d been only too happy to dole out to others befell him. Robespierre was just 36 and he was guillotined a year and half after his key victim, Louis XVI.

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10 Responses to “28 July 1794 – Maximilien Robespierre”

  1. kandarpa prabhakar Says:

    Robespierre’s end is pathetic but he deserved it.He may have some pages in the history of French revolution but always viewed as terror tyrant.it was nicely presented in this site how great the French public are.

  2. Henry Westin Says:

    Robespierre overcame an impoverished childhood, complete with paternal abandonment, to become an educated, brilliant, respected lawyer and political leader. His personal morals were above reproach, and he was the epitome of a gentleman.

    I am Black and appreciate that Robespierre was one of the few White men to demand abolition of slavery. He also demanded justice for Jews and Protestants in heavily Catholic France.

    We’ll never know if Robespierre was shot or attempted suicide on 9 Thermidor. We do know the bullet shattered the left side of his jaw. Judging by his signature, he was likely right-handed. hmmm… doesn’t add up.

    Robespierre’s enemies allowed him no mercy or peace as he lay semi-crucified on a hard table, bleeding profusely, teeth knocked out, in horrible agony. They laughed, poked him with penknives, spit in his face. They gave him no water or pen to write with. From midnight through late afternoon, Robespierre suffered torture, mental abuse, taunts.

    Would Robespierre have taunted, tortured, a wounded man flat on his back? I doubt it.

    The final outrage was the lenghty Via Dolorosa through the streets of Paris amid the howling, hate-filled mob. What animals. The executioner stupidly ripped off the face bandages, causing such pain that Robespierre (who had mounted the steps unaided), died screaming.

    While Robespierre’s regime was associated with the Terror, it ought to be remembered that he was only one of a Committee. Others, like Danton, had been even more eager for heads and were tainted with corruption.


  3. Henry Westin Says:

    Robespierre and his allies were on the second floor of the Hotel de Ville when they were attacked by Convention troops under the corrupt Paul Barras. Actually, this was not a “hotel”. In French, it translates City Hall.


  4. I have a lot to agree with Mr. Westin. It would seem by his entry he is very knowledgable about the period of history. I guess it depends on one’s point of view buy I for one, empathize with Robespierre and comprehend why he was a catalyst in the french revolution, no-one enjoys a dictatorship and present day Arab nations are proof of that. People get fed up when bullied and the monarchy was a bully. It should be no surprise that there was so much blodd-letting, most of it well deserved I might add!

  5. Nom nomz Says:

    OM NOM NOM NOMZ!!! >:3

  6. louis ze 16 Says:

    HERROOOOOO history suuucks

  7. Odenthalius Robespierre Says:

    Haha whoever wrote this got duped. His name is not “Maximilien François Marie *Odenthalius* Isidore de Robespierre.” My history teacher added that erroneous name on a wikipedia page. Now, a fuk ton of educational sites use that fake name…

    Goes to show how unreliable Wikipedia can be

    • Old Sparky Says:

      Fair play

      • The 11 January 2015 wikipedia article lacks the spurious names. I sometimes edit wikipedia articles. Things change. It’s always a good idea to check a few days later to see what is current. Wikipedia is not perfect. I’ve had a few of my correct edits altered back more biased or tendentious forms. Sometimes the articles have hilarious little goofs. Check an independent web or PRINT source when unsure.

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