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 Maximilien Robespierre 
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
Ludy wrote:
Well, we have to agree to disagree. I would be curious however to hear an example of a country that, while fighting on interior and exterior fronts, managed to maintain democracy and to spare the lives or the innocent ones, without having ever been democratic, or even parliamentary before... the only similar situation is Russia, and it can hardly been said that it was any better.


I don't think that a radical change, a conversion from absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy and interior/exterior war should definitely mean that the current power can forget its own people's lives. I rather think that where one can find the tripartite division of authorities there should be no blood during social-political-economic changes. Montesquieu was not a fool. If Robespierre enthused over Montesquieu's works instead of Rousseau's... well.

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Sat Feb 26, 2011 10:43 pm
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
Perhaps they did not revolt in favour of or for the democratic political system directly, as it is known today, yet we can still see that what they fought for was essentially the peoples' right -- a fight for a democratic idea, at the least. They wanted their views to be considered, for their voices to be heard -- these are variants on democracy. At its basic level, it was a desire for some level of 'emancipation'. And of course, so too can one very well argue that their revolution, in this case, was simply one spurned on (ultimately) by hunger, alongside a thirst for the removal of despotism.

In regards to the other issue, one cannot simply look at examples, but instead needs to concentrate on general ideals. Because fundamentally this is what takes countries into revolution in the first place; yes, you do take ideas from the past, but you never are ultimately looking for a bloodbath or massacre in a fight for liberty.

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Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:25 am
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
Monsieur Etiquette wrote:

In regards to the other issue, one cannot simply look at examples, but instead needs to concentrate on general ideals. Because fundamentally this is what takes countries into revolution in the first place; yes, you do take ideas from the past, but you never are ultimately looking for a bloodbath or massacre in a fight for liberty.


you'd better not look at examples indeed. You won't find any to justify your point I am afraid. In such circumstances, there are always colateral victims, and no matter how cruel that might sound, it is nontheless true. Besides, given the living conditions back then, poeple were less sensitive to violence than we are now.

Obviously, nobody was looking for bloodbaths... Robespierre was not looking for a bloodbath either. Besides he did support constitutional monarchy, and then switched to republican ideas when it dawned on him that the constitutional monarchy was not viable. Circumstances led to the bloodbath.

Well, once again, we have to agree to disagree, and certainly I value your opinion, although I cannot come to terms with it. I am afraid we are going round in cricles if we keep arguing ! :lol:

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Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:51 am
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
No, no, I do understand what you mean, Ludy, and you'll be astonished, perhaps, to know that I agree for the most part.

I never purported or carried forth the idea that violence is absolutely unnecessary in a revolution. I merely said it would be unwanted - either then, or in the future.

As I said, force is necessary in a revolution. The amount of force, of course, measures differently from regime to regime. Overtoppling a current government does not, however, mean the discarding of morality, which was really what I was discussing.

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Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:16 am
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
I have discovered -but my sources are dubious- that alledgedly Robespierre was the author of the statement "you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs".


I know that at some point Lenin, while discussing with the writer Gorki, used the same expression, and the latter retorted "I have indeed seen a lot of broken eggs, but where is the omelette ?" :lol:

It is known that Lenin liked to relate to Robespierre as well as to the Commune.

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Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:27 pm
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
In the book I am currently reading by Orlando Figes called 'The Whisperers - private lives in Stalinist Russia", I cannot recall just how many times that expression is used by commonplace Russian communists as an apology for the hard line behaviour adopted by party leaders.

Knowing the Russian love of proverbs and sayings, I would doubt that they waited for Robespierre to come up with that expression! :) But then someone must have been the first to say it! Who invented the omelette?!

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Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:10 pm
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
Officially, Balzac first stated it, as it turns out.

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Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:14 pm
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
I know this is an old thread, so forgive me for A. reviving it, and B. Posting up some responses to posts that are, by now, relatively ancient.

But I got to say, since people were brandying about Ruth Scurr's biography (which is a great book, incidentally) I thought we should bring up Robespierre's contradictory actions towards the royal family which she Scurr briefly brings to light. Curiousy, bloodthirsty Robespierre intervened and saved Marie Therese, the daughter of Marie Antoinette's life. Apparently discussions were being brandied about that perhaps it would be best to poison her (because a show trial and guillotining of a child would be too absurd, it's speculated). Robespierre, essentially, said that the murder of a teenaged girl would be monstrous. This incident is what sparked the rumors that he wanted to marry her - his enemies couldn't conceive of any other reason why he wouldn't want her dead (the fact that he may have just adverse to the cold-blooded murder of a child was not something they considered). In reality, there is no evidence that he had any feelings towards her at all. He visited her once in the prison, but Marie Therese said in her memoirs that all he did was poke around at her books and they never said a word to on another. Likely he was searching for some secret letter he suspected was being exchanged - who knows?

I just felt the need to toss that in here because frankly, Robespierre did a lot of horrible things. The man's hands are red with blood. If we want to demonize his memory we have a lot of ammunition. We don't need to spread the absurd story that he wanted to marry a little girl. In reality, that his saving her life is a "good deed" we can chalk up to him.

He also tried to save the life of Louis XVI's sister (I forget her name at the moment) from the guillotine. He failed, and when someone challenged him to his face why he murdered an innocent woman he turned to his companion and said despairingly, "See? They always blame me." He obviously was displeased at having a death attributed to him that he couldn't lay claim to.

Obviously Maximilien Robespierre was no friend to the monarchy, and I think these stories are fascinating because of that. I don't think he was a "sociopath" as someone brandied about before - he never attended a single execution, for example, so it's not like he was delighting over seeing the heads roll. I think he was a corrupted idealist who had potential, but unfortunately for humanity made the wrong decisions and cost thousands of innocent lives.

Incidentally, the only record I've ever read about him keeping stashes of royal mementos under his mattress is Susan Nagel's biography of Marie-Therese. Does anyone know of any other sources/the contemporary source to this? I'm just wondering of the legitimacy of it. It's possible, of course. I just dunno. D:

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Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:24 am
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
Vive wrote:
I know this is an old thread, so forgive me for A. reviving it, and B. Posting up some responses to posts that are, by now, relatively ancient.

But I got to say, since people were brandying about Ruth Scurr's biography (which is a great book, incidentally) I thought we should bring up Robespierre's contradictory actions towards the royal family which she Scurr briefly brings to light. Curiousy, bloodthirsty Robespierre intervened and saved Marie Therese, the daughter of Marie Antoinette's life. Apparently discussions were being brandied about that perhaps it would be best to poison her (because a show trial and guillotining of a child would be too absurd, it's speculated). Robespierre, essentially, said that the murder of a teenaged girl would be monstrous. This incident is what sparked the rumors that he wanted to marry her - his enemies couldn't conceive of any other reason why he wouldn't want her dead (the fact that he may have just adverse to the cold-blooded murder of a child was not something they considered). In reality, there is no evidence that he had any feelings towards her at all. He visited her once in the prison, but Marie Therese said in her memoirs that all he did was poke around at her books and they never said a word to on another. Likely he was searching for some secret letter he suspected was being exchanged - who knows?

I just felt the need to toss that in here because frankly, Robespierre did a lot of horrible things. The man's hands are red with blood. If we want to demonize his memory we have a lot of ammunition. We don't need to spread the absurd story that he wanted to marry a little girl. In reality, that his saving her life is a "good deed" we can chalk up to him.

He also tried to save the life of Louis XVI's sister (I forget her name at the moment) from the guillotine. He failed, and when someone challenged him to his face why he murdered an innocent woman he turned to his companion and said despairingly, "See? They always blame me." He obviously was displeased at having a death attributed to him that he couldn't lay claim to.

Obviously Maximilien Robespierre was no friend to the monarchy, and I think these stories are fascinating because of that. I don't think he was a "sociopath" as someone brandied about before - he never attended a single execution, for example, so it's not like he was delighting over seeing the heads roll. I think he was a corrupted idealist who had potential, but unfortunately for humanity made the wrong decisions and cost thousands of innocent lives.

Incidentally, the only record I've ever read about him keeping stashes of royal mementos under his mattress is Susan Nagel's biography of Marie-Therese. Does anyone know of any other sources/the contemporary source to this? I'm just wondering of the legitimacy of it. It's possible, of course. I just dunno. D:


Ruth Scurr's biography is GREAT ! I am reading it right now.

I read that Nagel's assertions are often questionable. I read MTC's bio by Castelot, who tends to have a slant when it comes to the monarchy, but is often extremely precise and accurate.

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Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:05 am
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
As far as I know, it is not clear who visited MTC in prison.

In her Mémoires, she claimed that she thought the man was Robespierre, but it sounds like a dubious assertion.


I was very much enthralled by Robespierre's pre-political life, when he was very much against the death penaltly and was keen to defend the poor and underpriviledged ones. It's good that Scurr reminded that the guillotine was in fact a progress as far as the death penalty goes.

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Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:09 am
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
Yes, I heard about some inconsistencies in Nagel's biography. That's actually one of the reasons I'm hunting for some other record that Robespierre was collecting trophies. If he was that says a lot about the man, but it very well might be a lie - Marie Antoinette isn't the only victim of propaganda in this time period. Does Castelot mention it too? And yes, Scurr's biography is fantastic. Sometimes she gives Robespierre a little too much leeway, but she is generally on the ball.

And I agree with you - Pre-Revolutionary Robespierre has a fascinating life. it is almost frightening how much pre-Revolutionary Robespierre and I would get along. As you pointed, he did have some excellent, far-reaching, good ideas, at first. But he abandoned a great deal of them in his frantic attempt to protect them. So contradictory. Sad for everyone involved. But yes, the guillotine was much less painful than say, hanging or being broken on a wheel. People do tend to forget that, but a the same time, when it boils down to it, at the end they were still dead. It's sad to think that so many innocents were dragged to their deaths, and the fact that it was a "humane" one isn't really comforting.

As for who MTA was visited by in prison, you're right, Therese wasn't certain about the identity. But since there are records that Robespierre visited her, I'll accept her prognosis. Regardless, I was just pointing it out to deny an earlier accusation in this thread that Robespierre was a pedophile. No, he was just called one because he gawked at murdering a child. Both are atrocious, and I'm certain a person can be one without being the other. This is one monstrosity we can't chalk up to him.

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Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:30 am
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
Vive wrote:
Yes, I heard about some inconsistencies in Nagel's biography. That's actually one of the reasons I'm hunting for some other record that Robespierre was collecting trophies. If he was that says a lot about the man, but it very well might be a lie - Marie Antoinette isn't the only victim of propaganda in this time period. Does Castelot mention it too? And yes, Scurr's biography is fantastic. Sometimes she gives Robespierre a little too much leeway, but she is generally on the ball.

And I agree with you - Pre-Revolutionary Robespierre has a fascinating life. it is almost frightening how much pre-Revolutionary Robespierre and I would get along. As you pointed, he did have some excellent, far-reaching, good ideas, at first. But he abandoned a great deal of them in his frantic attempt to protect them. So contradictory. Sad for everyone involved. But yes, the guillotine was much less painful than say, hanging or being broken on a wheel. People do tend to forget that, but a the same time, when it boils down to it, at the end they were still dead. It's sad to think that so many innocents were dragged to their deaths, and the fact that it was a "humane" one isn't really comforting.

As for who MTA was visited by in prison, you're right, Therese wasn't certain about the identity. But since there are records that Robespierre visited her, I'll accept her prognosis. Regardless, I was just pointing it out to deny an earlier accusation in this thread that Robespierre was a pedophile. No, he was just called one because he gawked at murdering a child. Both are atrocious, and I'm certain a person can be one without being the other. This is one monstrosity we can't chalk up to him.


I did not know there were such records ! Interesting.

As you know, Robespierre had decorated his own flat, rue du Faubourd Saint-Honoré I believe, with his own portraits. I have also read that indeed, some of the belongings of the Royal family were found under his bed. That would not surprise me.

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Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:52 am
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
Well, I say "records" but it's not like I've seen the contemporary reports. I do believe someone did mention that Robespierre absented himself to inspect Therese's prison conditions or something, but right now I couldn't tell you who said it or where so take my words as you will. The fact is, if he did visit, it would appear that he didn't make any sexual advances, and if he didn't visit, than it is a moot point anyway.

But indeed the artifacts would not surprise me at all. It would not be straight out of character, but it still has the tinge of rumor to me. So I'm just wondering if there is any contemporary list of the discovered belongings. I know an inventory of his possessions was taken immediately after his death, as they generally did. Are they mentioned on there?

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Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:43 pm
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
Well to start with the Queen's last letter!

I must read that biography.

Robespierre was against the death penalty in principle, except for the "tyrant" Louis XVI, but then what happened to that conviction during the Terror? And he did appartently watch the victims go to their death from his flat, looking out onto the Rue St Honoré! Curiously he was a lodger...imagine having Robespierre as a tenant! :lol:

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Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:48 am
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Post Re: Maximilien Robespierre
baron de batz wrote:
Well to start with the Queen's last letter!

I must read that biography.

Robespierre was against the death penalty in principle, except for the "tyrant" Louis XVI, but then what happened to that conviction during the Terror? And he did appartently watch the victims go to their death from his flat, looking out onto the Rue St Honoré! Curiously he was a lodger...imagine having Robespierre as a tenant! :lol:


He was against the way the death penalty was carried out under the monarchy, that for sure. Let us not forget that only the nobles had their head chopped off. Others had to go through what we would no call torture.

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Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:54 am
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