Author Archives: Alice Vo

The Fall and Execution of Robespierre

On July 26th, 1794, Robespierre returned to the Convention to give a speech denouncing the Committee of Public Safety, General Safety, and other various members of the convention who he believed discredited the revolution by using excessive violence, for example, some of the representatives on the missions abused their power to conduct mass drowning and shootings of suspected rebels (Dwyer and McPhee 110). In his speech, he suggested a new purge of deputies, but his refusal to name specific individuals alarmed many of his listeners. His opponents used this chaotic moment to condemn Robespierre as a tyrant and demand his removal. They wanted to dispose of Robespierre to protect themselves from the guillotine. On July 27th, Robespierre, his brother, and other “Robespierrist” officials were arrested and sent to prison. However, the city prisons refused to hold Robespierre, so Robespierre and his supporters moved to the Hôtel de Ville. Upon hearing Robespierre’s liberation, the National Guard entered the Hôtel de Ville on July 28th and made the arrest. Afterward, Robespierre and the surviving Robespierrists were taken to the Revolutionary Tribunal. They were quickly condemned to death and sent to the guillotine. Robespierre’s execution effectively ended the Terror, which many of his opponents would later blame him for, tarnishing his reputation.

Works Cited

Dwyer, Philip, and Peter McPhee. The French Revolution and Napoleon. London: Routledge.

Decree requiring the clerical oath

During the early years of the Revolution, one of the National Assembly’s plans was to reform the Church, which was viewed as lavish due to its extensive wealth and land holdings. To fix these abuses, the Assembly nationalized the Church’s land and passed The Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which reorganized the internal structure. For example, bishops’ salaries were reduced, and they had to live with their own diocese or district. (Dwyer and McPhee 45). Then, the Assembly passed the decree of 27 November 1790, which stated that all clergymen had to swear to be “faithful to the nation, to the law and to the king, to maintain the Constitution decreed by the National Assembly…” or have their position, pension, and rights as French citizens forfeited (48). This was extremely controversial because this created a conflict of loyalty for many clergymen, who swore their loyalty to God and to the Pope. Some clergymen did take the oath, while others felt that the Assembly did not have the right to reform the Church, a divine institution, without consulting the Pope. The Pope condemned the Constitution and the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizens as “inimical to Christian life,” escalating conflict between the state and the clergy as many clergy members retracted their oaths (50).

Works Cited

Dwyer, Philip, and Peter McPhee. The French Revolution and Napoleon. London: Routledge.

2002.