Robespierre: a reluctant terrorist?

By William Doyle, published 25th August 2022

After a revolution to remove the monarchy did the French revolutionaries create another leadership of power over ideals? William Doyle re-evaluates the reputation of the so-called architect of terror during the French Revolutionary years.

Two recent books reflect a seemingly endless fascination with the man whose downfall brought the end of the terror in the French Revolution. In The Fall of Robespierre: 24 hours in revolutionary Paris (Oxford University Press) Colin Jones offers a riveting hour-by-hour account of the confused circumstances of Robespierre’s downfall, while Marcel Gauchet in Robespierre: the man who divides us the most (Princeton University Press) explores the contradictions and development of his thought and how they have affected his historical reputation. Both cast fascinating fresh light on Maximilien Robespierre’s revolutionary career, accepting that he had to be overthrown in order to bring the nightmare of the terror to an end...

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