Robespierre Despotacy In The French Revolution
Comte de Mirabeau claimed that “In time of anarchy one may seem a despot in order to be a saviour.” This is evident in the French Revolution, specifically the Terror (1793-1794), which was a period of anarchy in France. A despot refers to government which holds all the power and uses it in an oppressive and tyrannical way. The revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre seemed despotic during the Terror, through several of his actions such as; his exploitation of fear, his de-Christianisation of France and his organized execution of ‘enemies of the revolution.’ Robespierre intended to provide stability in France, nevertheless the subsequent actions proved to be counterproductive to the revolution.
Prior to the Terror, …show more content…
Robespierre grew increasingly paranoid, which led to the Committee sanctioning laws that were aimed against alleged enemies. In September 1793, the Convention passed the ‘Law of Suspects’ which deemed those who “have not constantly demonstrated their devotion to the Revolution” (Duvergier J.B 1793), as suspects who could be arrested and executed. This law allowed the Committee to abuse their power and arrest anybody they wanted to ensure the ‘safety’ of France, highlighting Robespierre’s exploitation of power. Shortly, the ‘Law of 22 Prairial’ was passed by the Committee, and effectively removed the rights of accused persons. Robespierre would not allow anything to defer the completion of the revolution, this is especially evident during the Wars of the Vendée, in which the Vendée rebelled against the injustices of the revolution. The Committee originally hoped for a pacification, nevertheless when faced with resistance they decided “that a severe and swift example” needed to be set (Buchez, B 1793), meaning the city of Vendee had to be subdued using violence, this is behaviour is reminiscent of other dictators like Hitler and Stalin, (Kekes J 2006; Piedro A 2018). This illustrates Robespierre’s tyrannical behaviour to achieve his goal. Other revolutionary leaders like Georges Dante, who initially supported Robespierre began to question the terror and the justification, which led to his execution. Dantes’ only crime was opposing Robespierre, which demonstrates the oppressive society which Robespierre created. The Laws that the Committee created pertained to different things including; the economy, the church and conscription. These laws were strict, oppressive and carried the harsh punishment of death if broken. These laws were detrimental to France and created an