Maximilien Robespierre’s principles on justice and terror Essay

Maximilien robespierre’s principles on justice and terror

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Maximilien Robespierre has always been an icon to some people of liberty and justice, whereas to others, he is considered somewhat of a “devilish” figure. He is best known as “The Incorruptible”, as he, being one of the most prominent figures of the French Revolution, stood his ground from the very first time he entered government. I believe that Robespierre was a man of principles. Such men are revered but at times, they also sometimes delve into their principles so much that they lose track of what is right. Judging from all of Robespierre’s accomplishments in his service to the French, he did the people more justice than any other man in the era. From his two speeches, Against Granting the King a Trial and Defense of Terrorism, I have gathered sufficient insights to his principles. Along with notes and essays gathered from the internet, these insights are reinforced. From my four references, I shall prove Robespierre’s correctness in ensuing justice and safety for his people.

            In his speech Against Granting the King a Trial (1792), Robespierre claimed that King Louis XVI did not deserve political immunity just because he was the leader of the country. When the king and his wife Queen Marie-Antoinette attempted to flee from France in order to seek refuge with powers opposed to the revolution, Robespierre was outraged at this treachery.[1] He believed that even though he was at the top of the social ranks of the people of France, he deserved to be treated the same way as his people when it came to the acts of his wrongdoing. Robespierre was famous for trying to wipe out any trace of the old monarchy. He believed in justice for all, having been born into a poor family. Although he was able to finish school and become a lawyer, he didn’t succeed at first and had to spend countless hours of being heard in his advocacy of equality between the rich and the poor.[2]

            Robespierre did not allow any political force to overcome his sentence. Even though he knew that many would be outraged at his rather disrespectful treatment of the king, he stood by his principles that no one can ever be exempted from the law when it comes to any crime. Whether one may be rich or poor, he still has the duty to be faithful to his country and abide by all its laws.

            In his speech Defense of Terrorism (1794), Robespierre authorized the use of terror and force when it came to defending the country. He believed that it was the only way to rid society with all its crimes. This “Reign of Terror” was brought about by his belief that every society had its own ideology that it followed when it came to the use of terror. In the same sense as it applied for the Nazis and their belief of racial purity and for Islamic terrorists and their interpretation of the Koran, Robespierre believed that a strict ideology would bring about peace to their country.[3] Terror was believed to be a way to keep the enemies of the people in line. They would not dare to fight or try to invade France because they knew that France would respond greatly by terror. Through this, Robespierre was able to give security to his people, who were assured that their safety was foremost in the government’s mind, and that anyone who tried to harm them or cause difficulties to any one of them would be subject to harsh consequences, in exactly the same sense as Robespierre protected his people from injustice by his conviction of King Louis XVI.

            Although Robespierre was believed to be “too harsh” at times, he was not any different from other men. Other men also delved into the different sins, the same way Robespierre might have been reckless at times in his sentences of death to some people.[4] This was mainly because he fought so hard in his life. He knew what it was like to be treated unequally for matters that one cannot control (like his status in life or his wealth), and he did not want his people to suffer the way he had. As he entered government service, he found a way to fight for all his people—people of all classes and statuses—through his own means.


Barker, David, Steve Crimlisk, and Matt Rogers. “Death from above”. (accessed May 11, 2009).

Baldwin, Jeff. “Review”. theGreatBooks. (accessed May 11, 2009).

Kekes. John. “Why Robespierre chose terror”. City Journal, The Manhattan Institute, 2006. (accessed May 11, 2009).

Robbins, Michael D. “Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre”. Makara, 2005. (accessed May 11, 2009).

[1]. Michael D. Robbins, “Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre,” Makara, 2005. (accessed May 11, 2009).

[2]. David Barker, Steve Crimlisk, and Matt Rogers. “Death from above”. (accessed May 11, 2009).
[3]. John Kekes. “Why Robespierre chose terror”. City Journal, The Manhattan Institute, 2006. (accessed May 11, 2009).
[4]. Jeff Baldwin. “Review”. theGreatBooks. (accessed May 11, 2009)

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