Robespierre, Puppet of the Times
The time of the French Revolution was a turning point in the history of man. There had been plenty of revolutions before this one, and there have been plenty since. The coalition in time of many spectacular and world-changing developments met at the moment in history of the French Revolution. The Enlightenment brought ideas to the people which not only had never before been considered on a mass scale, but also make up the foundation of today's Constitution. The radical nature of the enlightenment combined with the raw power of the French Revolution changed many ways of the past into what they are now. Not only did it abolish the validity of many ideas of the old ages, such as aristocratic privileges, and monarchic rule, but this revolution was one of the first to try to create an ideological purity with the use of the Terror.
Considering all of the changes still active today that the French Revolution brought about, it is hard to even imagine that it might not have happened if it weren't for one man, Maximilien Robespierre. Through all of the setbacks that the French Revolution underwent, Robespierre was there at every step to guide the revolt through to its final stages. Only after the guillotine fell on his neck was the Revolution even considered to be over. Labeled “The Incorruptible” by his peers and contemporaries, Robespierre was the uncompromising leader of a Revolution that guided his every action, deluded his thoughts, and skewed his perception of right and wrong. Some say that Robespierre's actions that set the course of the Revolution, I say that the rebellion governed the man.
Robespierre is often portrayed by historians as having a very troubled childhood. Having lost his mother at age 6, and his father even before then, Robespierre's “traumas” are often attributed to his need for acceptance and fear of personal intimacy. However, Peter McPhee articulates upon Robespierre's childhood from a different angle, in which he found great strength from both of his parents. Memoirs from Maximilien's younger sister Charlotte recall how his eyes would fill up with tears whenever they spoke of their mother, Jacqueline, “as good a wife as she was a mother”(McPhee, 6). Maximilien was not always the insurgence-crazed zealot he was at his time of death. As a child, he had 3 close siblings and was raised by a loving mother, and later on in life, his grandparents. His father was a lawyer, and so Maximilien followed in his footsteps. It is seriously doubted that he harbored any resentment for his father considering his paternal inspiration he drew from him.
During his rigorous schooling is where Robespierre first showed signs of the idealist and steadfast opinions that would later earn him the nickname, “The Incorruptible.” An early display of both his aptitude for leadership and his idealist point of view on public policy is evident in his inauguration speech as his academy's director. “Poverty corrupts the...