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Maximilien Marie Isidore Robespierre

Reign of Terror

On July 27, 1793, Robespierre was elected to the Committee of Public Safety, where his power and prestige grew. The dangers of foreign invasion and the urgent need to maintain order and unity led the committee to inaugurate the Reign of Terror. Although it was a collective effort, the name of Robespierre is always associated with it because of his prominence on the committee. Robespierre opposed both the extreme left, under Jacques Hébert, and the moderates, led by Georges Danton and Camille Desmoulins. Each group was in turn arrested and guillotined (Mar.–Apr., 1794). By this time, however, Robespierre's position was becoming precarious; he was faced by divisions within the Committee of Public Safety and by opposition from the Plain in the Convention. The establishment of a new civic religion, partly to combat the atheism of the Hébertists, also provoked criticism.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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