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Louis de Saint-Just

Saint-Just, Louis de (lwēˈ də săN-zhüstˈ) [key], 1767–94, French revolutionary. A member of the Convention from 1792, he became a favorite of Maximilien Robespierre and was (1793–94) a leading member of the Committee of Public Safety (see Reign of Terror). As commissioner (1793) with the army of the Rhine, he contributed to the successful operations that drove the allies beyond the French border. On his return he served as president of the Convention. He supported Robespierre in the destruction of the Hébertists and Dantonists (see Hébert, Jacques René; Danton, Georges Jacques); in doctrinaire interpretation of Rousseau's political teachings he was more radically idealistic than Robespierre. Saint-Just believed fanatically in the perfect state, based on rigorous Spartan virtue, and brooked no opposition to this political philosophy. During the coup of 9 Thermidor (1794), which overthrew Robespierre and other members of the Committee of Public Safety, Saint-Just was prevented from delivering a speech in defense of Robespierre. Saint-Just's arrest was ordered, and he was guillotined with Robespierre.

See biographies by G. Bruun (1932, repr. 1966), E. N. Curtis (1935, repr. 1973), and B. Vinot (1985).

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

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