A Brief Biography of Maximilien Robespierre and His Influence on the Novel "A Tale of Two Cities"

Essay by interdsHigh School, 11th gradeA+, April 2004

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Maximilien Francois Marie Isidore de Robespierre, the 'Incorruptible,' was a lawyer and political leader in France during the time of the Reign of Terror from 1793-1794 in the French Revolution. As a member of the Committee of Public Safety for the duration of the National Convention, his goal was to achieve a Republic of Virtue based on ideas of the Enlightenment, in which all French citizens would have high moral standards and be dedicated patriots to the Revolutionary Republic. Those who did not accept his ideas, or whom he suspected of as being enemies, he sent to the guillotine to be beheaded. Throughout this period, 16,000 people were executed, putting Robespierre into the books as one of the most ruthless and horrifying men in history. In addition, many of his ideas and actions influenced the novel, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, which portrayed a fictional life during the French Revolution.


Robespierre was born in Arras, France on May 6, 1758, the son of François Robespierre and Jacqueline-Marguerite Carraut, and brother to Charlotte, his sister. When he was young, his mother passed away, and his father sent him and his sister to his grandparents' to be raised. At the age of seven, Robespierre was sent to the College of the Oratorians at Arras where he excelled as a student, and was eventually accepted into Louis-le-Grand in Paris, a prestigious college where only top scholars attended. As a shy and quiet man, Robespierre kept his ideas to himself and disliked any public attention.

By the time he was twenty-three, in 1781, he received his bachelors degree in law, and began his life as a lawyer. He set up a business in his hometown of Arras, France, and started to use his skills in law to defend poor...