Robespierre (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: Alone among the leaders of the French Revolution, Robespierre was identified with every stage of the Revolution. In addition, he most clearly enunciated the ideals upon which the Revolution was to be based and fought most vigorously for its success.
Maximilien-François-Marié-Isidore de Robespierre was born at Arras, in the province of Artois, on May 6, 1758. He was the eldest of four surviving children of Maximilien-Barthélemy, a third-generation lawyer, and Jacqueline-Marguerite, née Carraut, de Robespierre. Maximilien was only five years old when his mother died in childbirth, and, soon after, his father abandoned his children and left them to the care of first their maternal grandfather and later their aunts. These events undoubtedly had a profound impact on the young boy. From an early age, he was forced to assume adult responsibilities and to suffer privation. His childhood instilled in him certain distinctive features of his personality, including serious-mindedness, studiousness, and an appreciation of what it meant to be poor.
Robespierre’s education was provided by charitable foundations. Following four years at a church-sponsored school in Arras, he won a church scholarship to the prestigious College of Louis-le-Grand of the University of Paris, where for twelve years he studied classics and law and was first exposed to the writings of his later philosophical...
(The entire section is 2475 words.)
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