Danton Versus Robespierre: The Quest for Revolutionary Power
Maximilien Robespierre, the architect of the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, is overthrown and arrested by the National Convention. As the leading member. Saint-Just said that Danton had been a 'faux ami' to Desmoulins when he spoke of made by Robespierre who declared that Danton had attributed Desmoulins' to label same-sex relations between men in the 18th century. The conflict between Robespierre and Danton is a battle of ideas, the . Robespierre's relationship with Danton is also the subject of Georg.
By the spring ofhe was one of the best known and respected politicians in France.
He had been dubbed "The Incorruptible" by his colleagues, and had become the popular representative for many of the people. Ironically, just a few days before Danton's appointment, there had been an assassination attempt upon Robespierre, which made Danton fearful for his own life. The National Convention was the ruling authority of France. It had members and consisted of numerous political factions. Elected in Septemberthe National Convention had abolished the monarchy and declared France a Republic.
On the first day, Robespierre, who headed the list, and was called into the Convention with only of votes cast.
Danton, however, on September 6 received of votes. No other deputy obtained so large a number.
One English observer, John Moore, described Robespierre as a man with a disagreeable countenance, possessing more fire than understanding. Moore also believed that Robespierre concealed hatred and malignity in his heart and soul. Danton was also described by Moore as a politician who laid little stress on government and would have no objection to returning the monarchy, provided the monarchy were a creature of his own.
Millingen, described Danton, after seeing him in the National Convention: The only member of the Government I saw, whose brutality revolted me, was Danton.
Georges Danton | French revolutionary leader | ddttrh.info
There was something inexpressibly savage in his looks, and in his stentorian voice. His course shaggy hair gave him the appearance of a wild beast. To add to the fierceness of his repulsive countenance, he was deeply marked with the small-pox, and his eyes were unusually small, and sparkling in surrounding darkness, like the famous carbuncle.
With his support, the National Convention authorized the right to search every household throughout the kingdom in order to confiscate all property that could be useful to the government. Danton believed the country's situation called for vigorous actions because public danger was much greater than the people imagined.
During this period, over 18, persons fell to the guillotine, with 2, executions occurring in Paris under the power of the Revolutionary Tribunal. An emergency executive body, the Committee of Public Safety was designed to provide more effective action and greater co-operation between executive and legislative branches of the government.
At first, the Committee served as a ministry, responsible to the Convention, which it later came to dominate. Under critical circumstances, it was authorized to take measures of general defense, both internal and external. He was the dominating personality in the body. The ends for which he worked were the reconciliation of the parties within the Convention and the re-establishment of peace with Europe.
This meant justice for everyone, clemency for enemies and the recalling of all deposed Convention members. He believed that these former members should be granted amnesty and subjected to the Constitution of Danton misjudged the depth and fury of the revolutionary stream, believing in May that the time had come for compromise and consolidation.
That was his error, and he resigned from the Committee in Julyleaving behind failed projects and the leadership of the newly elected Robespierre.
He was to remain a member and the Committee's outstanding spokesman until his death a year later. He established the guillotine as a permanent feature of the Revolution and ordered mass executions in order to cleanse France of all threats to his power. Resting in his hometown, Danton soon learned of his successor's victories. He was naturally jealous of Robespierre's achievement and horrified by the outrageous methods used to bring it about. Despite the resources which Robespierre could command, Danton saw himself strong enough for a political challenge.
Though he had no stomach for street battles, Danton showed real courage in the political arena. He came back still a giant, forcing a loud voice, but It seems that he returned too late to stop Robespierre's dictatorship. Robespierre sought to help Danton elttier because he saw that Danton and he were not strong enough to overthrow the Committees or because he was afraid to give too much power to Danton. However, the pro-terror groups within the Committee of Public Safety ended the possibility of the two leaders uniting.
Robespierre summarized his views in a speech delivered to the National Convention: In our country, we want to replace egoism with morality, honor with honesty, the tyranny of fashion with the rule of reason, insolence with self-respect, wit with genius, show with truth, and an amiable, frivolous and wretched people with one that is magnanimous, strong and happy, that is to say we want to replace all the vices and stupidities of the monarchy with all the virtues and miracles of the Republic.
He described making himself into a new man by means of virtue, and offered this exemplary being to the nation as a constant object of admIration, pity and fear. Unlike Danton, known to abandon his heroic posture, Robespierre never relinquished the image that he had created of himself. Danton wished to relax the Terror. He saw no more need for wholesale use of the guillotine when the Republican armies were victorious at home and abroad.
The creation of a vague and broad Republic, with men of all political orientations joined together, was Danton's plan 26 "Blood endless blood," Danton said, "The Wretches.
They will end up by drowning the Revolution. During the Convention, Danton had even spoken in favor of eventually ending the Terror.
- Robespierre overthrown in France
- Decoding the revolutionaries’ “Private and shameful vices”
- Georges Danton
Twice he had approached Robespierre, but no agreement could be made. Robespierre denied that any innocent people had perished and insisted that Danton's concern for suspects was proof of his own lax principles.
The Revolution, according to Robespierre, is the war of liberty against its enemies, and the constitution is the regime of victorIous and peace-loving liberty. Robespierre strongly believed that the Terror should be increased in intensity, rather then diminished, in order to assure the establishment of a permanent constitutional government.
Since Robespierre's conception of the Terror was its infallibility in all matters of justice, Danton was seriously questioning a fundamental tenet of Robespierre's nationalist philosophy that the "nation could do no wrong. Danton seemed to prefer toleration and a return to pre-Revolutionary France. Their decision that the Terror should be maintained was simply a time judgement because both intended to end the Terror after Revolutionary justice had been applied to ease the wounds of the nation.
Although the two politicians had a sense of immortality and constant approval, Englishmen such as W. Miles believed that Robespierre and Danton were just leaders as long as they remained loyal to liberty, but they would be overthrown if they betrayed the cause of liberty. He did not agree that individuals should be denounced at random without any kind of proof. According to Paine, the Terror undermined and destroyed all trust, not to mention all confidence and authority that had already been created.
Robespierre and Danton | Ideas
While the Dantonists wanted the French royalty to return, Robespierre declared that all kings and aristocrats were slaves rebelling against the people. Robespierre went further to add that all enemies of liberty should be annihilated to uphold the rights of man. With Danton's plan to recall the noblemen, Robespierre scoffed at him and said, "Show consideration for the Royalists. You should have compassion with the innocent and the weak. Given their numerous differences in personality and ideology, Robespierre and Danton were destined to confront one another.
Robespierre definitely considered the Dantonists to be enemies of the Revolution because they proposed a form of government not based upon virtue. Robespierre connected the government with the welfare of France and considered any assauit upon the government as an attack upon the nation. As Robespierre listened, he was convinced that Danton was pushing for leadership in a post-Terror government. If Robespierre did not counter-attack quickly, the Dantonists could seize control of the National Convention and bring an end to his Republic of Virtue.
He planned to convict Danton and his followers on false charges of treason and other unpatriotic acts. During the week preceding Danton's arrest, Robespierre cautiously moved his agents into vacancies in the government created by previously eliminated factions. All sides of the trap were carefully tested so that Danton could not escape.
In the solitude of his room, Robespierre began to construct the charges that would secure Danton's head. He wrote phrases and ideas, rather than clear sentences, in order to protect himself from possible incrimination. All but two signed the warrant for arrest of Danton, and the order was carried out the same night.
Danton, and his associates, shall be apprehended, taken up and arrested wherever they may be found. Their names will be entered in the jail-book of the register of the Luxembourg house of detention, where they shall remain in prison until arraignment upon the decree of accusations. He was soon joined by his followers and kept under close confinement until their trial began. The Dantonists, in Robespierre's eyes, had become false patriots who had preferred personal and foreign interests to the welfare of the nation.
The trial was as great a farce as the charges. Robespierre took every precaution to assure Danton's condemnation.
Private and Shameful Vices – the debate continues
There were no witnesses, because the "proof" rested largely in Robespierre's accusations. However, the charges were scarcely credible. Robespierre's belief that Danton was involved in plots against France was impossible to prove and hardly believable. The charges became even more ridiculous when Robespierre accused Danton of being an enemy of virtue and not being patriotic enough. Once again Robespierre demonstrated his belief that anything contrary to the Republic of Virtue was a crime against France.
Robespierre's picture of Danton was a travesty of logic and justice. One by one, Danton began to answer to Saint-Just's charges, reducing them to a concoction of lies and gossip. He spoke for over an hour and, before he was through, it became apparent to the whole court, audience and participants alike, that the charges could not possibly be sustained.
The President was so afraid that the crowd might take the prisoner's side that he adjourned the session, with the excuse that Danton must be tired. After adjournment, a report was spread through Paris that Danton was to be acquitted, and, on the following day, the rest of the Dantonists would be allowed to defend their actions. Thus, the Dantonists were not allowed to further defend themselves, and the trial became dominated by Robespierre.
Danton expressed his indignation at the injustice and the tyranny of their trial. Danton cried out, "We are to be condemned without a hearing! There is no need for the jury to deliberate. We have lived long enough to be content to slumber in the bosom of glory. Take us to the scaffold! In the verdict, five days later, these charges were condensed into two.
Six of the prisoners were found guilty of a conspiracy aiming at the re-establishment of the monarchy and the destruction of the national representation and republican government. One was acquitted, while the other nine were guilty of a conspiracy aiming at discrediting and debasing the national representation and destroying by corruption the Republican government.
Your house shall be beaten down and sowed with salt. Time will never erase it from my memory. I perfectly comprehend the feeling which inspired Danton to utter his last words, those terrible words, that I could not hear, but which were repeated to me in trembling horror and admiration. For five years Danton had been the champion of the Revolution, but the forces of Robespierre had given Danton the image of a traitor. Since Danton's head had fallen, Robespierre was making no mistake in believing that his life was now, more than ever, in danger.
In the orgy of bloodshed, Robespierre succeeded in purging many of his political opponents. On June 4,Robespierre was almost unanimously elected president of the National Convention. In just a month, 1, enemies of the Revolution were guillotined.
The Terror was being escalated just when foreign invasion no longer threatened the republic, and an awkward coalition of the right and the left formed to oppose Robespierre and his followers. On July 27, 9 Thermidor in the Revolutionary calendarRobespierre and his allies were placed under arrest by the National Assembly.
Robespierre was taken to the Luxembourg prison in Paris, but the warden refused to jail him, and he fled to the Hotel de Ville. Armed supporters arrived to aid him, but he refused to lead a new insurrection. When he received word that the National Convention had declared him an outlaw, he shot himself in the head but only succeeded in wounding his jaw.
Shortly thereafter, troops of the National Convention attacked the Hotel de Ville and seized Robespierre and his allies.
The next evening—July 28—Robespierre and 21 others were guillotined without a trial in the Place de la Revolution.