CLIO 7 (1) - page 5

A Normal Life
Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robe-
spierre was born on the 6th of May, 1758, in the
small town of Arras, in France. His mother, Jacque-
line Marguerite Carrault, died when he was six years
old, and his father Maximilien Barthélémy François
de Robespierre left soon after, leaving Maximilien
and his three siblings to be looked after by their
elderly relatives. Of course, this was not uncommon
at the time in France as it wasn’t considered the
man’s job to look after the children. Nevertheless,
the relatives who raised the children were said to
have lectured them often on their father’s foolish-
ness, rashness and selfishness. Being the eldest
sibling, it was probable that Maximilien was looked
up to and depended on by his siblings, and so felt
the burden of both responsibility and decision-mak-
ing at an early age, as well as the skills of taking
charge and leading others. After leaving school he
went and studied law at the Collége Louis-le-Grand
in Paris, then returned to Arras as a practitioner of
law. He was successful in this field but disliked by
some in Arras for his persistent defending of the
poor against the rich in his court cases. Another
matter that perturbed the higher-class residents
of the town were his frequent speeches about the
pressing need for political change. He often at-
tacked and criticised the king’s actions and believed
“Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe,
inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue”
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