CLIO 7 (1) - page 6

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that a virtuous nation would arise from a govern-
ment unrestricted by monarchy. His political, social
and philosophical views derived from his support
and love and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Philosophy.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a radical 20th-Century
philosopher who believed that man ‘operated’ best
when free, in a natural environment, and that soci-
ety had corrupted man’s instincts. He said that for
a society to work properly, each individual member
of that society should contribute and make the laws
of that society, so that each member was capable
of being free from any imposing laws, and yet also
working in helping others in society. However, if a
man or woman did not confer to these laws, Ros-
seau said that they must be “forced to be free”. It
was said that Robespierre kept a copy of one of
Rousseau’s book by his bed every night. When Louis
XVI summoned a national assembly, called the
Estates-General, in 1789, Robespierre was elected
to travel to Paris for the largest gathering a political
men in France, a gathering that hadn’t occurred for
over a century and a half.
Long Live La Revolution
The meeting was a failure as theThird Es-
tate, those representing the lower classes, broke
off and formed their own assembly, which they
called the National Assembly. They made an oath
“not to separate, and to reassemble wherever
circumstances require, until the constitution of the
kingdom is established”. Robespierre joined this,
and quickly gained popularity among the lowest
classes within the Third Estate for his speeches
attacking the monarchy and the fact that he identi-
fied with the lower classes (the sans-culottes, who
were the most radical members of the National As-
sembly), having lived in relative poverty during his
childhood. However, he was also a bourgeois and
therefore popular among fellow politicians in the
extreme left-wing ‘Jacobin’ club in Paris, of which
he was a prominent member. Nicknamed “The
Incorruptible”, he was admired by those in the club
for his honesty and firm sense of right and wrong.
He saw a clear line between what was good and
what was evil, what was necessary and what was
detrimental to the glory of France. The combination
of popularity in both the higher and the lower class-
es proved vital in his rise to become one of the most
powerful men in France.
In September 1791, The National Assembly
was dissolved after a coup by the sans-culottes (the
“Every precaution must early
be used to place the interests
of freedom in the hands of
truth”
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