Maximillien Robespierre, a French lawyer and politician in the French Revolution, and Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, a soldier and politician, were executed on this day in 1794. Two of the most influential figures of the French Revolution, the two friends were executed by the French citizenry during the Reign of Terror, due to their alleged involvement in mass acts of violence around the country. Although at the beginning of the French Revolution they were seen as heroes, by the end, they had alienated their supporters, being arrested the day before in a violent affair that resulted in Robespierre’s attempted suicide, and the successful suicides of some of his allies. The two were held in custody overnight, until the the provisional French government ordered the execution of Robespierre and twelve of his allied captured on that night, including Saint-Just. A philosopher as well, Robespierre and his allies defined the outcome of the French Revolution, although the Reign of Terror would not end in their death, but with the rise of Napoleon. They did, however, have an important position in the Revolution that overthrew King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette. Although this caused much trouble for France, it did eventually steer France into its first democracy, and its eventual position today.
“The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.”-Maximilien Robespierre