Robespierre, Maximilien (1758–94)
Maximilien Robespierre was the son of a barrister. He was born in Arras and studied in Paris, at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. He became a lawyer himself, and was elected to represent his native province (Artois) at the meeting of the States General in May 1789. During the years that followed, as the new constitution was being debated, he was notable as a clever and zealous supporter of the revolutionary cause. In 1791 he was nicknamed ‘the Incorruptible’, and it was hinted that he was the nephew of Damien, who had attempted to kill Louis XV in 1757 (and been brutally executed in consequence). Carlyle, from a misreading of Madame de Staël, described him as a man with a sea-green complexion (The French Revolution, 1896, I, 141): actually, the veins of his brow were this colour.
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