Class Year

2020

Date

4-22-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Distinguished Thesis

Yes

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Second Department or Program

History

First Advisor

D. L. LeMahieu

Second Advisor

Debra Homer Levis

Third Advisor

David Boden

Abstract

During the French Revolution of 1789, French citizens fought to abolish the ancient order of kings and aristocrats in order to establish the First Republic, a new regime founded upon liberty, equality, and fraternity. A vital instrument of this effort was a radical lawyer, Maximilien Robespierre. He often exhibited self-contradictory behavior as he assumed whatever role necessary to guide France in its path to democracy. Generally, historians depict Robespierre as either a tyrant who exercised unchecked violence, or as a hero of the Republic who epitomized democratic values. The goal of this study is to challenge these binary interpretations by presenting a spectrum of Robespierre’s identities as a dictator, democrat, utopian, and lawyer. This nuanced perspective on a historical subject will reveal that truth and justice have many versions, and it responds to the ongoing inquiry: who was Maximilien Robespierre?

Language

English


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