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Seminar Reading: Week 15

Robespierre: Monster or Scapegoat?


Core primary sources

Robespierre, Report on the Principles of Political Morality (5 February 1794), in Mason and Rizzo, The French Rev Document Collection, pp. 254-258. (See Moodle).


Core secondary sources

Listen to:

Colin Jones, 'The Fall of Robespierre' (podcast, 2021, 1h)


'The Robespierre Problem' (Discussion/debate between Peter McPhee and Colin Jones [video, 2015, 45 mins])


Watch film by Andrzej Wajda, Danton (1983) [WE ALREADY WATCHED THIS IN DECEMBER]



Marisa Linton, Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship and Authority in the French Revolution (2013), chapter 8 'The Enemy Within' (see Moodle)


The Robespierre Problem: H-France Salon, Vol. 7, Issue 14 (online)

  • Read the introduction and one other contribution below:
    The Robespierre Problem: An Introduction, Peter McPhee, University of Melbourne
    The Robespierre Problem, David Andress, University of Portsmouth
    The Choices of Maximilien Robespierre, Marisa Linton, Kingston University
  • For those with French:
    Robespierre pris au piège des mécanismes d’épuration politique, Michel Biard, GRHis, Normandie Université, Rouen
    Aux origines du « problème » Robespierre: l’historien face à ses interrogations, Hervé Leuwers, Université Lille 3 - UMR IRHiS

Further reading/watching/listening

Awkward BBC documentary on the Terror but helpful for grasping the larger implications of debates over Robespierre

P. McPhee, Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life (2012)

C. Jones lecture (2015)

C. Jones, The Fall of Robespierre: 24 hours in revolutionary Paris (2021)

F. Furet, ‘Terror’ in Furet/Ozouf (eds.), Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution (1989)

N. Hampson, Life and Opinions of Maximilien Robespierre (1974)

D.P. Jordan, The Revolutionary Career of Maximilien Robespierre (1985)

J. Israel, Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French Revolution from The Rights of Man to Robespierre (2015)

M. Linton, Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship, and Authenticity in the French Revolution (2013)

R. Palmer, Twelve Who Ruled (1941)

Haydon & W. Doyle (eds), Robespierre (1999)

R. Scurr, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution (2007)

C. Haydon & W. Doyle (eds), Robespierre (1999)

N. Hampson, Danton (1978)

N. Hampson, Saint-Just

L. Gershoy, Bertrand Barère (1962)




For those who read French, two good recent biographies include

J-C Martin, Robespierre: La fabrication d’un monster (2016)

H. Leuwers, Robespierre (2014)

G. Lefebvre, ‘Sur la lois du 22 priarial an II’, in idem, Études sur la Révolution française (1963)

F. Brunel, Thermidor, La Chute de Robespierre (1989)

M. Belissa and Y. Bosc, Robespierre La Fabrication d'un Mythe (2013)