What factors led to the Thermidorian Reaction and the fall of Robespierre?

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  • Created on: 30-05-13 16:26


Outline the key reasons/ factors for the Fall.

Loss of support for Robespierre in three key areas:

·         Among Catholics- because of cult of supreme being.

·         The sans-culottes- execution of Herbertistes, dissolution of popular societies, end of direct democracy in Sections, raising of Maximum on prices in March- led to inflation and fall in assignat to only 36% original value, imposing of Maximum on wages.

·          On the CPS and CGS- Fell out amongst themselves, CPS set up own police bureau with Robespierre in charge- CGS resented this so 2 committees became rivals not allies. Also conflicts in CPS- many on CPS becoming suspicious of Robespierre  particularly following introduction of Cult of Supreme Being.

Robespierre took month away from public life. When he did return it was to address the Convention, not the Committee. 26th July (8 Thermidor) made speech attacking colleagues who, he claimed, plotting against the government. Declined to name them- was his undoing. Any denunciation by Robespierre would have resulted in arrest and death. Moderates (Carnot) and terrorists (Fouche, Callot) felt threatened. Fearing denunciation from Robespierre, number of his former colleagues conspired to plot against him.  Therefore led to events of Coup of 9 Thermidor.


October 1793, CPS recommendation- recently approved Constitution suspended, decreed ‘The government of France will be Revolutionary until the peace’- allowed adoption of extreme policies:

The Political Terror, 3 forms:

·         The Official Terror- controlled by CPS and CGS, centred in Paris, victims- came before Revolutionary Tribunal.

·         The Terror in areas of federal revolt e.g. Vendee and Lyon, worst atrocities took place.

·         The Terror in other parts of France- under control of watch committees, representatives-on-mission and the revolutionary armies.


·         Even though factions of Danton and Hebert had been crushed, some of their supporters were still alive, so Terror would have to continue until eliminated. Approx. 1594 men and women executed.

·         Robespierre had no desire to protect the innocent, if it meant dangerous enemies of Revolution escaped.

·         Law of Prairial (most severe of


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