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July 27 is the 9th of Thermidor: Who is Robespierre, the Committee of Public Safety?

Today is July 27, known in the French revolutionary calendar as 9 Thermidor.

It’s the anniversary of the July 27, 1794, overthrow of French revolutionary Robespierre and his cohorts Saint-Just and Couthon, who held a tenuous control over the Committee of Public Safety. By some historians, it marks the end of the French Revolution.

Robespierre, an attorney, had grown to prominence on the national stage as a member of the National Convention since the revolution began in 1789. On July 27, 1793, he was elected as a member to the Committee of Public Safety — a group of 12 convention members who held broad executive powers.

Robespierre played large roles in the destruction of his political enemies, helping send many of them to the guillotine. Robespierre advocated “Terror as the order of the day,” seeing conspirators and plots everywhere.

Others on the convention began to fear for their own lives, and some feared — or stoked others on their fear — that Robespierre aspired to become a dictator.

On July 27, 1794, Saint-Just was shouted down as he tried to give a speech. Someone called for the arrest of Robespierre, Saint-Just and Couthon and the men were taken into custody.

Attempts to free Robespierre failed, and at one point during the night Robespierre was shot in the jaw by a guard. Other historical reports indicate that Robespierre tried to take his own life.

The three men were guillotined the next day, and the government began the process of dismantling the Reign of Terror.

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