Louis Saint-Just


saint-justLouis Saint-Just (1767-1794) was a radical Jacobin, a member of the National Convention and the young ally of Robespierre. As a teenager Saint-Just was intelligent and well read but restless, promiscuous and disobedient. In 1786 he brought disgrace to his family by stealing some silver, an offence that earned him a stint in prison. When the Bastille fell in 1789, Saint-Just was jobless, broke and living with his mother, yet he took a strong interest in the revolution, joining a local unit of the National Guard. Saint-Just also wrote prolifically: his first political articles were largely pornographic, however his 1791 work¬†L’Esprit de la Revolution et de la Constitution de France was a valid contribution to political philosophy. Around this time Saint-Just also began corresponding with Maximilien Robespierre, on whom he lavished praise; Saint-Just became Robespierre’s protege and their friendship and political allegiance strengthened over time. In September 1792 Saint-Just entered the National Convention, where he condemned monarchy, voted for the king’s execution and urged the arrest of the Girondinist deputies. In mid-1793 he was appointed to the Committee of Public Safety, where for a year he served as Robespierre’s trusty lieutenant. Though only in his mid-20s, Saint-Just played a pivotal role in the arrest and execution of Danton and the Indulgents, and in the emergence of the Reign of Terror. Like Robespierre, Saint-Just fell from power in July 1794 and died beneath the guillotine, to which he had condemned so many others.


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