Quotations – the Thermidorian reaction


This selection of French Revolution quotations contains remarks about the Thermidorian reaction from significant leaders, political figures, philosophes and observers. It has been selected and compiled by Alpha History authors. New quotations are regularly added. If you would like to submit a relevant and interesting quotation, please contact Alpha History.

“Robespierre had become unbearable, even to his own accomplices. The members of the committees were involved in a power struggle with him and were afraid that, sooner or later, they would become his victims. When faced with his tyranny in the Convention, everyone whimpered but dared not attack him.”
Pierre-Toussaint Durand de Maillane on Robespierre in 1794

“F–k the Maximum!”
The Paris crowd to Robespierre, July 1794

“Deputies of the Right. Men of honour, men of virtue. Give me the floor, since the assassins will not.”
Maximilien Robespierre to the National Convention, July 1794


“We have arrived at the moment when the revolution, having reached its peak, is going to turn back… We saw a coalition, composed of the most disparate elements, overturn Robespierre’s party. It was impossible to foresee what would be the result of a victory won by such a coalition.”
René Levasseur on the events of 1794

“I went outside to see what was happening [and] saw a large number of citizens armed with sticks, stones and bottles. Leading this band of rogues was a fellow called Cabacet, a wine merchant… He was beside himself with rage. He entered the [Jacobin] club, asking how he would get upstairs to clobber the Jacobins, and yelling that they were villains, rogues, who deserved to have their throats cut.”
Francois Queval, August 1794

“The meeting hall of this society [the Jacobin Club of Paris] shall immediately be locked and the keys deposited at the secretariat of the Committee of General Security.”
Decree of the National Convention, November 1795

“Discord now sis more firmly than ever inside the Convention. Now we are back to where we were at the end of April 1793, and a hundred times worse as financial matters go. Too many assignats, too much government slackness, too much favour shown to the enemies of democracy, too much harshness and cruelty to former patriots, too much bitterness…”
Nicolas Ruault, Parisian bookseller, mid 1795


“It would appear that the buyers have an understanding with the farmers to sell everything for as high a price as possible, to starve out the worker… I am crippled with misfortune. I am the father of three young children, penniless, and my daily work has to provide for five people. During the past hard winter I was barely able to find work.”
Jacob Clique, tailor, May 1795

“Under Robespierre, blood ran and we had bread. Today, blood does not run and we have no bread. We ought to make blood run again to get some.”
Richer, a carpenter, May 1795

“To wage an active war on royalism, to revive patriotism, to repress all factions vigorously, to destroy all party spirit, to annihilate every desire for vengeance, to establish concord, to restore peace, to regenerate morals, to reopen the sources of production, to revive commerce and industry, to stifle speculation, to revivify the arts and sciences…”
The men of the Directory spell out their aims, November 1795

“A mere glance at the Constitution of Year III is enough to show that the foundation of every part of it is the continuation of wealth and poverty… The people have no share in the making of laws and no power to censure them. The constitution binds them and their descendants forever because they are forbidden to change it.”
Philippe Buonarroti, Italian socialist, 1795

“France wants something great and long lasting. Instability has been her downfall and she now invokes steadiness. She has no desire for a monarchy… but she does not want unity in the action of the power executing laws. She wants a free and independent legislature… She wants her representatives to be peaceable conservatives, not unruly innovators. She wants to enjoy the benefits accruing from ten years of sacrifices.”
A Paris broadside, circa 1796


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