La Guillotine Permanente: A French Revolutionary Timeline

Chapter 1: 8 Thermidor
Chapter 1
8 Thermidor
Analysis of Robespierre's Speech of 8 Thermidor by...



"During the French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre was a leader who fought for the rights of the common people. However, some people called the Thermidorians wanted to take power away from him. They were afraid of Robespierre because they saw him as a threat to their own power and wealth, and they wanted to stop him. The Thermidorians' motives were not pure. They didn't care about the common people and only wanted power for themselves"
Excerpt from a children's book about the French Revolution, 2006



Since 30 Prairial, Year II [1], Robespierre had been mostly absent from his duties due to illness. On 8 Thermidor, however, he returned to the National Convention to give a speech regarding conspiracies within the Convention threatening the Revolution [2]. Referring to his absence he said: "‘For the last six weeks, at least, my so-called dictatorship has ceased to exist, and I have exercised no sort of influence on the government... has the country been any happier?". He affirmed his belief in virtue and defined it, insisting that he felt it in his soul: "Virtue is a natural passion, no doubt. This profound horror of tyranny, this sympathetic zeal for the oppressed, this sacred love of the Patrie, this most sublime and most holy love of humanity...you can feel it at this very moment burning in your souls; I feel it in mine....".But the crisis was not over: "Our enemies retreat, but only to leave us to our internal divisions.” He then proceeded to accuse a select few conspirators of leading the Convention and the Revolution astray for their own selfish ends. He read out from a list of names: "Joseph Fouché, Jean-Lambert Tallien, Laurent Lecointre, Paul Barras, and Jean-Baptiste Carrier." Other members of the Convention had nothing to fear, except for the conspirators themselves, he proclaimed.

This prompted an immediate outcry from the aforementioned men and their supporters. Cries of "Tyrant!" filled the hall, while supporters of Robespierre shouted them down. He demanded the formation of a new and independent twelve-man committee to evaluate the guilt of the aforementioned persons involved. While this could be viewed as paranoid or conspiratorial thinking by Robespierre, the truth was that the past few months had seen the formation of a new political faction within the revolutionary government. This faction would later be known as the Thermidorians.

The term "Thermidorian" is something of a misnomer (in fact, the name is posthumous). It implies a certain ideological coherence among those designated by this term. In reality, the "Thermidorians" were united only by their opposition to Robespierre and had very different ideas about what should be done after his demise. Some were simply moderates, wishing for an end to the Terror and a less radical government. Others were far-left extremists who held grudges against Robespierre for being too moderate for their liking.

Joseph Fouché, for example, was a key figure among the Thermidorians. Interestingly, the fact that Fouché chained civilians together and then fired upon them with grapeshot in the name of the Revolution in Lyon did not seem to unsettle the moderates whom he was courting. Robespierre was horrified by his actions in Lyon and was prevented from arresting him only by the presence of Hébertists [3] on the Committee of Public Safety. Fouché therefore developed a vendetta against Robespierre for recalling him to Paris and publicly criticizing him.

This exposes the hypocrisy at the heart of the Thermidorian cause. If they were so concerned about "radicalism," why did they include some of the worst and most radical criminals of the Terror? Jean-Lambert Tallien had deliberately starved towns he considered "counter-revolutionary" and deprived them of bread, and he was one of the most bloodthirsty mass executioners of suspected Girondins [4] in Bordeaux. A ruthless man who ruled by starvation and fear was suddenly welcomed with open arms by supposed "moderates" simply because he was personally opposed to Robespierre. Even worse, Jean-Baptiste Carrier infamously drowned up to 4000 people consisting mostly of priests and nuns, but also women and children in Nantes. He also suddenly ingratiated himself in a group calling for moderation. His reasons were essentially identical to those of Fouché; Robespierre had attempted to arrest him for his crimes but was prevented from doing so.

What about Collot d'Herbois, who personally accompanied Fouché to the slaughter in Lyon and had been installed to the Committee of Public Safety by supporters of Hébert, a man too radical for even the Montagnards? [5] Why was he, an extremist if ever there was one, suddenly aligning himself with a moderate faction? The truth is that while Robespierre could be accused of his excesses of idealism, the Thermidorians were political cynics. All the participants were united only by the pursuit of power. And Robespierre provided a convenient scapegoat for all their crimes.

The Thermidorians had not formed overnight, but over several months, as deputies to the National Convention and members of the Committee of Public Safety plotted and forged their way to power. They attracted both former supporters of Jacques Hébert and former monarchists alike, [6] united only by their shared hatred of Maximilien Robespierre. This coalition, although bizarre in nature, had highly influential allies in the revolutionary government. First, the Committee of General Security [7] which had the legal authority to order the arrest of conspirators' enemies, was completely within the Thermidorian sphere of influence. The second is support from the National Convention. Among the Thermidorians was Jacques-Alexis Thuriot, a former Dantonist [8] who served as President of the National Convention. They believed that, with him on their side, they could prevent the Robespierreists from speaking and swaying the neutral deputies of The Maraisards[9], who represented the majority of deputies to the Convention. Owing to the seemingly neutered nature of the sans-culottes following the purge of the Hébertists, the Thermidorians did not even attempt to rally them to their cause, as they seemed too weak and divided to pose much of a threat to or be of use to the Thermidorians.

The speech was met with an immediate outcry from the Thermidorians, who saw it as the beginning of a final purge of the National Convention that would cement Robespierre's position as a dictator. Moreover, they feared that their grip on The Maraisards was slipping. While the speech was met with condemnation from the Thermidorians, it did not cause much controversy among The Maraisards, horrifying them. If Robespierre could sway them to his side the conspiracy would be strangled in its crib. The Thermidorians knew that they needed a strong show of force if they wished to seize power from Robespierre.


On November 13 1792 Louis-Antoine Saint-Just came...


“Wealth is in the hands of a rather large number of the revolution’s enemies; the working people are made by their need dependent upon their enemies. Do you think a nation can exist if the structure of society favors those who are opposed to the very form of its government? Those who make revolutions by halves only dig their own graves!"
Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, 1794


The speech that caused such a stir in the Convention was met with enthusiastic approval in the Jacobin Club. Thermidorian sympathizers within the club, such as Collot and Billaud, attempted to prevent Robespierre from delivering the speech, but they did not succeed. Dumas, president of the Revolutionary Tribunal [10] and a strong supporter of Robespierre, described their opponents as remnants of the Hébertists and Dantonists. The president of the club, Vivier ordered a message to be sent to provincial affiliates that a new "foreign plot" had been revealed by Robespierre, "who seeks only the prize of the unanimous esteem of his fellow citizens and their will to punish traitors.”

Consequently, the conspirators who were members of the club were expelled from the Jacobins. Despite the attempts of sympathizers, the extraordinary esteem to which Robespierre was held effectively doomed any attempt by the Thermidorians to contest his leadership. In fact, it only strengthened his grip on the organization. This severely rattled the Thermidorians, as they had counted on the support of disaffected ex-Hébertists and Dantonists. With the Jacobins able to present a united front, the Thermidorian's only hope to seize the convention had to be through rallying The Maraisards behind them.

Ever since Louis XVI’s bungled attempt to flee the country in June 1791, Robespierre and other Jacobins had feared that the murderous opposition of counter-revolutionaries inside France was only part of a wider foreign conspiracy. There had always been enough evidence to reinforce these fears, even if the full extent of these conspiracies had rarely materialized. Now, on 8 Thermidor, Robespierre had insisted that there was another conspiracy, this time within the Convention. And he appeared to be completely correct.

No one was more concerned by the conspiracy (other than perhaps Robespierre himself) than Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, the Archangel of the Revolution. His apparent absence at the Convention and the Jacobin club had been noted. Ever since Robespierre had privately confided in him his belief of a counter-revolutionary conspiracy within the Convention, Saint-Just had worked tirelessly to attempt to thwart it. In the weeks leading up to 8 Thermidor, he had given fiery public speeches to sans-culottes and courted various former Hébertists. Saint-Just began openly calling for extensive wealth redistribution from counter-revolutionaries and aristocrats. While he had previously supported such measures, his rhetoric had taken an entirely different tone. Whereas before he had presented his ideas to the Convention and the Jacobins, he now presented them directly to the people with far more venom and fury than earlier. He was already one of the most notable politicians in the revolutionary government to those well-informed, but now he was increasingly known as the foremost champion of the ordinary peoples of Paris. It certainly helped that he was already previously known as someone favoring reconciliation with the Hébertist faction of the Revolution.

One of the feverish beliefs that the Thermidorians firmly held was the idea that Robespierre was trying to form a triumvirate with his allies in the Committee. This imaginary group consisted of Couthon, Saint-Just, and Robespierre with him as Caesar. The Thermidorians had breathed a sigh of relief once Saint-Just began publicly criticizing Robespierre for his idleness regarding the punishment of the enemies of the Revolution. The Thermidorians had completely misunderstood this recent development and regarded it as evidence of a weakness in Robespierre's camp. Saint-Just, who had personally opposed the purge of the Hébertists and demanded more radical action from the government, was now seen as a potential ally against Robespierre. Saint-Just had always been one of the more radical members of the Committee of Public Safety, and with his recent change of heart, coupled with his known sympathies for the Hébertists, now seemed amenable to Thermidorian interests. They did not confirm this suspicion, believing that Saint-Just (who famously was known to carry himself as if the republic rested on his shoulders) would consider this kind of intrigue beneath him. Therefore, they did not confirm their suspicions, fearing this could backfire on them.

The only completely reliable support the Thermidorians had, was the Committee of General Security which felt stifled by the Law of 22 Prairial which had transferred much of its power to the Robespierre-dominated Committee of Public Safety. For the Thermidorians, this was the only part of the revolutionary government they could count on to be on their side no matter the situation.

A portrait painting of Saint-Just

Louis Antoine de Saint-Just





[1]: 18th of June, 1794

[2]: 26th of July, 1794

[3]: Supporters of leftist radical sans-cullotes leader Jacques Hébert, who called for an intensification of the Terror.

[4]: Moderate republicans opposed to the current revolutionary government. Originally, a faction of more moderate Jacobins who governed prior to the Montagnards.

[5]: The Mountain, leftist group of deputies in the Convention. So called because they sat on the highest benches. Currently, the dominant faction in French revolutionary politics

[6]: Somewhat of an exaggeration, there were no open monarchists in the Convention at the time.

[7]: The body in charge of the police and administering justice.

[8]: Supporters of famed revolutionary Georges Danton, who called for more moderation and clemency as well for an end to the Terror.

[9]: The Marsh, centrist and independent members of the Convention. So called because they sat near the floor. They made up the majority of the Convention.

[10]: Unrelated to the other, far more famous Dumas of the period.

(Credit to "Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life by Peter McPhee for being a massive help for this TL.)
 
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Thinking of a good release schedule for this TL. I have four chapters fully written and want to keep a decent backlog in case of writers block. Would one chapter every three days work? Might put it up to a poll.
 
Thinking of a good release schedule for this TL. I have four chapters fully written and want to keep a decent backlog in case of writers block. Would one chapter every three days work? Might put it up to a poll.
Depending on how fast you write, try to respect your pace + give yourself some extra time in case of unforeseen circumstances.

I personally post my TL once a week and even then I struggle to keep up so...

Intriguing TL so far BTW, already following
 
What is the specific POD?
The POD is that Robespierre actually names the people he believes are conspirators within the Convention. OTL he refused to name any names, causing the entire Convention to fear they may be on the list of conspirators.

In TTL this doesn't happen because Robespierre co-ordinates his move against the Conspirators with Saint Just. The implication is that Saint Just convinces Robespierre to actually name his list of suspects.
 
Chapter 2: 9 Thermidor
Chapter 2
9 Thermidor
Fall of Maximilien Robespierre - Wikipedia


"They smeared his name and besmirched his honor, all in the name of their own selfish ambition. They forgot that the Revolution is not just a slogan or a catchphrase, but a living, breathing thing that demands our unwavering devotion."
Fran
çois-Noël Babeuf, 1794

On 9 Thermidor [1], the meeting of the Convention began at 11.00 a.m. as usual, with the reading of correspondence and hearing of petitioners. About midday, Saint-Just mounted the rostrum with the intention of defending Robespierre, to the growing horror of the Thermidorians. Robespierre's refusal to implement the Ventôse Decrees [2] and Saint-Just's renewed demands that they be implemented were seen by the (perhaps overly hopeful) Thermidorians as signs of a rift between the two. His defense of Robespierre thoroughly dashed these hopes. The words of the Deputy de Maillane, a centrist leader of The Maraisards, who had said at a meeting with a group of Anti-Robespierre Montagnards "We will support you if you are the strongest, but not if you are the weakest," rested in their minds. Saint-Just's speech seemed to drag the Thermidorians' hopes into the abyss with every word. "Why should he be accused of 'seeking to enslave men's minds"? "Is sensibility a thing of evil?"

Tallien desperately tried to salvage any hope for the Thermidorian cause by trying to prevent Saint-Just from speaking on a point of order. Despite Thuriot's attempts to uphold Tallien's point of order, both were shouted down and verbally overwhelmed by Robespierre's supporters. Saint-Just simply continued with his speech as if the point of order had never been raised, a severe blow to the authority of the President and the Thermidorians as a whole. "I cannot marry evil; I explained it in front of the Committees [... and] Billaud-Varenne said to Robespierre: 'We are your friends; we have always walked together.' This deception made my heart shudder. The day before he'd called him Pisistratus and drawn up his indictment... He is constituted as a tyrant of public opinion [...] and what exclusive right do you have over public opinion, you who find a crime in the art of touching souls? [...] The right to interest public opinion is a natural, imprescriptible, inalienable right, and I see no usurper here except among those who would tend to oppress this right." Saint-Just departed the rostrum to thunderous applause by his allies. Deputy Le Bas promptly stepped up to replace him. He further condemned the conspirators as the "greatest enemies of the Patrié.” He demanded the arrest of all conspirators, as well as their sympathizers. He reserved harsh words for the "treacherous snakes who dare call themselves patriots, " referring to those who had concealed their Thermidorian sympathies from their colleagues while being in bed with the enemies of the people.

By this point, the Thermidorians had fully lost control of the Convention. Their already shaky so called "pact" with the Maraisards was in tatters as shouts of "Vive Robespierre!" and "Vive Saint-Just!" echoed throughout the Convention floor. The pact with the Maraisards was already somewhat of a fallacious idea, as most members considered themselves independents and not aligned with any faction. Most simply leaned toward whoever had the most compelling argument, and right now it was Robespierre. Thuriot was left completely impotent, as he seemed voiceless as president. His position seemed to highlight only how desperate the situation was for his compatriots. Robespierre had yet to even step up to the rostrum, yet he already seemed fully in control. His stepping up to the rostrum was met with an uproar of shouted accusations and even louder counter-accusations.

Robespierre began, "They accuse me of tyranny, but I ask you, who truly desecrate the virtuous ideals of this Republic? Is it not the conspirators, who undermine the very foundations of our society? I protest these accusations; we are not the ones seeking to abuse the Convention and, thereby, the sanctity of the will of the people itself. Those who accuse me are themselves being accused."

His speech continued, but the Thermidorians were no longer listening. They knew that if they wished to keep their heads attached to their necks until the end of the week, the situation would have to change rapidly. The last card up their sleeve was the Committee of General Security, the only body under their control. If the Committee could arrange the extrajudicial arrests of their main enemies, who were emboldening the Deputies of the Convention, then they could still be victorious.

Word had already reached the Committee of the rapidly deteriorating situation within the Convention next door. Taking drastic measures, the Committee decided to declare the Law of 22 Prairial null and void. They then proceeded to press all 160 employees (including clerks who had never held anything heavier than a pencil in their lives) into service armed with various forms of ad hoc weaponry and marched on the Convention along with local police.

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Hotel de Brionne housing the Committee of General Security (right) and the Palais de Tuileries housing the National Convention (left).

Billaud-Varenne handed Thuriot papers that would authorize the arrest of Robespierreist officers within the National Guard. Already Thuriot had quietly written denunciations of Maximilien Robespierre, Saint-Just, secretary of the Convention (and younger brother of Maximilien) Augustin Robespierre, Georges Couthon, several other public officials, and François Hanriot the Commander of the National Guard. When the men of the Committee of General Security burst through onto the floor of the Convention it provided a momentary pause to the chaos in the Convention. Thuriot then proclaimed Robespierre and his allies to be criminals and traitors to the nation and demanded their immediate arrest. The chaos that interrupted made the previous uproar seem almost quaint in comparison. Despite spirited resistance from the Deputies of the Convention they simply had no weapons with which to resist the men of the Committee, and the targeted men were seized and removed from the convention. To prevent them from conspiring an escape together it was decided to send all the men to different prisons within Paris.

The Thermidorians, aware of their collapsing support in the Convention (and the potential disaster it could bring if not swiftly rectified) decided to shore up on any kind of support they could get. Viewing the left as a lost cause, they decided to appeal to the right to bolster their flagging support. They promised a complete end to the Terror, re-Christianization and a new constitution closer to the constitution of 1791.

While these proposals were intended for more moderate members of the convention, word of it breached the walls of the Convention (thanks to Robespierreist sympathizers) and rapidly spread throughout Paris. While these proposals may have been popular among the provincial areas of France, in Paris they could not have been more unwelcome. Sans-culottes, many of whom opposed Robespierre, were completely enraged by these promises. François-Noël Babeuf (a sans-culotte who had only been acquitted days earlier on accusations of fraud) was apoplectic once he received word of what he viewed as nothing less than a total betrayal of the people by those who proclaimed themselves to be their saviors. Babeuf saw Robespierre as a tyrant due to the purge of the Hébertists, but now he despised the Thermidorians far more. This view was far from uncommon across Paris, as even those who disliked Robespierre now saw the Thermidorians as an existential threat of greatest magnitude to the young Republic. The call for a new constitution in particular was interpreted by some as a call to restore the constitutional monarchy, although it was not. The Thermidorians simply called for a new constitution similar to it, but the wording implied the restoration of the old constitution itself. This was anathema for the majority of Parisians, who immediately began to rally against the Thermidorians once they received word of it.

The Paris Commune swiftly declared insurrection against the conspirators who had seized the convention and began organizing their forces to march on the Tuileries. As the prisons within Paris were within their jurisdiction, they simply refused to take the prisoners and they were released. They were brought to the Hôtel de Ville, the city hall and headquarters of the Commune. They were surrounded by large crowds of people and hailed as heroes. While previously Robespierre's claims of monarchist counter-revolutionary conspiracies within the highest reaches of the government seemed far-fetched to some, now they seemed completely grounded. Large mobs were now spontaneously gathering against the "royalist" (which most common people believed the Thermidorians to be at this point) conspiracy. The coup also served to justify the Terror as one of the main arguments for it had been the supposed abundance of counter-revolutionaries in their midst. If royalists could infiltrate the highest levels of the revolutionary government, then who knows what else they may be capable of.

The commander of the National Guard, François Hanriot, had not been idle and in the meantime had gathered 2,500 men under his command to join the insurrection. While they lacked the cannons they had possessed during the August 10 uprising [3], they were more than sufficient in numbers to compensate. Nor had the Thermidorians been idle, for Joseph Fouché had assembled troops aligned with him and other Thermidorians to defend the Convention. On the way to the Tuileries, he and his forces were surrounded by a huge cheering crowd. Fouché had been busy gathering troops and had not taken note of the revolutionary fever that was sweeping Paris. Therefore, assuming that the crowd supported the Thermidorians, he gave a short speech. He announced that the tyrant Robespierre would soon be defeated and called on the people to support the Convention.

The French Revolution, Locke and Rousseau - Soapboxie



Within moments, the previously jovial mood turned deadly, and violence soon erupted. Shouts of "Royaliste!", "Vive Robespierre!" and "Vive L'incorruptible!" filled the air. The result was a bloodbath, as soldiers desperately began a fighting retreat across the Seine. The retreat was disorganized, and most of the fighting was hand-to-hand, resulting in significant casualties for the soldiers. They managed to form a cohesive defense on the Pont National, where the crowd was finally dispersed. Disastrously, they were unable to retrieve their cannons and they were lost during the fighting. Many soldiers had also deserted during the struggle.

Upon their arrival at the Tuileries, they were greeted with great applause by the Thermidorians, but the soldiers were not in a celebratory mood. Most of them were there only because their officers had ordered them to be, and many of the officers were there solely because they had been bribed. Few of them felt any real animosity or righteous anger toward Robespierre. The Thermidorian forces now numbered less than a thousand men, far fewer than would have been necessary to defend the bottlenecks leading to the Tuileries and the palace itself. It had originally been decided that they would defend the approaches to the Tuileries, but the weather had turned stormy, and the soldiers threatened mutiny if they were not allowed to enter the warmth of the palace to defend it, so they were placed within the walls of the palace itself.

Meanwhile, Thermidorian leaders argued about what needed to be done. Some preferred to concentrate all their forces on one point and try to break out of the city and incite an uprising in the provinces, which would be likely to support their proposals, which were anathema in Paris. Others favored a quick and decisive strike against the Hôtel de Ville, seeing the building as the central nervous system around which the revolt revolved. Some even went so far as to wish to declare Louis XVII king and wait for foreign support, but this was beyond the pale for most Thermidorians. The only thing they could agree on was that they did not like the other ideas, so they decided to maintain their position for the foreseeable future.




[1]: 27th of July, 1794.

[2]: Laws that would decree that all property and wealth of those found guilty of counter-revolutionary activity were to be seized and redistributed to the lower classes.

[3]: The Insurrection of August 10, 1792, that caused the abolition of the monarchy and the proclamation of the republic
 
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"During the French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre was a leader who fought for the rights of the common people. However, some people called the Thermidorians wanted to take power away from him. They were afraid of Robespierre because they saw him as a threat to their own power and wealth, and they wanted to stop him. The Thermidorians' motives were not pure. They didn't care about the common people and only wanted power for themselves"
Excerpt from a children's book about the French Revolution, 2006
This is interesting, the fact that it says "2006" instead of "Year CCXIII/CCXIV/213 or 214" makes me think that either:
1. The Revolutionary Calendar is still abolished as in OTL;
2. Both the Revolutionary Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar are cooficial. Certainly, a strange but plausible possibility.
 
Would love to get some feedback on this chapter.
This is interesting, the fact that it says "2006" instead of "Year CCXIII/CCXIV/213 or 214" makes me think that either:
1. The Revolutionary Calendar is still abolished as in OTL;
2. Both the Revolutionary Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar are cooficial. Certainly, a strange but plausible possibility.
I wanted to keep it vague as to how far reaching the Jacobins were TTL
 
Would love to get some feedback on this chapter.
I dont know much about the French Revolution so I can't really give feedback, but I'm thoroughly enjoying your TL.
Will there be a wave of revolutions in Europe, as it seems that the revolution for now was more successful than IOTL?
 
The call for a new constitution in particular was interpreted by some as a call to restore the constitutional monarchy, although it was not. The Thermidorians simply called for a new constitution similar to it, but the wording implied the restoration of the old constitution itself.
From what i see, if the breakout attempt into the provinces worked, it would end up becoming a return to monarchism.

Take the trash out, Robespierre!
 
I dont know much about the French Revolution so I can't really give feedback, but I'm thoroughly enjoying your TL.
Will there be a wave of revolutions in Europe, as it seems that the revolution for now was more successful than IOTL?
Eh, I have my doubts about that. Robespierre, despite his reputation, was rather cautious in regards to foreign revolution. He mainly cared about securing the one at home and saw any attempts to ferment revolution in potentially friendly states, like the Ottomans, as utterly stupid and counter-productive. He thought they’d eventually align to their point of view after convincing them of its benefit.
 
So, the popular mood is against the Thermidorian for what they deem as 'royalist sympathies" but, at the same time, they aren't to keen for Robespierre.
 
I am really enjoying the TL so far, and was very happy to see Babeuf play a role in the events, hope he keeps coming up.
Thank you! Babeuf will be very important in the future.
From what i see, if the breakout attempt into the provinces worked, it would end up becoming a return to monarchism.

Take the trash out, Robespierre!
There will definitely be some purges once all is said and done...
I dont know much about the French Revolution so I can't really give feedback, but I'm thoroughly enjoying your TL.
Will there be a wave of revolutions in Europe, as it seems that the revolution for now was more successful than IOTL?
Eh, I have my doubts about that. Robespierre, despite his reputation, was rather cautious in regards to foreign revolution. He mainly cared about securing the one at home and saw any attempts to ferment revolution in potentially friendly states, like the Ottomans, as utterly stupid and counter-productive. He thought they’d eventually align to their point of view after convincing them of its benefit.
This is true. The situation in 1793-94 was so dire that any thoughts of spreading the revolution was a luxury they could not afford.
So, the popular mood is against the Thermidorian for what they deem as 'royalist sympathies" but, at the same time, they aren't to keen for Robespierre.
The popular mood is very keen on Robespierre. Its just more radical left wing groups consider him too much of a moderate + the purge of the Hébertists caused them to dislike him. This opinion turned around thanks to the events of Thermidor both TTL and OTL (though TTL they warm up to him much earlier.) Robespierre was generally popular in Paris up to his death OTL.
 
Chapter 3: 10 Thermidor
Chapter 3
10 Thermidor
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"We will not rest until the counter-revolution has been defeated, until the people have regained their rightful place in society. We will not rest until the banner of the Revolution once again flies high, until the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity are restored to their rightful place."
Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, 1794


While the Thermidorians were paralyzed by indecision in the Tuileries, the insurrectionists were carefully planning their next move. Their strategy was simple: to use their numerical superiority to storm the Tuileries, as they had done two years prior. To accomplish this, they first had to gather enough supplies to last a siege and coordinate their forces well enough to prevent the Thermidorians from exploiting any gaps in their assault. It was decided to begin the attack on the Tuileries at the dawn of 10 Thermidor [1]. The insurrectionists vastly overestimated the number of soldiers loyal to the Thermidorians as they believed they could be several thousand strong. In reality, estimates suggest that there were as few as under a thousand men defending the palace.

While there was certainly an element of central planning to the insurrection, their greatest strength would be the spontaneous support of the people which could be fickle. To mitigate this, pro-Robespierre writers and speakers were to incite the people into uprising when the time was right. Foremost among them was Babeuf, a sans-culottes writer who was rapidly rising in prominence in thanks to the coup. On his previous opposition to Robespierre he said, "I confess today in good faith that I am angry with myself for having formerly seen in a bad light, within the revolutionary government, Robespierre and Saint-Just. I now believe that these two men are better on their own than all the revolutionaries together." This illustrates how, for many who had previously been opposed to Robespierre due to the purge of the Hébertists, now supported him because the alternative seemed so much worse. If the two alternatives are (at least, what appears to be) the inherent tyranny of monarchy, which would make the past five years of struggle pointless, or Robespierre who one could accuse of modérantisme [2] due to his opposition to revolutionary excesses such as the Cult of Reason [3], the choice couldn't be more obvious.

Key to the insurrection, however, were the women. Robespierre had long been the most popular revolutionary leader among the more politically inclined women of Paris. Famously, when Robespierre would give speeches to the Convention, women would cheer him from the galleries; when his opponents responded, those same women would yell down insults. The speeches of his opposition were "frequently interrupted by the violent screams from women who are placed in the galleries and very well trained at insulting those who do not idolize M. Robespierre." Citizens from Paris and its suburbs would complain about women who acted as his "emissaries" and "missionaries". Radical women would wear necklaces containing his likeness. Market women would pray for him when he fell ill. Their devotion even ended up causing controversy as a self-styled prophet claimed that Robespierre had a divine mission as a mouthpiece for the Supreme Being. This was claimed by some to be evidence of Robespierre attempting to ferment religious worship of himself through the Cult of the Supreme Being [4], further proving that he was attempting to seize absolute power as dictator. The support of the revolutionary women of Paris would prove indispensable during the events of 9-10 Thermidor, as they not only helped mobilize mass support for Robespierre but would take an active role in fighting the Thermidorians.

The Thermidorians were plagued by indecision and arrogance because they massively underestimated the power of the Paris Commune. They still relied on the idea that the Commune was politically neutered, and that no former Hébertist would side with Robespierre over their former ideological comrades. Some Thermidorians claimed that once dawn came, an army would arrive from the front lines to relieve the beleaguered soldiers and restore "justice" in their name. This would never arrive, as most viewed them as illegitimate usurpers and saw fighting for them as suicide due to the complete lack of public support they had. One only needed to take a cursory glance at the streets of Paris to see both the reverence the people now held for Robespierre, and the scorn they had reserved for the Thermidorians. Robespierre was already the subject of much veneration (to his deep discomfort) but now it had taken new heights simply in opposition to the Thermidorians.

Meanwhile, the National Convention was in a mutinous mood as it was occupied by the forces of the Committee of General Security. The Thermidorians used this control to threaten recalcitrant deputies with condemnation as "Robespierreists" and execution. One Thermidorian who became increasingly alarmed by the coup’s anti-democratic approach was Bertrand Barère. He was a staunch opponent of Robespierre and the acting leader of the Committee of Public Safety. He had been one of the main conspirators and a leading Thermidorian on the Committee. However, he remained a staunch Republican and anti-Federalist [5] and was therefore appalled by the sheer opportunism on display by the other Thermidorians. One of the main reasons for Barère's support was the conspiracy theory, which alleged that Robespierre was forming a triumvirate. Other Thermidorians, however, had fewer scruples and now enthusiastically supported any measure they believed would save their skin. Laurent Lecointre, Jean-Lambert Tallien, Paul Barras and Joseph Fouché had almost completely abandoned their former ideals and were now advocating positions for which they had murdered people for supporting only a year ago. Although most could not see it, large cracks were formed in the Thermidorian coalition. The Revolutionary Tribunal was not within the Thermidorians' sphere of influence, which meant they had no real legal means to enforce their form of justice upon the wayward Deputies. The only way to enforce their threats was through extrajudicial means (the Committee of General Security only had the right to arrest suspects and not to execute them).

One politician who kept his head down was Lazare Carnot. He had neither praised nor criticized the coup (although he had made some mild criticism of Robespierre's actions while he served on the Committee, criticisms that were incidentally less harsh than what he had personally told Robespierre to his face). Carnot was a born bureaucrat and was proving himself adept at navigating the political minefield of Thermidorian politics. Others were less fortunate; both Jean-Baptiste Lindet and Pierre Louis Prieur were ejected from the Committee of Public Safety for opposing the Thermidorian coup and were presently under arrest awaiting further judgement. The Thermidorians' only lifeline by this point was the hope that Robespierre had alienated the commune too much for the sans-culottes of Paris to rise in his favor. Some were less delusional; however, and saw the writing on the wall, such as Carnot and Barère, who began quietly plotting a mutiny within the Tuileries. Their motivations for doing so could be called into question as to whether they acted out of genuine worry about the corruption of Republican ideals or out of a self-centered desire to save their own necks. Ironically, they could be considered the Thermidorians among the Thermidorians. It is in thanks to them that we have such great insights into the inner workings of the coup.

The sun rose in the morning over a city that waited with bated breath for the coming battle. As the morning broke and reinforcements failed to arrive, the Thermidorians' minds flashed with feverish imaginings of a great federalist coalition arriving in Paris to restore sanity. Others fantasized about foreign armies bringing them to power in exchange for letting Louis XVII reign as a constitutional monarch. Instead of overseeing their defenses, they drafted meaningless decrees and discussed how to proceed once the situation was under control. This gave their troops the opportunity to desert their posts before the insurrectionists arrived.

The insurrectionists began marching on the Tuileries. The march could easily have been mistaken for a parade of sorts, as the crowd joined them, cheering and singing revolutionary songs. Saint-Just accompanied them, leading the crowd as he had led the French army to victory at Fleurus. The first group was led by Saint-Just and consisted of the less professional forces of the Commune, the second group was led by François Hanriot and consisted of the men of the National Guard loyal to Robespierre. The Incorruptible himself remained in the Hôtel de Ville because of his personal distaste for violence. Saint-Just's troops were to march directly on the Tuileries, while Hanriot's men were to take a circuitous route, crossing the Seine to the south, then marching west and finally north across the Pont National to cut off any means of escape. Since this was the agreed plan, the groups had to depart at different times so that they would arrive at the Tuileries at the same time (It is possible that the Thermidorians could have taken advantage of this staggered assault but their steadfast refusal to order anyone outside the palace prevented this.) Saint-Just had been extremely active the day before, organizing and drilling the men for the coming assault. He gave grand speeches promising them places in the annals of history as the foremost champions of liberty. His role in the Battle of Fleurus had only added to the growing aura of the unusually young revolutionary.

Hanriot's men were wary and surprised as they came upon the Pont National expecting resistance, to find it defended by only the dead. The bridge was the most obvious chokepoint leading to the Tuileries, even if the majority of the enemy forces were defending the palace, it would be necessary to maintain at least a token force to hold the bridge. A similar story was unfolding to the northeast as Saint-Just's forces came upon no defences in the streets leading to the Tuileries. Within minutes the palace was surrounded as surprised insurrectionists came upon not a single defender outside the palace. Cannons that had been retrieved the day prior from the Battle of the Bridge were aimed at the palace as a surrender was demanded. Saint-Just (superseding Hanriot) proclaimed that if the defenders did not strike the colors and disarm within two hours, they would be fired upon. The morale within the Tuileries was dreadful among both the soldiers and the coup leaders. Despite the overwhelming odds, the decision was undertaken to ignore the demands of the insurrectionists and to hold out as long as possible (they still believed salvation was mere hours away.) Once the men under the Committee of General Security realized that their deaths were almost inevitable if they did not surrender immediately, they decided to throw their weapons out the windows and surrender to the insurrectionists who (after determining that the surrender was not a ploy to attack them) received them. The Thermidorians demanded that they be stopped and fired upon, although this command was not followed.

In truth, this surrender was organized by Paul Barras, one of the main leaders of the Thermidorians. He disguised himself as a common clerk and ordered the surrender. Then he left the palace with the others, hoping to escape from Paris. However, once he was received by the insurrectionists, he was swiftly identified and arrested. He attempted to bribe his captors, but this only served to infuriate them. He was promptly handed over to the crowd, who were instructed by his captors to exact "revolutionary justice" The crowd gleefully agreed. He was savagely beaten and brutalized before being taken to the nearest lamppost, from which he was promptly hanged.

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Meanwhile, at the Tuileries, Carnot and Barère had convinced several officers that they would almost certainly die if they did not capture the Thermidorians and turn them over to the insurrectionists. The surrender of the clerks further exacerbated the situation. Minutes after the clerks surrendered, the mutineers acted. Accompanied by dozens of soldiers, Carnot and Barère assaulted and seized key Thermidorian leaders as well as some of their stubborn loyalists. Once it was clear that there was no one above to threaten them into obedience anymore, the soldiers raised a white flag (made from bedsheets) over the Palais de Tuileries, and the Coup of Thermidor was officially over.




[1]: 28th of July 1794

[2]: Moderation

[3] The Cult of Reason was an atheistic religion that was heavily supported by Jacques Hébert and his supporters and vehemently opposed by Robespierre due to him finding Atheism to be abhorrent. After the purge of the Hébertists it was persecuted and replaced by the Cult of the Supreme Being.

[4] The Cult of the Supreme Being was a deistic civic religion propagated mainly by Robespierre. It was an attempted compromise between supporters of the Cult of Reason and Christians by appealing to both groups. For the former it was by being fundamentally opposed to the power of the Catholic Church, and for the latter by enshrining belief in a higher power as well as the immortality of the human soul. This was used by Thermidorians to further their claims that Robespierre was becoming dictatorial with some claiming that the titular "Supreme Being" was supposed to be Robespierre himself, although this was false.

[5]: The Federalists refer to the provincial revolts that occurred from 1793-1794 against the revolutionary government.
 
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