La Guillotine Permanente: A French Revolutionary Timeline

I'm very skeptical that Spain would turn republican ITTL. In fact, with a more successful Jacobin revolution, it's more likely for them to double down on conservatism and monarchism as a reaction against the dangerous ideas that the French are spreading
 
I'm very skeptical that Spain would turn republican ITTL. In fact, with a more successful Jacobin revolution, it's more likely for them to double down on conservatism and monarchism as a reaction against the dangerous ideas that the French are spreading
The same facts that led Spain towards a French alliance IOTL are pushing them as well
 
The same facts that led Spain towards a French alliance IOTL are pushing them as well
The Second Treaty of San Ildenfonso, which started the Franco-Spanish alliance in 1796, was signed in a France ruled by a Directory that had only centrists and right-wingers. ITTL, with a more successful left-wing coalition under Robespierre, this may not be the case, especially if an idealistic approach to foreign policy is taken later on by the Jacobin government. Also remember that Spain fought against France in the War of the First Coalition, and only switched sides in 1795, in a war in which they were defeated.
 
Chapter 4: Aftermath of Thermidor
Chapter 4
Aftermath of Thermidor
9mZPmKuhUI-5529089377042432.png


"Social protection is due only to peaceful citizens; there are no citizens in the Republic but the republicans. The royalists, the conspirators are, in its eyes, only strangers or, rather, enemies."
Maximilien Robespierre, 1794


Maximilien Robespierre made his return to the National Convention to great elation from the people of Paris, as massive crowds surrounded him singing his praises. A similar situation met him at the Convention where the Deputies lauded him as the "savior of the Revolution". In the immediate aftermath of the Coup of Thermidor, the first order of business was to root out the counter-revolutionaries within the government. The Thermidorians and their sympathizers were arrested and awaiting trial in front of the Revolutionary Tribunal. Georges Couthon had the great foresight to remove the immunity of the Deputies of the Convention in the Law of 22 Prairial meaning the Deputies had no protection from judgement.

In Paris, the scenes were that of a frenzy of celebration in the aftermath of the coup. The streets were filled with people cheering, waving flags, and singing revolutionary songs. For some, it felt like the culmination of years of struggle, the final victory of the people over the counter-revolutionaries. But for others, the defeat of the Thermidorians was only the beginning. They knew that the fight for the revolution was far from over and that they would need to remain vigilant to protect their hard-won gains.

The Deputies of the Convention who were arrested included; Jean-Lambert Tallien, Joseph Fouché, Léonard Bourdon, Pierre-Joseph Cambon, Laurent Lecointre, Jean-Pierre-André Amar, Louis Fréron, Edme-Bonaventure Courtois, Joseph Rovére, Garnier de l'Aube, Jean-Baptiste Carrier, Armand-Joseph Guffoy, Etienne Cristophe Maignet, Edmond Louis Alexis Dubois-Crancé, Jean-François Rewbell, Élie Lacoste, François Louis Bourdon, Antoine Christophe Merlin and President of the Convention Jacques-Alexis Thuriot. The Committee of Public Safety saw the arrests of Lazare Carnot, Bertrand Barère , Jacques-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne and Collot d'Herbois. The entirety of the Committee of General Security was arrested and its powers were temporarily given to the Committee of Public Safety. All these actions were voted on by the Convention and passed unanimously (though whether this was out of genuine belief in the guilt of the suspects or out of fear due to the massive amounts of sans-culottes both inside and outside the building remains a mystery).

The purges also presented Robespierre with the opportunity to do what he previously lacked the political capital to do. He implemented the Ventôse Decrees to massive adulation by the sans-culottes in attendance. Many former Hébertists who merely a month ago had denounced him as a tyrant now hailed him as a hero. With all of his political rivals of note having been eliminated, Robespierre now enjoyed a level of power and influence that was truly unprecedented in revolutionary France.

The trials of the Thermidorians were only a formality and went by extremely quickly, motivated by extreme public pressure. Almost all of the accused were found guilty and sentenced to the guillotine with their executions being chosen to occur on 12 Thermidor [1]. Two exceptions were Lazare Carnot and Bertrand Barère, due to their now famous mutiny. While Carnot was hailed as a hero Barère was not as while Carnot had remained mostly neutral during the prelude to the coup, Barère was among the main conspirators. Due to this, Carnot retained his position in the Committee of Public Safety. Barère, on the other hand, lost his position within the Committee but retained his position as Deputy of the Convention. The mutineers immediately condemned the Thermidorians as secret royalists. As they were the only credible sources on the inner workings of the conspiracy, their words helped define the public image of the Thermidorian conspiracy and the coup itself.

This resulted in there being four [2] absent chairs in the Committee. These were promptly filled by Philippe-François-Joseph Le Bas, a close ally of Saint-Just who had accompanied him to the victory at Fleurus, and François Hanriot, former Hébertist, and extreme Robespierre loyalist as well as (now former) Commander of the National Guard. To balance out these two known devout Jacobins, and as an olive branch to moderates, two were selected to serve on the Committee. They were Marie-Joseph Chénier and Ramel de Nogaret, both of whom were known for their moderation. De Nogaret in particular was appointed to reform the nation's finances. Hanriot's former aide-de-camp Jean-Baptiste de Lavalette would serve as Commander of the National Guard to replace him.

These overtures to moderation and compromise did little to disguise the fact that France was now effectively a one-party state with Montagnards of the Jacobin Club filling almost all government positions and dominating its institutions. This was justified by François-Noël Babeuf, (who had risen to prominence during the coup of Thermidor) as a necessary progression for the health of the revolution. Writers like him saw the unprecedented level of dominance that the far left had in politics, and their imaginations began to run wild with possibilities. The Jacobins, he argued, were to serve as the 'vanguard faction' and as 'guardians of the Revolution' to ensure the eventual birth of not just a new France but a new world as well, unshackled and unconstrained by the petty limits of the old established order.

Some far-left writers saw to the formation of a new political idea,that of the 'Eternal Revolution.' The coup of Thermidor, it was argued, had highlighted how easily revolutionary institutions could be corrupted and misused against the general will of the people. Therefore, not only should the Terror not end, it should be intensified and everlasting, for nothing less than ceaseless vigilance could save the revolution. This remained a fringe idea for the time being, however.

The immediate aftermath of the Thermidorian crisis saw a wave of support in favor of the revolutionary government. The emergency censorship laws that had been put into place as a wartime measure allowed the Jacobins to carefully curate the news of the coup that was spreading throughout France. In more radical areas, such as Paris, the Thermidorians were presented as secret royalist counter-revolutionaries who wished to roll back the clock to 1788. In more moderate areas where Thermidorian proposals were likely to be received far better than in Paris, however, the news was that a radical group consisting of the worst criminals of the Terror had attempted to overthrow the government to intensify the Terror. This allowed them to portray themselves as measured and principled moderates in comparison. It serves to highlight just how self-serving the Thermidorians were that these two completely contradictory ideas could be true at the same time

Revolutionary women played a crucial role during the Thermidorian crisis and gained a significant amount of political capital as a result. There were calls to reform the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women, which had been disbanded the previous year by order of the Convention. The newfound influence that women had gained put pressure on the Convention to reverse their ban on popular societies of women. Many of those who had the Society suppressed had been executed after the coup of Thermidor and the purge of the Hébertists, providing even more reasons as to why the ban should be reversed. Having been arrested by the Committee of General Security some months earlier, Claire Lacombe, the co-founder of the Society who had retired from politics to pursue acting, was released from prison after Thermidor. Believing that the time was now ripe for the advancement of women in the revolution, she returned to Paris and politics hoping to lead the way for revolutionary women. As of the moment, however, the status quo reigned.

Another person who was released following Thermidor was the famous American founding father, Thomas Paine. His arrest had been orchestrated by the United States Minister to France, Gouverneur Morris, and the Committee of General Security. Following the purges of Thermidor, he was released (mostly due to his fame and notoriety). He had personally blamed Robespierre for his arrest, causing some tension between him and the new political order. Many revolutionaries within the government wanted to forcibly "escort" him back to the British Isles so he could "stir up revolution" there. This idea was shot down by Robespierre, however.

12 Thermidor marked the largest single-mass execution event during the French Revolution, as 51 were guillotined on the Place de la Révolution. The event was marked by a macabre celebration by Parisians who treated it as a merry festival of sorts. They gathered wearing bright colors, floral wreaths, and throwing flowers during the procession of the condemned. After the blade fell on every one of its victims, the crowd would loudly cheer and applaud, as if witnessing some jolly spectacle. They also threw vibrant flowers onto the execution platform itself. Once all of the condemned were dead, both flowers and blood covered the platform on which they were executed.

Reign of Terror | History, Significance, & Facts | Britannica


"A force de comploter
La horde mutine
A gagné sans y penser
Migraine maline
Pour guérir ces messieurs-là
Un jour on les mènera
A la guillotine, ô gué
A la guillotine"

"By stirring up
The mutinous horde
Has gotten without thinking of it
A bad headache
To cure those gentlemen
One day we will lead them
To the guillotine, hurray
To the guillotine"

La Guillotine Permanente, Revolutionary song. 1792-1794


Politicians in the Convention now warily witnessed the extreme devotion to which Robespierre was held. Parisian newspapers rarely even printed his name anymore. He was referred to only as 'The Incorruptible' or 'The Great Savior' by common Parisians, who now viewed him as a larger-than-life figure. Though by all accounts, Robespierre was deeply uncomfortable with being idolized, indeed he was opposed to any form of political idealization, viewing it as harmful to the virtues of civic participation that was necessary in his envisioned 'Republic of Virtue.' Part of the reason he cracked down on the Cult of Reason in the first place was for the deification of revolutionary figures such as Marat.

Due to Robespierre's nearly endless amount of political capital, he was now at liberty to pursue policies that he had previously lacked the support to enact. One issue of particular interest to Robespierre was education. Under the ancién regime, local schools were mostly run by the clergy and funded by endowments from the clergy and nobility. These schools also tended to be highly elitist and catered only to the children of the aristocracy and the wealthy. However, since the revolution, these schools had lost most of their funding as well as their teachers due to de-Christianization efforts. To remedy this, Robespierre proposed that local governments set aside funds for these schools, and if they did not have the means, the national government would do it instead, and open up education to all classes. To fix the deficit of teachers, Robespierre suggested that revolutionaries from Paris could suffice in their stead, as Paris had an almost entirely literate male population at the time. The curriculum was to be altered, with the study of theology replaced with a curriculum designed to raise children to be proper republican citizens. All mentions of God or Christianity were to be replaced by the civic religion promoted by Robespierre, that of the Cult of the Supreme Being. This would also serve to spread revolutionary ideas to areas where they had been unpopular, ensuring that within the next generation, the revolution would be fully embraced by all of France. Robespierre hoped that this could help unify the nation after the horrors of the Federalist revolts. The aim was for there to be a revolutionary school in each commune of France.

While Robespierre the politician was at his greatest height, Robespierre the man was at his lowest. The past six years had been extremely draining as even back in 1792 he publicly confessed that he was 'exhausted by four years of painful struggle' and that he felt that his 'physical and mental abilities are no longer equal to the requirements of a great revolutionary movement.' By Year II [3] the constant revolutionary infighting and cynical political backstabbing had left him on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Several of the main Thermidorian conspirators were even men whom he had previously considered his friends. Saint-Just had even pleaded with him for the sake of his health to take an extended leave but Robespierre had refused, viewing the Revolution as his life. Ultimately, he agreed to take a decreased role in active governing to preserve his sanity. Saint-Just, therefore, took upon himself some of Robespierre's former responsibilities.

eDjaWFCpjJrQPOXG17hw_O2GPxBT5uLeBOdALLS0iNFPu2aapK4G2pFyjgCRiZ671rmVlegjH6Byrfu7NIcwaiMMFs7YxJHHIEN_SnezAafKVjymvtPGOKBGdS2fJUDYHYGljFUVNo1V8BFhW95llA

Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre, a man ruined by the revolution, with his dog, Brount

Saint-Just himself was also enjoying an unprecedented wave of popularity in the wake of Thermidor. Already a somewhat mythical figure, he now enjoyed a reputation, second only to Robespierre in terms of veneration. It had become custom to revere Saint-Just as one of the great figures in the so-called 'revolutionary pantheon'. After the name of Robespierre came Saint-Just, to the people of Paris their distinctions only seemed to grow his legend. ‘Robespierre is grand, Saint-Just is strong; Robespierre speaks, Saint-Just acts.’ Saint-Just himself seemed beyond human. At twenty-six, he knew no hesitation or doubt. He had one love: the revolution. He had one idol: Robespierre. This was the role that Saint-Just seemed born to play. At Fleurus, he had covered himself with military glory, during Thermidor he had personally seen to the destruction of the traitors to the revolution, and now Robespierre increasingly delegated his wishes to him. The newly appointed member of the Committee, Le Bas, was a close associate of Saint-Just, who seemed to only further highlight his rapid rise. The main objective for the revolutionary government would remain the same as it had been before Thermidor, that of the end of the French Revolutionary War. Augustin Robespierre, the secretary to the Convention, believed that he had a potential answer to victory. He had a close ally and friend in the army who was very confident in his plans for the war.




[1]: 31th of July, 1794

[2]: Hérault de Séchelles' seat had sat empty since he was guillotined in April alongside the Dantonists.

[3]: 1794
 
Last edited:
It's not Jacobin monopoly, it's sparkling centralisme democratique! My namesake is setting himself up nicely as the likely successor (and with, barring the unforeseen, decades of actual and political life ahead of him) -- and I wonder who that friend in the army could possible be ;)
 

CalBear

Moderator
Donor
Monthly Donor
Robespierre was the worst of all Frenchmen All revolutions are wrong! That's my view anyway.
Interesting perspective.

Does that include things like the American Revolution? The Revolution in Romania that overthrew Ceausescu? The Velvet Revolution? English Civil War? he Glorious Revolution? Bolivar's Spanish American Wars of Independence? Mexican War of Independence? The later Mexican Revolution? The Easter Rising and Irish War of Independence?
 
I do wonder about a few things in this world.

1. What would happen to Lazare Hoche? He is one of my favorite figures because he seemed just as talented as Napoleon and seemingly was more sincere in his republican convictions, but who knows. Would he be freed from his arrest?

2. The little problem with Pichegru. I just find it so amusing that Saint-Just promoted, out of literally everyone in the army, he promoted an actual royalist to such a high position of command. With him still kicking, I wonder what Pichegru is gonna do. Would be quite a scandal if he still turns out to be a reactionary, would not be a good look for Saint-Just at all.

3. The Vendee. With the revolution seemingly not going in a moderate direction, and still just as harsh as it was to perceived royalists, I wonder how that would affect the area. Would they be willing to offer negotiations with them when they’re in a position of strength or would they just keep hitting them until they break?
 
I do wonder about a few things in this world.

1. What would happen to Lazare Hoche? He is one of my favorite figures because he seemed just as talented as Napoleon and seemingly was more sincere in his republican convictions, but who knows. Would he be freed from his arrest?

2. The little problem with Pichegru. I just find it so amusing that Saint-Just promoted, out of literally everyone in the army, he promoted an actual royalist to such a high position of command. With him still kicking, I wonder what Pichegru is gonna do. Would be quite a scandal if he still turns out to be a reactionary, would not be a good look for Saint-Just at all.

3. The Vendee. With the revolution seemingly not going in a moderate direction, and still just as harsh as it was to perceived royalists, I wonder how that would affect the area. Would they be willing to offer negotiations with them when they’re in a position of strength or would they just keep hitting them until they break?
1. I definitely have plans for Hoche in the future so stay tuned til that.

2. Pichegru's turn to Royalism only happened after Thermidor so that may be butterflied away in this TL. It is worth noting that his turn against the Thermidorians only occurred after the extreme loss of stability during the Directory, which may not happen in this TL.

3. By this point the War in the Vendee was considerably less active then it had been in the previous year. The Royalist Vendeean armies were no longer an effective fighting force and most of the fighting was guerrilla in nature. I don't think there will be any real change in policy in terms of ending the rebellion.
 
After the blade fell on every one of its victims, the crowd would loudly cheer and applaud, as if witnessing some jolly spectacle.
Considering the existing reports on how capital punishment worked in the ancien regime, this is a strictly pg-13 affair.

Nobody got skinned or cut apart while still breathing? Nobody got burned alive? These revolutionaries are taking away all our public entertainment...

In other words, hurray for Public Schooling, Women's Organizations and our future all star revolutionary army chiefs of staff! Saint Just, Hoche Bonaparte, Dumas, oh my!
 
Last edited:
It's not Jacobin monopoly, it's sparkling centralisme democratique!
There is a nuance - there were no political parties then. The Jacobin Club is still just a political club with a very formal leadership and no clear structure. More than a decade will pass before the prerequisites for real political parties appear. Also, do not forget that the early "parties" were distinguished by a large turnover of members.

Does that include things like the American Revolution? The Revolution in Romania that overthrew Ceausescu? The Velvet Revolution?
To be fair, these points are controversial. A number of researchers note that in the case of America, the war was fought to preserve the way of the colonies in spite of the government of the Metropolis, and that these events had little effect on the structure of the new state - that is, this is exactly what Secession is.
In the case of the countries of Eastern Europe in the late eighties, Ceausescu undoubtedly deserved the death penalty, but still this is not a revolution. None of the so-called "Velvet Revolutions" was a revolution in the full sense of the word. The restoration of bourgeois parliamentism was accompanied by a return to the capitalist way of life and an increase in social stratification. And Romania in this regard was even close to the post-Soviet space - the overthrow of the regime was organized by party hierarchs, who then carried out the privatization of property in their favor. You can call it "Democratic Counterrevolution" if you like.
 
I always wanted to see an Alt Hist of the Jacobins winning and I'm glad to finally see one. Question: is the Corsican elephant in the room going to be addressed later on?
 
Edmond Louis Alexis Dubois-Crancé
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Jokes aside, darn shame Dubois-Crance got sent to the guillotine, don’t know too much about the guy, but he was one of the best military minds in the French government at the time, he did eventually turn against the Directory and tried his best to fix the mistakes he made, joining the neo-Jacobins, trying to stop Bonaparte, I liked him.
 
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Jokes aside, darn shame Dubois-Crance got sent to the guillotine, don’t know too much about the guy, but he was one of the best military minds in the French government at the time, he did eventually turn against the Directory and tried his best to fix the mistakes he made, joining the neo-Jacobins, trying to stop Bonaparte, I liked him.
True, the more quality commanders france has now, the better...
 
Top