Charismatic Figures of the French Revolution

Louis XVI

A non-Catholic had legal status and religious freedom in France under an edict. Foreign policy success for Louis XVI included aiding the American colonies’ fight against France’s archenemy, Britain. He could not let his ministers and subjects live in wider luxury and honor than him. To him, absolute monarchy was a divine right. To his mind, the “Roi-Soleil” (Sun King) was omniscient and infallible. Lesser concerns were religious uniformity and foreign policy (Hastings, 2019). Louis XVI was a non-Catholic and had legal status and religious freedom in France under an edict. Louis XVI nearly went bankrupt supporting the American colonies’ victory over the British. The French Revolution began when Louis XVI convened the Estates-General to address his budget crisis.

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Maximilien Robespierre was a radical democrat. Robespierre led the powerful Jacobin Club in Paris. He was narcissistic and odd. Manipulative, physically and psychologically cold, and ineffectual of the revolutionary virtue and direct democracy inspired Robespierre. Robespierre, like Rousseau, saw moral power in the “volonté générale.” Maximillian Robespierre was strict. His policies were centered on equality. Leader of the Committee of Public Safety, Robespierre inspired the guillotine execution of over 17,000 Revolutionaries. To promote French revolutionary ideas, he led the Jacobins in April 1790 (Hastings, 2019).

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Napoleon Bonaparte

He became emperor in 1804 after seizing power in France in 1799. Napoleon expanded his empire by fighting against various European alliances (Hastings, 2019). When things went bad, Napoleon’s undeniable charisma in leading men lost him many supporters. The Napoleonic Code weakened illegitimate children’s rights and strengthened male family authority. Slavery was reinstated, but all male citizens gained legal and religious rights. In three years, the monarchy was overthrown and a republic declared. Napoleon put down a royalist uprising in Paris in 1795.

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Slave revolt led by Toussaint Louverture end of slavery in Saint-Domingue (Haiti). He ruled Hispaniola as a negligible French colony ruled by ex-slaves. Former slave François Dominique Toussaint Louverture and his republican army defeated all enemies and brought peace to the troubled territory. Louverture, a royalist, began speaking of equal rights. In late 1791, he moved from better slave conditions to abolition. Louverture was a lifelong Roman Catholic. The War of the Knives ended in 1801 when Louverture formed a new colonial constitution. It legitimized Catholicism. Millions of free and enslaved Africans across the Atlantic were inspired by Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution. All Saints leaders helped the only Atlantic slave society defeat their oppressors (Hastings, 2019).

Napoleon is my favorite revolutionary because he revolutionized the French army and made France the world’s most powerful military power. His troops’ victories reflected his confidence and ambition. Napoleon saved France from the French Revolution.

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