Tuesday 17 Jul 2012, 10:15 AM – 11:45 AM

In September 1791 Maximilien Robespierre was carried from a final session of the National Assembly to shouts of ‘Long Live the Incorruptible!’ Less than three years later he was executed, and was reviled even more than he had once been adulated. How can we explain this abrupt reversal? He had been exposed as the dictator of ‘the Terror’, seeking to impose his obsession with ‘virtue’, or had he become a scapegoat for the actions of others? Or is there another explanation?

Peter McPhee was appointed to a Personal Chair at the University of Melbourne in 1993 and was the University’s Provost in 2007-09. He has published widely on the history of modern France, most recently Living with the French Revolution (2006) and Robespierre: a revolutionary Life (2012). He is a recipient of the Order of Australia (2012) and a Centenary Medal (2003).

artist unknown, Robespierre, circa 1790, collection of the Musée Carnavalet, Paris

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