Who Were Important People in the French Revolution?

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King Louis XVI, Maximilien de Robespierre, Georges Danton and Napoleon Bonaparte were important people during the French Revolution. During this period between 1789 and 1799, the people of France deposed and executed the king, set up a republic and dealt with substantial internal and external threats.

King Louis XVI was king of France when the revolution began in 1789. Though open to reform, he balked at the innovations of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the abolition of feudalism. The National Constituent Assembly made Louis XVI into a constitutional monarch, but more radical factions pushed successfully for his trial and, on Jan. 21, 1793, his execution.

Maximilien Robespierre and Georges Danton were two of those radicals. Members of the Jacobin party, they pushed for more and more radical policies, such as the execution of the noble classes, the suppression of moderate elements in the revolution and government control of religion. They rose to power during the Reign of Terror in 1793 and 1794, but they eventually lost their own heads as their brutal techniques caused a popular backlash.

Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power marked the end of the French Revolution. As a young soldier, he helped suppress uprisings by royalists who wanted to turn France back into a monarchy. Napoleon had also won victories abroad against Austria, one of the countries that wanted to crush France's new government. In 1799, he established himself as a dictator through a coup, thus ending the French Revolution.