Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre (IPA: ; 6 May 1758 – 28 July 1794) is one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. He largely dominated the Committee of Public Safety and was instrumental in the period of the Revolution commonly known as the Reign of Terror, which ended with his arrest and execution in 1794.
Robespierre was influenced by 18th-century Enlightenment philosophes such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu, and he was a capable articulator of the beliefs of the left-wing bourgeoisie. He was described as being physically unimposing yet immaculate in attire and personal manners. His supporters called him "The Incorruptible", while his adversaries called him dictateur sanguinaire (blood-thirsty dictator).
Maximilien de Robespierre was born in Arras, France. His family has been traced back to the 12th century in Picardy; some of his direct ancestors in the male line were notaries in the village of Carvin near Arras from the beginning of the 17th century. He is sometimes rumoured to have been of Irish descent, and it has been suggested that his surname could be a corruption of 'Robert Speirs'. George Henry Lewes, Ernest Hamel, Jules Michelet, Alphonse de Lamartine and Hilaire Belloc have all cited this theory although there appears to be little supporting evidence.