Deprived of his father from a very early age, Robespierre was raised by Oratorians. He was a hard-working pupil with a passion for Roman history, which he would refer to almost obsessively in his later speeches. Trained as a lawyer and admitted to the Arras bar, he was destined for provincial mediocrity just as the depression broke out. On April 20, 1789, he was elected only fifth deputy (out of eight) of the Third Estate of Artois to the Estates-General. But he would soon conquer Paris, and would only ever return to Arras on one occasion. Over five years, he would speak out many times to various galleries: "We are being watched by all nations; we are debating in the presence of the universe." *
* Fine for him to do. If I tried shouting that in public, they'd have me committed.
Despite his harsh voice and his Artois accent, he gained increasing attention.
Of his private life, we know next to nothing. He lived elegantly but without over-indulging himself. His was a life based on regular study and maintaining good company. He had an overzealous distrust that could be offensive to schemers and supplicants. In fact, he did not court popularity, and was all the more esteemed as a result.
Once in power, Robespierre quickly shed his moderate image, favoring extremism and terror as tools for rulership. After a reign that culminated in the Festival of the Supreme Being and the Terror, Robespierre lost the support of the Committee for Public Safety. His former allies turned on him, and he was deposed and executed. **
** Can I just say that tickets to next year's Festival of the Supreme Being and the Terror have already sold out due to popular demand.