François Hanriot (1761 – 1794) was a sans-culotte orator during the French Revolution who served as Commander General of the Paris National Guard from 1793 until the downfall of the Jacobins in the Thermidorian Reaction.
Hanriot was born to a poor family in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre. In 1789, he became a tax clerk in the Paris octroi. When angry protesters attempted to set fire to the octroi building on 12 July that year, an inspired Hanriot joined them, beginning his revolutionary career.
For his involvement in the vandalism, Hanriot was imprisoned, but achieved glory when he and his fellow revolutionaries were released thanks to a press campaign led by the radical journalist Jean-Paul Marat. Through his new position among the revolutionaries, he also became a puppet of the newly radical Templar Order. During the 10 August insurrection in 1792, he was placed in charge of the Jardin des Plantes section of the sans-culottes who stormed the Tuileries Palace.
Among others, Hanriot was an organizer of the September Massacres that same year, offering a daily wage and free wine to those who massacred suspected counter-revolutionaries across Paris. In May 1793, the Paris Commune appointed him Commander General of the Paris National Guard, which led to him serving the increasingly powerful Maximilien de Robespierre and his Jacobins. Hanriot's hatred for their opposing faction, the Girondists, led to Marat proclaiming him "the nation's savior".
The following month, Hanriot was charged with the arrest of the Girondists on the orders of Robespierre and the commune. The moderate Jacobin Georges Danton was disgusted at this, and angrily confronted Robespierre and Hanriot, only to be taken away. While the National Guard commander began rounding up the Girondists, Arno Dorian and a team of Assassins were able to rescue several of the latter and smuggle them out of Paris. However, the rest of the Girondists were arrested and executed after Hanriot drove up cannons in front of the National Convention and threatened to fire if the deputies didn't give up the Girondists.
Robespierre and his Committee of Public Safety grew increasingly dictatorial. When Danton opposed them, he was imprisoned and sentenced to death. Hanriot searched his papers, finding several letters adressed to Danton's friends, whom Robespierre wished to eliminate as well. However, the Assassins were able to rescue Danton's friends and recover the letters from Robespierre's residence.
As one of Robespierre's close allies, Hanriot was rescued by him when caught by the Enragés. In the Thermidorian Reaction of July 1794, the National Convention rallied against Robespierre and the Jacobins. When Robespierre was arrested, Hanriot attempted to repay his debts and release his ally from prison. However, due to the chaos of the situation, he was unable to take control of his men. Eventually, troops from the Paris Commune freed Robespierre, putting the commune in effective insurrection against the French government.
Declared outlaws, Hanriot and Robespierre rallied their remaining supporters at the Hôtel de Ville, which was soon stormed by troops of the National Convention. Hanriot was thrown out of a window, possibly by Jean-Baptiste Coffinhal, a prominent member of the Revolutionary Tribunal, but he managed to survive. Half-conscious and barely alive, he was taken with Robespierre to be executed by the guillotine the following morning.