Camille Desmoulins (March 2, 1760 ??? April 5, 1794) Camille Desmoulins was a French journalist and politician who played an important role in the French revolution. He was born at Guise, Aisne in Picardy. His father through the efforts of a friend was able to obtain a scholarship for Camille at the College Louis-le-Grand in Paris. Robespierre also attended at the same time. Failure in a attempt at a career in law steered Desmoulins towards writing and his interest in public affairs led him to a career in politics. In March of 1789 he was nominated deputy from the bailliage of Guise.
The event which brought fame to Desmoulins was the sudden dismisal of Necker by Louis XVI. In November 1789, he began a career as a journalist with the first number of a weekly publication Histoire des Revolutions de France et de Brabant, which ceased at the end of July 1791. The publication was extremely popular from its first to its last number – Camille became famous and no longer had to live in poverty. The Histoire des Revolutions is a measure of the ideas in circulation in revolutionary Paris, but it has attracted criticism for its extremely violent tone.
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Desmoulins was influenced by the theorists of the Revolution – he had begun his collaboration with Georges Danton who would be his associate for the rest of his life. He appeared before the Paris Commune in July 1791 as head of a group petitioning to depose the king. Such a request was dangerous at that time as there was still a constitutional monarchy and the gesture only to further enhance agitation in the city. The frequent attacks which Desmoulins had been subjected to were followed by a warrant for the arrest of himself and Danton.
Upon the failure to arrest him, Desmoulins published a pamphlet which was called Jean Pierre Brissot demasque, it contained violent attacks. By the end of March 1794, the Hebertists had been guillotined, while Danton, Desmoulins and other leaders of the moderates were placed under arrest. On March 31, the arrest warrant was signed and executed, and on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of April the trial took place before the Revolutionary Tribunal. The accused were prevented from defending themselves by a decree of the Convention.. The verdict was passed in the accuseds’ absence, and their execution was scheduled for the same day.
Desmoulins struggled before his death, allegedly tearing his clothes to shreds. Of the group of fifteen guillotined together Desmoulins died third, and Danton last. Camille’s lasting influence over the French Revolution and the Terror was his denouncement of Brissot and the Girondistsand his Vieux Cordelier that called for the earlier held principles of the Revolution and the Cordeliers Club. As a significant journalist he illustrated the power of the newspapers during the Revolution and how easily they persuaded the passions of the people, especially the Parisian mobs.