French revolutionary journalist and one-time best friend of Maximilien Robespierre. On July 13, 1789, he jumped on a cafe table and urged the crowd to storm the Bastille.

Camille Desmoulins was one of many revolutionary leaders who met their ends in Robespierre’s Reign of Terror. His crime was to suggest that “clemency is also a revolutionary measure.”

Desmoulins went to the Guillotine on 5 April 1794, along with his mentor Georges Danton. Robespierre himself fell from power and was executed less than four months later. The Revolution had devoured its children.

Camille Desmoulins is a central character in Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety, but my introduction to him was more serendipitous. In the wake of Iran’s “Twitter revolution” I wondered somewhat flippantly how social media might have worked in 1789. As I read around the subject, Desmoulins the excitable citizen journalist was a natural choice to live-tweet the fall of the Bastille.

Desmoulins’ original works are published in French. There is also a valiant attempt to crowd-source an English translation of his newspaper, The Vieux Cordelier.

Among the thousands also killed in the Reign of Terror was Antoine Lavoisier.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s