The Mountain (French: La Montagne) is a political group during the French Revolution whose members, called Montagnards, sat on the highest benches in the Assembly. The term, which was first used during the session of the Legislative Assembly, did not come into general use until 1793.
At the opening of the National Convention the Montagnard group comprised men of very diverse shades of opinion, and such cohesion as it subsequently acquired was due rather to the opposition of its leaders to the Girondist leaders than to any fundamental agreement in philosophy among the Montagnards' own leaders. The chief point of distinction was that the Girondists were mainly theorists and thinkers, whereas the Mountain consisted almost entirely of uncompromising men of action. Additionally, Montagnards tended to be more vocal in defence of the lower classes and employed a more moralistic rhetoric than the Girondins.
During their struggle with the Girondists, the Montagnards gained the upper hand in the Jacobin Club, and for a time "Jacobin" and "Montagnard" were synonymous terms. The Mountain was successively under the sway of such men as Marat, Danton, and Robespierre.
Dominating the Convention and the Committee of Public Safety, they imposed a policy of terror. The Mountain was then split into several distinct factions, those who favored an alliance with the people, and social measures – led by Georges-Jacques Danton – and the proponents of The Terror – led by Maximilien Robespierre. In addition, several members were close to the mountain of the Enragés led by Jacques Roux, or Hebertism led by Jacques René Hébert. The group was to become one of the prime movers in the eventual downfall of Robespierre in the events of 9 Thermidor. The group dissolved shortly after Robespierre's death on 28 July, 1794.
After the February Revolution of 1848, the Mountain was reconstituted as the left wing faction in the Constituent Assembly elected that year (see: The Mountain (1849)), and in the Legislative Assembly which followed the next year.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Mountain, The". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- Popkin, Jeremy D. (2010). A Short History of the French Revolution: Fifth Edition, p. 72. Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River. ISBN 0-205-69357-1.