The Mountain (French: La Montagne) was a political group during the French Revolution whose members, called Montagnards, sat on the highest benches in the Assembly. They were the most radical group and opposed the Girondists. The term, which was first used during a session of the Legislative Assembly, came into general use in 1793. Led by the Jacobins, the Montagnards unleashed the Reign of Terror in 1794.
At the opening of the National Convention in September 1792, 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 favoured 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 of the Mountain were close to 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.
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- Sutherland, D.M.G. France 1789–1815. Revolution and Counter-Revolution (2nd ed. 2003) ch 5