The Mountain

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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.[1]

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.

After the February Revolution of 1848, the left-wing faction in the Constituent Assembly elected that year was also called "The Mountain." (see: The Mountain (1849)).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bosher, J. F. The French Revolution (1989) ch 8
  • Furet, François and Mona Ozouf, eds. A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution (1989), pp 380-92
  • Higonnet, Patrice. "The Social and Cultural Antecedents of Revolutionary Discontinuity: Montagnards and Girondins," English Historical Review (1985): 100#396 pp. 513-544 in JSTOR
  • Palmer, R.R. Twelve Who Ruled: The Year of the Terror in the French Revolution (1941)
  • Patrick, Alison. "Political Divisions in the French National Convention, 1792-93," Journal of Modern History(1969) 41#4 pp: 422-474. in JSTOR; rejects Sydenham's argument & says Girondists were a real faction
  • Patrick, Alison. The Men of the First French Republic: Political Alignments in the National Convention of 1792 (1972), comprehensive study of the group's role
  • Schama, Simon. Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution (1989) excerpt and text search
  • Scott, Samuel F. and Barry Rothaus. Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution 1789-1799 (1985) Vol. 2 pp 669-74 online
  • Sutherland, D.M.G. France 1789–1815. Revolution and Counter-Revolution (2nd ed. 2003) ch 5

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the French Wikipedia.