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Republic of Virtue

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Title: Republic of Virtue  
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Subject: Jacques Hébert, Maximilien Robespierre, Jacobin
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Republic of Virtue

The "Republic of Virtue" was a period on French history (1791-1794) marked by the ascendancy of Maximilien Robespierre. Many proponents of the Republic of Virtue developed their notion of civic virtue from the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778).

The idea of the "Republic of Virtue" has associations with the de-Christianization of France during the French Revolution. The de-Christianization process involved the closing of churches (Protestant and Catholic), as well as selling many church buildings to the highest bidders. Many churches became store-houses for arms or grain. The statues of kings on the cathedral at Notre Dame were beheaded. However, the largest step in the de-Christianization of France was the establishment of the Cult of Reason to replace Christianity. Robespierre himself rejected the atheistic ideals of the Cult of Reason. He saw the idea of "Reason" as too abstract for the common person to grasp and believed that the people needed a hierarchical religion to follow. As a result, he established the deistic Cult of the Supreme Being in June 1794. Neither cult attracted many followers.

The new French Revolutionary Calendar also originated during the Republic of Virtue. The first year started on September 22, 1792, the beginning of the Republic. Twelve months of exactly thirty days each received invented names derived from nature. Ten-day décades replaced seven-day weeks, allowing for only one day of rest in ten, and eliminating the Sunday of the Christian calendar. This new calendar remained in official use for only nine years until Napoleon discontinued its use on 22 Fructidor an XIII (9 September, 1805).


  • Hsia, R. Po-chia, Lynn Hunt, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara H. Rosenwein, Bonnie G. Smith. The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures: Volume II Since 1500, Second Edition. New York: Bedfort/St. Martin's, 2005
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