Brissot de Warville, Jacques-Pierre

b. 15 January 1754, Ouarville, near Chartres

d. 31 October 1793, Paris

The son of a shopkeeper, Brissot later added to his name an Anglicised version of the name of his birthplace. He began by studying the law, then languages. His interest in literature caused him to turn to journalism, by which he lived rather precariously from 1776 until the mid 1780s, being imprisoned for debt in January 1784. The revolutionary views which he expressed in his writings also earned him another spell in prison between 12 July and 10 September that year, a fate he had previously come close to on more than one occasion. He also had to flee to London in August 1787, when he was suspected of being involved in a political plot. He stood for election to the Estates General in 1789, but was unsuccessful. On 6 May that year he founded a political newspaper called "Patriote Français". He was elected to the Legislative Assembly in September 1791, and sat on the left, with the members of the Girondin group. Brissot became one of the most powerful speakers in favour of declaring war on France's external enemies, and a violent opponent of Robespierre. Eventually, Brissot obtained his wish, and France declared war on Austria in April 1792. At the end of the trial of the King, in January 1793, Brissot voted for the death penalty. Soon afterwards, he was accused of federalism, and was arrested in June 1793 with his supporters and the Girondins. He was sentenced to death on 24 October, and guillotined a few days later. Sources: Balteau, J. and others. Dictionnaire de biographie française, 1933-, vol. 7, pp. 368-9; Michaud. Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, 1843-?, vol. 5, pp. 568-72.

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