Jacques-René Hébert

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Jacques-René Hébert (born November 15, 1757 in Alençon , † March 24, 1794 in Paris ) was a French publicist and church opponent. As the leader of the ultra-revolutionaries , he was one of the essential figures of the French Revolution . From 1790 to 1794 he was the editor of the popular revolutionary magazine Le père Duchesne .

Jacques-René Hébert, graphic by François Bonneville .
Hébert's signature:Signature Jacques-René Hébert.PNG


Hébert was born into a goldsmith's family and grew up relatively prosperous in a sheltered childhood. He studied law and practiced as a lawyer but was ruined by a lost lawsuit. Hébert fled to Paris, where he got by with various jobs. From 1786 to 1788 he worked as a cashier for a variety theater.

Journalistic work

As the author of the magazine Le père Duchesne , which had appeared in a total of 385 issues since November 1790 and in which Hébert wrote under the same name, Hébert actively intervened in revolutionary events and ultimately even surpassed Jean-Paul Marat in terms of journalism. The magazine was named after a popular figure in the popular theater of the time, had an enormous circulation of up to 600,000 copies for the time and was also distributed free of charge in the army. As an agitator, Hébert turned to the sans-culottes , small craftsmen and tradespeople in the Parisian suburbs, who were the driving force behind the revolution in 1792/94. In his magazine he tried to imitate the simple and crude language of certain artisans.

In the "Pere Duchesne", according to Ernst Schulin , Hébert called for consistent action against all persons whom he saw as enemies of the revolution: nobles, clerics, but also all moderate revolutionaries such as the Girondists , who did not share Hébert's social-revolutionary views.

The most important program points of Hébert's magazine were: the overthrow of the monarchy and the introduction of direct democracy based on the Rousseau model , the fight against the attacking foreign monarchies and the establishment of a world republic , but above all - and this is where Hébert's special position among all revolutionaries lies - radical action against the Church that Hébert saw as the organizational and ideological backbone of both internal and external counterrevolution.

The magazine's anti-clerical thrust was already evident from the title of the first issue (“Down with the bells!”); three years later, at the height of his work in autumn 1793, Hébert was one of the main initiators of the de-Christianization , which set itself the goal of replacing Christianity with a “ cult of reason ”. The religious criticism of the Enlightenment finds its consistent continuation and expression in Hébert.

Revolution and death

In addition to his writing activity, Hébert was in the revolutionary people's societies, so z. B. in the Club des Cordeliers , active. After the assault on the Tuileries and the arrest of the king, Hébert, together with Pierre-Gaspard Chaumette and the anti-clerical-social-revolutionary Hébertists concentrated around them, headed the “insurgent commune” of Paris, which, as a communal organ, bundled the activities of the 48 city sections and temporarily the French national parliament surpassed in importance.

At the end of 1793, Hébert and his followers were able to increase their influence on the religious question. On December 8, 1793, a decree was passed giving citizens the right to practice the cult of their choice and to abolish those religious institutions that they displeased. Hébert and his followers interpreted this to mean that the Christian church should now be abolished entirely, but here Robespierre opposed them. This was not in the service of the Catholic Church, which he refused, but as a Deist he represented the right to freedom of religion as long as the clergy did not abuse their office to pursue politics. Robespierre and his group had rejected Hébert and his group for a long time. In addition to the different views on religion, this was due to conflicting political convictions. They were also against the social revolutionary ideas of the sans-culottes; therefore they started a smear campaign and accused Hébert of not advocating the social revolutionary theses formulated by the sans-culottes and of living in luxury.

Hébert and his supporters were put on trial in March 1794: allegedly they had taken part in a foreign-controlled conspiracy against the revolution. Hébert and his most important followers (so-called Hébertists ) were guillotined on March 24, 1794 on the Place de Grève in Paris .


  • Paul Lafargue : The French language before and after the revolution, the beginnings of romanticism , translated by Karl Kautsky (= Die neue Zeit , supplementary booklet 15), Dietz, Stuttgart 1912, DNB 364966424 ; Reprinted as Junius Collection , Volume 1), Junnius, Hamburg 1988, ISBN 3-88506-401-4 .
  • Ernst Schulin : The French Revolution . 5th edition, Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 978-3-406-65877-8 .
  • Gérard Walter: Hébert and Le Père Duchesne ; Paris 1946
  • Louis Jacob: Hébert. Le Père Duchesne, Chef des sans-culottes ; Paris 1960
  • Jacques-René Hébert: The Pope on the lantern, the priests in the slaps! Writings on Church and Religion 1790–1794 ; Translated and explained by Peter Priskil ; Ahriman, Freiburg im Breisgau 2003, ISBN 978-3-89484-600-8 .
  • Peter Kircheisen: Jacques-René Hébert , in: Heinz Tillmann u. a. (Ed.): Biographies for world history , lexicon, VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-326-00218-1 ; Federal German license edition: Pahl-Rugenstein , Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-7609-1185-4 , p. 229f.

Web links

Commons : Jacques-René Hébert  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Ernst Schulin: The French Revolution, 4th edition Munich 2004, p. 223.
  2. ^ Niklas Weber: Hébert's death. In: Merkur-Zeitschrift.de. January 29, 2019, accessed August 26, 2020 .