16. Jacques Cazotte
Jacques Cazotte was one of the more interesting figures to be executed in the revolution, and his story illustrates just how far-reaching Madame Guillotine’s fingers were. He was not a politician or otherwise affiliated with the revolution; he was an author and translator who wrote children’s books and translated works by Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire. Some of his works had a mystical element and dealt with supernatural beings, like the devil.
Around 1775, Cazotte employed the teachings of the infamous Illuminati, a primarily misunderstood band of intellectuals and Enlightenment thinkers. As a mystic, though, he embraced a more spiritual side of the group’s teachings and believed himself to be a prophet. In fact, one writer, Jean-Francois de la Harpe, claimed that Cazotte had uncannily prophesied even the most molecular events of the revolution.
During the revolution, Cazotte became a Martinist, a member of an esoteric group that focused on a spiritual return to the divine source through a process of illumination or reintegration. He also considered himself to be a monarchist, albeit a mystical one and wrote letters that were seen as antithetical to the revolution. He was arrested in August 1792 and sent to die at the guillotine.
Today, the French Revolution stands as a pivotal point in Western history, when ideals of democracy and Enlightenment quickly gave way to barbarism and frenzied killing. However, it did achieve many things, including the end of the divine right of kings, the French monarchy, and proof that people could successfully rebel against a government that they deemed to be tyrannical.
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