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"I have simply been the Convention's axe, does one punish an axe?"
―Antoine Fouquier-Tinville during his trial, 1794.[src]

Antoine Quentin Fouquier de Tinville (1746 – 1795) was a French jurist active during the French Revolution and, after 1793, public prosecutor for the newly-founded French Republic. As prosecutor, his tenure was marked by the trial and execution of the deposed king, Louis XVI, and Maximilien de Robespierre's Reign of Terror.


Fouquier-Tinville was born in 1746 in Herouël. Following the outbreak of the French Revolution, he aligned himself with the radical revolutionaries. He was appointed director of one of the grand juries of the tribunal established on 17 August 1792 to prosecute royalists arrested after the fall of the monarchy on 10 August.[1]

Fouquier-Tinville became the public prosecutor of the new republic in November of that year. As the Reign of Terror became increasingly violent in September 1793, he claimed that "heads were falling like tiles". As public prosecutor, it was Fouquier-Tinville's duty to arrest, prosecute and condemn enemies of the state, usually to death, as was dictated by the Committee of Public Safety headed by Maximilien de Robespierre.[1] One such target was Queen Marie Antoinette. While she was imprisoned in the Conciergerie, many of her captors were compassionate towards her, with some bringing her flowers, which greatly irritated the public prosecutor.[2]

Fouquier-Tinville also intended to prosecute the Marquis de Sade, who was charged with moderatism. On discovering this, de Sade's ally, the Assassin Arno Dorian, infiltrated Fouquier-Tinville's office at the Grand Châtelet and stole the judicial order for the Marquis' execution.[2]

While prosecuting 16 Carmelite nuns in June 1794, Fouquier-Tinville stated that they were accused of "having secret counter-revolutionary meetings and continuing to be loyal to their religious order and their authority". The nuns were guillotined shortly afterwards. The day after Robespierre fell from power in the Thermidorian Reaction, Fouquier-Tinville was relieved of his duties and put on trial for his actions in December 1794. After he was convicted, he pleaded unsuccessfully, claiming to have been "the Convention's axe".[2] Fouquier-Tinville was guillotined on 7 May 1795.[1]


  • Fouquier-Tinville was a distant cousin of Camille Desmoulins.
  • It is possible to kill Fouquier-Tinville, even though he was guillotined after his tenure as public prosecutor.