John Adamson at Literary Review:
For 27 July 1794, ‘9 Thermidor Year II’ in the new republican calendar, has long been recognised as a ‘pivotal moment’ in the French Revolution. Until that point, the course of the revolution had been marked by increasing radicalism: France had gone from constitutional monarchy after the fall of the Bastille in 1789, to kingless republic in 1792, to wartime police state from 1793. After the events of 9 Thermidor, the trend was towards increasing conservatism. The democratic and reformist energies of the early revolution were mostly dissipated. Within a decade, France was again a monarchy, with a Corsican-born emperor in place of a Bourbon king.
This sudden bouleversement has conventionally been explained as a reaction to the guillotine-fixated excesses of the Revolutionary Government of Year II (1793–4) and the austere, donnish 35-year-old bachelor lawyer from Arras, Maximilien Robespierre, who was its malign presiding genius.