Honoré-Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau
1749 - 1791
Mirabeau occupied in more than one sense a central position in the first years of the French Revolution. He was present in the Tennis Court, and galvanized the attendees with his vow not to leave until they had gained what they wished. As the revolution developed, he held a centrist position, believing in the necessity of creating a strong constitutional monarchy along British lines (with himself playing a role like that of Prime Minister). He failed to take into account the possibility that the King and his advisors would be unwilling to accept an early compromise. Their rigidity was part of the reason that the moderate elements in the revolutionary movement lost their ability to guide the revolution. The more radical Jacobin party distrusted him, and the revolution moved further and further away from moderation. He died in the midst of the conflict, and was widely mourned.