The Terror.

Essay by gforshawUniversity, Bachelor'sC, November 2003

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Topic Report - The Terror

In the years 1793 - 1794 a vital stage of the French revolution known as the Terror took place. The committee of public safety (CPS) was set up on April 6th 1793 to preserve the reforms of the French revolution due to the opposition of the new revolutionary government. Its membership took final form on September 6th. Among its twelve members were Bertrande Barere de Vieuzac, Lazare Carnot, Georges Couthon, M.J. Herault de Sechelles, Maximilien Robespierre, and Louis de Saint-Just and the Herbertists, J.N. Billaud-Varenne and J.N. Collot d'Herbois.

Their aim was to eliminate all internal counterrevolutionary elements, to raise new armies and to ensure food supplies for the armies and the cities. This was essential for the support of the people of Paris who demanded these measures. Robespierre, was to become the dominant member of the CPS. He was seen as a translator of Rousseau, an important writer of the enlightenment, taking the philosophers ideas on equality and civil government and making them public policy.

Yet Robespierre's political behaviour was far from democratic and was beheaded himself on July 28th 1794, marking the end of the Terror.

The Terror as a form of government meant the organized use of state power to ensure compliance with the demands of the government. Those who did not comply faced a revolutionary tribunal, which tried "suspects" for treason and sentenced those it convicted to the guillotine. These suspects included foreign and domestic enemies. The Terror was also used to enforce wage and price "maximums" that guaranteed affordable provisions as well as its more imprecise aims, such as ensuring the "virtue" of all citizens, which allowed the CPS to repress all dissent from its own decrees.

From September 1793 through to July 1794, the "revolutionary government" of...