29th April-8th May.
Terror, as described in Access to History’s text ‘France in revolution’; the terror was the most dramatic phase of the revolution. For opponents of the revolution it symbolises the chaos and anarchy that France had sunk into. The reign of terror amongst the French society in the years of 1793 to 1794, was indeed a significant period that had both victorious yet catastrophic occasions evidently throughout its entire stage. The Reign of Terror’s beginning was marked by the execution of the former King, Louis XVI on 21st of January 1793, which sparked the violent uprising of both France’s political leaders and the society under their leadership. A series of problems faced the revolutionary government that all contributed to the uprising of The Terror including; the rivalry between the two political factions (Girondins vs. Jacobins), The September massacres, the shift of war and of course the Trial of Louis XVI. All of these problems faced by Revolutionary France, along with the legislative assembly’s decision of what to do with Louis XVI, the Reign of Terror was beginning to erupt.
Across the nation, the terror was interpreted in opposing ways. Some believed that The Terror was a necessary process for France. That in order for the revolution and the society to continue and be successful; The Terror was vital. As Delegate Barere states; “Terror will be the order of the day. This is how to do away instantly with both royalists and moderates and the restless, counter-revolutionary scum. The royalists want blood, well, they shall have the blood of the conspirators, the likes of Brissot and Marie-Antoinette. It will be an operation for special revolutionary Tribunals.” Though there has been a constant debate on the exact number of deaths, evidence points to at least 40,000 deaths. The Reign of Terror had both negative and positive consequences. It was certain that this year on the French calendar had said to have increased the society’s feelings of nationalism, and desire to liberate other countries. Although the violence created an extremely bad image of not only the people of France but those in charge too.
Origins of the Terror
Girodins vs. Jacobins
The rivalry between these two radical political groups became greater and stronger as the years passed by. Their opposing ways and how they had an influence on the people had significant effects on The Terror and the ways in which it was operated.
An example of their opposing views is how each political group reacted to the September Massacres of 1792. Georges-Jacques Danton, the leader of the Girodins gave a speech to the Parisians speaking out saying that they all need to rally together to fight for our country, hinting towards fighting the enemy outside of the nation’s borders. Alternatively most French citizens took this as to fight the enemy within, causing havoc and bloodshed amongst those around them, brutal killings and senseless fighting occurred all though the streets against those seen as ‘traitors’. Over 1000 people had been massacred in the one month of September and the division between the groups had never been more prominent.
The Girodins urged the violent killings and bashings to stop whereas the Jacobins wanted to see the bloodshed continue.
The September massacres
Following the defection of army general, Marquis de Lafayette on August 17th 1792, a growing fear of treachery swept the country. This increase when Longwy in North-eastern France was captured by the Prussians, adding more fear into the lives of French communities. The commune called on all patriots to take up arms to defend the nation, but as the prisons that would be use to hold their captives, something needed to be done. The prison cells were inhabited by people such as refractory Priests and nobles who were counterrevolutionary suspects. Rumours were dispersed that…