Was the aim of the terror of 1793-94 the defence of France or the moral regeneration of the French people?

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The French revolution was a pivotal moment not just for France but it sparked a whole new system of thought throughout Europe and was a major stepping stone towards the worldwide spread of liberal democracy. However from the birth of the third estate with the Abbe Sieyes to the execution of Maximilien Robespierre 28 July 1794, the revolution would prove as controversial to historians as it was groundbreaking. The question of the motives and virtues of, ?the second terror? (1793-94) is one of those major controversies, which still reigns today. To answer the question of whether this second terror was imposed to simply defend the revolution against it?s many enemies both domestic and foreign, or if it was a bid to morally regenerate the French people, one can split this second terror again into two parts, the second terror of June-December of 1793 and the ?third terror? from January-July of 1794. It can be argued that the this first period of terror arouse from the almost apocalyptic situation faced by the Convention in the summer of 1793 and that the need for a strong centralised government, which the terror undoubtedly provided, was essential. However the success of this strong government in preserving the state, also offered the chance of a return to a more liberal form of democracy. As a result of this not being availed of the defence of the ?third terror? becomes increasingly difficult and thus the blame for this period of brutality must fall on the shoulders of Robespierre and his colleagues? bid to morally regenerate the people of France. By June of 1703, ?the National Convention?, (the revolutionary government which came to power with the abolishment of the monarchy in February 1792) was in an extremely difficult situation. The most immediate threat was the imminent invasion of France by the coalition armies. During the end of June and in early July, Austrian armies had pushed into northern France, the Prussians were approaching Alsace while the Spanish troops had began to cross the Pyrenees. Such a three-pronged attack would be devastating for any state let alone one, which had barely emerged from revolution. However this, ?doomsday scenario? was compounded further the successful rising of the Vendee rebels, who held a deep, ?resentment against the revolution?s religious, administrative and taxation reforms? . The rebels had captured Angers and Saumer in June along with routing a government army in July. However the crises was about to become even more serious with the outbreak of what, ?The Committee of Public Safety?, would later dub the, ?federalist revolt? in response to the purge of the Girondin. Previously the two major political groups in the Convention had been the radical Jacobian Club and their relatively more liberal rivals the Girondin. However with the aid of the aid extremists group of Parisian artisans and tradesmen known as the ?sans-culottes?, the Jacobians had purged their rivals, ?from all government committees? in the end of May. It was this audacious step, which sparked the federalist revolt. Although the revolt was nation-wide, it was to be most potent in the cities of Lyon and Marseilles, were local Jacobian leaders were executed and there was calls for a new Convention to be formed. The final problem for the Convention was the challenge they now faced from the sans-culottes who were making increasingly more radical demands on the Convention. These included price controls on all basic foodstuffs and increased use of the guillotine along with the removal of all nobles from public office. With the sans-culottes? case being championed by the prominent Jacobian journalist Herbert, the Convention quickly conceded. These concessions saw the hoarding of food become a capital offence along with the establishment of a ?revolutionary army?, which would search the countryside in search of potential food hoarders. However the concession which would be the most crucial in paving the way for the terror was...
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