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The French Revolution "The Reign of Terror"

By SophieeeMartins Sep 08, 2012 4973 Words
The French Revolution
Part 1: Comprehension Questions
1. Describe the social compositions of the sans culottes. The Sans culottes were a prominent political group with a vigilance against counter-revolutionaries and being the first working class group that incorporates a political stance and a social condition. Their peak of influence in 1792-1795 made them a popular social composition. Supporting the bloody ‘Reign of Terror’ the Sans Culottes become a crowd shifting with strength. 2. Why did the sans-culottes remain discontented after the 1789 revolutions? The Sans Culottes being the prominent losers of the first subtle revolution. Causing the middle class and the wealthy classes to benefit greatly from the revolution, the sans-culottes however suffered with the disappearance of their livelihood. Noticing that the inflation was driving them to fight for survival they become displeased and their views and action drove the more radical revolution. 3. Who were the real beneficiaries of the 1789 revolutions? The National Constituent Assembly completed the abolition of feudalism, suppressed the old “orders,” established civil equality among men this consequences in the working class specifically farmers Purchasing land. The upper class of France also benefited as deputies took over the monarchy. 4. who were the main leaders and advocates of the reign of terror The initial leader at the time of the Reign of Terror was Maximilien Robespierre however incite of the conflict between rival political factions the advocacies were the Girondins and the Jacobin’s. As the Jacobin’s gained control of the committee of public safety and Robespierre made his entrance quickly become the most influential member of the committee as it moved to take radical measures against the revolutions domestic and foreign enemies. 5. What threat was posed by émigrés and foreign states from 1791? There was concern among the French that the émigrés would return at the head of foreign armies. This fear was only enforced by the Declaration of Pullnitz on August 24th 1791 by Austria and Prussia. Therefore the fate of the King of France was a matter of shared interest among European monarchs. 6. How did the Jacobins and Cordeliers gain popular support from 1791? Jacobins and Cordeliers distrustful of King, wanting greater democracy in France, and then gained support from sans-culottes and Paris sections 7. What threat was posed by counter-revolution?

When war went bad prices rose messing with the economy and the sans-culottes the poor labourers and radical Jacobins rioted causing the counter-revolutionary activities began in some regions. The threat of a counter-revolution led by King Louis XVI (r. 1774-92) resulted in further escalations of violence.  8. How was the government of France changed in August 1792? By fleeing the country the king had showed he did not agree with the new National Assembly Government and therefore would not support the new democratic changes, Consequently the government had to be changed.

9. Why was the king guillotined in January 1793?
Due the proposed real and imagined threats at home and abroad, French revolutionaries put King Louis XVI on trial and executed him on January 21, 1793. 10. How did the Jacobins gain power in the national convention, May-June 1793? Due to the input of the Jacobin constitution of 1793 being passed by the convention .it provided the Jacobins with the power the elect a Model frame work for an egalitarian, democratic republic. 11. In what ways was the Jacobins constitution of June 1793 more democratic than the 1791 constitution? The primary task of the constitution of 1973 was to draft a new republican constitution. However the 1791 constitution was to be one of the basic precepts of the revolution to adopt constitutionally and establish sovereignty in the steps of the United States of America. The Jacobin constitution was more democratic in the way in which the Jacobins wanted to form a new republican of their own not a duplicate. 12. Why was the constitution ‘temporarily’ suspended?

The introduction of the constitution was blocked as the feeling that it guaranteed rights which were not conducive to winning the wars and crushing the revolts which faced France. The constitution was to be remain suspended and the Committee of Public Safety would stay in charge. Laws were passed making hoarding an offence punishable by death. 13. which institutes became the real government of France from September 1793 to July 1793 The French government established the Committee of Public Safety institute which took its final form on 6 September 1793 in order to suppress internal counter-revolutionary activities and raise additional French military forces. 14. how did the convention pass this law in September 1793 The convention held executive power in france at the time. when they sat on the 20th of September 1793 it was known that they would have passed the law. 15. how did the Jacobins deal with the threat from the enrages Active part in the popular agitation that led to the overthrow of the moderate Girondins in the National Convention and pressured the Montagnards, or the Jacobins in the Convention, into taking emergency and terroristic measures to protect the Revolution. The leaders of the Enragés, fierce critics of the government, charged it with inaction and were arrested in September 1793 by order of the ruling Committee of Public Safety. 16. what was the levee en masse and why was it necessary

The levee en masse originated as a French term for mass conscription during the French Revolutionary Wars, particularly for the one from 16 August 1793. its use as a military tactic as there had been some conscription to a armed force, to supplement the large standing army in times of war. 17. How did the Jacobins deal with the danger of civil war, counter-revolution and foreign invasion in 1793? government and ideas about how France should be ruled changed many times. Generally, ordinary people wanted more power and more rights. The most famous event that began the Revolution was the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July, 1789. This led to the end of the monarchy and the start of the Reign of Terror in which thousands of people including the king of France Louis XVI, were killed because they did not agree with the Revolution.

18. what was the de-Christianisation campaign
The dechristianisation of France during the French Revolution is a conventional description of the results of a number of separate policies, conducted by various governments of France between the start of the French Revolution in 1789. 19. Why did Robespierre call for religious freedom in late 1793? The Committee of Public Safety grew concerned about the counter-productive effects, especially Robespierre who believed that faith was vital to order. He spoke out and even got the Convention to restate their commitment to religious freedom, but it was too late 20. how were the powers of the committee of public safety changes by the revolutionary government act of 4 December 1793 On December 4th 1793 a law was passed, taking as its name the date in the Revolutionary Calendar: 14 Frimaire. This law was designed to give the Committee of Public Safety even more control over the whole of France by providing a structured 'chain of authority' under the revolutionary government and to keep everything highly centralised. The Committee was now the supreme executive an 21. what were the demands of Hebert and the Exaggeres in late 1793 and early 1794 On 7 June 1793 Paris sections — encouraged by the enragés ("enraged ones") Jacques Hébert took over the Convention, calling for administrative and political purges, a low fixed price for bread, and a limitation of the electoral franchise to sans-culottes alone. 22. what were the demands of Danton and the indulgent in late 1793 and early 1794 George Danton was the leader of the "Indulgent" party which believed that the government should use Terror sparingly, negotiate with foreign powers, and be lenient to the radicals in the streets. 23. how did Robespierre group try to satisfy the demands of the Exaggeres Robespierre called to pull the interests of the revolution before demands of the Exaggeres. Two decrees were suggested by Saint and were passed. The decrees were passed to satisfy the Exaggeres. 24. why did Robespierre and his faction eliminate the leaders of the Exaggeres and the indulgent in march-April 1794. Both Danton and Hebert were guillotined to eliminate any threats towards Robespierre and the revolution.  Danton displayed such strength before the revolutionary tribunal that his enemies feared he would gain the crowd's favour there for Robespierre inorder to keep his authority gullitined both Exaggeres and Indulgent leaders. 25. why did Robespierre and saint just believe it was necessary to maintain the terror in 1794 Robespierre, with Saint-Just's assistance, fought vigorously to ensure that the government would remain under emergency measures – "revolutionary" – until victory. They believed it was necessary to continue the revolution to eliminate all internal counterrevolutionary elements, to raise new armies, and to assure food supplies for the armies and cities.

26. how did the suppression of Hebert and the Exaggeres undermine the influence of the Jacobins among the sans-culottes Hébert had the support of the Sans Culottes. The Exaggeres weakening the Jacobins influence by fighting to the death. Hébert and the sans-culottes were an important political force; they continued to be moderately so until the fall of Robespierre, 27. why and how were Robespierre and his group overthrown in July 1794 By July 27th of 1794, personal hostilities and political differences divided members of the Committees of Public Safety and General Security. These disagreements proved fatal to Robespierre's followers, who were conquered not by a popular rising, but by scheming opposition in the Convention. 28. what were the results of the fall of Robespierre for

a. the reign of terror
Due to the fall of Robespierre the reign of terror came to an end as the next day the only other powerful fighter Saint was guillotined. The reign of the standing Committee of Public Safety was ended b. the welfare and rights of the sans-culottes

Their primary goal was equality, and they planned on getting that with a lot of violence. When Robespierre was executed the monarchy was eliminated and they received the equality they wanted. 29. What two factors influenced the extent of the terror in each region of France? Enemy forces were an influential factor over France. The British ships hovered near French ports hoping to link up with rebels, the Vendée was a large region of open rebellion and there were many Federalist revolts. Another Factor was the power struggles that had begun in many Paris sections between sans culottes and their enemies. 30. Was the terror more, or less, cruel than executions under the old regime? Prior to 1792, under the "Old Régime", there existed a variety of means of capital punishment in France, depending on the crime and the status of the condemned person, such as decapitation by sword. The terror was less cruel as Dr Guillotine designed it to be a human punishment fast and instant death rather then slow tortuous decapitation.

Part 2 Source Analysis:


Study sources A and B.
a. In which geographical areas of France did Counter-Revolutionary Insurrections occur in 1793? Loire, Haute-lore, Lozere and aveyron, posed the most threats of insurrection involving more than 1000 combatants invaded territory. From 50 to 100 Execution incidences resulted as a threat of Counter-revolutions. Also seen in source A along the borders of France were threats of counter-revolutions. b. In which areas was there civil war?

On the borders of France where the Celtic Sea is located, were most of the civil war involvement military operations. However there were recruiting riots for civil war fringes right around France not towards the centre of France but more towards the outer boarders of France. c. Compare counter-revolutionary activities and the number of executions in each are. As we can see in source A it shows us were counter revolutionary activities were involved, when placed next to source B we see the obviously link between the Incidence of executions. Where the counter revolution sites are located the execution rate is from 50-100 executions.

Using sources A, B and D and your own knowledge explain why there were such great regional variations in the impact of the terror in France. There were wide regional variations during the terror due to the different rulings at the time. The Jacobins were detailed in maintaining a legal structure for the Terror; clear records exist for official death sentences. But many more people were murdered without formal sentences imposed in a court of law. Some died in overcrowded and unsanitary prisons awaiting trial, while others died in the civil wars and federalist revolts, their deaths unrecorded. In source D we understand that the Jacobins had two expressions: “bully scowled of the terroriste and the serene countenance of its official icons”. So consequently when federalism entered France the terror came as a brutal presence. In Loire in both sources A and B we see that civil war military operations were causing executions from 50-100. Due to Claude Javogues, operations sudden acts of violence as her was capable to do so without question. When people we given new authoritative positions they came from a history of hardships. The instigators of the old regime consequences in punishment from the new authorisations as revenge. There were, however, very wide regional variations due to the many departments that had very few or no death sentences. Again due to the Jacobins being very meticulous in maintaining structure.

How useful would sources C, D and E be to a historian studying the reign of Terror? In your answer consider origin, motive, audience, content and reliability. In order for a historian to study the reign of terror they must find reliable sources. Sources C, D and E are all reliable for different reasons. Source C being Robespierre speech to the national conventions gives us a deeper understanding of what he thought about the revolutions “is the war if liberty against its enemies.” We also can extract information on the constitution and what the revolutions should be doing. With the exact date when he said the speech we can determine why he said it when placed In a timeline. However Robespierre ideas are contradicted in source E as we see a different point of view of the people who “wanted a peaceful life”. The title direction of the revolution informs us of where it went contrasting the idea of source C where Robespierre wanted the revolution to go. However looking at source C it could be seen as biased as Robespierre was clearly all for the revolution to protect against Counter-revolutions However Source D is written by a Viking in London in 1989 In a book of chronicles of the French revolution. This explains to us in records the way the Jacobins republic addressed federalism. We can also understand that the reign of terror came as a brutal presence and disruptive to cities. such as Loire.

Part 3 Summary Points:
Overview of event 1792-1792
• January 24: Summoning of the States-General 

• May 05 Louis XVI called a meeting of the States-General in Versailles to discuss and approve a new tax plan.

• June 17 The Third Estate declared them the National Assembly and made the Tennis Court Oath.

• July -The National Assembly proclaims itself the Constituent National Assembly, with full authority and power to decree laws

• July- Necker is dismissed.

• August 04 -. The National Assembly announced the end of feudalism and serfdom in France.

• August 27 - The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the citizen was issued by The National Assembly.

• October 5 - The women of Paris invaded Versailles


• July 14- Constitution accepted by King Louis XVI 

• July - The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was passed.

• July : Reorganisation of Paris 
• September: Fall of Necker 


• 1791 - The Constitution of 1791 was adopted.

• June 20 - Louis XVI and his family were arrested while trying to flee to Varennes but were arrested.

• July 17- Champ-de-Mars massacre 
• September 30- Dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly  • October 1- Legislative Assembly meets 


• April 20 - France declared war on Austria.
• August 10: Storming of the Tuileries Palace. Louis XVI of France is arrested and taken into custody  • September 2-7: The September Massacres 

• September 21 - The First meeting of the National Convention was held. Abolition of the monarchy 

• December - Commencement of the trial of Louis XVI.

Robespierre and the terror

• After the death of Louis XVI in 1793, the Reign of Terror began.

• Marie Antoinette had been imprisoned with her children after she was separated from Louis

• Her son Louis Charles had disappeared under suspicious circumstances.

• She led off a parade of prominent and not so prominent citizens to their deaths.

• The guillotine was the new instrument of egalitarian justice and was soon put to work.

• The executions were considered publically educational and was socially acceptable women were encouraged to sit and knit during trials.

• The revolutionary tribunal ordered the execution of 2,400 pe3ople in Paris by July 1949. 30,000 people lost their lives across France.

• The terror was designed to prevent counter-revolutions from gaining position.

• the terror was also used to fight the enemies of the revolution.

• it was mostly ordinary people guillotined. A man might go to the guillotine for saying something critical for the revolutionary government.

• Robespierre was the mastermind of the reign of terror.

• Being leader of the committee of public safety the executive committee of the national’s convention and known to be the most power man in France.

• He would explain the terror would lead to the republic of virtue in a speech to the national convention

• He praised revolutionary government and argued that the Terror was necessary, laudable and inevitable. It was Robespierre’s belief that the Republic and virtue were of necessity inseparable • Robespierre’s speeches were exceptional, and he had the power to change the views of almost any audience. His speaking techniques included invocation of virtue and morals, and quite often the use of rhetorical questions in order to identify with the audience. His final method was to state that he was always prepared to die in order to save the Revolution. • Robespierre believed that the Terror was a time of discovering and revealing the enemy within Paris, within France, the enemy that hid in the safety of apparent patriotism.

Madame Guillotine and her Victims:
• During the Reign of Terror, there were many forms of execution. The most widely utilized form was the guillotine.

• It was a killing machine used to enforce capital punishment by decapitation. It was introduced to France in 1792 during the revolution. The French doctor Joseph Ignace Guillotin (1738-1814) was credited with the invention of the guillotine. However, a machine similar to the guillotine had already been used in other countries including Germany, England, Italy, Scotland, and Persia.

• The machine used in other countries was mainly used to humanely kill farm animals. Guillotin saw these machines and developed an idea for a more humane method of capital punishment.

• Ironically, he intended this machine to be used for private executions, so that the condemned could die with dignity. Unfortunately, the guillotine became a tool used for quick, efficient murders. When Dr. Guillotin realized this, he was horrified and tried to disassociate himself from it. Since it was named after him, his claims that he had nothing to do with the guillotine were not believed.

• During the French Revolution, all classes of people were executed equally. The first execution by guillotine was on April 25, 1792, when Nicolas Jacques Pelletie was beheaded at Place de Grève on the Right Bank. King Louis was beheaded on January 21, 1793. Thousands of people were beheaded during the French Revolution.

• Executions became somewhat of a public celebration. People would come out to watch the beheadings, after jeering and shouting insults at the condemned.

• The last execution by guillotine took place in Marseilles, France on September 10, 1977, when the murderer Hamida Djandoubi was beheaded.

• The king was guillotined on January 21, 1793 - by one vote of the National Convention - for being a threat to the Republic. The queen was guillotined nine months later.

• Robespierre even executed some of his fellow leaders. Danton and others were executed in 1794.

• Victims were placed on a bench, face down, and their necks positioned between the uprights.

• The actual beheading was very quick - often to the gathered crowd's disgust - taking less than half a second from blade drop to the victim's head rolling into the waiting basket.

The end of the terror

• The Fall of Robespierre began on March 30, 1794 when he sent his fellow citizens and friends Danton and Desmoulins to the guillotine

• Robespierre used his power as a member of the Committee of Public Safety to have the two unfairly tried and guillotined.

• After this event, members of the Convention and the Committee eyed Robespierre with suspicion. He had ordered the death of two of his close friends despite the fact that they had been popular among the people of Paris.

• Robespierre was the sole person who decided between wrong and right. The Convention saw Robespierre as a tyrant and his Republic of Virtue as authoritarian.

• A faction of the Convention banded together to destroy Robespierre before he destroyed the remaining members of the French government.

• On July 28, 1794, Robespierre and his followers were guillotined. The period known as the Terror came to an end.

• At the beginning of yet another round of purges in 1794, members of the Convention who thought they might be among his next targets, shouted him down as he got up to speak.

• He was accused of tyranny and arrested. Subject to the same procedures he had used against his political enemies, Robespierre was denied the right to self-defence.

• After a failed rescue attempt, Robespierre and more than 80 of his followers went to the Guillotine.

• The end of Robespierre meant the end of the Reign of Terror. His death marks for many historians the end of the French Revolution.

• Most agree that, for a time, he was the most important man in the Revolution, and it is clear that the reaction of 9th Thermidor (July 27, 1794), which brought about his downfall and execution, also caused the end of the Terror and brought about a new course for the Revolution itself.

• His death was the symbol of the Reign of Terror's end and the end of the democratic movement at the same time.

Part 4 Essay:
To what extent did war and counter-revolution cause the Reign of terror?

A period of violence occurring during the French revolution, known as the Reign of terror. Driven by conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of "enemies of the revolution” commonly know as counter-revolutionists. Reign of Terror lasted from September 1793 until the fall of Robespierre in 1794. Its purpose was to remove France of Counter Revolutions and to protect the country from foreign invaders of American Independence War.

From January 1793-July 1794, France was governed by the Committee of Public Safety, in which Danton and Robespierre were influential members. When faced with threats France, instead of a democracy, the Convention established a war dictatorship operating through the Committee of Public Safety. “The government in a revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny.”- Maximilien Robespierre, 1794. Robespierre portrayed his ideas on the terror and how the government are the autocrats of liberty against dictatorship. The death toll ranged in the tens of thousands, with 16,594 executed by guillotine (2,639 in Paris), and another 25,000 in summary executions across France. As we see in the print. The image represents the guillotine surrounded by the heads it has been responsible for removing. Although the print is sinister, its caption states that the “Terror is dreadful, but necessary”. This was a commonly held belief in 1793-1794 when the guillotine was a means of purging France of those who were deemed a threat to national safety.

The wars of independence, that ended European control of both North and South America. Great for the Americans not so great for the French. The conflict between Britain and American colonists was triggered by the financial costs of the Anglo-French wars of the previous thirty years, in particular the Seven Years War (1756-63). In the years immediately after the war, the army in North America consumed 4% of British government spending. This cost, combined with the victories over the French had increased British interest in their colonies. Posing a threat to the national security of France. In 1756, the French held Canada, the Ohio Valley and the Mississippi, isolating the British colonies on the eastern seaboard. This seven year long war had heavy expenditures to conduct. Louis XV and his ministers were deeply unhappy about Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War and, in the years following the Treaty of Paris, they began drawing up a long-term plan that would involve constructing a larger navy and building an anti-British coalition of allies. In theory, this would eventually lead to a war of revenge and see France regain its colonies from Britain. In practice, it resulted in a mountain of debts. The financial crisis which left the door open for revolution began during the American War of Independence, when France spent over a billion livres, the equivalent of the state's entire income for a year. Almost all the money had been obtained from loans. A counterrevolution can be positive or negative in its consequences. During the French Revolution the Jacobins saw the Counterrevolution in the Vendée as negative. The French Counter-Revolution (1789-1815) was composed of various groups both in and outside of France who were opposed to the French Revolution and actively sought to change its course. During the early stages of the Revolution, these conflicts were mostly limited to political debate, rather than armed confrontation. Initially, the revolutionary government was divided between Feuillants, who controlled the ministries, and the Girondists, who dominated the National Assembly. Both factions began as members of the Jacobin Club before breaking off into distinct political groups. There is also no question that much of the violence associated with the Reign of Terror resulted from the government's attempt to stop counter-revolutionary threats. In these places and in other places throughout France, men and women armed themselves to overthrow the republic and restore the monarchy. Some counter-revolutionaries were peasants this goes to show that any one was a counter-revolutionist and France was driven by fear to enforce the reign of terror. Counter-revolutionaries in the Vendée seemed particularly upset that Robespierre had launched a movement of dechristianization and had seemingly gone on a witchhunt against priests. Consequently, many historians have portrayed them as religious activists. Other historians have attributed the counter-revolution to various socio-economic factors, but in all cases, historians have recognized that many were killed in what amounted to a civil war in France in 1793 over whether or not the future of France lay in a monarchy or in a republic.

As you can now see with a bit of background the war of independence consequences to an extent the Reign of Terror, through debt. France had played a deciding role in the American Revolutionary War, (1775-1783) sending its navy and troops to aid the rebelling colonists. During this time there was much contact between the Americans and the French, and revolutionary ideals spread between the groups. The debt caused by the war resulted in food shortages and riots. How ever it was not only war that caused the revolution equal blame is on the Counter-Revolutions. The French government established the Committee of Public Safety, which took its final form on 6 September 1793 in order to suppress internal counter-revolutionary activities and raise additional French military forces. Maximilien Robespierre "Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible" The Terror was designed to fight the enemies of the revolution, to prevent counter-revolution from gaining ground. Most of the people rounded up were not aristocrats, but ordinary people. Thus the threat of counter revolutions was so great for the French because it could be anyone that would revolt. Anyone could be punished if an informer happened to overhear, that was all the tribunal needed. Watch Committees around the nation were encouraged to arrest "suspected persons ... those who, either by their conduct or their relationships, by their remarks or by their writing, are shown to be partisans of tyranny and federalism and enemies of liberty" (Law of Suspects, 1793). The reign of Terror was instituted to overturn both internal and foreign forces of counter revolution. But once these internal and foreign threats were under control in the spring of 1794, Terror continued at the direction of the Committee of Public Safety, the most famous member of which was Maximilien Robespierre.

So in conclusion Counter- revolution and American independence war, go hand in hand to an extent causing the Reign of Terror. Though the debt caused by the war France would not have consequences in riots over food shortages, and debt due to a “war of revenge” how ever it just plundered as the French became bankrupt. Counter revolutions also was associated with the Reign of terror as it over threw the government. Threats of riot caused Robespierre to fear for the safety of the country as ordinary citizens were also counter-revolutionaries. This threat drove the reign of terror to protect the country and the citizens.

Anonymous print, "It is dreadful but necessary from the Journal d'Autre Monde, 1794

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