The Reign of Terror

Execution of Louis XVI

After the execution of Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette, France became a republic. This frightened the other monarchies of Europe who were afraid that the ideas of the Revolution might spread; this led to a war against England, Netherlands and Austria.

The Sans Cullottes were supporters of a group of radicals called the Jacobins who were led by a lawyer called Maximilien Robespierre. He believed that the country was not ready for war, that the revolution had to grow stronger first. To stamp out any opposition, the National Convention set up a 12-man Committee of Public Safety. Included on this comitteee was ‘the incorruptible’ Robespierre.

The committee passed several laws to ensure the continuation of the Revolution. These included:

  • The Law of Maximum which kept the price of bread down
  • The Law of Suspects which allowed the committee to arrest and execute anybody suspected of being against the Revolution

This law became increasingly used and as the committee became more paranoid, the death penalty and the guillotine were used more and more. This led to some 40,000 people (many of them innocent) being executed in the following year and was known as the Reign of Terror. Nobody knew who was safe from the committee.

Arrest of Robespierre

Eventuall Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety went too far. After executing numerous Catholic peasants in La Vendeé, some people in the National Convention had enough. Robespierre tried to increase the committee’s power to allow even more executions. On the 28th July, 1794 Robespierre and his followers were arrested and forced to face the same fate as  thousands of those who had come before their committee – the guillotine.


The French Revolution -The Reign of Terror



History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna.

Published on May 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm Comments (0)
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