The Reign of Terror

"Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible" - Maximilien Robespierre

(executer shows the victim's head to the citizens)

Robespierre.jpg The Reign of Terror, or simply called The Terror, began after the death of Louis XVI in 1793 and lasted for about 10 months during the French Revolution. The major purpose was to kill of rebels, enemies, and all those against the revolution ‘purify’ France and the revolution itself through supporters such as Maximilien Francois Marie Isidore de Robespierre and Georges Danton.

Danton was the first President of the National Convention to the Committee of Public Safety. However, during this time, there was a transition in power from Danton to Robespierre. Danton was known for his outstanding first impression (very sharp figures) and his repuatation as a magnificant orator. Robespierre, on the other hand, was ambitious. For Danton, terror was a political weapon, while for Robespierre; it was something more than a weapon, a fanatic.

To elaborate, Robespierre was elected as a leader National Convention to the Committee of Public Safety among other 12 members. This committee’s original purpose to eliminate all internal counterrevolutionary elements, to raise new armies, and to assure food supplies for the armies and cities. However, Robespierre used his power as a dominate leader to execute those who were suspected in any level, as enemies of the revolution. (Maximilien Robespierre)

terror.jpg The first victim to die upon the guillotine was Marie Antoinette, an example of the royalists. Next, the moderate Girondists (member of republican parties) were beheaded, and gradually even the ordinary citizens were directed as victims. An ordinary man and his whole family were sent to the guillotine for criticizing or even making a slightly negative statement about the revolution. Under Robespierre, thousands were guillotined, and over 200,000 were arrested.

In 1794, France’s military showed succession and Terror was no longer necessary. Many people, even, Jacobins, the supporter of Robespierre agreed that Terror had to be put to a stop. However, Robespierre called for a new purge, which threatened the remaining members of the Convention. (It is said that Robespierre was a fond believer and supporter of Rousseau’s The Social Contract, where it was emphasized how human were born good, but became corrupt through society. Rousseau’s Social Contract had probably evoked Robespierre to continue Terror to execute those who are corrupt even though it was unnecessary.) Afraid that Terror would go against them, the Convention arrested Robespierre, the following day, and was sent to the guillotine, as the last victim of The Reign of Terror.

(people's faces on the guillotine)


Brainard, Jennifer. "HistoryWiz: the Reign of Terror." History Wiz. 2003. Oak Harbor. 23 Oct. 2007 <>.

"The Reign of Terror." Infoplease. 2007. Columbia University Press. 23 Oct. 2007 <>.

Schwartz, Robert. "The Reign of Terror." Mtholyoke. 10 May 1999. 23 Oct. 2007 <>.