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8 - Jacobins and Terror in the French Revolution

from Part I - France

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 October 2023

Wim Klooster
Affiliation:
Clark University, Massachusetts
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Summary

The adoption of the policy of “terror” by the Convention in 1793-1794 emerged in large part from a position of relative weakness in the context of external war and internal unrest. While Jacobin deputies were prominent in revolutionary leadership, the policy was endorsed by deputies in the Convention. The “terror” policy was seen by those who perpetrated it as a temporary form of justice, albeit harsh justice, necessitated by war and revolutionary crisis. The Revolutionary Tribunal and the guillotine were designed as examples of spectacular violence, to show the strength of the revolutionary government, and intimidate counter-revolutionary opponents. The actual application of these laws was very uneven, and fell most heavily in frontier departments, and in those regions where there were armed uprisings against revolutionary government. By far the greatest number of deaths occurred in the context of the civil war in the Vendée.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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