Impact Of The Reign Of Terror On The French Revolution

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The Reign of Terror and Its Impact On the French Revolution
“Virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent” (Perry, 104). Throughout the French Revolution, violence was used as a means to control counterrevolutionaries, the clergy, and any other citizen or person that might wish to bring down the Revolution. Through Robespierre and the Jacobins and their use and support of the guillotine, aristocracy was able to vanish, and through the Code Napoléon the clergy was able to lose most, if not all of its power.
Robespierre’s strong beliefs and violent actions made it almost impossible for the monarchy to reform as he was so tyrannical. He ardently believed that “terror is only justice that is prompt, severe,
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Like Robespierre, the Jacobins believed that to preserve “republican liberty,” terror needed to be made a “deliberate government policy” (Perry, 471). This meant that action needed to be taken in order to ensure that aristocracy would not come back to plague France. Yet, it is important to note that although the Jacobins strongly utilized the guillotine, as this was one of the sole tools available to behead the victims of the Terror, they did this not because they were “blood thirsty or power mad,” but because they “sought to establish a temporary dictatorship in a desperate attempt to save the republic and the Revolution” (Perry, 473). By creating a temporary dictatorship, the Jacobins were able to focus all their energy on eradicating groups of people that would perhaps pose a threat to the fragile democracy people had so adamantly fought to create. Therefore, the Terror was a necessary component of the French revolution as it helped “[shape] the new republican society and the new individual in accordance with the radical Jacobin ideology” (Perry, 473-474). Through shaping these new citizens in accordance to their beliefs, the Jacobins were able to centralize power, which allowed them to “[expel] foreign armies, [crush] the federalist uprisings, [contain] the counterrevolutionaries in the …show more content…
Although Napoléon believed himself to be a “enlightened despot,” and therefore did not identify with the Jacobins’ governmental ideologies – such as their republicanism and democratic ideas – he still had strong governmental beliefs and wanted to bring freedom to the people of France (Perry, 476). Napoléon saw in enlightened despotism as a “means of ensuring political stability and strengthening the State” (Perry, 477). Like Robespierre and his Jacobins counterparts, Napoléon used the “instruments of the state” to bring about change (Perry, 477). Throughout his career as the general of France, Napoléon sought to bring the State and the Catholic Church together again, after a breach between the two had been created during the Revolution (Perry, 478). Through his Code, Napoléon was able to grant – amongst other things – religious freedom to the people of France and was also able to abolish serfdom (Perry, 478). As a result of allowing the French people to choose their own religion, the clergy was weakened, as now Catholicism was no longer a forced-upon religion people had to

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