What Was The Significance Of The Reign Of Terror

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The Reign of Terror was a continuation of the revolution that began in 1789. Although the Terror was an extreme set of laws, they were the only permanent rules that existed among the chaos. Even though they were vague laws, people accepted the terror because it helped to combat their feelings of alienation and paranoia in regards to all aspects of the revolution. While other historians discuss the significance of the foreign and civil wars in relation to the Terror, as a whole, the food shortages, the politics of the time, and general paranoia about tyrants and traitors allowed the Terror to spread. Part of the reason why the terror began was due to the widespread food shortages in France. Even though people were touting the idea of equality …show more content…
As hard as they tried, they still could not unite the whole population. Louis, for one, most definitely could not bring together the nation anymore. As Saint-Just noted, “What has Louis in common with the French people that they should treat him well after he betrayed them?” He also later said, “A people has only one dangerous enemy, and that is its government.” With the people’s trust towards the government at a low point, Robespierre was able to come in and assure the population of the government’s democratic intentions. Throughout the Terror, Robespierre emphasized punishing tyrants in order to strengthen the nation. In 1792 he said, “It is not thirst for a vengeance unworthy of the nation; it is the need to strengthen public liberty and tranquillity [sic] through the punishment of a tyrant.” Robespierre continued with that theme and in 1794 said, “All those who interpose their parricidal gentleness to protect the wicked from the avenging blade of national justice are like those who would throw themselves between the tyrants’ henchmen and our soldiers’ bayonets.” Under his rule, Robespierre continually tried to unite the country behind the singular cause of overthrowing tyrants. Unfortunately for him, the ineffectiveness of this attempt manifests itself in the people’s paranoia. There was no clear definition of what a tyrant was, so no one felt secure in …show more content…
He wrote that the Terror “was a massive repression organized from above on orders of the Convention with the intention of destroying not only the rebels but the population, farms, crops, villages, and anything else that had served the ‘brigands’ as shelter.” To him, the war was the key factor that led to the establishment of the Terror, and that the circumstances and the people’s desires were not as important in allowing Robespierre to come to power. Furet argued that the Terror was not “an instrument for ending a war; it followed and actually prolonged rather than shortened the war.” The people’s voices and the political attitudes of the time actually did play a bigger role in the Terror than Furet accounted for. As more people felt the Terror directly affecting their own families and personal lives, many of them turned to supporting the terror and denouncing the people around them for their own safety. Starving to death motivated many of the lower class citizens to support the terror, even if the government did not seem to be on their

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