French Revolution: the Reign of Terror

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35,000 people were unnecessarily killed by contradicting officials. The French Revolution was basically a period of time with social norms. These social norms included the first estate, the second estate, and the third estate. The first estate was the priests, the second estate was the nobility, and the third estate was the peasants. The first two estates had many privileges and objections. The peasants were the ones treated unfairly. This led to the Estates-General which was a meeting of the social classes but the peasants weren't happy with this, so they stormed the Bastille. The storming of the Bastille led to the Reign of Terror which was the execution of Louis XVI and his wife since the peasants figured they were the cause of a financial crisis. The Reign of Terror was not justified because they were threatened in the wrong ways, they used unnecessary methods to kill people, and their reasons weren’t adding up to their actions.

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To continue, the Reign of Terror was not justified because they were threatened in unfair and wrong ways. Historians estimated that more than 80,000 French people on both sides died in the Vendee in 1793 (Doc C). The purpose of this document was to show the territory that was attacked by the French. The French would fight involuntary and used drafts. There was a huge inside threat in the Vendee and many were forced to fight. There was a war outside of vendors as well as inside, for this reason, people in Vender and France felt threatened as they had no other choice but to fight in the war. The counterrevolutionary activity had been increasing for more than a year (Doc D). An official sent a letter to the national convention stating that “the spillers sent by the government have failed to stop the chaos and was waiting for more help. the government in Paris was struggling and wanted more troops. Of course, this would result in a draft and threaten innocent people who had to fight in the war.

Furthermore, the Reign of Terror was not justified because the methods they used to get rid of enemies were unnecessary and atrocious. “16,000 people were guillotined during the Reign of Terror”(Doc F). The purpose of this document was to show how harsh and inhumane people were executed by the guillotine. During this period of time, the guillotine was a powerful symbol of the French Revolution and was stated to be a “humane way to execute criminals.” The criminals were publicly executed which of course caused fear to other people. They also used the guillotine if anyone looked suspicious which was unfair if the person was actually innocent. Christian churches were closed by the revolutionary government (Doc B). This limited the spiritual affairs between the people, and their religion was part of their everyday lives. Many people were falsely accused which caused the number of government executions sharply increased. The rise of numbers was unfair treatment to the people and everyone was not innocent until proven guilty. This is because they were eager to get rid of their enemies.

Moreover, the last reason why the Reign of Terror was not justified was that the officials' reasons weren’t adding up to their actions. The Declaration of Rights of Man stated that “all persons are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty (Doc A). The purpose of this document shows how government officials went against the Declaration of Rights of Men. We learned that from previous Documents this wasn’t the case as they used the guillotine with anyone whom they suspected. Citizens were killed with no proof of accusations and this was a violation of the first and ninth article, which basically states that all men are free and equal. Government officials did not hold trials for people whom they suspected. “A careless word if criticism spoken against the government could put one in prison or worse” (Doc E). The revolutionary government basically put out a bunch of spies and their only job was to watch and listen for anyone who was Revolution. These spies weren’t fair at all because someone could be innocent but still kill only for the fact that they were suspects. This was the epitome of injustice. There were large numbers of killings that ranged from 35,000 to 40,000.

In Brief, The Reign of Terror was not justified because government officials threatened them the wrong ways, they used unnecessarily terrible ways to kill people whom they thought were enemies, and their reasons weren’t adding up to their actions. During this period of time, a myriad of people was tortured and killed. The Reign of Terror ultimately was to kill enemies but as a result, this led to the deaths of many who could’ve possibly been innocent. It violated many boundaries and articles/documents and was an overall bad government.     

Works cited

  1. Doyle, W. (2001). The Oxford History of the French Revolution. Oxford University Press.
  2. Furet, F., & Ozouf, M. (1989). A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution. Harvard University Press.
  3. Hanson, P. R. (2013). The Reign of Terror in the French Revolution. Scarecrow Press.
  4. Linton, M. (2006). Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship, and Authenticity in the French Revolution. Oxford University Press.
  5. Marisa, L. (2016). The French Revolution and the Birth of Modernity. Routledge.
  6. McPhee, P. (2002). The French Revolution, 1789-1799. Oxford University Press.
  7. Rude, G. (2005). The French Revolution: Its Causes, Its History, and Its Legacy After 200 Years. Grove Press.
  8. Schama, S. (1989). Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. Penguin Books.
  9. Soboul, A. (1975). The French Revolution, 1787-1799: From the Storming of the Bastille to Napoleon. Random House.
  10. Tackett, T. (2012). The Coming of the Terror in the French Revolution. Harvard University Press.

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