The Reign Of Terror In France 1700s Bishopshault Essay

1066 words - 5 pages

Examine the impact of the terror in France 1793-94
The French Revolution had entered a new era between the ages of 1793 to 1794, suddenly the revolution took a bloody turn for the worst with the introduction of the Reign of Terror. In July 1793 the French Revolution was at its lowest ebb, enemy forces were advancing over French soil, British troops hovered near French ports, the Vendee was a large region of open rebellion and there were a number of federalist revolts and meanwhile there was power struggles in Paris between the Sans Culottes and their enemies. Initially the Committee of Public Safety was put in force on 6th April 1793 to preserve the reforms of the French Revolution, their aim was to eliminate all internal counterrevolutionary elements, to raise new armies, and to assure food supplies for the armies and cities. Some of their measures were demanded by the people of Paris, whose support was essential. Under the command of the infamous Robespierre forwarding the late Marat's still prominent ideas, chiefly that only the extreme use of the guillotine against traitors, suspects and counter revolutionaries would solve the country's problems; they felt terror was needed.
Firstly a main tool that the Convention used in the Reign of Terror was the CGS and CPS. The CGS (Committee of General Security) was introduced with the task of rooting out all anti republican opposition. On the 10th of March 1793 a Revolutionary Tribunal was set up in Paris to try counter revolutionary suspects. This was to become one of the main instruments of what was to become known as the Terror. The tribunals were one of the machines of terror used to achieve one of the Conventions main aims of identifying, observing and punishing suspects. The observational aim came when the Comites de Surveillance were set up in each commune and each section of major towns, they provided many victims for the Revolutionary Tribunal and essentially became like big brother in the sections. Severe measure were to be taken against the rebels. The Summary Execution decree provided the trial and execution of armed rebels within 24hours of capture, trials were without jury and no appeal. The CGS was to now become the secret police for the convention, it seemed at this moment in time the Revolution was taking a u-turn, suddenly the convention became so paranoid of anti revolutionaries that they began to enforce the very same strategies of absolutism and injustice that created the Revolution in the first place. The enforcement of unfair laws upon the people of France did the opposite of what the revolution had promised. The people were forced into secrecy, paranoia and victims of an unfair legal system exactly the opposite of the fraternity, equality and liberation that the Revolution had initially promised. The Convention feared anti republican opposition so much that it was willing to risk the moral essence of the cause it was fighting for. The significance of the CPG is illustrated as the inequality and injustice of their system would have effected the people of France in such a way to alienate them from the Convention and create hostility towards Paris. Their aim of stopping counter revolutionaries through the CPG could actually become the oppressive fuel needed to create such a threat.
Moreover, not only was the Terror felt by the corruption of the justice system but it was also felt through the power struggle in government. The Jacobin government imposed a firm line over most of France ensuring the survival of the Republic, yet many of the poor were still alarmed with their worsening situation. Their anger was felt most in the summer of 1793 with the Enrages. The Enrages were people for whom the revolution had brought very little material improvement to their standard of living. Their spokesmen was Jacques Roux who demanded action from the government, he demanded the execution of hoarders who pushed up the price of grain and a purge of ex-nobles from the army. Robespierre wanted to destroy him as he was a direct threat to the Commune and the Convention. On the 4th of September Roux urged a crowd to march to the convention forcing it to accept a series of radical measures. The convention and Jacobins immediately authorised the armee revolutionaire consisting mainly of sans culottes, with the aim to prevent counter revolution and defend the republic. They were to ensure food supplies of Paris, mobilise resources and establish revolutionary justice in the south and west who showed little or no enthusiasm for the revolution. The CPS did not like the revolutionary armies as they thought they were anarchic and had no control from the authorities. This move by the Jacobins to create essentially a whole new army to defend themselves could be seen as counter productive in the eyes of revolution, much like the days of absolutist monarchy under Louis they had now created an equivalent of his royal army which worked to protect him and also oppress and intimidate any rebels. Not only had the Jacobins now found an oppressive way to protect themselves by taking advantage of the active sans culottes but they had now created hostility from the rural areas and CPS. Dislike in the countryside and CPS during the reign of Terror created tension within the new republic, in order for the united success of the Republic and for the Revolution to be completely backed then unity would have to be achieved, and the heavy handed methods of the Jacobins were not the way to do it. However the significance the Jacobins had on the Terror could be argued as not as significant as the actual Terror was created by the Sans Culottes. It could be interpreted that the Jacobins used their affiliation with the Sans Culottes to make them do the active work. The June 1793 constitution granted and recognised the sans culottes aspirations, this could have been a clever tactic of the Jacobins to get the sans culottes on side. Therefore the sans culottes could be considered a more prominent driving force of the Terror than the Jacobins between the 1792 to 1793.
Furthermore the Economic Terror was felt with the introduction of the General Maximum on the 29th September 1793. This was passed to control prices, it fixed bread and many essential goods prices at one third above that of in june 1790


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