Thursday, September 5, 2013

September 5 - The Terror

220 years ago: The Reign of Terror was begun in France when the Revolutionary government made “terror” an official policy in a decree issued on September 5, 1793. The First French Republic’s Committee of Public Safety was formalized the next day to suppress counter-revolutionary activities and raise military forces to fight wars with European powers seeking to crush the Revolution and stop its influence. “La Terreur” resulted from conflict between political factions, the relatively moderate Girondins and the radical Jacobins, led by Maximilien Robespierre. The latter prevailed, using the guillotine (the "National Razor") to execute more than 16,500 “enemies” of the Revolution, including King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, the Girondins, even the chemist Antoine Lavoisier, who recognized and named oxygen and hydrogen. Many thousands more were killed throughout France. When bloodshed greatly increased in June and July 1794 (“la Grande Terreur”), a coup overthrew Robespierre, who lost his head to the blade, and ended the Terror.

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