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Reign of Terror During the French Revolution

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Development of Europe II Professor Hanebrink February 21, 2012 Take Home Essay 1 Reign of Terror After the fall of monarchy, the French revolutionaries faced large popular insurrections and division among the people. In the early days of the revolution, many people still sided with the monarchy which brought on accusations of treason against the new republic. A new stable government was needed to end the chaos, and the Committee of Public Safety was created with Maximilien Robespierre as its leader. He wanted to create a "republic of virtue" in which the government would force the people to become virtuous republicans through a massive reeducation program. And thus began the Reign of Terror which had the purpose to eliminate opposition and to cow citizens into submission. For Robespierre, the Terror was necessary and inevitable to maintain the Republic by revealing the enemy within France. However, the Reign of Terror proved to be a distortion of revolutionary ideals because instead of helping the country to unify and obtain greatness, in essence it victimized its own citizens. ...read more.


In addition, the monarchy ended in France because of the people's desires to limit the power of the king, which was the government at the time. They did not want one person to rule their lives by promoting and enforcing laws that only beneficiate the king and a selected few. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was the first step towards the writing of a constitution for the new government, and a fundamental document for the Revolution that defined the individual and collective rights of all social estates to be universal. One of the articles expressed in the document was that "law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society." (Lualdi, pp. 114). This means that laws were supposed to be established for the good of the people and not for the personal advantage of others. The Terror, however, promoted and enforced laws that went against the ideals of liberty and equality. ...read more.


Here, justice is not the best definition of terror since fairness was far from the minds of revolutionaries executing commoners. The Reign of Terror only allowed violence, hatred and terror to proliferate in France making the social classes to separate even more. In conclusion, the French Revolution grew out of aspirations for freedom that inspired many other countries, and permanently altered the political atmosphere in France by removing an old form of government. But, the Revolution also had its darker side: the Reign of Terror. In this time, revolutionaries forgot or ignored those ideals of liberty and terrorized people as they pleased. Violence might appear to do good at first, but the good is only temporary, and creates an evil that could be temporary. The divisions created in France endured for many years and it was due to the violence and horrible acts committed by revolutionaries during the Terror. The revolutionaries proclaimed human rights and democratic government, but they excluded women and others which lead to beliefs that everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others. ...read more.

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