Definitions

test of public reaction

Committee of Public Safety

The Committee of Public Safety (Comité de salut public), set up by the National Convention on April 6, 1793, formed the de facto executive government of France during the Reign of Terror (1793-4) of the French Revolution. Under war conditions and with national survival seemingly at stake, the Jacobins under Robespierre centralized denunciations, trials, and executions under the supervision of this committee of first nine and then twelve members. The committee was responsible for thousands of executions, most by the guillotine, in what was known as the "Reign of Terror." Frenchmen were executed under the pretext of being a supporter of monarchy or against the revolution. The Committee ceased meeting in 1795.

Composition

The committee was formally composed of nine members, all selected by the National convention for one month at a time, without period limits. Its first members instated on April 6, 1793 were as follows, in order of election. Danton largely dominated the first committee from the time of his inauguration.

On July 10, the committee was recomposed and renamed the Grand Committee of Public Safety (le Grand Comité de salut public). Its members were vastly re-elected and the committee received extraordinary powers. In September 1793, the size of the committee was restructured to hold twelve members. It was almost completely dominated by Robespierre upon his election to the committee on July 27.

The committee was largely removed power on the Thermidorian reaction on July 27, 1794, effectively ending the reign of Terror and the de facto dictatorship of Robespierre, having mastered extraordinary powers after the execution of Danton and Hébert during the spring of 1794. He was himself guillotined the following day, along with most of the members of the committee having held factual power. The committee was formally replaced by a new constitution in 1795, ending the rule of the National Convention that had lasted from the proclamation of the republic in 1792.

Actions

Failures

  • Tens of thousands of French citizens were killed.
  • Many tens of thousands more were alienated from the Revolution
  • Grain shortages and hoarding caused by price controls.
  • The poor bore the burden of conscription and grain requisitions.
  • Hospitals, schools and charities were deprived of staff because of attacks on religious orders.
  • Deepening hostilities in the countryside over the dechristianisation campaign.

Prominent members

See also

References

  • R.R. Palmer Twelve Who Ruled (1941, ISBN 0-691-05119-4)

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