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What happened during the Reign of Terror?

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Quick Answer

The Reign of Terror in 18th-century France began with the imprisonment and death of Marie Antoinette, followed by the execution of 2,400 people. The Revolutionary Tribunal is thought to have ordered the deaths of 30,000 people across France. Maximilien de Robespierre led the National Convention and the Committee of Public Safety and was directly responsible for the Reign of Terror, which he believed would lead to the Republic of Virtue.

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What happened during the Reign of Terror?
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The Reign of Terror officially ended with Robespierre's execution after he called for another purge in 1794, alienating his supporters and frightening his fellow Committee members. He intended for the Reign of Terror to prevent counter-revolution, abandoning the vows of liberty and equality that the Declaration of the Rights of Man had promised. The vast majority of people executed by the Committee and the Convention were ordinary people reported by informers to have uttered critical or derogatory remarks of the new government.

The Reign of Terror introduced the guillotine, which was used on Marie Antoinette. The guillotine represented the idea of equal death for all criminals, but, in the centuries since, has come to symbolize the bloodiness of the French Revolution. During the Reign of Terror, public executions were encouraged. Its last recorded use was in 1977.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Was the Reign of Terror justified?

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    The Reign of Terror was a complicated sociopolitical occurrence that came about as a reaction to oppression but which came to adopt many of that same oppressive system's tactics, so its justification or lack thereof is largely a matter of opinion. It cannot be denied that the Reign of Terror was provoked, but moral positions differ on its rightness.

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  • Q:

    What caused the Reign of Terror?

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    The Reign of Terror was the result of conflicts between rival political groups of the Girondins and the Jacobins. This period of time lasted from September 1793 to July 1794, and it happened after the execution of King Louis XVI.

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  • Q:

    Was Marie Antoinette killed because of her fashion sense?

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    Marie Antoinette was both loved and then hated for her extravagant tastes, but she was not ultimately put to death because of her love for high fashion. That great love of style while her subjects lived much humbler lives did, however, negatively alter her subjects' view of her.

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  • Q:

    What are the top Marie Antoinette scandals?

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    The two biggest scandals of Marie Antoinette's life were the diamond necklace incident of 1785, which irrevocably damaged her reputation, and the issue of her famous words, "Let them eat cake!" Though there are rumors of other scandals, including an affair and a gambling addiction, many of them have never been historically substantiated.

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