No part of the Revolution calls as much pictures to mind as the Terror. The endless lines of people waiting to be guillotined, the Committee of Public Safety with the heartless figure of Maximilien Robespierre, Marat's corpse lying in his bath... more and more bloody pictures until Robespierre's fall. This is the popular image of The Terror, popularized by several movies, especially Eric Rohmer's L'Anglaise et le duc, and many books, such as Victor Hugo's Quatrevingt-treize. It is always compared with the generous laws and declarations of 1789, in particular the Declaration of the rights of man and tends to be blamed, or at least ignored. Thus the of the Terror period was overlooked in 1989 in the celebrations of the bicentenary of the French Revolution. But what is actually this so-called Terror? Here we enter the field of historiographical debates, which are particularly vivid on this subject.
[...] Another failure in the thesis of a terror inherent to the Revolution is the oblivion of the precedent events -older than the immediate circumstances. Going back to 1789 and say that the Revolution was almost certainly doomed to end as terrorist, does not recognize that a lot happen between 1789 and 1793. The flight to Varennes in 1791 and the fall of the monarchy on August were not known -or even possible to imagine. Or, maybe the birth of the terror is on these years. [...]
[...] To conclude, I will say that the dialectic made by some historians between terror and the French Revolution is an far too simple attempt to understand the happening of the Terror in the Republic of 1792. I do not believe that history is that simple and that the French Revolution bore the Terror within itself since its beginning. However, we cannot put everything on the circumstances anymore. In my opinion, I do think that if the circumstances were the spark that lit the fire of the Terror, ideology played the role of the wood alcohol. [...]
[...] and HUNT Lynn, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Exploring the French Revolution. Pennsylvania State University Press SUTHERLAND D.M.G, The French Revolution and Empire. The quest for a civic order. Malden: Blackwell TACKETT Timothy, Le roi s'enfuit. Varennes et l'origine de la Terreur. Traduit de l'américain par Alain Spiess. Paris: La Découverte Works on the Terror BELISSA Marc, La Liberté ou la mort. Essai sur la Terreur et le terrorisme in Cahiers d'Histoire, 94-95, january-march 2005. ANDRESS David, Response Essay on the Terror in Yannick [...]
[...] Maybe it underestimates the personalities of the deputies, especially the ones in the Estates-General, who also knew the part of rhetoric in this discourse (one might not forget that they used it a few years before). Then, what about the weight of ideology? For François Furet, the Terror is the logic consequence of a principle, which is the incarnation of the general will by the law. According to him, an egalitarian fanaticism creates a totalitarian system, which is then called the Terror, in which all men are suspected. [...]
[...] This idea that terror was an integral part of the mentality of the French revolutionaries must be discussed, because the implications go further than just an argument among historians and even have contemporary resonance. Terror and the revolution are often linked, or even seen as indissociable. So, studying the connection between terror and the French Revolution helps us to understand why, but we have to be cautious about two things : the temptation to condemn or excuse it. Firstly, we have to introduce the arguments which linked terror and the French Revolution since its beginning. [...]
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