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Why terror - Essay Example

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The French revolution has been viewed as one of the most decisive events in modern day Europe . This is the event that has set up the foundation for the liberation of many other countries under the yoke of despotic monarchs. …
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Download file to see previous pages The revolution was equally a very bloody affair which saw many of its proponents beheaded at the guillotine for political reasons. The revolution ushered the reign of terror, a period in the history of the country that was truly dark. The revolution also ushered a new era of freedoms and common men like Napoleon were able to rise to the highest position of power. This paper will, therefore, look at the events that came to be known as the reign of terror. Why Terror? For clarity of this event, it is important to look at some issues that played a part in the events effecting of the reign of terror. One of these issues was the dismissal and banishment of Minister Necker, from France, and whose popularity with the masses was felt to have eclipsed that of the king2. This was because he was proposing to introduce reforms that would upset the set balance of things. Coupled with this was the fear in the people of the reprisals from the emigres as well as foreign powers sympathetic to the bourbon monarchy3. This was a period of great unease among the Parisians whose city, Paris, was to be the theatre of activities that would determine the fate of the revolution. To add to this was the flight of the reigning monarch Louis XVI to Varennes, a city that was along the way to the fortress of Montmedy. It was in this fortress, in Northern France, that the King was hoping to launch a military offensive to regain his throne. The fortress was still held by royalists, therefore, the King hoped to capitalise on this to gain an upper hand. In Paris, his current place of residence, the king was weakened and there was little he could do without having the revolutionaries counter him if it was unfavourable to them. He, therefore, opted to attempt the flight. He was, however, captured and brought back to Paris and even underwent humiliating experiences for his actions. Despite a majority of the assembly that governed France at the time ‘accepting’ the King’s explanation as not an escape, but more of ‘abduction’ there were some within the Assembly who refused doing so4. This minority that did not go along with the rest was that of the Cordelier Club5 that was mainly made up of Jacobins, a club that was at the foremost in promoting the French Revolution. This group was of the opinion that there should be a consultation with the populace and the punishment of the King. It is important to acknowledge the threat the king posed to the revolution due to the fact that he was alive. There was always threat of danger from royalists within the republic as well as those that were not in the country. One such strong influence was the Duke of Brunswick. In August, there was a manifesto circulated in France in which the Duke threatened to attack and dominate France if the King and his family were subjected to any inhuman treatment6. The king was to later be guillotined, and other aristocrats were to meet the same fate as the king. The terror upon the aristocracy was an attempt of the revolutionaries to rid themselves from any challenge that would threaten their existence. It was not a unanimous agreement to execute the enemies of the state. There were some dissenting opinions from groups like the Girondins. This group of legislators were a more liberal thinking club in comparison to the radical Jacobins. With the execution of the King, the Jacobins had gained more power in comparison to the Girondins. Due to their liberal approach, the Girondins did not see the need to have mass executions of all the aristocrats7. The rivalry between these two clubs was so fierce that their members were always armed8. This rivalry did not stop at the intellectual or ideological level, it went further than that. The Jacobins led by among other Robespierre, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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