Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Reign of Terror

The Reign of Terror also known as simply The Terror, was a period in the history of the French Revolution 1793-1794 characterized by the brutal repression of those suspected of being counterrevolutionary. The Reign of Terror was directed by the Committee of Public Safety, a committee of twelve, including leader Maximilien Robespierre, who later fell victim to his own campaign of terror.

The Terror is very aptly named. Thousands of innocent civilians were tortured and killed, sometimes for their political opinions or actions, but often for little reason whatsoever. This killing was usually through the work of the guillotine, or 'Madame Guillotine' as it was called.

The terror started on September 5, 1793 when the National Convention voted to implement terror measures to repress revolutionary activities. The ensuing "Reign of Terror" lasted until the spring of 1794, and killed 35,000 to 40,000 people.

The White Terror took place in 1815 following the return of King Louis XVIII to power; people suspected of having ties with the governments of the Revolution and Napoleon were arrested and executed.


"La terreur n'est autre chose que la justice prompte, sévère, inflexible." ("Terror is nothing other than prompt, severe, inflexible justice.")

- Maximilien Robespierre