Reign of Terror Executions by Social Class

The Reign of Terror is well known as a dark period during the French Revolution. Lasting from 1793-1794 the Reign of Terror swept through France as the revolutionaries attempted to consolidate their power and eliminate any threats to the Revolution. This chart shows the total Reign of Terror executions by social class.

King Louis XVI was executed in January 1793 as a lead up to the Terror. This occurred after he refused to relinquish his royal power to the revolutionaries. In his place, the Committee of Public Safety was created to protect France and the revolution from foreign and domestic enemies.

Maximilian Robespierre was one of the leaders of the revolution. Robespierre would eventually assume control of the Committee of Public Safety and with it near dictatorial powers.

Reign of Terror Executions by Social Class

Reign of Terror Executions by Social Class chart

By September 1793, the Committee declared that “terror is the order of the day.” This is where the Reign of Terror got its name from. With its near total control, the committee allowed the country to devolve into a state of paranoia. Anyone could be accused of treason at any time for not supporting the revolution.

If accused, they were arrested and thrown in jail. Depending on the severity of the crime, these people were either given a quick trial and executed, left to rot in jail, or released. Towards the end of the Terror, the accused were not even given representation from a lawyer.

Rooting out and killing those who were against the revolution was the main goal. Robespierre also used the Terror to execute political enemies – even those in favor of the revolution. The former Queen, Marie Antoinette, was one of the first to be executed under the Reign of Terror.

Only through the removal and subsequent execution of Robespierre in July 1794 did the Reign of Terror come to an end. Nearly 300,000 citizens were arrested with 14,000-17,000 of them ending as executions. An additional ~10,000 more people died in prison or without trial.

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Source: World Civilizations

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