The Terror

Maximilien Robespierre

Maximilien Robespierre

Dear Diary: December 5, 1793

The Revolution here in France has already been going on for 2 years but the worst seems to have started only recently. See, the revolution began as a response to the monarchy having complete power and taking advantage of the people in this country. France then did the next rational thing that could be thought of, abolish the monarchy and throw King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette from the throne.

Why was it so important that monarchy be abolished? We wanted lower taxes, especially since it was only the population in the Third Estate that were paying taxes to the government. The First Estate consisted of the Clergy who were exempt from taxes, as were those in the Second Estate consisting of the nobles. This left the Third Estate, everyone else, to be responsible for the taxes that needed to be paid in order to keep the country running. More frankly, we were tired of being a poor country and something needed to happen in order to keep King Louis and Queen Marie from spending all the country’s money.

We are told that the money from the taxes is to help pay for war, war that is based upon the revolution. However, there are rumors that it was Queen Marie and her extravagant shopping sprees were what really hurt the country’s financial situation. I can’t imagine King Louis lavishing her with gifts so readily as she has not, or did not when she was still Queen, produce an heir and there were rumors aplenty that she had regular affairs.

It was a great start, at least in theory. But then something happened, something wicked. A man, Maximilien Robespierre, an upstart French lawyer, took over the new government we call The Committee of Public Safety in July of this year but things really took a turn for the worst in September.

Someone thought it would be a good idea to force our farmers to give their grain to the government. Military type forces were sent around to the farms starting this past September to enforce the grain giving, something the farmers did not want to do as it was essential to their lives.

It didn’t stop there because later the same month everything seemed to have fixed prices, they still do. Our bread and grain will not rise or fall in price, an act that is hurtful to all the merchants and farmers as they are unable to earn the money they normally would at different parts of the year when bread and grain may cost more. But what is more is that the wages are fixed. These measures of fixes incomes and prices were said to be a good thing as it would encourage more people to purchase goods but we are not so sure that this is the best way to do so.

While executions were happening in all of France against the anti-revolutionaries (those who were still in support of the king and queen) it wasn’t until Robespierre enacted the Law of Suspects that fear became a widespread disease.

A satirical picture showing Robespierre using the guillotine of the executioner after everyone else in France had been executed.

A satirical picture showing Robespierre using the guillotine of the executioner after everyone else in France had been executed.

The Law of Suspects states that any person who by their conduct, associations, comments, or writings are enemies of France, a treasonous act punishable by death. A trial does not need to happen anymore, just a simple suspicion could have you placed on the guillotine, or if one is not convenient at the time, any method of death they deem best suitable for the situation.

It is now December 1793 and they say that the worst is over but Robespierre is still in power and the executions are still occurring everywhere. Marie Antoinette was executed about a month ago in Paris, October 16 at the Place de la Revolution by the Revolutionary Tribunal for acts of high treason against the state. At least the poor woman was able to have a trial before her sentence of death, however bad the people of France may view her, she is still a person whose life is worth more than a brutal death. King Louis XVI suffered the same fate before the Terror began back in January of this year.

There seems to be no end in sight.

I have not signed these as writings can convict me of treason, my person will thus remain anonymous.

Dear Diary: August 12, 1794

A sigh of relief. Robespierre has been executed a few weeks ago on July 28 without a trial. Everything around France already has a different feel and all of us still standing at the end are lucky to be alive. It was a 10-month period of literal terror for all of us citizens but the Terror is officially over. The feeling of safety is so new that none of us quite trust it yet especially not knowing who will now rise to power in the government.

We have heard reports coming from Paris that the number of those executed over the span of La Terreur were anywhere between 10,000 and 40,000. It is unbelievable that no number of executions can be relied upon since only about 17,000 of the executions were official, meaning by trial. The rest of those who perished suffered at the hands of injustice in their own towns and cities. No matter the number, it certainly cannot be argued that this was not a brutal time and a bloody time for the history of France.

Now the Committee of Public Safety and their radical beliefs have been abolished and the Convention has taken their rightful place once again at the head of state. The Revolution is still going strong, who knows when that will end but I have lived to tell the tale of La Terreur.

Anonymous

The French Revolution in its entirety did not end until 1799.

Charlotte