Reign of Terror
(1793 to 1794)
Maximilian Robespierre proved to be an autocratic ruler. He sentenced to death all those persons who he considered as enemies of the republic, whether they were ex-noble, clergy, and members of any political parties; including Jacobins. Robespierre followed a policy of severe control and punishment.
Guillotine, a device (named after inventor Dr. Guillotin) was used to behead a person at that time. It consists of two poles and a blade. Guilty persons were beheaded using guillotine. Use of guillotine and public display of severed heads were ways to show the ruler's might to the public.
Drawbacks of Robespierre
Government led by Robespierre issued many laws among which ceiling maximum wages and price and rationing were main. Foods, such as meat and bread were rationed. Peasants were forced to sell their grains on fixed price in cities. Citizens were forced to eat equality bread, white flour which was costlier was forbidden. Use of Citoyen and Citoyenne for men and women citizen started instead of the traditional Sir (Monsieur) and Madam (Madame). Churches were shut down and their buildings were converted into offices and barracks. Practice of equality was sought everywhere.
Because of forcible implementation of laws, even supporters of Robespierre started the demand for change. Finally, Robespierre arrested and guillotined in July 1794. Reign of Terror ended with the end of Robespierre.
A Directory Rules France
After the fall of Jacobins a new constitution was introduced and power was again seized by wealthier middle class. According to new constitution:
- Non propertied section of the society had no right to vote.
- Two elected legislative councils would run the government. Two elected legislative councils would appoint an executive committee of five members, called Directory which would finally run the government.
- Directory could be dismissed by the majority vote of councils.
- These new provisions were brought to prevent the concentration of power in one-man executive.
The clash between Directory and member of councils led to political instability, which opened the door of military dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon Bonaparte became the emperor of France in 1804.