Committee of Public Safety
For other uses, see Committee of Public Safety (disambiguation).
The Committee of Public Safety (French: Comité de salut public) formed the provisional government in France, led mainly by Maximilien Robespierre, during the Reign of Terror (1793–1794), a phase of the French Revolution. Supplementing the Committee of General Defence created after the execution of King Louis XVI in January 1793, the Committee of Public Safety was created in April 1793 by the National Convention and restructured in July 1793. It was charged with protecting the new republic against its foreign and domestic enemies, fighting the First Coalition and the Vendée revolt. As a wartime measure, the committee was given broad supervisory and administrative powers over the armed forces, judiciary and legislature, as well as the executive bodies and ministers of the Convention.
|Committee of Public Safety|
Comité de salut public (French)
|Constituting instrument||French Constitution of 1793|
|Formation||25 March 1793|
|Abolished||27 October 1795|
As the committee raised the defense against the monarchist coalition of European nations and counter-revolutionary forces within France, it became more and more powerful. In December 1793, the Convention formally conferred executive power upon the committee. Between August 1793 and July 1794, the committee’s power grew to dictatorial heights as it organised the Reign of Terror. Among the members, the radical Jacobin Maximilien Robespierre emerged as a leader. After the arrest and execution of the rival factions of Hébertists and Dantonists, sentiment in the Convention eventually turned against Robespierre, who was executed in July 1794. In the following Thermidorian Reaction, the committee’s influence diminished and it was abolished in 1795.
Reign of Terror, commonly called The Terror (French: la Terreur), was a period of the French Revolution when, following the creation of the First French Republic, a series of massacres and numerous public executions took place in response to revolutionary fervour, anticlerical sentiment, and accusations of treason by the Committee of Public Safety.
|Part of the French Revolution|
|Nine émigrés are executed by guillotine, 1793|
|Location||First French Republic|
|Organised by||Committee of Public Safety|
There is disagreement among historians over when exactly “the Terror” began. Some consider it to have begun only in 1793, giving the date as either 5 September, June or March, when the Revolutionary Tribunal came into existence. Others, however, cite the earlier time of the September Massacres in 1792, or even July 1789, when the first killing of the revolution occurred.[a]
The term of “Terror” to describe the period was introduced by the Thermidorian Reaction who took power after the fall of Maximilien Robespierre in July 1794, to discredit Robespierre and justify their actions. Today there is consensus amongst historians that the exceptional revolutionary measures continued after the death of Robespierre, now called the period of “White Terror“. By then, 16,594 official death sentences had been dispensed throughout France since June 1793, of which 2,639 were in Paris alone; and an additional 10,000 died in prison, without trial, or under both of these circumstances.
- The MountainPolitical group during the French Revolution
- Jacques-Nicolas Billaud-VarenneFrench revolutionary leader
- Fall of Maximilien Robespierre
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