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Twelve Who Ruled: The Year of the Terror in the French Revolution

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  • Posted October 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Revolution!

    Twelve Who Ruled studied the French Revolution, specifically the Reign of Terror. In order to deal with the difficult situation: invasion, civil war, starvation among other problems that France was facing at the time, the National Convention created the Committee of Public Safety, a group of twelve men who ruled France. They also issued some laws that were intended to save France from falling into ruin along with the revolution. The levée en masse was created as a mean to defend the nation from foreign invaders, and to clamp down on rebellions of its own people. During the fifth year of revolution France was at war with every main nation in Europe except Russia. It was being attacked from all directions, and rebellions broke out within its territory as well. The revolutionary uprising in the Vendée executed approximately two thousand people, and Nantes, prisoners of the revolt were drowned in the Loire. The Committee of General Security was created and the Law of Suspects established against people suspected of counter-revolutionary activity. However this law did not define clearly what a suspect was, since based on the law anybody could be accused of being a traitor. Since the beginning of the revolution, the different political groups were not united, there were differences between and within groups, and that's why the foreign plot increased the number of people executed and in prison. In an attempted to end the inflation, the operations of speculators and profiteers, the demands of impoverished masses and to allow the flow of food supply, the General Maximum set a maximum price for articles of prime necessity and maximum wage. Nevertheless this policy was a complete failure. Such was the necessity for supplies during the revolution that people who tried to take advantage of the bad economy such as grain holders ended up in the guillotine. It is true that the most urgent need was food, but it was not the only one; it was also a shortage in copper, coal and gunpowder as well. Many historians consider that September 5 is the day when the terror began because the army took the offensive. On this same date a group marched to the Common House to demand the government to take action against shopkeepers, aristocrats and tyrants. The lack of food and the supposed foreign plot only made things worse because it increased the fear and suspicions among people. As a result in less than two years the victims of the terror reached around forty thousand people; among the executed there were holders, some generals that lose wars, anyone who support the Allies or was part of a civil war. The terror was designed to fight the enemies of the revolution, yet most the victims were lower class people. The Reign of Terror had a significant impact to the French Revolution.

    I relate to this book because I have a great interest in history, specially when it's about Revolutions that have occurred in many different countries. I find it interesting to learn about past, and present governments that have made people stand up for what they believe. Most of this things explain how ambitious some people can become and what the can do in order to obtain what they want, protect what they love/believe, and how this can start wars among cities, countries, and people. In my own country there have been protests against the government, and its corruption.

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