A Justifiable Terror Essay

1266 words - 6 pages

Amidst the hectic French Revolution, a groundbreaking politician named Robespierre surfaced and drove an entire nation into what would be the darkest, bloodiest stage of its history. Known as the Reign of Terror, this time period established how far a society could go for what they considered to be their birthrights. Numerous deaths, many of them brought upon by the infamous guillotine, guaranteed that the entire country was on the same revolutionary path. Some might say that violence is never justifiable; however, there was no other way for change to happen. The Reign of Terror was an understandable method to silence foreign threats; dissipate local counterrevolutionaries; and thus emphasize the cherished ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity in the forthcoming democracy.
First, the constant menace of Austria and Prussia on French borders endangered the success of the revolution. Therefore, the leaders of the movement were justified when responding to the intimidation in full throttle. In fact, they triumphed against these enemies in the Battle of Valmy, fought on September of the same year (The DBQ Project 43). By April 1794, the hostile Austrians and Prussians are almost completely defeated (The DBQ Project 41). All the while, when battling the two countries, France’s three clear purposes were “to protect the new government; to spread the revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity beyond its borders; and to punish French émigrés” (The DBQ Project 43). This further proves how revolutionaries had no reason to fight but to defend the Republic. When punishing émigrés, the leaders ensured that no Frenchmen would challenge the innovative ideals, especially because it was harder to unearth them in other countries. In other words, no one else would come in between the people and their rights. The violence used during the Reign of Terror was due to the extreme fear that the nation would go back to an abusive, unfair government. Furthermore, threats like the ones made by Austria and Prussia contributed to the feeling of distress, and so, they had to be stopped. In times of such insecurity and aggressiveness, it even seemed reasonable that they should be fought with devastating force. The foreigners sought to end the spread of the new principles in fear that they would spark a desire for change amidst their own people. However, Austria had another, more personal reason. The country was afraid of what might happen to Marie Antoinette, part of their royal family and queen of France, if the revolution were to grow to an uncontainable magnitude (The DBQ Project 43). It composed the Declaration of Pillnitz, which said that if anything happened to the regal family, war would be declared on France ("Declaration of Pillnitz: European History”). The French realized that attack was the best way of defense, so they declared it themselves on both countries. Consequently, in 1792, Austria and Prussia responded by sending an army of more than...

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