Committee of Public Safety  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Reign of Terror

The Committee of Public Safety set up by the National Convention on April 6, 1793, formed the de facto executive government of France during the Reign of Terror (1793-4) of the French Revolution. Under war conditions and with national survival seemingly at stake, the Jacobins under Robespierre centralized denunciations, trials, and executions under the supervision of this committee of first nine and then twelve members. The committee was responsible for thousands of executions, most by the guillotine, in what was known as the "Reign of Terror." Frenchmen were executed under the pretext of being a supporter of monarchy or against the revolution. The Committee ceased meeting in 1795.

Contents

Composition

The Committee was formally composed of nine members, all selected by the National Convention for one month at a time, without period limits. Its first members, instated on 6 April 1793 were as follows, in order of election. Later, Robespierre joined the Committee and largely dominated it.

On 10 July, the Committee was recomposed and renamed the Grand Committee of Public Safety (le Grand Comité de salut public). Most of the original members were replaced, and the committee received extraordinary powers. In September 1793, the size of the committee was restructured to hold twelve members. It was almost completely dominated by Robespierre upon his election to the committee on 27 July.

The Committee lost its power in the Thermidorian reaction on 27 July 1794. The de facto dictatorship of Robespierre, whose powers had reached their height with the executions of Danton and Hébert during the spring of 1794, was effectively ended, and with it the Reign of Terror. Robespierre was guillotined the following day, along with most of the members of the Committee who had held actual power. The Committee was finally abolished in 1795, when a new constitution was promulgated, ending the rule of the National Convention that had lasted from the proclamation of the republic in 1792.

Actions

Failures

  • Around 40,000 French citizens were killed.
  • Many tens of thousands more were alienated from the Revolution
  • Grain shortages and hoarding caused by price controls.
  • The poor bore the burden of conscription and grain requisitions.
  • Hospitals, schools and charities were deprived of staff because of attacks on religious orders.
  • Deepening hostilities in the countryside over the dechristianisation campaign.

Prominent members

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Committee of Public Safety" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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