The Guillotine (Part Three: The Terror)

Massacre à la Salpêtrière
The Execution of Louis XVI — again we see the meticulous order and planning of the State as it carries out its task
Journée du 21 janvier 1793 la mort de Louis Capet sur la place de la Révolution
The Tribunal, from La Démagogie en 1793 à Paris by Dauban (H. Plon ; 1868)

We think of this as the reign of people who inspire terror; on the contrary, it is the reign of people who are themselves terrified. Terror consists mostly of useless cruelties perpetrated by frightened people in order to reassure themselves. I am convinced that the blame for the Reign of Terror in 1793 lies almost exclusively with the over-nervous bourgeois, demeaning himself as a patriot, the small petty bourgeois beside themselves with fright and the mob of riff-raff who know how to profit from the terror.

The Genius of France Between Liberty and Death -Jean-Baptiste Regnault

Buzot… showed us that death on the scaffold was more courageous, more worthy of patriots, and above all be more useful to the cause of liberty.

Madame Du Barry… is the only woman, among all the women who perished during the dreadful days, who could not stand the sight of the scaffold. She screamed, she begged mercy of the horrible crowd that stood around the scaffold, she aroused them to such a point that the executioner grew anxious and hastened to complete his task. This convinced me that if the victims of these terrible times had not been so proud, had not met death with such courage, the Terror would have ended much earlier. Men of limited intelligence lack the imagination to be touched by inner suffering, and the populace is more easily stirred by pity than by admiration.

Les Noyades de Nantes — The Drownings at Nantes
Fête de l’Être suprême au Champ — Thomas Charles Naudet — 1794

Just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honoured disguise and borrowed language.

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