Common Core: French Revolution

Reign of Terror

Directions: read the quotes below then answer the questions at the end. Copy the questions; at least 3 sentence answers.

 

Central Historical Question:

Was the main goal of the Committee of Public Safety to “protect the

Revolution from its enemies”?

 

Textbook explanation

Key Events of the French Revolution

(1789-1794)

 

Over four years after the start of the French Revolution, France descended into a

period commonly known as the “Reign of Terror,” when over 16,000 people were

executed for allegedly opposing the Revolution. The Reign of Terror began when

the Committee of Public Safety took over the National Convention, the third

government that had been established since the start of the French Revolution.

The timeline below lists the governments and major reforms that were

established under each.

 

The Jacobins had thousands of enemies within France itself. These

included peasants who were horrified by the king’s execution, priests

who would not accept government control, and rival leaders who

were stirring up rebellion in the provinces. How to contain and control

these enemies became a central issue.

 

Robespierre Assumes Control In the early months of 1793, one

Jacobin leader, Maximilian Robespierre, slowly gained power.

Robespierre and his supporters set out to build a “republic of virtue”

by wiping out every trace of France’s past. Firm believers in reason,

they changed the calendar, dividing the year into 12 months of 30

days and renaming each month. This calendar had no Sundays

because the radicals considered religion old-fashioned and

dangerous. They even closed all churches in Paris, and cities and

towns all over France soon did the same.

In July 1793, Robespierre became leader of the Committee of Public

Safety. For the next year, Robespierre governed France virtually as

a dictator, and the period of his rule became known as the Reign of

Terror. The Committee of Public Safety’s chief task was to protect

the Revolution from its enemies. Under Robespierre’s leadership, the

committee often had these “enemies” tried in the morning and

guillotined in the afternoon. Robespierre justified his use of terror by

suggesting that it helped French citizens to remain true to the ideals

of the Revolution. . .

 

Thousands of unknown people were also sent to their death, often on

the flimsiest of charges. For example, an 18-year-old youth was

sentenced to die for cutting down a tree that had been planted as a

symbol of liberty. Perhaps as many as 40,000 were executed during

the Terror. About 85 percent were peasants or members of the urban

poor or middle class—for whose benefit the Revolution had been

launched.

 

Source: Modern World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal

Littell (2006), pp. 226-227.

 

Document A: Decree Against Profiteers (Modified)

 

In July 1793, faced with an angry and hungry population, the leaders of the

Committee of Public Safety passed the “Decree Against Profiteers.” The law

accused “profiteers” in the countryside of hoarding or monopolizing grain in order

to raise the price of bread.

 

26 July 1793

1. Monopoly is a capital crime.

2. Those who keep out of circulation essential merchandise or

commodities without offering them for sale daily and publicly

are declared guilty of monopoly . . .

3. The essential commodities and merchandise are: bread, meat,

wine, grain, flour, vegetables, fruit, butter, vinegar, cider,

brandy, charcoal, tallow, wood, oil, soda, soap, salt, [etc.]

4. Those who have any of these commodities shall be required to

declare them and sell them . . .

5. One week from today, those who have not declared their goods

shall be considered monopolists, and, as such, punished with

death; their property shall be confiscated, and their

commodities or merchandise shall be placed on sale.

6. Those convicted of making false declarations likewise shall be

punished with death. Public officials who protect monopolists

shall also be punished with death.

 

Vocabulary

capital: punishable by death decree: an official order

monopoly: total control over something municipality: local government

commodities: things that can be bought or sold

 

Source: Excerpt from Decree Against Profiteers, passed July 1793.

 

Document B: Law of Suspects (Modified)

 

By September 1793, the leaders of the Committee of Public Safety faced growing

counter-revolutionary uprisings and mounting fear of foreign invasion. They

responded by passing the Law of Suspects, which established revolutionary

courts to try anyone suspected of treason against the revolution.

 

1 Immediately after the publication of the present decree, all

suspected persons within the territory of the Republic and still at

liberty shall be placed in custody.

2. The following are deemed suspected persons:

1st, those who, by their conduct, associations, talk, or writings

have shown themselves to be enemies of liberty

2nd, those who are unable to justify their means of existence

and the performance of their civic duties

3rd, those to whom certificates of patriotism have been refused

4th, public officials suspended or dismissed from their positions

by the National Convention or by its commissioners and not

reinstated

5th, those former nobles, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers,

sons or daughters, brothers or sisters of émigrés, who have

not steadily demonstrated their devotion to the Revolution

 

Vocabulary

certificates of patriotism: proof of patriotism required to serve in military

émigrés: people who leave their own country to settle in another, usually for

political reasons

 

Source: Excerpt from Law of Suspects, passed September 1793.


 

Copy and answer each question in your notebook. Each answer must contain at least 3 sentences, unless noted. Staple this question sheet in your notebook.

 

Reign of Terror Guiding Questions

 

Textbook Excerpt

 

1.      According to the textbook, why did the Jacobins have so many enemies?

 

2. Robespierre and his supporters created a new calendar. Why would they

want to wipe out “every trace of France’s past?”

 

3. According to the textbook, Robespierre believed terror helped French citizens

remain “true to the ideals of the Revolution.” What were the ideals of the

French Revolution? (Use what you already know about the French Revolution from your notes

to answer this question).

 

4) Based on the textbook excerpt, do you think the Committee of Public

Safety protected the Revolution from its enemies?

Circle one:

YES NO

 

Explain your answer.

 

Document A: Decree Against Profiteers

1. (Contextualization) Why did the Committee of Public Safety pass the Decree

Against Profiteers?

 

2. (Contextualization) Why did the Committee of Public Safety consider

monopoly to be such a serious crime? (Hint: Think back to the ideals of the

French Revolution). What does the word “monopoly” mean? Give the definition.

 

3. (Close reading) What was the punishment for those who did not comply with

this law?

 

4) Based on the Decree Against Profiteers, do you think the Committee of

Public Safety protected the Revolution from its enemies?

Circle one:

YES NO

 

Explain your answer.

 

Document B: Law of Suspects

 

1.      What was the goal of the Law of suspects?

 

2. (Close reading) List two examples of people who would have been

considered suspects. Explain why the Committee of Public Safety would

have considered them suspects.

 

3. What might the leaders of the Committee of Public Safety have said to justify

this law?

 

4. Based on the Law of Suspects, do you think the Committee of Public

Safety protected the Revolution from its enemies? Circle one:

YES NO

 

Explain your answer.

 

5. The Committee of Public Safety was established to protect the Revolution from

its enemies. Based on the Decree Against Profiteers and the Law of Suspects,

do you think the Committee of Public Safety actually protected the Revolution

from its enemies?

 

6. Write a paragraph in the space below, using evidence from the documents to

support your claims.