Virtue and Terror

Virtue and Terror - Virtue and Terror Throughout the course...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Virtue and Terror Throughout the course of the French Revolution political turmoil surged through France, necessitating improvisational revolutionary government institutions to be formed. One of the most infamous leaders of these institutions was Maximilien Robespierre, who led both the National Convention and the Committee of Public Safety during the time of the revolution which is best known as the Reign of Terror. In Virtue and Terror Robespierre’s own reasoning shows how his fervent devotion to the virtue of men and the patriots of his country led to a regime that ordered the deaths of thousands of people accused of being counter-revolutionary. Robespierre argued that his ability to quash the enemies of the revolution was just as important as preserving and promoting the virtue and ideals of the French Republic, and was the best means of doing that. In this manner, Robespierre equated virtue to terror and bound them together; without one the other was useless, and without both the revolution would fail. The Terror, in some ways, did allow the revolution and the Republic to persist by crushing threats of monarchists abroad, seeking to void the revolution from within, and building up the army of patriotic revolutionaries with conscription. However, Robespierre’s paranoid rhetoric backfired on him when the association of virtue with terror led to an image of endless carnage and tyranny, and also an image of his own hypocrisy. Robespierre’s argument on the link between virtue and terror relies a lot on his meaning of virtue. A disciple of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Robespierre interpreted the rights of men outlined in the “social contract” to be more collective than individual, as opposed to Rousseau’s individualist interpretation. According to Robespierre liberty was such a strong facet of virtue that “unless you do everything for liberty, you have done
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
nothing” (Virtue and Terror, 9), meaning that collective liberty of the people was worth revolution and any actions deemed necessary to see that revolution to fruition. His
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 10/18/2008 for the course HIST 284 taught by Professor Breuer during the Spring '08 term at Ithaca College.

Page1 / 5

Virtue and Terror - Virtue and Terror Throughout the course...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online