Reign of Terror
The Reign of Terror (September 5, 1793 – July 28, 1794) or simply The Terror (French: la Terreur) was a period of about 10 months during the French Revolution when struggles between rival factions led to mutual radicalization which took on a violent character with mass executions by the guillotine. It is generally associated with the figures of Maximilien Robespierre and Georges Danton and is popularly represented as an archetype of revolutionary violence.
The Terror itself started on September 5, 1793. The repression accelerated in June and July 1794, a period named la Grande Terreur (The Great Terror) and lasted until the executions following the coup of 9 Thermidor Year II (July 27, 1794), in which several key leaders of the Reign of Terror were themselves executed, including Saint-Just and Robespierre. The Terror took the lives of between 18,500 to 40,000 people (estimates vary widely, due to the difference between historical records and statistical estimates). In the single month before it ended, 1,900 executions took place.
While some consider modern tyrannies to be the legacy of the Reign of Terror, others argue that this view overlooks the French Revolution's influence in the ascendency of representative democracy and constitutionalism and assert that totalitarianism is marked by a strong state whereas in the Terror the bloodshed was caused by various competing factions radicalizing each other.