Reign of Terror


The Reign of Terror, or simply the Terror (la Terreur), was a climactic period of state-sanctioned violence during the French Revolution (1789-99), which saw the public executions and mass killings of thousands of counter-revolutionary 'suspects' between September 1793 and July 1794. The Terror was organized by the twelve-man Committee of Public Safety, which exercised almost dictatorial control over France.

More about: Reign of Terror


  • c. 19 Jul 1789 - c. 6 Aug 1789
    The Great Fear sweeps across the French countryside, as peasants attack the feudal estates of the nobility.
  • 22 Jul 1789
    Fear and paranoia drive Paris mobs to murder royal minister Joseph Foullon and his son-in-law, Berthier de Sauvignay.
  • 25 Jul 1792
    The Brunswick Manifesto is issued by a Prussian army, threatening to burn the city of Paris to the ground and punish all traitors.
  • 2 Sep 1792 - 7 Sep 1792
    Between 1,100-1,400 prisoners, or half of Paris' total prison population, are killed in the September Massacres.
  • 21 Sep 1792
    The First French Republic is established.
  • 21 Jan 1793
    King Louis XVI of France, now known as Citizen Louis Capet, is executed by guillotine.
  • 10 Mar 1793
    The Revolutionary Tribunal is established in Paris.
  • 6 Apr 1793
    The Committee of Public Safety is set up by the National Convention.
  • 2 Jun 1793
    Fall of the Girondins leaves revolutionary politics firmly under Jacobin control; beginning of the Federalist Revolts against Jacobin rule.
  • 13 Jul 1793
    French revolutionary activist Jean-Paul Marat is assassinated in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday.
  • 27 Jul 1793
    Maximilien Robespierre elected to the Committee of Public Safety; the National Convention institutes death penalty for hoarders of goods.
  • 5 Sep 1793
    Terror is declared to be "the order of the day".
  • 17 Sep 1793
    Enactment of the Law of Suspects, allowing for the arrest and trial of anyone suspected of being counter-revolutionary.
  • 9 Oct 1793 - 9 Dec 1793
    Mass executions of around 2,000 federalist rebels after the end of the Siege of Lyon.
  • 10 Oct 1793
    A proposal by Louis-Antoine Saint-Just puts the new constitution on hold; the government shall remain "revolutionary until the peace".
  • 16 Oct 1793
    Marie Antoinette is executed by guillotine at the Place de la Révolution.
  • 31 Oct 1793
    21 leading Girondins, including Vergniaud and Brissot, are executed.
  • Nov 1793 - Feb 1794
    Drownings at Nantes; between 1,100 and 4,000 Vendean rebels and Catholic clerics are drowned in the Loire River by French Republican soldiers.
  • Nov 1793
    Executions of the Feuillants.
  • 10 Nov 1793
    Cathedral of Notre-Dame is rededicated as the Temple of Reason.
  • Jan 1794 - Mar 1794
    The French Republic's 'infernal columns' wreak havoc, death, and destruction to the rebellious Vendée region; some 50,000 people are slaughtered.
  • 24 Mar 1794
    Execution of the Hébertists.
  • 5 Apr 1794
    Execution of the Dantonists, including Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins, Hérault de Séchelles, & Fabre d'Eglantine.
  • 8 May 1794
    The esteemed chemist Antoine Lavoisier is executed, alongside 26 other former members of the Farmers-General.
  • 10 May 1794
    Execution of Madame Elizabeth, sister of King Louis XVI of France.
  • 8 Jun 1794
    Festival of the Supreme Being held on the Champ de Mars.
  • 10 Jun 1794
    Law of 22 Prairial intensifies the Reign of Terror, accelerating the trial phase and leading to more executions.
  • 10 Jun 1794
    Law of 22 Prairial speeds up trials of those accused; beginning of the 'Great Terror'.
  • 27 Jul 1794
    Robespierre and his followers are denounced by the National Convention and declared to be outlaws.
  • 28 Jul 1794
    Execution of Robespierre, Saint-Just, and Couthon; end to the Terror, beginning of the Thermidorian Reaction.
  • 1 Aug 1794
    The Thermidorians repeal the Law of Suspects and the Law of 22 Prairial, removing the justifications of the Reign of Terror.