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The French Revolution, 1789-99

6. The Terror

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About this Lecture


In this module we think about the nature of the Terror and its relation to the counter-revolution, focusing in particular on the perceived existence of a dangerous counter-revolutionary menace from the very beginning of the revolution, the series of betrayals by men who had at one time seemed to be leaders of the revolution (e.g. Mirabeau, Lafayette, the Girondins, etc.), the escalation of violence after the Federalist revolts in 1793, the impact of the war with Britain and Austria, and the spiralling political suspicion and alarm that characterised the last months of the Terror.


In this course, Professor Dave Andress (University of Portsmouth) considers eight key questions related to the French Revolution of 1789-99: (1) Did Louis XVI ever try to make the Constitutional Monarchy work? (2) To what extent did the National Assembly reform French society and government? (3) How important was the Catholic church in the Revolution? (4) How did the ‘abolition of feudalism’ affect life in the countryside? (5) To what extent was Robespierre responsible for the development of the Terror in the years 1793-94? (6) To what extent was the Terror about putting an end to the Counter-Revolution? (7) What did ‘Thermidor’ mean for the course of the Revolution? (8) How successful was the Directory in restoring stability to France in the years 1795-99?


Dave is a historian of the French Revolution, and of the social and cultural history of conflicts in Europe and the Atlantic world more generally in the period between the 1760s and 1840s. He has written a number of books, of which the best-known is probably The Terror, (London: Little, Brown, 2005), and recently edited a major collection of essays, The Oxford Handbook of the French Revolution, (Oxford: OUP, 2015). He also regularly gives lectures and workshops for A-level students, and has written the Connell Guide to the French Revolution, (London: Connell, 2016) especially for this cohort.

His personal research interests embrace the ways in which the conscious and unconscious norms of pre-1789 French society and culture collided with the new conditions created by revolutionary upheaval, and the extent to which many of the subsequent conflicts developed from such collisions. He is interested in the current focus on emotions in revolutionary history, but believes that we need to dig deeper into how feelings drove action, on the one hand, and on the other were incorporated into narratives of identity and plotting that fitted existing cultural forms.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Andress, D. (2018, August 15). The French Revolution, 1789-99 - The Terror [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Andress, D. "The French Revolution, 1789-99 – The Terror." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,