July 14, 2004

Bastille Day, II -- Le Bilan

Le Bilan, roughly translated, is the bill or the balance sheet. It can also refer to a tally of casualties.

As I mentioned before, there was a horribly destructive period in France during the Revolution, it was known as the Terror. Andrew Cusack has a very good post in memory of the thousands of people executed when the Revolution came to town.

The Committee of Public Safety, an innocuous sounding group, held dictatorial power in France and was directly responsible for the deaths. It was a committee of 12, led by Robespierre. I read that as many as 17,000 deaths can be traced to their hands, many by beheading. Here is a good link on the Reign of Terror. Oddly, if you do a google search on the committee itself, you will not find very much on the terror it presided over. Feels like revisionism to me.

I have friends in France who come from la noblesse in la Vendée. The memories of the repression there run quite strong still and my friends can speak about it as if it took place yesterday. Go read about it here and you will appreciate why. It is very much a forgotten episode in the glorious French Revolution.

So, is it fair to say that the French Revolution was, at best, a mixed bag? I'm just glad that we Americans resisted the worst impulses of our revolutionary brothers.

Posted by Random Penseur at July 14, 2004 05:05 PM
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