The French Revolution unleashed a period of tremendous volatility and unrest in France that eventually led to an almost civil war–like feud within the country as revolutionaries sought to end the monarchy. In turn, this led the revolutionaries to form the Committee of Public Safety.
As the name suggests, the Committee's stated role was to help France in her defense against both foreign and domestic enemies. However, although the initial impetus that led to its formation ostensibly was for defense, members of the Committee of Public Safety were elected by revolutionaries in France who were out not only to overthrow the monarchy and aristocracy, but to exact revenge on those people who had formerly been at the top of the pyramid of wealth and power. While these former members of the nobility held power, they held down the masses and kept them impoverished through onerous taxes and force.
In the hands of the French revolutionaries, the Committee of Public Safety became a zealous body of citizens largely from the general population of France who were out to seek vengeance on the country's titled nobles and other members of the elite and upper classes. The novel The Scarlet Pimpernel makes it clear that the Committee of Public Safety was instrumental in conducting the Reign of Terror, which lasted from September 1793 to July 1794, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, and called for and oversaw the execution of hundreds of members of the French aristocracy. For example, Baroness Orczy writes in The Scarlet Pimpernel,
Every afternoon before the gates closed and the market carts went out in procession by the various barricades, some fool of an aristo endeavoured to evade the clutches of the Committee of Public Safety.
This description of the Committee makes it clear that it was not a body charged with safeguarding the security of the nation and freedom of France's citizens. It was a body of people set on seeking punitive revenge. When the Baroness mentions that the Committee of Public Safety would "try" a former aristocrat, she makes a tongue-in-cheek allusion to the nature of the Committee of Public Safety as a kangaroo court.