Student Question

During the Reign of Terror, was the guillotine the only execution device used?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The period of the French Revolution known as the Reign of Terror took place from early September 1793 to late July 1994. During this time, the Committee for Public Safety, led by Maximilien de Robespierre, functioned as the French government and held dictatorial control. Personal rights were suspended, and people were arrested and executed for holding dissenting political views, for not being virtuous enough, and often for no clear reason other than being unpopular with members of the Committee.

During the Reign of Terror, about 300,000 people were arrested. More than 10,000 died in prison, and 17,000 were executed by the state. Most of those who were condemned to death were beheaded under the guillotine. However, there were also other methods of execution. Sometimes, when there were too many condemned prisoners for the guillotine, they were executed in large groups by cannon fire. Other prisoners were tied up and placed on river barges, which were then sunk, drowning the prisoners. Sometimes people were hanged as well.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial