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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In a move away from overarching explanations of the Terror based on ideology, class or a ‘system of Terror’, historians have been investigating the web of connections between politics, ideology, tactics, emotions and the role of individuals. Consequently, a more complex picture of revolutionary politics has begun to emerge. This chapter uses these new approaches to examine the individual experiences of Jacobin leaders. It asks how far we can reconstruct the motives that led individual Jacobin leaders to choose terror. Personal factors, including friendships, influenced political decision-making to a far greater extent than previously acknowledged. Emotions, above all fear, played an integral role in the Terror. The Jacobin leaders needed to maintain their public identity as ‘men of virtue’ or risk being destroyed in the politicians’ terror. The chapter examines the genesis of the politicians’ terror that culminated in the mutual destruction of political factions during the Year II.

Keywords: Terror, Jacobin leaders, politicians’ terror, emotions, individual experience, friendship

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