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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Thermidorian National Convention, despite some efforts at ‘transitional justice’, failed to master the legacies of the Terror. Therefore, the fledgling regime needed to impose the new republican political order while also restoring basic law and order—two tightly entwined tasks. The Constitution of 1795 articulated a liberal democracy based on the rule of law, but political instability and endemic lawlessness led first to multiple violations of the constitution, especially in the wake of elections, and a steady shift from democratic republicanism toward ‘liberal authoritarianism’. This shift received added impetus during waves of repression intended to restore order on strictly republican terms. The result was the creation a new ‘security state’, one that combined coercive policing, administrative surveillance, exceptional justice, and militarized repression. The emergence of the new system helped to restore order, and thereby to legitimize the Consulate, but it also paved the road to personal dictatorship in 1802.

Keywords: army, coup d’état, criminal courts, liberal authoritarianism, military justice, National Guard, policing, repression, rule of law, security state

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