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Martyrdom and TerrorismPre-Modern to Contemporary Perspectives$
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Dominic Janes and Alex Houen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199959853

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199959853.001.0001

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Terror, Vengeance, and Martyrdom in the French Revolution

Terror, Vengeance, and Martyrdom in the French Revolution


(p.152) 7 Terror, Vengeance, and Martyrdom in the French Revolution
Martyrdom and Terrorism

Ronald Schechter

Oxford University Press

The “shades” (manes) were the ghosts of those who had become victims of counterrevolutionary force and had sacrificed their lives for the Revolution. They were understood to demand a counter blood sacrifice in order for their souls to be appeased. It is argued that study of the shades enables us to see the French Revolution in a new light. They help us understand the motivation for revolutionary action, the willingness of political actors to kill and to risk their own lives for new and otherwise abstract causes: liberty, the fatherland, the Republic. Likewise, the shades help us understand the Reign of Terror (or simply the Terror, as the French call it) and the role of martyrs and martyrdom in producing it.

Keywords:   Shades, French Revolution, Terror, liberty, sacrifice

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