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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > July 2016 > Was the Terror necessary?

Was the Terror necessary?

Human rights or state security? The debate goes back to the French Revolution, says Charles Williams

The French Revolution: From Enlightenment to Tyranny

by Ian Davidson (Profile, £25)

In January 1789, King Louis XVI of France, on advice from his ministers but with no support from his courtiers and outright opposition from his Austrian wife, launched what we would now call an exercise in market research. In August the previous year, he had called a meeting at Versailles of that obsolete institution the États Généraux (Estates General) in the faint hope that they could agree a solution to France’s immediate problem: the crisis in the public finances. The crisis had been the result of France’s inefficient and unfair tax system, several years of failed harvests and the costs of her participation in the Seven Years’ War with Britain (1756-63), and the American Revolutionary War (1778-83). In addition, France had a weak monarch and a corrupt privy council with no stomach for the corrective measures proposed by successive finance ministers.

Robespierre and Saint-Just leaving for the guillotine on 28th July 1794
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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s July issue: In her final issue as Editor Bronwen Maddox explores the legacy of former Prime Minister Tony Blair having spoken with him at a Prospect event on 24th May. She examines his domestic policy, the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan and what the future holds for the Labour Party. The Chancellor George Osborne lays down his view on why the public should to “Remain” in the EU, and Ian Hargreaves takes a close look at what is happening at the BBC. Also in this issue: Former Conservative leader David Davis suggests he can see a very narrow set of circumstances that might push him towards running for the party leadership again, William Skidelsky writes about why tennis is the best sport and Vanora Bennett looks at Svetlana Alexievich’s extraordinary work recording Russia’s lost voices.