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Reign of Terror

The guillotine was used to behead people during France's "Reign of Terror".

Many of France’s nobles fled to other countries where they encouraged foreign kings to stop the French Revolution before it could spread. France was soon at war with Prussia and Austria, later joined by Britain, Spain, and the Netherlands. France drafted all able-bodied men into the military and raised an army of nearly one million men. With foreign armies invading French territory, economic problems in Paris, and fears about enemies within France, a group of radicals took control of the revolution.

Prussia = a kingdom of north-central Europe that evolved into modern-day Germany.

Austria = a landlocked country of central Europe. Its capital city is Vienna.

radicals = people who favor rapid and sweeping changes in laws and government.

The radicals took extreme measures against their enemies, real or imagined. After the king and queen were caught attempting to flee from France, they were marched to the guillotine and beheaded. Members of the nobility and the clergy were beheaded. The radicals even beheaded other revolutionaries. Some 50,000 people died during France’s bloody “ Reign of Terror,” about half at the guillotine.

guillotine = a machine with a heavy blade sliding vertically in grooves, used for beheading people.

Reign of Terror = A period of remorseless repression or bloodshed, in particular the period of the Terror during the French Revolution.