Ramble 13: The great terror

The great terror or popularly known as the French Revolution brought about many ideas of change in the existing order of society and the way of life. While we were busy crediting the French Revolution to be the first revolution to bring about ideas of equality, liberty and fraternity on the foreground, we sadly missed the mockeries.

Only an hour ago, I saw a rather interesting documentary on France in the 18th century, of the nobility, of the mockery, of the Enlightenment Age, and of terror. Often, in the excitement of watching a great revolution unfolding on the camera in front of our very eyes, we miss the sheer stupidity of the time, which I (frankly) quite enjoyed. What begun as a revolution to bring about equality ended up engulfing its own beliefs in a flame cascaded through terror. What started as a fight for bread ended up as a fight for blood.

On an innocent day of the 14th of July the unprivileged  marched to the doors of the great Bastille, unknown that this day would go down in posterity and would one day be proclaimed as the French Independence Day. As the people marched forward, with vows of getting their hands dirty with the blood of vengeance, little did they know that the distribution of trophies for their lone pikes will not cease in a day. Tearing down the fort of Bastille, the commoners did what the nobility could not. They went down in history and immortalized themselves with their actions. However, tearing down a symbol of despotic rule could not diminish the rule itself. There was more to come, more ways to go.

While the people were enraged, the king and the queen could not care less. Wile many of you might think that this is when our beloved queen uttered those fateful words, “Let them eat cake”. But she did not. Those words are only a myth. The poor ungrateful queen perhaps did not even know the turmoil the nation was going through to utter these words. But, that does not make her less guilty of ignorance, it only further adds to her crime.

On another sphere of the revolution was the infamous, the “incorruptible” Maximillian Robespierre. He had started as a believer in the freedom of press, had believed in the ideas of quality, liberty and fraternity. He hated those charged with treason. And boy, didn’t he show it. But, as his rule progressed it wavered from its original course. He used terror to usurp ignorance while all the French needed was reason. He advocated extreme censorship. All the declaration of freedom stood for had turned meaningless. Power had turned him paranoid and he hence was engulfed by his own creation, the guillotine. The people’s power triumphed over the incessant, errant bloodshed.

The French Revolution is not just a symbol of democracy and republicanism. It is also a satire of sorts, in its own way. It is of a man with crazy ambitions, of a royal family publicly guillotined, of enlightened ideas, of a new saint, of a dismissed religion, of bloodshed of innocent civilians, of death of existing ideas and birth of revolutionary ones. The wise Shakespeare of England was right after all, history does not belong to the marbles nor to the gilded monuments but rather to actions and words.

In conclusion, on 14th of July, little did the Paris people know that the march to Bastille for its destruction had only begun and such marches were not going to end anytime soon.


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