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Comité de Salut Public, 1794.
Anonymous French print, 18th century.
The Committee of Public Safety ( ), created in April 1793 by the National Convention and then restructured July 1793, formed the de facto executive government of France during the Reign of Terror (1793-4), a stage of the French Revolution. Under war conditions and with national survival seemingly at stake, the Jacobins, under Maximilien Robespierre, centralized denunciations, trials, and executions under the supervision of this committee of first nine and later twelve members. The committee was responsible for thousands of executions, with many high-profile executions at the guillotine, in what was known as the "Reign of Terror." Frenchmen were executed under the pretext of being a supporter of monarchy or opposing the Revolution.The Committee ceased meeting in 1795.


The Committee was formally composed of nine members, all selected by the National Convention for one month at a time, without period limits. Its first members, instated on 6 April 1793 were as follows, in order of election. Later, Robespierre joined the Committee and largely dominated it.

On 10 July, the Committee was recomposed and renamed the Grand Committee of Public Safety (le Grand Comité de salut public). Most of the original members were replaced, and the committee received extraordinary powers. In September 1793, the size of the committee was restructured to hold twelve members. It was almost completely dominated by Robespierre upon his election to the committee on 27 July.

The Committee lost its power in the Thermidorian reaction on 27 July 1794. The de facto dictatorship of Robespierre, whose powers had reached their height with the executions of Danton and Hébert during the spring of 1794, was effectively ended, and with it the Reign of Terror. Robespierre was guillotined the following day, along with most of the members of the Committee who had held actual power. The Committee was finally abolished in 1795, when a new constitution was promulgated, ending the rule of the National Convention that had lasted from the proclamation of the republic in 1792.



  • Around 40,000 French citizens were killed.
  • Many tens of thousands more were alienated from the Revolution
  • Grain shortages and hoarding caused by price controls.
  • The poor bore the burden of conscription and grain requisitions.
  • Hospitals, schools and charities were deprived of staff because of attacks on religious orders.
  • Deepening hostilities in the countryside over the dechristianisation campaign.

Prominent members

See also


  • R.R. Palmer Twelve Who Ruled (1941, ISBN 0-691-05119-4)

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