We now live with the threat and the reality of political terror and terrorists. The French Revolution was the first occasion when a democratic government used terror as a political weapon, executing thousands of people for political crimes. What caused reasonable people to implement such a brutal regime? What did it achieve? What are its links with the terrors of the present day? This established text examines a range of key issues, analyses the terror's background and traces the course from the fall of the Bastille in 1789 to the work of the guillotine during the terror of 1793-4. It puts the terror into context and shows how circumstances and ideas interacted to create an event that has haunted the political imagination of Europe ever since. Thoroughly revised in the light of recent scholarship and debates, this new edition of an essential introduction includes: • an updated historiography section • clearly set-out definitions of the 'terror' and more detail on its workings • an entirely new chapter exploring the social and cultural policies of the Revolution • an up-to-date bibliography, organised thematically for ease of reference.