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Political violence and democratic transition: political attacks during the French Revolution

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French

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Abstract

International audience The end of the 18th century gives birth to new forms of political action: political attempts or attacks. More and more often committed with weapons of massive destruction, as bombs or explosive machines, these attacks not only try to injure or kill human targets, but also to spread fear in public opinion, in order to express minorities’ claims, and to influence political debates and decisions by direct activism. This paper claims that revolutionary violence, which has been mainly studied through collective massacres, must be considered in its different aspects: political murders, iconoclasm, material destructions and symbolic rituals are part of a new phenomenon, linked to the French democratic transition, one century before the “official” birth of modern terrorism.

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