I’m putting my regularly scheduled post on hold to express my sympathy to the people of France.
This past weekend, my Facebook feed was taken up with images of the Eiffel Tower, and the French Tricolour, and expressions of solidarity with the victims of this latest round of terrorism.
For those of us who are not in the military and not regular visitors to the world’s political hotspots, the events in Paris last week were a shocking reminder of the fragility of life and the cruelty of humans.
And isn’t it a testament to our innate sense of hopefulness that such reminders would shock us? Most of us were born in the twentieth century, a century of not just two world wars but also of rampant and excessive cruelty and democide.
Because I’m in the thick of research about the Regency period, during which England was at war with Napoleon, I’m reminded also that Paris survived an even worse horror two centuries before the last. In 1793, the revolutionary government led by Maximilian Robespierre unleashed terror upon its own people. Writing in an excellent article on this subject in History Today, historian Marisa Linton says:
The number of death sentences in Paris was 2,639, while the total number during the Terror in the whole of France (including Paris) was 16,594.
Many, many more, were killed without formal sentences in the countryside.
Today, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris and the victims of this modern day terror, with confidence that they will survive and heal.