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A Genealogy of Terror in Eighteenth-Century France - Chicago Scholarship Online
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A Genealogy of Terror in Eighteenth-Century France

Ronald Schechter


We tend to think of terror as a bad thing, but this was not always the case. In eighteenth-century France the word “terror” had largely positive connotations. God was said to instill terror in the wicked, and rightly so, and theologians even saw terror as the proper stance for all human beings in the face of the Almighty. Monarchs who took the role of God’s deputies on earth likewise sought to impart terror, and to call a king “the terror of his enemies” was a way of praising him. Judicial theorists justified the public punishment of criminals by claiming that it brought terror to would-be cri ... More

Keywords: absolutism, aesthetics, medicine, Old Regime (ancien régime), punishment, religion, revolution, sublime, terror, theater

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9780226499574
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226499604.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Ronald Schechter, author
College of William and Mary