Revolutionary Tribunal, a court for political offenders established by the leaders of the French Revolution in 1793. Ten days after the beheading of King Louis XVI in January, 1793, a European alliance was formed against France. The survival of the revolutionary government depended as much on its security against conspiracy at home as on military victory. In March, George Jacques Danton persuaded the Convention, which ruled France, to establish the Revolutionary Tribunal to try opponents of the revolution. It consisted of a jury and a public prosecutor with two assistants, all appointed by the Convention.
The tribunal fell more and more under the influence of the Committee of Public Safety, which used it to pursue the policy or satisfy the prejudices of Robespierre and the other members. With Antoine Fouquier-Tinville as public prosecutor, the tribunal became an effective instrument of the Reign of Terror. The reading of charges, the trial, and the execution of sentence usually occurred on the same day. During its 50 days under Robespierre's direction, the tribunal put to death 1,376 persons, including Queen Marie Antoinette, many Girondists, and Danton himself. It was abolished on May 31, 1795. Similar courts had been established in other parts of France.