Law of Hostages

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In 1799, late in the French Revolution, the Law of Hostages was enacted by the Executive Directory (Fr. Directoire exécutif, also referred to as the French Directory) in order to assure itself of domination in the provinces. The law allowed local authorities to draw up lists of "hostages" responsible for certain criminal offences, specifically intended to be applied to persons suspected of threatening the authority of the Executive Directory. The law was intended to pacify regions that the Executive Directory viewed as problematic. Since local authorities were responsible for the execution of the Law of Hostages it was not always effective since local authorities often sympathized with those it was intended to be used against or they refrained because they did not want to cause strife in their community.

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