The Reign of Terror was a period of violence which began soon after the onset of the French Revolution. It lasted from the 5th of September, 1793 until the 27th of July, 1794, and is well known for the mass executions which took place, mainly of the nobility, at the hands of the Jacobins. Most of these killings were performed publicly with the guillotine; victims included Queen Marie Antoinette, the Duke of Orleans, Princess Élisabeth of France, and the former mistress of Louis XV, Madame du Barry. The well known chemist, Antoine Lavoisier, who discovered both oxygen and hydrogen, was also killed. The King, Louis XVI, had already been executed on the 21st of January 1793. Others, such as the Girondists, were killed for their political beliefs, and many more who simply fell under suspicion and never received trials. The Terror was largely pushed by Maximilien Robespierre, a powerful and influential member of the Committee of Public Safety (the de facto government at the time). He ultimately fell from grace and was himself guillotined on the 28th of July, 1794.
The Executive Directory was the French political regime which commenced on the 2nd November 1795, and is considered to be another phase of the French Revolution. Its structure was to have five Directors holding executive power to ensure the smooth running of the state, due to the demise of the National Convention. It was not a popular regime; many people were troubled by the bloodshed and violence of the Terror, which led the Directory to rule harshly – even disregarding the constitution – to try and maintain a tenuous grip on power. They were overthrown in a coup d'état on the 9th November 1799 by Napoleon Bonaparte.