Louis was officially arrested on 13 August and sent to the Temple , an ancient fortress in Paris that was used as a prison. Louis was stripped of all of his titles and honours, and from this date was known as Citoyen Louis Capet. The Girondins were partial to keeping the deposed king under arrest, both as a hostage and a guarantee for the future. Members of the Commune and the most radical deputies, who would soon form the group known as the Mountain , argued for Louis's immediate execution.
The legal background of many of the deputies made it difficult for a great number of them to accept an execution without the due process of law , and it was voted that the deposed monarch be tried before the National Convention, the organ that housed the representatives of the sovereign people. In many ways, the former king's trial represented the trial of the monarchy by the revolution.
It was seen as if with the death of one came the life of the other. Michelet argued that the death of the former king would lead to the acceptance of violence as a tool for happiness. He said, "If we accept the proposition that one person can be sacrificed for the happiness of the many, it will soon be demonstrated that two or three or more could also be sacrificed for the happiness of the many. Little by little, we will find reasons for sacrificing the many for the happiness of the many, and we will think it was a bargain.
There were two events that led up to the trial for Louis XVI.
Louis could no longer be considered a hostage or as leverage in negotiations with the invading forces. Following these two events the Girondins could no longer keep the king from trial. On 11 December, among crowded and silent streets, the deposed king was brought from the Temple to stand before the Convention and hear his indictment, an accusation of high treason and crimes against the State.
Before the trial started and Louis mounted his defense to the Convention, he told his lawyers that he knew he would be found guilty and be killed, but to prepare and act as though they could win. He was resigned to and accepted his fate before the verdict was determined, but he was willing to fight to be remembered as a good king for his people. The Convention would be voting on three questions: The order of the voting on each question was a compromise within the Jacobin movement between the Girondins and Mountain; neither were satisfied but both accepted.
On 15 January , the Convention, composed of deputies, voted on the verdict. Given overwhelming evidence of Louis's collusion with the invaders, the verdict was a foregone conclusion — with deputies voting guilty, none for acquittal, with 23 abstaining. The voting took a total of 36 hours. Louis was condemned to death by a majority of one vote. The next day, a motion to grant Louis XVI reprieve from the death sentence was voted down: This decision would be final. Malesherbes wanted to break the news to Louis and bitterly lamented the verdict, but Louis told him he would see him again in a happier life and he would regret leaving a friend like Malesherbes behind.
The last thing Louis said to him was that he needed to control his tears because all eyes would be upon him. As Louis XVI mounted the scaffold, he appeared dignified and resigned. He delivered a short speech in which he pardoned " The former king was then quickly beheaded.
There are also accounts of a blood-curdling scream issuing from Louis after the blade fell but this is unlikely, since the blade severed Louis's spine. The executioner, Charles Henri Sanson , testified that the former king had bravely met his fate. Before his burial, a short religious service was held in the Madeleine church destroyed in by two priests who had sworn allegiance to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.
Afterwards, Louis XVI, his severed head placed between his feet, was buried in an unmarked grave, with quicklime spread over his body. Between and , a commemorative monument, the Chapelle expiatoire , was erected at the location of the former cemetery and church. While Louis's blood dripped to the ground, several onlookers ran forward to dip their handkerchiefs in it.
The blood sample was taken from a squash gourd carved to commemorate the heroes of the French Revolution that had, according to legend, been used to house one of the handkerchiefs dipped in Louis's blood. The 19th-century historian Jules Michelet attributed the restoration of the French monarchy to the sympathy that had been engendered by the execution of Louis XVI. The two writers did not share the same sociopolitical vision, but they agreed that, even though the monarchy was rightly ended in , the lives of the royal family should have been spared.
Lack of compassion at that moment contributed to a radicalization of revolutionary violence and to greater divisiveness among Frenchmen. For the 20th century novelist Albert Camus the execution signaled the end of the role of God in history, for which he mourned. King Louis XVI has been portrayed in numerous films. In Captain of the Guard , he is played by Stuart Holmes.
BBC - History - King Louis XVI
In Marie Antoinette , he was played by Robert Morley. More recently, he was depicted in the film Marie Antoinette by Jason Schwartzman. Several portrayals have upheld the image of a bumbling, almost foolish king, such as that by Jacques Morel in the French film Marie-Antoinette reine de France and that by Terence Budd in the Lady Oscar live action film. Mel Brooks played a comic version of Louis XVI in The History of the World Part 1 , portraying him as a libertine who has such distaste for the peasantry he uses them as targets in skeet shooting.
In the film Ridicule ; Urbain Cancelier plays Louis. Louis appears in the children's book Ben and Me by Robert Lawson but does not appear in the animated short film based on the same book. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Marie Antoinette of Austria m. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. January Learn how and when to remove this template message. France in the American Revolutionary War. Louis, Dauphin of France 8. Louis, Duke of Burgundy Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria 4.
Louis XV of France Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia 9. Louis, Dauphin of France Louis XVI of France Augustus II of Poland Anne Sophie of Denmark 6. Augustus III of Poland Christian Ernst, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth Christiane Eberhardine of Bayreuth Maria Josepha of Saxony Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg 7.
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Maria Josepha of Austria John Frederick, Duke of Brunswick-Calenberg Wilhelmine Amalia of Brunswick Benedicta Henrietta of the Palatinate. Retrieved 11 December Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment. Oxford University Press, , p. The Silent King and the Estates. The Terror , p. Retrieved 17 October Last Queen of France. Oxford University Press, A Very Short Introduction. The Tiger and The Thistle.
Louis XVI of France
Archived from the original on 21 November Retrieved 17 July A Study of Arms and Diplomacy, — Archived from the original on 29 September Britain as a military power, — Thompson, The French Revolution identifies a series of major and minor mistakes and mishaps, pp. Regicide and the French Political Imagination , Princeton: Princeton University Press, , pp. Oxford University Press Inc. The French Revolution vs. University of California Press. The French Revolution , What the King said to the executioner Retrieved 26 June Retrieved 3 January Regicide and the French Political Imagination.
Retrieved 20 April Origins of the French Revolution 3rd ed. The Oxford History of the French Revolution. Pages — deal with the trial of Louis XVI. Old Regime France The Silent King 2nd ed. The Silent King pages, an older scholarly biography Hardman, John. The Road from Versailles: A Chronicle of the French Revolution , highly readable narrative by scholar Amazon. When the King Took Flight. Research Guide to European Historical Biography: Queen of France Books. Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty. Heads of state of France. Styled President of the Republic after , except from to Chief of State and to Chairman of the Provisional Government.
Detailed monarch family tree Simplified monarch family tree. Henry VI of England. National Convention Directory Consulate. Napoleon I Napoleon II. Debatable or disputed rulers are in italics. Millerand held the presidency in an acting capacity before being fully elected. Henry IV of France.
Margaret of Valois Marie de' Medici. Louis XIV of France. Louis XV of France. Louis XVI of France. Louis had no children; he died aged 10 in Charles X of France. Princess Maria Teresa of Savoy. Notes 1 also an Infante or Infanta of Spain 2 also an Archduchess of Austria 3 both p Philip was the first Bourbon king of Spain, the country's present ruling house.
Significant civil and political events by year. What Is the Third Estate? Treaty of Amiens 25 Mar William V, Prince of Orange. Alexander Korsakov Alexander Suvorov. Luis Firmin de Carvajal Antonio Ricardos. Other significant figures and factions.
Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria. Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia. Augustus II of Poland. Anne Sophie of Denmark. Augustus III of Poland. Christian Ernst, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth. Christiane Eberhardine of Bayreuth. Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor. Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg. Maria Josepha of Austria. John Frederick, Duke of Brunswick-Calenberg.
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Wilhelmine Amalia of Brunswick. His Most Christian Majesty. Escutcheon Azure, three fleurs-de-lis Or for France impaling Gules on a chain in cross saltire and orle Or an emerald Proper for Navarre. Supporters The two supporters are two angels, acting as heralds for the two realms. When a final decision on the question of a respite was taken on January 19, Louis was condemned to death by votes to Nine months later his wife met the same fate. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind.
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Laws to deport the refractory clergy, to bar the…. They reached the French border town of Varennes, where they…. The precious metals were…. Three days afterward Louis XVI appeared on the balcony wearing a tricolour cockade blue, white, and red; a symbol of the Revolution and was cheered by the crowd. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Help us improve this article!
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