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The Downfall of King Louis: History of Modern Europe Essay

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The Downfall of King Louis

On September 20th, the French repulsed (drove away) the Prussians at Valmy
Valmy – a province in France. Revolted against the government, prompted by horror over measures against the church.
On 19th August 1792 Prussians capture Verdun. Causes massacres
French spirits soared – revolution could be saved
The next day, on September 21, the new Convention (created by Robespierre) met for the first time
Disposed Louis + declared French a republic
In a few weeks, French proceeded to advance to the Rhine and the Austrian dominions in Italy
Nov. 1792, Convention votes “France will give help to all peoples wanting liberty in the world”
The trial of King before Convention soon followed
Charges of treason to the nation
No chances of acquittal
Technically, 1791 placed blame on ministers for his actions
Robespierre dismissed this “You are not the judges – you are a statesman. ”
King unanimously declared guilty
The debate over punishment of King Louis XVI
Girondins + Danton wished against the execution of the king. Hesitated to say so, fear of accusation of “royalism” (loyalty to monarchy)
Robespierre\’s policy of execution narrowly triumphed.
January 1793, Louis XVI guillotined.

Louis’s Attempted Escape – The “death” of the monarchy.

After the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, July 1790, Louis is forced to flee
Civil Constitution – clergy responsibility of the state, undermines the importance of pope. Causes major criticism from the Catholic church
From then on, Louis resolved to end revolution by foreign aid
Louis flee to E. France (loyal French troops)
Then, receive help from Austrian brother-in-law, Emperor Leopold
From E. France, head of foreigners and emigre French Nobles could dictate to Assembly
Bad plan, had no counsel from liberal revolutionary Mirabeau ( he died). The realization that the monarchy was doomed
King’s plan = leave Paris in disguised coach failed
The news broke, outstripped Louis’s slow rate of progress
At Varennes, revolutionaries stopped the royal family’s exit by playing carts across a bridge.
Controversy in the town on who to obey, the King or the Assembly(Lafayette)
At Hotel de Ville, Lafayette (now in charge) ordered for the return of the fugitives
Trip back humiliating for the royal family
Insulted, humiliated, in every possible way.
In 4-day ordeal, Marie Antoinette\’s hair supposedly turned completely white.
At the beginning of the revolution, there was a small surge in popularity for the king while the moderate reform was in place.
Some had hope in King’s willingness/power
This good-image of the king or a shred of popularity was extinguished.
“At Varennes, the monarchy had died. All that Paris had to do, a year later, was to bury it.
Also, at the time, many moderate reformers yearned for a constitutional monarchy.
How could you have a monarchy when the monarch wanted to flee?

Duke of Brunswick’s Manifesto + Consequences
The French Revolution: Faith, Desire, and Politics
Page 125
The situation already very tense in Paris
Citizens begin to lose faith in Lafayette by 1792
No longer hero of revolution to some, someone trying to keep everyone in order
New leaders were encouraging citizens to move the revolution forward. (Left-wing)
Marat: Calls on citizens not to fall into “Kings trap”
Robespierre, new Jacobin leader, not pleased with Legislative Assembly
People lose faith in Assembly. Assembly caught between king and crowd.
Late July 1792, a situation worsened
The Duke of Brunswick (leader of Prussian Army) issues manifesto
Vows to put an end to violence against a king, security for the royal family.
Towns who surrendered themselves to the duke would be protected. Those who “dared to defend themselves” would be punished
Anyone in Paris attempt to harm royal family would face“military execution and complete destruction”
Duke issued this, to scare the people of France- particularly Paris. An empty promise
Installed anger- not fear
In May of 1790, Constituent Assembly had divided Paris into 48 official districts called sections.
These sections held meetings, made decisions, issued official statements
As the summer of 1792 wore on, they met more frequently
Sections become louder + stronger, Paris people angry
On August 4, one section issued a decree calling for King Louis the “despicable tyrant” to be exposed
Assembly declared section’s decree unconstitutional. However, National Assembly no longer had absolute control.
In addition, French soldiers features (with many accents on the e) were journeying to Paris.
Their arrival had become a sort of tradition, a celebration of the fall of the Bastille
That year, however, the goal was to overthrow king or signaled hostilities.

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