1789, Bastille, comte d'Artois, comte de Provence, French Revolution, July 14, Louis XVI of France, Marie Antoinette, Palace of Versailles, Prince Charles-Philippe, Prince Louis-Stanislas, Tuileries Palace
Now we are getting to the meat of this topic. What did Louis do wrong during the French Revolution? What was the point of no return for Louis, and could he have done something differently to save his throne?
Also, in doing my research for this topic I realized this part of the topic is very complex so I will be adding a part IV and Part V.
The French Revolution began on July 14, 1789 with the storming of the Bastille. It has been reported that Louis XVI failed to mention the raid on the Bastille in his journal that evening. I am not sure if that story is apocryphal but it does indicate how out of touch with what was going on around him.
Within a short few months of the start of the revolution the anger of the revolutionaries turned on the members of the Royal Family. On October 5th, 1789 an angry mod of Parisians lead by working women stormed the Palace of Versailles with an attempt to kill the very unpopular queen, Marie Antoinette. The mob was unsuccessful and were defused only be the intervention of General La Fayette. In the aftermath of this skirmish it was decided to move the Royal Family to the Tuileries Palace where it was thought that with the Royal Family located in Paris among the people they would be more aware of the nations problems making them more accountable.
For Louis it was a long nightmare.
One of the ideals of the Revolution was the Enlightenment belief in popular sovereignty. Popular sovereignty was the belief that individual citizens had a say in who ran the Government and who represented them. It ran counter to the divine right of Kings which said those who ruled over you were placed their divinely by God and were answerable only to God. However, as the Revolution became more radical many of those politicians that sought for reform began to question those Enlightenment ideals. One such individual was Honoré Mirabeau Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, finance minister. A favorite of the people, and considered their spokesperson, began to side with the crown and switched to a moderate position, favoring a constitutional monarchy built on the model of Great Britain.
In 1791 another French noble, Armand Marc, comte de Montmorin, replaced the comte de Mirabeau as finance minister and secretly began to organize covert resistance to the revolutionaries by diverting money from the Civil List to cover expenses for the preservation of the monarchy. The kings own brothers, Prince Louis-Stanislas, comte de Provence, and Prince Charles-Philippe, comte d’Artois were also trying to launch counter revolutionary movements until their brother, the king, discovered their plans and demanded them to stop. Also at this time the revolutionary Government did not want to abolish the monarchy yet they did not know what role the king should play in the government. By this time the king was a virtual prisoner of the Tuileries Palace and decided he had had enough and it was time to flee.
Fleeing the Tuileries Palace will be covered in the next section.
My thoughts. Thus far from 1789 until 1791 the government and its officials were willing to work with the king. One thing I failed to mention in the body of this blog, was, at this time, because of Louis’ known support of Enlightenment ideals, the general population saw the King as a symbol of the revolution and gave great support to the monarchy. However, his treatment in the Palace was less than stellar and I think one of the contributing factors of his down fall. Louis has gone down in history as being an indecisive monarch and that will play a role in his demise. However, not supporting the counter-revolutionaries while the revolutionary government still supported him was a wise thing do.