Tags

, , , , , ,

The monarchies of Europe looked with concern upon the developments in France as the Revolution became severe and widespread in France, and considered whether they should intervene, either in support of Louis or to take advantage of the chaos in France. The key figure was Marie-Antoinette’s brother, the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II. Initially, he had looked on the Revolution with equanimity. However, he became more and more disturbed as it became more and more radical. Despite this, he still hoped to avoid war.

On August 27, 1791 Emperor Leopold II and King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia, in consultation with émigrés French nobles, issued the Declaration of Pillnitz, which declared the interest of the monarchs of Europe in the well-being of Louis and his family, and threatened vague but severe consequences if anything should befall them.

In the end, the Legislative Assembly, supported by Louis XVI, declared war on Austria (“the King of Bohemia and Hungary”) first, voting for war on April 20, 1792, after a long list of grievances was presented to it by the foreign minister, Charles François Dumouriez. Dumouriez prepared an immediate invasion of the Austrian Netherlands, where he expected the local population to rise against Austrian rule. However, the Revolution had thoroughly disorganised the army, and the forces raised were insufficient for the invasion. The soldiers fled at the first sign of battle and, in one case, on April 28, 1792, murdered their general, Irish-born comte Théobald de Dillon, whom they accused of treason.

While the revolutionary government frantically raised fresh troops and reorganised its armies, a Prussian-Austrian army under Carl Wilhelm Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick assembled at Coblenz on the Rhine. In July, the invasion began, with Brunswick’s army easily taking the fortresses of Longwy and Verdun. The duke then issued on July 25 a proclamation called the Brunswick Manifesto, written by Louis’s émigré cousin, Louis Joseph, Prince de Condé, declaring the intent of the Austrians and Prussians to restore the king to his full powers and to treat any person or town who opposed them as rebels to be condemned to death by martial law.

Contrary to its intended purpose of strengthening Louis XVI’s position against the revolutionaries, the Brunswick Manifesto had the opposite effect of greatly undermining his already highly tenuous position. It was taken by many to be the final proof of collusion between the king and foreign powers in a conspiracy against his own country. The anger of the populace boiled over on August 10, when an armed mob – with the backing of a new municipal government of Paris that came to be known as the Insurrectional Paris Commune – marched upon and invaded the Tuileries Palace. The royal family took shelter with the Legislative Assembly.

Louis was officially arrested on August 13, 1792 and sent to the Temple, an ancient fortress in Paris that was used as a prison. On September 21, the National Assembly declared France to be a republic, and abolished the monarchy. Louis was stripped of all of his titles and honors, and from this date was known as Citizen 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.