Citizen Louis Capet/King Louis XVI

The people of France tried to do just a little bit of revolution, but things got out of hand when their king didn’t play along. Louis XVI’s accusers needed to convict France’s disgraced figurehead to cement the legitimacy of their own government. They just had one little problem: how do you prosecute a man who committed no crimes, because he was the law?

Featured image: King Louis XVI of France, painted in 1775. Despite the fashionable gray wig, Louis was a very young man when this picture was painted in the year of his coronation. (Image source)

Louis XVI in his robes of state, painted in 1789. (Image source)

The French royal family in 1782. The young dauphin is in the center between his parents, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. (Image source)

A far less flattering image of Louis XVI from 1792. In this, he wears a phrygian cap (popular in France as a symbol of the revolutionaries). He drinks a toast to the sans-culottes and says “Long live the nation,” but the caption says: ” Louis XVI, having put on the Phrygian cap, cried ‘long live the nation’. He drank to the health of the sans-culottes and affected a show of great calm. He spoke high-sounding words about how he never feared the law, that he had never feared to be in the midst of the people; finally he pretended to play a personal part in the insurrection of June 20. Well! The same Louis XVI has bravely waited until his fellow citizens return to their hearths to wage a secret war and extract his revenge.” (Image source)

The arrest of Louis XVI and his family at Varennes. This was painted by an English artist in the 1800s, and so depicts the royal family in a sympathetic light. (Image source)

The separation of the king and his son by the order of the revolutionary committee. Again, this piece is by an English artist, and depicts Louis XVI sympathetically. (Image source)

The confession of Louis XVI, painted by a German artist who seems to have specialized in pre-execution paintings. (Image source)

The execution of Louis Capet XVI, by an unknown artist. (Image source)


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