Flight to Varennes

Background and context.
The people were beginning to doubt the Kings acceptance of the revolution. The Assembly still had to submit the Constitution to the King for his approval but would he accept it? By 1791 the King was thinking of refusing the Constitution and the revolution by fleeing France. Before the Kings flight to Varennes on the 20th-21st of June 1791, the royal family tried to leave Paris for their annual family holiday to Saint-Cloud but were stopped from leaving by angry crowds surrounding their carriage. Not even the popular head of the National Guard, Lafayette could persuade the crowds to let the King pass. The King now realised that it would be a lot harder for him and his family to leave Paris forever.

Nature of the Flight to Varennes.
The flight to Varennes was the Kings final chance to flee France and leave the revolution and ‘his’ people behind him. At midnight on 20th of June the King and his family organised a carriage to take him and his family to a little town called Montmédy in Frances northeast, where he hoped to initiate a counter-revolution because the town still rated the King very highly. They disguised themselves as Russian servants. Even though the plan was well thought out on the way many mishaps took place, things such as broken wheels delayed the escape. Soon the news broke out in Paris that the King had escaped, so messengers were sent along the roads of the French borders to find the royal family and bring them back. But when the royal finally made it to Varennes they were recognized, detained and the next day were brought beck to Paris. This once again left the King and the royal family under heavy suspicion.

Significance to the revolution.
Once the King was brought back to Paris they were met by the revolutionary crowd in silence. Now the royal family and the King were trusted less than ever and the fact that the King had left behind a document renouncing all the promises he had made and that he would never accept the revolution, made things a lot worse. As soon as they got back they were placed under house arrest in the Tuileries Palace. From this point on the abolishment of the monarchy and the idea of a republic was becoming an ever increasing possibility. Louis did not sign the Constitution of 1791 as he had promised and then decided that he would bring together his own counter-revolutionary group to stop the revolution and bring back the monarchy. Even though he was advised to sign the Constitution he did not. After the Flight to Varennes it really began to show the weakness of the King and the way he could be manipulated by others ideas, such as from his wife not to sign the constitution and to opt for War to restore the Monarchy. From the beginning the people of France and Paris did not trust Marie Antoinette and therefore did not trust the King.

Response of Revolutionary government and society.
The people did not trust the King, the revolutionary government did not trust the King and it was inevitable that this would lead to the Monarchies end. The government keep the King and his family under tight surveillance after that, they became prisoners. In society, the radical anti-royalists wanted the Kings death. Whilst conservatives thought the revolution had gone too far and hoped for the return of a reformed monarchy.
Soon King Louis was found to be making counter-revolutionary plans with foreigners. On the 3rd of December 1792 the King was convicted of treason and on January 21st 1793 he was guillotined. Nine months later Marie Antoinette was also guillotined on October 16th.

Georgia King

Background and context
From a growing number of aspects and events within the existing revolutionary stage, particulary the rising of power within members of the third estate such as the national assembly and the new declaration of the rights of man and citizen, the king finds himself and his previous power fallen into the hands of the people when he is forced to live in Paris after a women’s march to the palace of Versailles (5-6 october 1789) in relation to their economic grievances, such as bread prices. This way the king’s movements were largly monitered by the parisian crowd and he was now centred in the heart of the revolutionary movement, which could not be ignored as it might be from the isolation of Verasilles. It is from then on that the constitutional monarchy is created. Whilst the king no longer has absolute power, he can still intifere with the assemblys propositions that are created in order for france to consist of ‘equality, liberty and fraternity’ by delaying any laws for up to 4 years using a ‘suspensive veto.’ Being a man of utmost religion, he saw the proposed reformation of the church (ie. Civil constitution of the clergy august 1789-July 1790) as sacrilegious and soon began to resist the revolution, a dangerous act in itself. The king’s mortal danger and lack of support due to his position on the clergy’s privileges that coincided with the old regime was shown in the crowds refusal to let he and his family through on their annual holiday to Saint Cloud. His growing unpopularity was shown when not even the national guards offered their assistance. After laws he is not in agreement with pass and his vetos are ignored, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette decide they can no longer act as part of the revolution. Under pressure from Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI decides that the royal family must flee to Austria where they can gain both personal safety and assistance to bring back a counter revolution and gain power over the monarchy once again.

Nature of the event
The event was planned mostly by Count Axel von Fersen (rumoured to be Marie Antoinette’s lover) and the Baron de Breteuil. As the royal family were now short on money and the trip would prove to be expensive, Ferson was so devoted to the mission he offered to loan all of his money (600,000 livres) and borrow however more they needed, as well as supplying his extravigent white velvet décor carriage ‘the berlin’.
On the 20th of June 1791 at about 10 pm the Royal Family made their way to the ‘berlin’ separately in disguise as a Russian aristocrat family. However, the journey proved unsuccessful possibly due to a number of unforeseen setbacks that proved all the difference in their escape.
The dauphin and his older sister along with their governess are said to have departed at about 10:30 pm, at which point they drove around Paris to lose anyone is pursuit. After a while, they returned to a street close to the palace where Louis, his sister Elisabeth and Marie Antoinette were to join them.
However, Marie Antoinette was thirty minutes late after nearly being caught by the marques de Lafayette whilst crossing the place courtyard. Once all were aboard, the party drove around Paris to a safe house while the arrangement for a change of horses was double-checked, rather then leaving straight away. This delayed the escape mission by two hours. When the destination for the change of coaches was reached, it was so dark no one could locate the new coach, and when the new carriage was found to be so large it could only go at a walking pace of 7 km p/h. Finally, the family are recognized when a local postmaster compares the face of the king with the one on his bank note. However, many people feel inclined to turn a blind eye at the family escaping, either pleased for them or concerned with becoming involved in such But despite their efforts, not informing the government of this escape was seen by some as traitorship to the revolution, and the royal family are finally caught in Varennes where they find no change of horses and instead 6000 armed troops, They spent the night at the local magistrates house and returned to a less then delightful Parisian crowd on the order of the Assembly.

Significance to revolution
Any positive public perception of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette completely deteriorated. When the King left for Varennes he left behind a document that openly withdrew his support for the constitution, and any other acts that required his approval in order for the national assembly to create laws .In this document, the king also added his disapproving position on the new religious order and condemned the new governmental system for taking away the power from the monarchy, concluding with “The King does not think it would be possible to govern so larger and important Kingdom as France by the means established by the National Assembly at present.”

The king was now seen as a traitor to the revolution and, more personally, to the peoples rights of liberty and equality. The royal family was put under house arrest at their Paris palace, Tuileries. The royal family’s now only hope now was that France would be crushed in the war effort and Austria would help restore the monarchy. The Austrian Commander Charles William Ferdinand threatened to demolish Paris if the safety of the royal family was endangered. This led to revolt in the storming of the Tuileries on August 10, 1792 in which over 500 Swiss guards were massacred by a mob of around 8,000, and the king imprisoned, thus removing his authority. Furthermore, this led to the complete abolition of the monarchy and creation of a republic on 21st September 1792, followed by the execution of the king on 21st January 1793 and marie Antoinette on October 16.

The flight to varennes was a major turning point in the revolution in that it spelled out the end of the royal family in any sort of power within france. The change in public perceptions sparked a more radical revolution, taking the power base away from the feuillants (lead by Lafayette) who were in favour of a constitutional monarchy.

Response of the Revolutionary government and society
The majority of the public no longer seemed interested in a constitutional monarchy, as the royal family was seen as traitors to the revolution. At first the Assembly, having already written the constitution based with the presence of a monarchy, tried to cover up the event, claiming that the royal family had been kidnapped, and rescued at Varennes. However, this story’s conception was transparent and it was obvious that the people were no longer saw the royal family as fit to be part of their new constitution. Around Paris, posters were published and people in support of the king were seen as much as a traitor to the revolution as he was. The revolution took a more radical turn, with violence the main form of rule, seen in the many massacres the thousands guillotined during the terror.

Chloe Coombs

The Flight to Varennes happened on the 20-21 of June, 1791. The assembly needed to submit the new constitution to the king and it had to be approved by him. The king was thinking of refusing it all by fleeing France, if he ever had truly accepted the revolution. Events that had recently happened had made up the kings mind. The breaking point, as later stated by the kind himself, occurred when the royal family were trying to leave Paris for their holiday to Saint-Cloud, However they were stopped by an angry crowd surrounding his carriage. The crowd wasn’t going to budge, despite the efforts of the popular Lafayette. The royal family sat in the coach while members of the crowd abused them for nearly two hours.
Ex-ministers such as Breteuil and Calonne told the king that overseas was the only safe place for them.
Bouillé assured the king he could reach the army garrison at Montmédy, acquire loyal troops, get the Austrian troops in and then they could crush the revolution totally.
The king was fairly popular until the Flight to Varennes. This was as both, the Father of the Nation(his traditional role) and as the apparent supporter of the revolution(his more recent role).

Nature of the event
On June 20, 1791, at midnight, the royal family departed for Varennes. Their escape was planned in great detail. It involved two separate coaches, disguises and relays of fresh horses along the roads to the French borders. Various setbacks, like broken wheels caused delays to the escape and thus causing the complicated arrangements to fail.
News of the king’s escape reached Paris and messengers were sent on horse back along the roads to the French borders. The royal family was beaten to Sainte-Menehould, by a messenger and an alerted post master recognised Marie-Antoinette. Double checking Louis’ face, he pulled out a bank note to compare the kings face to the fugitive in front of him.
Louis managed to leave this town and travel to Varennes where he was recognised and detained. The next morning he was escorted back to Paris.
Apart from the fact that the king attempted to flee France, that would put him under heavy suspicion, but he left behind a document taking back all the promises he made and stating he never would accept the revolution.

Significance to Revolution
The Flight to Varennes represented a turning in the revolution. There was popular hostility towards the monarchy as an institution, and also towards Louis and Marie-Antoinette as individuals.
Some would describe the Flight to Varennes as ‘The betrayal that divided the revolution’. It posed such ideas that if the king was trying to flee the country then he was almost certainly hoping to join the enemies of the revolution.
It was the second great turning point in the revolution. If the king were to be over thrown, the constitutional monarchy could no longer exist. This was due to the fact that both his brothers were in exile and his son was unable to assume the throne as he was too young.

Response of Revolutionary government and society
The revolutionary crowd met the royal carriage with nothing but silence when the royal family finally returned under guard to Paris. Immediately the royal family was placed under house arrest back at the Tuileries Palace. The abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic became an increasing possibility from the point of the kings return. The kings credibility as a constitutional monarch had been seriously undermined by his attempted escape. From the Autumn of 1791, the kings hopes of political salvation rested with foreign intervention. He was also encouraging the Girondin faction of the Legislative Assembly, in their policy of war with Austria, at the same time. He had the expectation that the war would be a French military disaster and would pave the way for his royal authority to be restored. The people had no faith left in their king, as his attempt to flee the country was abandoning them.
Hilary Thompson