The trial and execution of Louis XVI

Background and context.
On the 6th of October 1789 the Royal family and the National assembly were moved from Versailles and taken to Paris. This was the beginning of the end for the Monarchy. Once the revolution had taken effect and the new government had begun to take its role in society Louis the XVI had been put in a terrible position, go against everything he had been taught about his job as king or fight back against the Revolution. Louis was never a man of quick and absolute decisions and was easily swayed by suggestions. So Louis fought back. Not in a traditional sense but by using the powers giving to him by the government to make it as hard as possible for the Assembly and the elected deputies. As the Assembly tried to pass laws to help the people, the Kings veto was used to stop these. As the Assembly became frustrated with Louis they slowly chipped away at his power of veto until Louis was a puppet (figure head) of the Assembly and Nation. After this the Assembly passed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which made Louis realise that he could not work with the new government. The Flight to Varennes was the turning point for the monarchy. After returning the crowd had changed. The support that Louis had was gone and very few people saw him as a supporter of the true revolution. The Kings downfall had begun. In 1792 when the king and his family had been put in prison, the first of the committees came about as a temporary form of government between the ending of the National Assembly and the opening of the National Convention. In December 1792 the Convention charged Louis with treason. As no court in France had the power to try the King the Convention stripped him of his title and became the court. On the 26 December the court found him guilty of treason unanimously. Then there was the sentence which the convention voted on. || Sentence || || Votes || || || Death || || 361 || || || Death with reprieve || || 26 || || || Imprisonment/ banishment || || 288 || || || Absent from votes. || || 28 || || || Reprieve || || Votes || || || Yes || || 310 || || || NO || || 380 || || The sentence was only narrowly passed to have the former King executed.
Nature of the event - The Trial of Louis XVI
In Louis trial there were many questions asked by the Convention. The convention had been turned into a court to decide the Kings fate. Louis was asked some of these questions to which he replied. The president of the convention asked Louis this, "Your brothers are enemies of the state and have rallied emigrants to their banners; they have raised regiments, taken out loans and contracted alliances in your name; you did not repudiate them until you were absolutely certain that you could in no way interfere with their plans. To this Louis replied, "I repudiated all my brothers' activities, as instructed by the Convention, as soon as I knew of them." “In Paris you had secret groups to undertake operations which would help your counter revolutionary plans. What do you have to say in reply?" “I have no knowledge whatever of such plans: the idea of counter-revolution never entered my head." You were responsible for the shedding of French blood on August 1792. What do you have to say in reply?" No, sir, I was not. Did you have an iron chest built in the Tuileries Palace, and did you hide papers in it? I have no knowledge of it. At the conclusion of the trial the Convention read its decision. “We the members of the national convention declare Louis Capet, last King of France, guilty of conspiracy against national liberty and of assault against national security. The National Convention decrees that Louis Capet must suffer the death penalty.” At Louis’ execution he was allowed to make a short speech but was interrupted by the drums of the National Guard and then placed on a board. Then between the two posts that supported the blade his head was placed. From a servant’s letter to his mother it read “the blade was released and an almighty scream rang out the blade had not removed Louis’ head because his neck was so fat. Then when the blade dropped for the second time Louis’ head was held up by the executioner and then a massive roar from the crowd could be heard. The King was DEAD.”
Significance to the revolution
The significance of the trial and execution of Louis XVI to the revolution was that, all the ways of the past had been removed and the Nation was now a Republic. France no longer had an official head of state nor did it have a leader to look for support and guidance. There was also the threat of international war in retaliation for the execution of God’s representative for France, also an attack by the Clergy of the world because the Pope had lost his power in France with no King to enforce in rule over the Clergy and Church.
Response of revolutionary government and society.
The government was in a shambles as the constitution of 1791 (constitutional monarchy) could not work without a monarch. This meant that the newly elected Convention had to create a new constitution. It was created in 1793.
By Daniel Nancarow.