The condemnation of Louis XVI and its consequences
I was really interested in studying this subject as it is never really studied in France where some aspects of the French Revolution still remain taboo or are often viewed in the same way, according to the ?politically correct?. As a matter of fact, most history books on the Revolution (for high school for instance) only mention briefly the trial followed by the death of Louis 16, as if it was an obvious consequence of the revolutionary work, and that it happened in a very simple way. However, the truth is not that simple. Firstly, after he fled to Varenne, the new National Convention had to decide if the King was to be judged. Secondly, the Convention, opposing Jacobins against the Girondins, debated on the relevance of the condemnation of Louis XVI, who was executed against a lot of protestations. Finally, we will see if the opponents were right to fear the condemnation of the king, regarding the longer term consequences that Louis XVI's death had for France.
[...] Expressing fears that the king’s execution might trigger civil war and inflame Europe against France, they began to argue that the Convention’s decision needed to be ratified by the country at large in primary assemblies. On 14 January, the deputies voted the guilt of the king and rejected roughly a two-thirds majority the appel au people. The condemnation symbolizes the new equality of kings and citizens and their mutual subjection to the community as a whole. But is the trial morally justified ? It seems to do a specific injustice to the king, who maybe did not know that his actions were criminal. [...]
[...] Conor Cruse O’Brien pointed out that the indictment of the king was essentially for crimes against la nation, and given the Rousseau-inspired juxtaposition between and the status of being against the nation signified being against and outside of nature. Once the King is put “hors nature”, with no social or moral identity, it was tolerable to put him to death. Hi execution would not even be confused with homicide. But as Jean batiste Maihle argued, Louis had been a king, had been recognized a king, and could be tried as a king. To Maihle the right to judge a king was necessary condition, inherent in the social act which placed them on the throne”. [...]
[...] But in the French case, regicide, as in rebel” (Camus), is often described as the beginning of the Terror. So both the trial and the condemnation of Louis XVI were far from easy to implement, and had serious consequences on politics and national security, as some writers feared. This complexity is never mentioned in the history courses in high schools. Since 1793, the death of Louis XVI has been a potent vehicle for political and moral reflexion, a catalyst for exploring the relationship between violence and progress, pity and justice, amnesty and vengeance. [...]
[...] Michael Walzer, Regicide and revolution, Cambridge University Press revolutionary argument”, p.49 Archives Parlementaires de 1787 à 1860 (Paris, 1899) 56 : 523, p.212. Colin Jones, Great Nation” the penguin Press, London p : “Louis Capet bows out, Terror bows Michael Walzer, “Regicide and revolution”, Cambridge University Press defense of the trial and execution of louis p : The Works of Joseph de Maistre, Shocken Books pp. 50–53. London Times “Execution of Louis January Susan Dunn, deaths of Louis Princeton University Press 1994 - Chapter one cult of human sacrifice” p15-36. [...]
[...] They set out to eliminate their enemies, in the words of Maximilien Robespierre, "Be my friend, or I will kill you." And "Softness to traitors will destroy us all." It can be said that the 'Terror' was instituted on September 5th 1793 and the Law of Suspects (defining the "suspected persons those who, either by their conduct or their relationships, by their remarks or by their writing, are shown to be partisans of tyranny and federalism and enemies of liberty" (Law of Suspects, 1793) passed on September 17. Watch Committees around the nation were encouraged to arrest. Civil liberties were suspended. The promises of the Declaration of the Rights of Man were forgotten. [...]