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31 mars 2012 6 31 /03 /mars /2012 04:11

Louis XVI (23 August 1754 – 21 January 1793) was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793. Sony NP-FH100 Battery - 2100mAh

Succeeding Big Ben XV, his unpopular grandfather, Louis XVI was well aware of the growing discontent of the French population against the absolute monarchy. The first part of his reign is marked by his attempts to reform the kingdom in accordance with theEnlightenment ideals (abolition of torture, Sony VAIO PCG-SRX3 Battery - 4400mAh

abolition of the serfdom, tolerance towards Jews and Protestants, abolition of the Taille...). However, Louis XVI lacked the authority to impose his will, as his reforms stumbled on the hostility of the nobles and he failed to modernize the French monarchy. HP Compaq 6720s AC Adapter/Charger

Louis XVI actively supported the Americans, who were seeking their independence from Great Britain, which was realized in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The example of theAmerican Revolution and the financial crisis which followed France's involvement in the war were two of the many contributing factors to the French Revolution, which broke out in 1789. Dell Inspiron 6400 AC Adapter/Charger

The French Revolution abolished the absolute monarchy in France[1] and proclaimed aconstitutional monarchy in 1791. While Louis XVI, as a constitutional king, enjoyed broad popularity among the population, his indecisiveness and conservatism led some elements of the people of France eventually to view him as a symbol of the perceived tyranny of theAncien Régime, Ibm/Lenovo Thinkpad X200 Battery

and his popularity deteriorated progressively. His disastrous flight to Varennes seemed to justify the rumors that the king tied his hopes of political salvation to the dubious prospects of foreign invasion. The credibility of the king was deeply undermined and the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic became an ever increasing possibility. Acer TravelMate 2420 AC Adapter/Charger

In a context of civil and international war, Louis XVI was suspended and arrested as part of the insurrection of 10 August 1792, he was tried by the National Convention, found guilty ofhigh treason, and executed by guillotine on 21 January 1793 as a desacralized French citizen known as "Citoyen Louis Capet", a nickname in reference to Hugh Capet, Sony VAIO VGN-FS21B Battery - 6600mAh

the founder of the Capetian dynasty – which the revolutionaries interpreted as Louis' family name. In the meantime, the French Republic had been proclaimed the 21 September 1792, bringing to an end more than a thousand years of continuous French monarchy. Louis XVI is the only King of France ever to be executed. Dell Inspiron 1501 E1505 Battery

Childhood

Louis Auguste de France, who was given the title Duc de Berry at birth, was born in thePalace of Versailles. Out of seven children, he was the third son of Louis, the Dauphin of France, and thus the grandson of Louis XV of France and of his consort, Maria Leszczyńska. His mother was Marie-Josèphe of Saxony, the daughter of Frederick Augustus II of Saxony, Prince-Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. HP Compaq 6730b AC Adapter/Charger

Louis-Auguste had a difficult childhood because his parents neglected him in favour of his, said to be, bright and handsome older brother, Louis, duc de Bourgogne, who died at the age of nine in 1761. A strong and healthy boy, but very shy, Louis-Auguste excelled in his studies and had a strong taste for Latin, history, Sony vaio VPCYA16EC/R Laptop Battery

geography, and astronomy, and became fluent in Italian and English. He enjoyed physical activities such as hunting with his grandfather, and rough-playing with his younger brothers, Louis-Stanislas, comte de Provence, and Charles-Philippe, comte d'Artois. HP 506066-721 Battery

From an early age, Louis-Auguste had been encouraged in another of his hobbies: locksmithing, which was seen as a 'useful' pursuit for a child.[2]Upon the death of his father, who died of tuberculosis on 20 December 1765, the eleven-year-old Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin. His mother, who had never recovered from the loss of her husband, died on 13 March 1767, also from tuberculosis.[3] The strict and conservative education he received from the Duc de La Vauguyon, "gouverneur des Enfants de France" (governor of the Children of France), HP 506781-001 Battery

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from 1760 until his marriage in 1770, did not prepare him for the throne that he was to inherit in 1774 after the death of his grandfather, Louis XV. Throughout Louis's education he received a mixture of studies particular to religion, morality, and humanities.[4] HP HSTNN-E01C Battery

His instructors may have also had a good hand in shaping Louis into the indecisive king that he became. Abbé Berthier, his instructor, taught Louis that timidity was a value in strong monarchs, and Abbé Soldini, his confessor, instructed Louis not to let the people read his mind.[5]HP HSTNN-XB87 Battery

 

On 16 May 1770, at the age of fifteen, Louis-Auguste married the fourteen-year-old Habsburg Archduchess Maria Antonia (better known by the French form of her name,Marie Antoinette), his second cousin once removed and the youngest daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and his wife, HP 586006-761 Battery

the formidable Empress Maria Theresa.This marriage was met with some hostility by the French public. France's alliance with Austria had pulled France into the disastrous Seven Years' War, in which France was defeated by the British, HP 586007-121 Battery

both in Europe and in North America. By the time that Louis-Auguste and Marie-Antoinette were married, the people of France generally regarded the Austrian alliance with dislike, and Marie-Antoinette was seen as an unwelcome foreigner.[6]HP 586007-141 Battery

For the young couple, the marriage was initially amiable but distant – Louis-Auguste's shyness meant that he failed to consummate the union, much to his wife's distress, while his fear of being manipulated by her for Imperial purposes caused him to behave coldly towards her in public.[7] Over time, the couple became closer, though while their marriage was reportedly consummated in July 1773, it was not in fact really so until 1777.[8]HP 586007-541 Battery

 

Nevertheless, the royal couple failed to produce any children for several years after this, placing a strain upon their marriage,[9] whilst the situation was worsened by the publication of obscene pamphlets (libelles) which mocked the infertility of the pair. One questioned, "Can the King do it? Can't the King do it?"[10]HP 586007-851 Battery

 

The reasons behind the couple's initial failure to have children were debated at that time, and they have continued to be so since. One suggestion is that Louis-Auguste suffered from a physiological dysfunction,[11] most often thought to be phimosis, a suggestion first made in late 1772 by the royal doctors.[12]HP 586028-321 Battery

 Historians adhering to this view suggest that he was circumcised[13] (a common treatment for phimosis) to relieve the condition seven years after their marriage. Louis's doctors were not in favour of the surgery – the operation was delicate and traumatic, and capable of doing "as much harm as good" to an adult male. The argument for phimosis and a resulting operation is mostly seen to originate from Stefan Zweig.[14]HP 586028-341 Battery

 

However, it is agreed amongst most modern historians that Louis had no surgery[15][16][17]– for instance, as late as 1777, the Prussian envoy, Baron Goltz, reported that the King of France had definitely declined the operation.[18] HP 588178-141 Battery

The fact was that Louis was frequently declared to be perfectly fit for sexual intercourse, confirmed by Joseph II, and during the time he was purported to have had the operation, he went out hunting almost every day, according to his journal. HP 593550-001 Battery

This would not have been possible if he had undergone a circumcision; at the very least, he would have been unable to go out hunting for a few weeks after. Their consummation problems have now been attributed to other factors, around which controversy and argument still enshroud today. HP 593553-001 Battery

 

In the long run, and in spite of all their earlier difficulty, the Royal couple became the parents of four children:

When Louis XVI succeeded to the throne in 1774, he was not yet 20 years old. He had an enormous responsibility, as the government was deeply in debt, and resentment to 'despotic' monarchy was on the rise. Louis also felt woefully unqualified for the job. The King, his brothers, and Marie Antoinette became fellows of the masonic lodge Trois Frères à l'Orient de Versailles.[19]HP 593554-001 Battery

 

As King, Louis focused primarily on religious uniformity and foreign policy. His concentration on religious uniformity, and pressure from the heavily Jansenism believers of the Parlement, ultimately resulted in his decision to expel Jesuits from HP 593562-001 Battery

aimed to earn the love of his people by reinstating the parlements. While none doubted Louis's intellectual ability to rule France, it was quite clear that, although raised as theDauphin since 1765, HP HSTNN-CB0W Battery

he lacked firmness and decisiveness. Louis's desire to be loved by his people is evident in the prefaces of many of his edicts that would often explain the nature and good intention of his actions as benefiting the people. When questioned about his decision to recall Parlement Louis made a comment that, “It may be considered politically unwise, HP HSTNN-CB0X Battery

but it seems to me to be the general wish and I want to be loved.”[21] In spite of his indecisiveness, Louis was determined to be a good king, stating that he "must always consult public opinion; it is never wrong."[22] Louis therefore appointed an experienced advisor, Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux, comte de Maurepas who, until his death in 1781, would take charge of many important ministerial functions. HP HSTNN-F01C Battery

Among the major events of Louis XVI's reign was his signing of the Edict of Versailles, also known as the Edict of Tolerance, on 7 November 1787, which was registered in theparlement on 29 January 1788. This edict effectively nullified the Edict of Fontainebleauthat had been law for 102 years. IHP HSTNN-F02C Battery

t granted non-Catholics – Calvinist Huguenots,Lutherans, as well as Jews – civil and legal status in France, and gave them the right of openly practice their faiths. The Edict of Versailles did not legally proclaim freedom of religion in France – this took two more years, with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789 – however, it was an important step in eliminating religious tensions and it officially ended religious persecution within his realm.[23] HP HSTNN-I78C Battery

 

Radical financial reforms by Turgot and Malesherbes angered the nobles and were blocked by the parlements who insisted that the King did not have the legal right to levy new taxes. So, in 1776, Turgot was dismissed and Malesherbes resigned, HP HSTNN-I79C Battery

to be replaced by Jacques Necker. Necker supported the American Revolution, and he carried out a policy of taking out large international loans instead of raising taxes. He attempted to gain public favor in 1781 when he had published the first ever statement of the French Crown's expenses and accounts, the Compte rendu au roi. HP HSTNN-I81C Battery

This allowed the people of France to view the king's accounts in modest surplus.[24] When this policy failed miserably, Louis dismissed him, and then replaced him in 1783 with Charles Alexandre de Calonne, who increased public spending to "buy" the country's way out of debt. HP HSTNN-I83C Battery

Again this failed, so Louis convoked the Assembly of Notables in 1787 to discuss a revolutionary new fiscal reform proposed by Calonne. When the nobles were informed of the extent of the debt, they were shocked into rejecting the plan. This negative turn of events signaled to Louis that he had lost the ability to rule as an absolute monarch, and he fell into depression.[25] HP HSTNN-I84C Battery

 

As power drifted from him, there were increasingly loud calls for him to convoke theEstates-General, which had not met since 1614, at the beginning of the reign of Louis XIII. As a last-ditch attempt to get new monetary reforms approved, HP HSTNN-IB0N Battery

Louis XVI convoked the Estates-General on 8 August 1788, setting the date of their opening at 1 May 1789. With the convocation of the Estates-General, as in many other instances during his reign, HP HSTNN-IB0W Battery

Louis placed his reputation and public image in the hands of those who were perhaps not as sensitive to the desires of the French public as he was. Because it had been so long since the Estates-General had been convened, there was some debate as to which procedures should be followed. Ultimately, HP HSTNN-IB0X Battery

the parlement de Paris agreed that "all traditional observances should be carefully maintained to avoid the impression that the Estates-General could make things up as it went along." Under this decision, the King agreed to retain many of the divisionary customs which had been the norm in 1614, but which were intolerable to a Third Estate buoyed by the recent proclamations of equality. HP HSTNN-IB1E Battery

For example, the First and Second Estates proceeded into the assembly wearing their finest garments, while the Third Estate was required to wear plain, oppressively somber black, an act of alienation that Louis would likely have not condoned. He seemed to regard the deputies of the Estates-General with at least respect: in a wave of self-important patriotism, members of the Estates refused to remove their hats in the King's presence, so Louis removed his to them.[26] HP HSTNN-LB10 Battery

 

This convocation was one of the events that transformed the general economic and political malaise of the country into the French Revolution, which began in June 1789, when the Third Estate unilaterally declared itself the National Assembly. HP HSTNN-OB0X Battery

Louis's attempts to control it resulted in the Tennis Court Oath (serment du jeu de paume), on 20 June, and the declaration of the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July. Within three short months, the majority of the king's executive authority had been transferred to the elected representatives of the people's nation. The storming of the Bastille on 14 July served to reinforce and emphasize this radical change in the mind of the masses. HP HSTNN-OB0Y Battery

 

French involvement in the Seven Years War had left Louis XVI a disastrous inheritance.Britain's victories had seen them capture most of France's colonial territories. While some were returned to France at the 1763 Treaty of Paris a vast swathe of North America was ceded to the British. HP HSTNN-Q47C Battery

 

This had led to a strategy amongst the French leadership of seeking to rebuild the French military in order to fight a war of revenge against Britain, in which it was hoped the lost colonies could be recovered. France still maintained a strong influence in the West Indies, and in India maintained five trading posts, leaving opportunities for disputes and power-play with Great Britain.[27]HP HSTNN-Q48C Battery

CONCERNING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

In the spring of 1776, Vergennes, the Foreign Secretary, saw an opportunity to humiliate France's long-standing enemy, Great Britain, as well as recover territory lost during theSeven Years' War, by supporting the American Revolution. HP HSTNN-Q49C Battery

Louis XVI was convinced byPierre Beaumarchais to secretly send supplies, ammunition and guns from 1776, sign a formal Treaty of Alliance in early 1778, and go to war with Britain. Spain and the Netherlands soon joined the French in an anti-British coalition. HP HSTNN-Q50C Battery

 

France's initial military assistance to the American rebels was a disappointment with defeats at Rhode Island and Savannah. In 1780 France sent Rochambeau and de Grasseto help the Americans, along with large land and naval forces. HP HSTNN-Q51C Battery

The French expeditionary force arrived in America in July 1780. The appearance of French fleets in the Caribbean was followed by the capture of a number of the sugar islands, including Tobago andGrenada.[28] French intervention proved decisive in forcing a British army under Lord Cornwallis to surrender at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.[29] HP HSTNN-Q60C Battery

 

The Americans gained their independence, and the war ministry rebuilt the French Army. However, the British defeated the main French fleet in 1782 and successfully defended the island of Jamaica. France gained little from the Treaty of Paris (of 1783) that ended the war, HP HSTNN-Q61C Battery

except the colonies of Tobago and Senegal. Louis was wholly disappointed in his aim of recovering Canada from Britain. The war cost 1,066 million livres, financed by new loans at high interest (with no new taxes). Necker concealed the crisis from the public by explaining only that ordinary revenues exceeded ordinary expenses, and not mentioning the loans. After he was forced from office in 1781, new taxes were levied.[30] HP HSTNN-Q62C Battery

 

On 5 October 1789, an angry mob of Parisian working women was incited by revolutionaries and marched on the Palace of Versailles, where the royal family lived. During the night, they infiltrated the palace and attempted to kill the queen, who was associated with a frivolous lifestyle that symbolized much that was despised about theAncien Régime. HP HSTNN-Q63C Battery

After the situation had been defused, the king and his family were brought by the crowd to the Tuileries Palace in Paris. The reasoning behind this forced departure from Versailles was the opinion the king would be more accountable to the people if he lived among them in Paris. HP HSTNN-Q64C Battery

 

Initially, after the removal of the royal family to Paris, Louis maintained a certain level of popularity by acquiescing to many of the social, political, and economic reforms of the revolutionaries. Unbeknownst to the public, however, recent scholarship[citation needed] HP HSTNN-UB0W Battery

has concluded that Louis began to suffer at the time from severe bouts of clinical depression, which left him prone to paralyzing indecisiveness[citation needed]. During these indecisive moments, his wife, the unpopular queen, was essentially forced into assuming the role of decision-maker for the Crown[citation needed]. HP HSTNN-UB1G Battery

 

The revolution's principles of popular sovereignty, though central to democratic principles of later eras, marked a decisive break from the absolute monarchical principle that was at the heart of traditional French government. As a result, the revolution was opposed by many of the rural people of France and by practically all the governments of France's neighbors. HP HSTNN-YB0W Battery

As the revolution became more radical and the masses became more uncontrollable, several leading figures in the initial formation of the revolution began to doubt its benefits. Some like Honoré Mirabeau secretly plotted with the Crown to restore its power in a new constitutional form. HP HSTNN-YB0X Battery

 

Beginning in 1791, Montmorin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, started to organize covert resistance to the Revolutionary forces. Thus, the funds of the Civil List (la Liste civile), voted annually by the National Assembly were partially assigned to secret expenses in order to preserve the monarchy. HP MU06047 Battery

Arnault Laporte was in charge of the Civil List and he collaborated with both Montmorin and Mirabeau. After the sudden death of Mirabeau,Maximilien Radix de Sainte-Foix, a noted financier, took his place. In effect, he headed a secret council of advisers to the King that tried to preserve the Monarchy; these schemes proved unsuccessful, and were exposed later as the armoire de fer scandal. HP MU06055 Battery

 

Mirabeau's death, and Louis's indecision, fatally weakened negotiations between the Crown and moderate politicians. On one hand, Louis was nowhere near as reactionary as his brothers, the comte de Provence[citation needed] and the comte d'Artois, HP MU06062 Battery

and he repeatedly sent messages to them requesting a halt to their attempts to launch counter-coups. This was often done through his secretly nominated regent, the Cardinal Loménie de Brienne. On the other hand, Louis was alienated from the new democratic government both by its negative reaction to the traditional role of the monarch and in its treatment of him and his family. HP MU06 Battery

He was particularly irked by being kept essentially as a prisoner in the Tuileries, where his wife was being humiliatingly forced to have revolutionary soldiers in her private bedroom watching her as she slept, and by the refusal of the new regime to allow him to have confessors and priests of his choice rather than 'constitutional priests' pledged to the state and not the Roman Catholic Church. HP MU09 Battery

 

On 21 June 1791, Louis attempted to secretly flee with his family from Paris to the royalist fortress town of Montmédy on the northeastern border of France.[34] While the National Assembly worked painstakingly towards a constitution, HP MU09XL Battery

Louis and Marie-Antoinette were involved in plans of their own. Louis had appointed the baron de Breteuil to act as plenipotentiary, dealing with other foreign heads of state in an attempt to bring about a counter-revolution. Louis himself held reservations against depending on foreign assistance. HP NBP6A174B1 Battery

Like his mother and father, Louis thought that the Austrians were treacherous and the Prussians were overly ambitious.[35] As tensions in Paris rose and Louis was pressured to accept measures from the Assembly against his will, the King and Queen plotted to secretly escape from France. Beyond escape, HP NBP6A174 Battery

they hoped to raise an "armed congress" with the help of the émigrés who had fled, as well as assistance from other nations, with which they could return and, in essence, recapture France. This degree of planning reveals Louis’ political determination; unfortunately it was for this determined plot that he was eventually convicted of high treason.[36] HP NBP6A175B1 Battery

However, flaws in its plan and lack of rapidity were responsible for the failure of the escape. The royal family was arrested atVarennes-en-Argonne shortly after Jean-Baptiste Drouet, postmaster of the town ofSainte-Menehould, HP NBP6A175 Battery

had recognised the king from his profile on a golden écu, and had given the alert. Louis XVI and his family were brought back to Paris where they arrived on 25 June. Viewed suspiciously as traitors, they were placed under tight house arrest upon their return to the Tuileries. HP WD548AA Battery

 

The other monarchies of Europe looked with concern upon the developments 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. HP WD549AA Battery

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. HP 513130-321 Battery

 

On 27 August, Leopold and King Frederick William II of Prussia, in consultation withémigrés 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, HP 535808-001 Battery

 and threatened vague but severe consequences if anything should befall them. Although Leopold saw the Pillnitz Declaration as an easy way to appear concerned about the developments in France without committing any soldiers or finances to change them, the revolutionary leaders in Paris viewed it fearfully as a dangerous foreign attempt to undermine France's sovereignty. HP 591998-141 Battery

 

In addition to the ideological differences between France and the monarchical powers of Europe, there were continuing disputes over the status of Austrian estates in Alsace, and the concern of members of the National Constituent Assembly about the agitation ofémigrés nobles abroad, especially in the Austrian Netherlands and the minor states of Germany. HP 593576-001 Battery

 

In the end, the Legislative Assembly, supported by Louis, declared war on the Holy Roman Empire first, voting for war on 20 April 1792, after a long list of grievances was presented to it by the foreign minister, Charles François Dumouriez. HP HSTNN-1B1D Battery

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, deserting en masse and, in one case, murdering their general[citation needed]. HP HSTNN-OB89 Battery


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