Execution of Louis XVI

While searching the internet for an interesting topic regarding the French Revolution, I stumbled upon an eyewitness account of the execution of Louis XVI. As we all know Louis was essentially the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. As previously stated in my other post regarding the current economy of France, Louis inherited a country with an empty treasury and a starving population. Louis’ marriage with an Austrian archduchess only made matters worse. He did; however, attempt to right wrongs by calling for the Estates-General which greatly reduced his powers. Following the Estates-General, he was brought to court for trial for crimes against the people. Evidently, they have an eyewitness account recorded from Henry Essex Edgeworth, who was an English priest living in France. Throughout the voyage to the scaffold, Louis remained rather quiet and even during the two hour procession he remained silent. He then talked to the gendarmes regarding the care of Edgeworth, “I recommend to you this good man; take care that after my death no insult be offered to him…” Guards then approached him to take off his clothes, yet he denied them that privilege and undressed himself appropriately. He also allowed them to do what they were ordered to do, with the exception of binding him. His final walk to the scaffold at first appeared to Edgeworth as if he would lose all composure; however, Louis needed no help walking up and announced, “I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I Pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France,” before being executed. According to Edgeworth, an eighteen year old picked up the king’s head and “Vive la Republique!” was yelled throughout the people. This first-hand account of the execution of a man who did little if any wrong adds to the dramatic air surrounding the French Revolution


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