Sunday, January 4, 2015

JANUARY 4 = Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette in Captivity

In January of 1790, a British Country Squire named Arthur Young (left) was traveling through Europe. France had recently been convulsed by the events of the French Revolution which had resulted in the King himself, Louis XVI, and his whole family being imprisoned in their fabulous palace outside Paris, the Tuileries.  Young, for whom this was an unbelievable sight, the once mighty King of France reduced to the status of  mere prisoner in a gilded cage,  remarked on the appearance of the King his Queen, Marie Antoinette, and their son when he saw them on January 4, 1790:

"After breakfast walk in the gardens of the Tuileries, where there is the most extraordinary sight that either French or English eyes could 
ever behold at Paris.  The King (right) with six grenadiers... with an officer or two of his household and a page....  When he entered the palace the doors of the garden were thrown open for all without distinction, though the Queen was still walking with a lady of her court."

"The King is as plump as ease can render him..."

"A mob followed her talking very loud, and paying no other apparent respect than that of taking off their hats wherever she passed, which was indeed more than I expected.  Her Majesty (below) does not 
appear to be in health; she seems to be much affected and she shows it in her face: but the King is as plump as ease can render him. By his orders, there is a little garden railed off for the Dauphin (the young son of Louis & Marie) to amuse himself in... here he was at work with his little hoe and rake, but not without a guard of two grenadiers.  He is a very pretty, good natured-looking boy of five or six years old with an agreeable countenance, wherever he goes, hats are taken off to him, which I was glad to observe.  
All the family (pictured in the Tuileries, right) being kept thus close prisoners (for such they are in effect) afford at first view, a shocking spectacle; and is really so if the act were not necessary to effect the revolution."

Louis and his family attempted to escape France in June of 1791. But their plan fell through and they were re-captured.  With this attempt to escape, Louis lost all hold he had on popular respect or sympathy.  He went to the guillotine on January 21, 1793, and his Queen followed him there on October 16 of that year.  The Dauphin - Louis Charles - was kept in prison wherein he died at age 10, in 1795.


"Eyewitness to History", Edited by John Carey, Avon Books, New York, 1987.

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