Why Was King Louis Xvi Tried for Treason

1792 trial of former French Male monarch Louis 16 during the French Revolution

“Louis the Concluding” existence cantankerous-examined by the Convention.

The trial of Louis XVI—officially called “Citizen Louis Capet” since being dethroned—earlier the National Convention in December 1792 was a key event of the French Revolution. He was convicted of high treason and other crimes, resulting in his execution.

December 1792


The trial began on 3 Dec. On 4 December the Convention’s president Bertrand Barère presented information technology with the fatal indictment (drafted by Jean-Baptiste Robert Lindet) and decreed the interrogation of Louis Xvi. Louis made his entrance into the Convention chamber then: “Louis”, said Barère de Vieuzac, “the nation accuses yous, the National Assembly decreed on 3 December that you would exist judged by it; on 6 Dec, it decided that y’all would exist brought to the dock. We shall read you the act giving the offenses with which you are charged…”.[
citation needed

The Charges


Louis was then read the charges by the Convention’southward secretary, Jean-Baptiste Mailhe:

“Louis, the French Nation accuses you of having committed a multitude of crimes to constitute your tyranny, in destroying her freedom.”[1]

  1. On 20 June 1789, Louis shut downwards the Estates-Full general, resulting in the commoners (non-nobles, non-clergy) swearing not to disband. Mailhe characterized this as an attack on the sovereignty of the people.
    Louis’s reply: “Laws and so existed to prevent me from information technology.”[1]
  2. “You lot ordered an ground forces to march against the citizens of Paris” and ceased but after the storming of the Bastille on fourteen July 1789.
    Louis’s answer: Information technology was my right but “I never had an intention of spilling blood.”[2]
  3. Despite promises made to the National Constituent Assembly, Louis refused to admit the abolitionism of bullwork, as stated in the Declaration of the Rights of Homo and of the Citizen. He invited troops to Versailles and feted them in a lavish banquet where the cockade of French republic was (purportedly) “trampled nether pes” resulting in the insurrectionary Women’s March on Versailles on 5 October 1789.
    Louis’s answer: My refusals were just; I never saw the desecration of the cockade.[3]
  4. At Fête de la Fédération of 14 July 1790, Louis took an oath which Mailhe said he did not keep past conspiring with the counter-revolutionaries Antoine Omer Talon and Mirabeau.
    Louis’due south respond: I practice not call up.[4]
  5. Louis is accused of disbursing millions to “effect this corruption” and planning escape.
    Louis’s answer: “I felt no greater pleasance, than that of relieving the needy.”[4]
  6. Louis planned to escape on the Solar day of Daggers on 28 Feb 1791 when hundreds of nobles with concealed weapons entered the Tuileries Palace and over again when he wanted to visit Saint-Cloud 10 April 1790.
    Louis’s answer: “Absurd.”[4]
  7. Louis did effort to escape to Varennes on 21 June 1791, protesting in writing the activities of the National Constituent Associates.
    Louis’s answer:
    Refer to what I told the assembly at that time.[v]
  8. That Louis was complicit in the Gnaw de Mars Massacre on 17 July 1791.
    Louis’s answer:
    “I do know nothing of it.”[half-dozen]
  9. Dorsum in July 1791, the Announcement of Pillnitz was existence drafted by Leopold II of Austria (brother of Queen Marie Antoinette) and Frederick William II of Prussia who “pledged themselves to re-erect in French republic the throne of the absolute monarchy, and you were silent on this convention till the moment when it was known by all Europe.”
    Louis’s reply:
    This is my government minister’s error.[6]
  10. Louis supported the counter-revolutionary Arles rebellion.
    Louis’s answer:
    I followed my ministers’ advice.[seven]
  11. When Avignon and the Comtat Venaissin were annexed to France following a plebiscite, Louis delayed and sent commissioners that supported its civil war.
    Louis’s answer:
    I don’t remember the delay and the fault lies in the commissioners, not me.[eight]
  12. Louis did nothing about the counter-revolutions in Nîmes, Montauban, and Jalès (fr) until Saillant’s rebellion.
    Louis’s answer:
    This was done past my ministers.[eight]
  13. Louis sent twenty-two battalions confronting the people of Marseilles who were marching to subdue the counter-revolutionaries of Arles.
    Louis’south answer:
    Provide written proof.[8]
  14. Louis received a letter of the alphabet from Thou. de Wittgenstein, Commandant General of the Army of Southern French republic (le Midi)[nine]
    asking for additional fourth dimension to rally support for the throne.
    Louis’s answer:
    I don’t remember the alphabetic character and he doesn’t work for me anymore.[10]
  15. Louis paid his former bodyguards fifty-fifty after they emigrated out of France to Coblentz along with other noble émigrés.
    Louis’s answer:
    “I stopped paying the bodyguards after they emigrated. As for the nobles, I don’t remember.[10]
  16. Louis’s ii exiled brothers, Louis Stanislas Xavier and Charles Philippe, both future French kings, are accused of raising regiments, borrowing money and contracting alliances to overturn the revolution. A letter signed past the two written to Louis is produced.
    Louis’south answer:
    I disowned them once I became aware of their proceedings. I know nothing of this alphabetic character.[11]
  17. Louis is accused of neglecting the defense of the land by not providing sufficient men, money or arms and refusing the establishment of a camp of 20,000 near Paris.
    Louis’south reply:
    The fault lies with my ministers.[12]
  18. A alphabetic character from Hippolyte-Jean-René de Toulongeon (fr) is produced that indicates Louis’south approval of his emigration to Vienna.[13]
    This is used equally evidence that he encourages desertion to the service of his brothers.
    Louis’southward answer:
    “I know zippo of this; there is not a discussion true in this charge.”[14]
  19. A letter of the alphabet from Choiseul-Gouffier, old ambassador to Constantinople, establishes Louis’s desire for peace between Turkey and Austria and then that Austria could use the Turkish edge troops against France.
    Louis’due south answer:
    Choiseul-Gouffier is a liar.[15]
  20. The Prussians were advancing on France just Louis waited until ten July 1792 to inform the Assembly.
    Louis’s respond:
    I didn’t know until and then; my ministers were responsible.[15]
  21. Louis fabricated Charles d’Abancour minister of war, a suspicious choice since he was the nephew of ex-Finance Government minister Charles Alexandre de Calonne who had joined the anti-revolution émigré group at Coblenz. It was during D’Abancour’s tenue that Longwy and Verdun were lost to the Prussians and émigrés.
    Louis’s answer:
    I didn’t know he was his nephew.[16]
  22. Louis is accused of destroying the French navy with his Secretary of Navy Bertrand de Molleville organizing the mass emigration of officers. When the Assembly accused Molleville, Louis replied he was “satisfied with his services.”
    Louis’southward reply:
    “I have done all that I could to retain the Officers.” A lack of proper complaint precluded me from removing him.[17]
  23. Louis is accused of having agents in the French colonies fomenting counter-revolution (see Haitian Revolution).
    Louis’s answer:
    “I had cypher to practise with [that].”[17]
  24. Louis is protecting fanatical internal enemies of France, aristocrats and “non-juring” clergy (those who refuse to take the Civil Constitution of the Clergy adjuration), and so that he can restore the Ancien Régime.
    Louis’s answer:
    “I know nothing of this project.”[18]
  25. On 29 November 1791 the Assembly issued a decree that “non-juring” priests would no longer receive country funds. Louis vetoed this decree.
    Louis’south answer:
    The constitution gave me the power to veto.[19]
  26. Anti-revolutionary disturbances from these “non-juring” clerics increment and Louis’s ministers say they are non breaking the law. On 27 May 1792 the Associates issues a prescript assuasive for the deportation of the clerics, if 20 “agile citizens” (over the age of 25, paid direct taxes equal to iii days’ labor) request and the department concurs. Louis, over again, vetoes.
    Louis’south answer:
    The constitution gave me the ability to veto.[21]
  27. The reputation of the King’southward bodyguards was poor, accused of anti-revolutionary sentiments. On 29 May 1792, the Assembly decreed their disbanding. Louis signed, if reluctantly. He is accused of writing the guards “a letter of satisfaction” and standing to pay them.
    Louis’s reply:
    I stopped paying them once new guards were appointed.[22]
  28. Louis kept the Swiss Guards amid his bodyguards contrary to the constitution.[23]
    The Assembly had expressly ordered their deviation.
    Louis’s reply:
    “I have executed all the decrees that have been enacted….”[18]
  29. Louis Collenot d’Angremont (fr) (first to be guillotined due to his activities on August 10) and a person going past the proper noun of Gilles were counter-revolutionaries in the pay of Louis.
    Louis’s reply:
    I have no knowledge. “The idea of counter-revolution never entered my head.”[24]
  30. Y’all tried to bribe, with considerable sums, several members of the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies;[25]
    letters from Dufresne Saint-Léon and several others, which will be presented to you lot, establish this fact.
  31. You allowed the French nation to be disgraced in Germany, in Italy, and in Espana, since you did nothing to verbal reparation for the ill treatment which the French experienced in those countries.[26]
  32. On 10 Baronial you lot reviewed the Swiss Guards at 5 o’clock in the morning; and the Swiss Guards fired get-go on the citizens.[27]
  33. You caused the blood of Frenchmen to flow.[28]
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Louis Xvi heard the 33 charges sitting in the armchair in which he had accepted the Constitution. Later the secretary had read him the accusation act, Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac repeated each charge and questioned Louis 16.

The defence force, 26 Dec 1792


The defence force team


Louis Sixteen sought the nigh illustrious legal minds in France as his defence force team. He start asked Gui-Jean-Baptiste Target, former deputy of the National Constituent Assembly and hero of the Parlements of the ancien régime, to lead his defense, but the elderly lawyer refused on account of his age. The task of atomic number 82 counsel fell to Raymond Desèze, who was assisted by François Denis Tronchet (Target’due south closest colleague, who came on board reluctantly, only at the Rex’due south insistence) and Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes (Louis XVI’southward former Secretary of Land).

Though he had only two weeks to prepare his defense arguments. Desèze’south luminescence and so shone through in a beginning draft that, although it was moving, Louis rejected it every bit besides rhetorical, proverb, “I do not want to play on their (the Convention’s) feelings”.

When the time came to deliver the defence (26 December 1792), despite having had no sleep for over four days, he pleaded the rex’s case for 3 hours, arguing eloquently nonetheless discreetly that the revolution spare his life. Beginning with a description of why the charges were invalid (under the terms of the Constitution of 1791 Louis, every bit rex, was immune from prosecution), he attacked the right of National Convention to stand up as judge and jury. Finally, he moved to a rejection of the charges in the
acte enonciatif
drawn upwards by the constitution charge past charge, with a royalist history of the revolution, portraying Louis equally “the restorer of French Liberty”. He finished, like many of the set-piece speeches of the revolution, with an appeal to history:

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Louis ascended the throne at the historic period of twenty, and at the age of xx he gave to the throne the example of character. He brought to the throne no wicked weaknesses, no corrupting passions. He was economical, just, severe. He showed himself always the abiding friend of the people. The people wanted the abolition of servitude. He began by abolishing it on his own lands. The people asked for reforms in the criminal law… he carried out these reforms. The people wanted liberty: he gave it to them. The people themselves came before him in his sacrifices. Even so, it is in the name of these very people that one today demands… Citizens, I cannot finish… I stop myself earlier History. Think how it will gauge your judgement, and that the judgement of him will be judged by the centuries.

Annunciation of Louis Xvi in his defense.


“You have heard my defense, I would not repeat the details. In talking to you perhaps for the last time, I declare that my conscience reproaches me with nothing, and my defenders accept told you the truth. I never feared the public test of my conduct, just my heart is torn by the imputation that I would want to shed the blood of the people and specially that the misfortunes of Baronial 10th be attributed to me. I avow that the many proofs that I accept always acted from my love of the people, and the manner in which I take always conducted myself, seemed to testify that I did not fear to put myself forward in order to spare their claret, and forever prevent such an imputation.”

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The verdict, 14–15 January


Given overwhelming bear witness of Louis’ collusion with the invaders, the verdict was a foregone conclusion. Ultimately, 693 deputies voted to captive the former king. Not a single deputy voted “no,” though 26 attached some condition to their votes. Twenty-six deputies were absent from the vote, nigh on official concern. Twenty-3 deputies abstained, for various reasons. Several abstained because they felt they had been elected to make laws rather than to guess.

The punishment, 16–17 January


The Mailhe amendment


For the rex’s sentence, deputy Jean-Baptiste Mailhe proposed “Death, simply […] I think it would be worthy of the Convention to consider whether it would exist useful to policy to filibuster the execution” which was supported by twenty-six deputies. This “Mailhe amendment” was regarded by some of Mailhe’s contemporaries as a conspiracy to save the king’southward life. It was fifty-fifty suggested that Mailhe had been paid, perhaps by Spanish gilt.

The vote


Paris voted overwhelmingly for decease, 21 to three. Robespierre voted first, and said “The sentiment that led me to call for the abolition of the capital punishment is the aforementioned that today forces me to need that information technology exist applied to the tyrant of my country.” Philippe Égalité, formerly the Duke of Orléans and Louis’ ain cousin, voted for his execution, a crusade of much future bitterness among French monarchists.

There were 721 voters in full. 34 voted for death with attached conditions (23 of whom invoked the Mailhe amendment), two voted for life imprisonment in irons, 319 voted for imprisonment until the end of the war (to be followed past banishment). 361 voted for death without conditions, just carrying the vote by a marginal majority. Louis was to be put to death.

A subsequent vote, on the proposal that the sentence be respited, saw a vote of 380-286 in favour of immediate execution.[29]



Louis was guillotined on 21 January 1793 in the Place de la Révolution (renamed Identify de la Concorde in 1795).



  1. ^



    Trapp 1793, p. 55.

  2. ^

    Trapp 1793, pp. 55–56.

  3. ^

    Trapp 1793, pp. 56–57.
  4. ^




    Trapp 1793, p. 57.

  5. ^

    Trapp 1793, pp. 58.
  6. ^



    Trapp 1793, p. 59.

  7. ^

    Trapp 1793, pp. 59–60.
  8. ^




    Trapp 1793, p. 60.

  9. ^

    Wittgenstein, Thou. de (iv Apr 1792). “Copie de la lettre écrite par M. de Wittgenstein, commandant général de l’armée du Midi” (in French). Catalogue Collectif de France. Retrieved
    19 Oct

  10. ^



    Trapp 1793, p. 61.

  11. ^

    Trapp 1793, pp. 61–62.

  12. ^

    Trapp 1793, p. 62.

  13. ^

    “An Impartial History of the War, from the Showtime of the Revolution in France”. Russel & Allen. 1811. Retrieved
    19 October

  14. ^

    Trapp 1793, pp. 62–63.
  15. ^



    Trapp 1793, p. 63.

  16. ^

    Trapp 1793, pp. 63–64.
  17. ^



    Trapp 1793, p. 64.
  18. ^





    Trapp 1793, p. 65.

  19. ^

    Baines, Edward (1817). “History of the Wars of the French Revolution, from the Breaking Point of the State of war in 1792, to the Restoration of a General Peace in 1815”.

  20. ^

    Belloc, Hilaire (1911).
    The French Revolution. ISBN9781465529619.

  21. ^

    Pfeiffer 1913, p. 209.

  22. ^

    Pfeiffer 1913, pp. 209–212.

  23. ^

    “The Constitution of 1791 National Assembly”. 1791. Retrieved
    20 October
    The King may cull the men of his baby-sit simply from among those who are at present on agile service in the troops of the line, or from among citizens who have served for a yr as National Guards, provided they are resident in the kingdom and have previously taken the civic oath.

  24. ^

    Trapp 1793, pp. 65–66.

  25. ^

    “the Trial and Execution of Louis Xvi”.

  26. ^

    “the Trial and Execution of Louis XVI”.

  27. ^

    “the Trial and Execution of Louis 16”.

  28. ^

    “the Trial and Execution of Louis Xvi”.

  29. ^

    Trapp 1793, p. 183.



  • David P. Hashemite kingdom of jordan,
    The King’s Trial – Louis 16 vs. the French Revolution, University of California Press, 1979. ISBN 0-520-04399-5.
  • Pfeiffer, Laura Belle (1913).
    The Insurgence of June 20, 1792. University of Nebraska.

  • Trapp, Joseph (1793).
    Proceedings of the French National Convention on the Trial of Louis Sixteen.

  • Michael Walzer,
    Regicide and Revolution – Speeches at the Trial of Louis XVI, Columbia Academy Printing, 1993. ISBN 978-0-231-08259-iv.

External links


  • The regicide députés.

Why Was King Louis Xvi Tried for Treason

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_of_Louis_XVI