The French Revolution: Royal Family's Flight (June 1791)


Figure 1.--Louis XVI and his family, dressed as bourgeois, were arrested in their flight to General Bouillé's camp at the passport office at Varennes (June 21, 1792). Some siurces say that the King refused to dusguise himsel. Here the artist has pictured him in bourgeois clothing. We do not yet know who the arist was.

The King When the Revolution broke out, allowed himself to be controlled by reactionary court factions into defending the privileges of the nobles and clergy, and continued to believe that the Revolution would burn itself out. Unfortunately for Louis, it only grew in strength. The Revolutionaries began to fear the King and his family would attempt to escape Paris. Louis tried to leave the Tuileries for Saint-Cloud (Easter 1791). He wanted to avail himself of a conjuring priest (1791). He was unable to do so. The émigrés reached the conclusion that without the nobility dominated officer corps that the Revolution did not have a creditable army. Representatives of the surrounding countries (Austria, Switzerland, Sardinia, and Spain) met at Mantua (May 20, 1791). They secretly committed to invading France and restoring King Louis to power. King Louis rejected the plan. Instead he supported General Bouillé, who condemned both the emigrees and the Assembly. He promised the King refuge and support in his camp at Montmedy. The King with his family fled the Tuileries (June 20, 1791). A carriage took them on the road to Châlons in an effort to reach Montmedy. When his absence was noted, the Assembly acted decisively. They seized executive power and obtaining oaths from loyal troops. King Louis refused to disguise himself and was recognized and arrested at Varennes (June 21). He and the royal family was escorted back to Paris under close guard. Pétion, Latour-Maubourg, and Barnave, representing the Assembly met the disheartened royal family and escort at Epernay. Barnave became a counselor and supporter of the royal family. Upon entering Paris, the crowd was generally silent. The Assembly provisionally suspended the King Louis as reining monarch. They placed him and Queen Marie Antoinette under guard. Despite attempts at compromise Louis was accused of treason and tried.






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Created: 8:26 AM 9/30/2015
Last updated: 8:26 AM 9/30/2015