French Royalty: Louis XVII: Orphaned

Figure 1.--Depictions of Louis-Charles in the Temple Prison depict him in saintly poses. They are all imaginary images painted outside of France or after the Revolution. Here he is rather elegantly attired in a long pants skeleton suit.

Louis-Charles mother Marie Antoinette was executed on October 16, 1793. His father King Louis XVI had been executed months earlier. Louis-Charles was now an orphan. He reportedly gave evidence against her both before and after her execution. He was not immediately told of his mother's execution. This testimony has caused many Royalists to insist that the boy was not the real Louis-Charles. Given his age, however, it would not have been difficult for Revolutionary officials to get theboy to say whatever they wanted. Simon resigned his position. In January 1794, Louis-Charles was again imprisoned. He was held in the dank filth of the Temple Prisson in Paris. He indured long periods of isolation, which must have been terrible for a frightened young boy. He had four guards outside his cell which were changed daily. Until July 27 he was confined to one room that no one entered, even to clean or to care for his person. The harsh conditions of his confinement quickly undermined his health. The images of the imprisoned and isolated young King has become an icon for French royalists ever since. Images often depict him as a saint praying in a loney jail. The venertion was focused on Louis Charles, in part because his mother was so universally hated throughout France. Interestingly, the artists who depicted Louis-Charles's incarceration, often showed him imaculately attired. This may because they did not want to depict a king of France as wearing rags or even being dischelved. All of the depictions are imaginary because no real paintings were possible.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: May 9, 2002
Last updated: May 9, 2002