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Jane Austen News – Issue 100

Austen's books

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? Austen’s Books! 

 


Austen’s Books Banned Behind Bars

This week we were surprised to learn that a new program in New York is severely restricting the books which will be available in prisons. This new program, amazingly, has effectively banned, among other classic authors, Jane Austen’s books.

Directive 4911A, as it is known, is currently being applied to three prisons in the state, but it could soon be expanded to every facility in New York. The plan limits packages that incarcerated people in New York state prisons can receive to items purchased from six vendors (with two more expected to be added). The idea is that this will “enhance the safety and security of correctional facilities through a more controlled inmate package program.”

This in itself isn’t a problem, but the range of books on offer is shockingly limited.  The first five vendors combined offered just five romance novels, 14 religious texts, 24 drawing or coloring books, 21 puzzle books, 11 how-to books, one dictionary, and one thesaurus. (A sixth vendor has added some additional books to the list, but the full list will not be available to all prisoners.)

One group, the Books Through Bars collective, has been working to raise red flags about the directive’s unintended consequences (for more than 20 years, Books Through Bars has been sending books to people in prison in 40 states at no charge).

A spokesperson from Books Through Bars has stated the the new directive will mean “no Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Maya Angelou, or other literature that helps people connect with what it means to be human. No texts that help provide skills essential to finding and maintaining work after release from prison. No books about health, about history, about almost anything inside or outside the prison walls. This draconian restriction closes off so much of the world to thousands of people.”

We agree. Surely allowing prisoners to read Jane Austen’s books can only result in good things?

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 100

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Horace Walpole: Regency Author, Historian, Antiquarian and Politician

Horace Walpole by Joshua Reynolds, 1756
Horace Walpole by Joshua Reynolds, 1756

Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (24 September 1717 – 2 March 1797) was an English art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and Whig politician.

He is now largely remembered for Strawberry Hill, the home he built in Twickenham, south-west London where he revived the Gothic style some decades before his Victorian successors, and for his Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto. Along with this book, his literary reputation rests on his Letters, which are of significant social and political interest.

Walpole was born in London, the youngest son of British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole and his wife Catherine. Like his father, he received early education in Bexley he was also educated at Eton College and King’s College, Cambridge.

Walpole’s first friends were probably his cousins Francis and Henry Conway, to whom Walpole became strongly attached, especially Henry. At Eton he formed with Charles Lyttelton and George Montagu the “Triumvirate”, a schoolboy confederacy. More important were another group of friends dubbed the “Quadruple Alliance”: Walpole, Thomas Gray, Richard West and Thomas Ashton.

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Pierre Dupont de l’Étang: Regency Duellist

dupontPierre-Antoine, comte Dupont de l’Étang (4 July 1765 – 9 March 1840) was a French general of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, as well as a political figure of the Bourbon Restoration. His exploits, encountered during a 19 year long conflict with brother officer François Fournier-Sarlovèze, are the stuff of legends.

Born in Chabanais, Charente, Pierre first saw active service during the French Revolutionary Wars, as a member of Maillebois legion in the Netherlands, and in 1791 was on the staff of the Army of the North under General Theobald Dillon. He distinguished himself in the Battle of Valmy, and in the fighting around Menen in the campaign of 1793 he forced an Austrian regiment to surrender. Promoted Brigadier General for this accomplishment, he soon received further advancement from Lazare Carnot, who recognized his abilities. In 1797 he became Général de Division.

The rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, whom he supported in the 18 Brumaire Coup (November 1799), brought him further opportunities under the Consulate and Empire. In the campaign of 1800 he was chief of staff to Louis Alexandre Berthier, the nominal commander of the Army of Peierve of the Ains which won the Battle of Marengo. After the battle he sustained a successful combat, against greatly superior forces, at Pozzolo.

In the campaign on the Danube in 1805, as the leader of one of Michel Ney’s divisions, he earned further distinction, especially in the Battle of Haslach-Jungingen (Albeck), in which he prevented the escape of the Austrians from Ulm, and so contributed most effectively to the isolation and subsequent capture of Freiherr Mack von Leiberich and his whole army. He also distinguished himself in the Battle of Friedland. Continue reading Pierre Dupont de l’Étang: Regency Duellist

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The Game of Graces

When I had reached my eighteenth Year, I was recalled by my Parents to my paternal roof in Wales. Our mansion was situated in one of the most romantic parts of the Vale of Uske. Tho’ my Charms are now considerably softened and somewhat impaired by the Misfortunes I have undergone, I was once beautiful. But lovely as I was, the Graces of my Person were the least of my Perfections. Of every accomplishment accustomary to my sex, I was Mistress. When in the Convent, my progress had always exceeded my instructions, my Acquirements had been wonderfull for my age, and I had shortly surpassed my Masters.
Love and Freindship
Jane Austen

The Game of Graces was a popular activity for young girls during the early 1800s. The game was invented in France during the first quarter of the 19th century and called there le jeu des Graces. The Game of Graces was considered a proper game benefiting young ladies and, supposedly, tailored to make them more graceful. Graces was hardly ever played by boys, and never played by two boys at the same time, either two girls, or a boy and a girl.

In 1838, Lydia Marie Child (American abolitionist, women’s rights activist and author of such works as Hobomok and A Boy’s Thanksgiving, which begins, “Over the River and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go…”) published The Girl’s Own Book, a volume full of entertainments for girls of all ages.  In it, she describes the game of Graces, thus:

This is a new game, common in Germany, but introduced to this country from France. It derives its name from the graceful attitudes which it occasions. Two sticks are held in the hands, across each other, like open scissors: the object is to throw and catch a small hoop upon these sticks. The hoop to be bound with silk, or ribbon, according to fancy.

The game is played by two persons. The sticks are held straight, about four inches apart, when trying to catch the hoop; and when the hoop is thrown, they are crossed like a pair of scissors. In this country it is called The Graces or The Flying Circle.
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The Elephant of the Bastille

“Mr. Worthing. I must confess that I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be born, or at any rate bred in a handbag, whether it have handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life which reminds one of the worst excesses of the French revolution, and I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to…”
Lady Bracknell, The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde

Elephant of the Bastille

“Mr. Worthing. I must confess that I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be born, or at any rate bred in a handbag, whether it have handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life which reminds one of the worst excesses of the French revolution, and I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to…”
Lady Bracknell, The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde

The Elephant of the Bastille was a monument in Paris which existed between 1813 and 1846. Originally conceived in 1808 by Napoleon, the colossal statue was intended to be created out of bronze and placed in the Place de la Bastille, but only a plaster full-scale model was built. At 24 m (78 ft) in height the model itself became a recognisable construction and was immortalised by Victor Hugo in his novel Les Misérables (1862) in which it is used as a shelter by the street urchin Gavroche. It was built at the site of the Bastille and although part of the original construction remains, the elephant itself was replaced a few years after the construction of the July Column (1835-40) on the same spot.

 Elephant of the Bastille

When the Bastille fell in July 1789, there was some debate as to what should replace it, or indeed if it should remain as a monument to the past. Pierre-François Palloy secured the contract to demolish the building, with the dimension stones being reused for the construction of the Pont de la Concorde and other parts sold by Palloy as souvenirs. Most of the building was removed over the subsequent months by up to 1,000 workers. In 1792 the area was turned into the Place de la Bastille with only traces of the fortress that had once dominated the area remaining.

 Elephant of the Bastille
Prise de la Bastille, by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Houel

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Lavender Shortbread

Lavender has been traced back to ancient times, and while it was known by many names (including the Biblical “Spikenard”) it was the Romans, who used the flower to scent their baths, who first called it “Lavender” from the Roman (Italian) word lavare, which means, “to wash”. Used in jellies and other foods, as a perfume, aphrodisiac (Cleopatra is said to have used its scent in seducing both Caesar and Mark Anthony) and insect repellent, it is a plant that traveled with the most civilized societies, from the Egyptians, to the Romans to the French and English, eventually finding it’s way to the new world. Today most commonly associated with southern France (i.e. Herbes de Provence) and English country gardens, its sweet fragrance evokes a sunny summer day in a simpler time.

When cooking with lavender it’s important to use only organically grown herbs, or those purchased specifically for cooking, from a reputable market or health food store.

lavender shortbread
Find Kelley Epstein’s recipe for these gorgeous shortbread cookies on her blog, www.mountainmamacooks.com

Kelly Epstein writes for the food blog,  www.mountainmamacooks.com. Click the link below to find her fabulous Lemon and Lavender Shortbread recipe:

Printable Lavender Shortbread Recipe

Enjoy these delicious cookies with a cup of tea or glass of milk…or pair them with our Lavender Marmalades and Jams.

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Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, by Quinçon

“She possessed the pure Grecian contour; her head was exquisitely formed, her forehead fair and shapely, her eyes large and dark, with an expression of tenderness that did not belong to her character; and the delicate loveliness of her mouth and chin, the soft bloom of her complexion, together with her beautifully rounded shoulders and tapering arms, combined to form one of the loveliest of women.”
-quote about Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, by an unknown admirer

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte was born Baltimore, Maryland,  February 6 1785, the eldest of 13 children .  Known as “Betsy”,  she was the daughter of a Baltimore, Maryland merchant, the first wife of Jérôme Bonaparte, and sister-in-law of Emperor Napoleon I of France.

Elizabeth’s father, William Patterson, had been born in Ireland and came to North America prior to the American Revolutionary War. He was a Catholic, and the wealthiest man in Maryland after Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. Elizabeth’s brother, Robert, married Carroll’s granddaughter, Marianne Caton (but more on her later…)

How they met is a mystery,  but Elizabeth and Jérôme Bonaparte (at the time 18 and 20, respectively) were married on December 24, 1803, at a ceremony presided over by John Carroll, the Archbishop of Baltimore. Betsy quickly became known for her “risqué” taste in fashion, starting with her wedding dress.

Elizabeth Patterson's Wedding Dress, described as a dress so small that it “would fit easily into a gentleman’s pocket.” Image courtesy of MET

Jérôme’s brother Napoleon ordered him back to France and demanded that the marriage be annulled. Jérôme ignored Napoleon’s initial demand that he return to France without his wife. When Napoleon threatened to imprison him, Elizabeth’s brother rushed to France to intervene, but nothing would change the mind of the French dictator who had far grander plans for his brother than some American socialite.

When James Madison and even Tallyrand could do nothing about the situation, Jérôme and a pregnant Betsy attempted to travel to France. It was the fall of 1804 and they hoped to arrive in time for Napoleon’s coronation, but a number of false starts delayed them. When they finally arrived, Elizabeth was denied permission to set foot in continental Europe by order of Napoleon. Jérôme traveled to Italy in an attempt to reason with his brother, writing to his wife,

“My good wife, have faith in your husband. The worst that could happen now would be for us to have to live quietly in some foreing country….My dearest Elisa, I will do everything that must be done.”

After remaining in limbo, unable to disembark in either France or the Netherlands, Betsy made her way to England, where she gave birth to a son on July 7, 1805, at 95 Camberwell Grove, Camberwell, London.

She would never see her husband again. Jérôme, threatened with loss of rank and title, and being forced to account for his staggering debt, gave in to his brother, returned to the French Navy, and was created 1st Prince of Montfort and King of Westphalia, which he ruled from 1807 until 1813. The Pope had refused to allow a divorce or annul his marriage to Elizabeth, but that did not stop Napoleon– the man who crowned himself emperor–from dissolving it himself, and forcing his young brother to marry a German princess Catharina of Württemberg.

Jérôme Bonaparte, King of Westphalia and Queen Catharina

Once king of Westphalia, his lavish lifestyle and constant philandering brought censure and as Napoleon’s hold on the empire fragmented, Jérôme’s fortunes fell as well. Eventually, he had two more children with his German wife, before marrying an Italian widow. His final placement came as governor of Les Invalides, Paris, the burial place of his lauded brother.

As King of Westphalia, Jérôme offered Elizabeth a home within his dominions, with the title of Princess of Smalcalden and a pension of two hundred thousand francs per year. In regard to the former, she replied that Westphalia was a large kingdom, but not quite large enough for two queens, and with regard to the pension, having already accepted Napoleon’s annuity of sixty thousand francs, she made the oft-quoted response that she preferred “being sheltered under the wing of an eagle to being suspended from the bill of a goose.” Famous American Belles of the Nineteenth Century, Virginia Tatnall Peacock, K. B. Lippincott Company, 1901

Betsy returned to Baltimore with her son, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, called “Bo” by his mother, and lived with her father while she continued to flaunt her royal connection and skimpy attire. After the Battle of Waterloo, she returned to Europe, She styled herself “Madame Bonaparte”. Here, she was well received in the most exclusive circles and much admired for her beauty and wit.

In 1815, by special Act of the Legislature of Maryland, she at last secured a divorce. Her last years were spent in Baltimore in the management of her estate, the value of which she increased to $1.5 million. Betsy died in the midst of a court battle over whether the state of Maryland could tax her out of state bonds. The case reached the Supreme Court (Bonaparte v. Tax Court, 104 U.S. 592) where the Court decided in favor of Maryland.  She is buried in the Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland.

Her grandson, Charles Joseph Bonaparte, served as United States Secretary of the Navy and United States Attorney General. He founded the precursor of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1908.

Marianne Caton and Richard Wellesley, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, at Dublin Castle, 1826.

Ironically, Betsy’s brother’s widow, Marianne (Caton) Patterson, married Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, older brother of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. The Caton sisters, born to the wealthiest man in Maryland (and the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, who built what he claimed was “the most English house in America” ) were social climbers in the extreme. Of this six marriages made by the four sisters (Marianne, Bess, Louisa and Emily) three of them were to titled English nobility. Like the Irish Lennox sisters, a generation before, these heiresses, to quote a Carroll cousin, had the privilege ,  “[Had] the liberty of refusing those we don’t like, but not of selecting those we do.” Obviously, they, like so many American heiresses to come, liked titles and land, however entailed the estate might be.

That two women, so closely related to an orchestrator of the American Revolution should marry a Bonaparte and a Wellesley– that their respective brothers-in-law should be arch enemies and international heroes, seems beyond believing , but as they say, “truth is stranger than fiction”. The stories of these amazing ladies have been told both in print and on film. Biographies include, Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: An American Aristocrat in the Early Republic and  Sisters of Fortune: America’s Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad.   The story of Elizabeth and Jérôme’s marriage and annulment is the basis for the 1908 play Glorious Betsy by Rida Johnson Young and the two film adaptations, Glorious Betsy (1928) and Hearts Divided (1936). She was portrayed by Dolores Costello in the former and by Marion Davies in the latter. The episode “Duty” of the Hornblower television series features Elizabeth and Jérôme trying to land in France and the diplomatic difficulties.

 

 


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Louis XVI: Last King of France

Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste de France (23 August 1754 – 21 January 1793) ruled as King of France and Navarre from 1774 until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792. Suspended and arrested during the Insurrection of 10 August 1792, he was tried by the National Convention, found guilty of treason, and executed on 21 January 1793. His execution signaled the end of absolute monarchy in France and would eventually bring about the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Although he was beloved at first, his indecisiveness and conservatism led some elements of the people of France to eventually hate him as a symbol of the perceived tyranny of the Ancien Régime. After the abolition of the monarchy in 1792, the new republican government gave him the surname Capet (a reference to the nickname of Hugh Capet, founder of the Capetian dynasty, which the Revolutionaries wrongly interpreted as a family name), and forced him to be called Louis Capet in an attempt to discredit his status as king. He was also informally nicknamed Louis le Dernier (Louis the Last), a derisive use of the traditional nicknaming of French kings. Today, historians and Frenchmen in general have a more nuanced view of Louis XVI, who is seen as an honest man with good intentions but who was probably unfit for the Herculean task of reforming the monarchy, and who was used as a scapegoat by the Revolutionaries.

Early Life

The future king Louis XVI was born Louis-Auguste at the Palace of Versailles on 23 August 1754 to the heir to the French throne, the dauphin Louis (1729–65), who was the only son of the King Louis XV and his consort, Queen Maria Leszczynska. Louis-Auguste’s father died at the age of thirty-five and never ascended the French throne. Louis-Auguste’s mother was Marie-Josèphe of Saxony, the Dauphin’s second wife, and the daughter of Frederick Augustus II of Saxony, Prince-Elector of Saxony and King of Poland.

Louis-Auguste was the oldest surviving son out of eight children, three of whom died young. He had a difficult childhood because his parents for the most part neglected him, favoring his older brother Louis Duc de Bourgogne, who died at the age of ten in 1761. This caused his parents to turn their back on Louis-Auguste even more. A strong and healthy boy, despite being very shy, Louis-Auguste excelled in the school room and had a strong taste for English history and astronomy. He enjoyed working on locks and hunting with his grandfather King Louis XV and playing with his younger brothers Louis-Stanislas, Comte de Provence (the future King Louis XVIII) and Charles-Philip, Comte d’Artois (the future King Charles X). The boys’ father died on 20 December 1765, which dealt their mother, Marie-Josèphe, a devastating blow from which she never recovered, sinking into a deep depression for the rest of her life. With his father dead, eleven-year-old Louis-Auguste was now the Dauphin of France and next-in-line to the French throne, which at the time was known as the “Finest” kingdom in Europe; but it was a job his grandfather, Louis XV, failed to prepare him for, a job which he himself did not feel capable of doing. Louis Auguste’s mother died two years after his father on 13 March 1767, leaving young Louis-Auguste and his younger siblings orphans. For the first year after the death of his mother he was cared for by his grandmother, Queen Maria Leszczynska, who died the next year, in 1768; and after that he was taken into the care of his spinster aunts Adélaïde, Victoire, Sophie, and Louise-Marie, known collectively as Mesdames Tantes.


Family Life

On 16 May 1770, at the age of fifteen, Louis-Auguste married the fourteen-year-old Habsburg Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria (better known by the French form of her name, Marie Antoinette), the youngest daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and his wife, the formidable Empress Maria Theresa. The marriage was initially amiable but distant – Louis-Auguste’s shyness meant that he failed to consummate the union, much to his wife’s distress, whilst his fear of being manipulated by her for Imperial purposes caused him to behave coldly towards her in public. Over time, the couple became closer, and the marriage was consummated in July 1773.Subsequently, the Royal couple had four children:

  • Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte (19 December 1778 – 19 October 1851)
  • Louis-Joseph-Xavier-François (22 October 1781 – 4 June 1789)
  • Louis-Charles (the future titular King Louis XVII of France) (27 March 1785 – 8 June 1795)
  • Sophie-Hélène-Béatrix (9 July 1786 – 19 June 1787)

Personality
Louis XVI was characterized for a long time as a little simpleton, handled by his advisers, with crazes for iron work and hunting. This image is partly due to his attitude towards the court.

The “thoughtlessness” that was sometimes attributed to him is explained partly by a strong myopia which isolated him from the world, and in particular, enabled him only with difficulty to recognize his interlocutors. Louis XVI was a studious prince and scholar. In addition to his known passion for iron work, he was set on history, geography, navy and sciences. He made the navy a priority of France’s foreign politics, and was anxious to thwart the British projections overseas, and to take revenge for the disastrous Treaty of Paris. This powerful navy strongly contributed to the success of the American Revolutionary War. He had moreover a theoretical knowledge of the navy so pointed that he was likely, when he saw the sea for the first time, to make remarks whose relevance astounded his interlocutors.

Since Louis XIV, the nobility had been “mainly domesticated” by the structure of the royal court. The configuration of the court governed the life of the nobles by making the king the center of a very strict and complex set of ceremonies in which he was attended by the nobles in a way regimented by rigid etiquette. By constructing this system, Louis XIV aimed to eliminate the effect of the often rebellious, and always threatening, nobility toward the royal power. Within the court, the nobility saw its participation in the life of the king organized as if in a vase, enclosed in a subtle system of dependencies, hierarchies, and rewards, so that its inclinations for autonomy with respect to the royal authority definitely became much reduced.

Louis XVI inherited this system: nobility was seen as being in service to the king, and nobles judged their status upon the rewards and honours derived from him. Even if the majority of the nobility did not have the means of living at the court, the texts show an attachment of provincial noblemen to the role of the court, and the importance with which they attached a “presentation” at court.

Like Louis XV, Louis XVI entered this system with great sadness. This was not for lack of education: he was the first French monarch who spoke fluent English, and nourished philosophers of the Enlightenment. He sought to divorce himself from the royally authoritarian image of Louis XIV. To do this, he tried to develop an image for himself as a simple man, an image more in keeping with that of the “enlightened despots” of Europe, like Frederick II of Prussia.

Louis’s refusal to fully immerse himself in the court system explains the bad reputation that he eventually gained with the nobles. By depriving the nobility of its ceremonial role, the king deprived it of its accepted social role and protections. Initially created to control the nobility, the court system gradually ended up controlling the king as well.

Gradually, the image of the king during Louis’s reign became degraded. Poor management by Louis of the royal court, the refusal of the parlements (where the nobility and a part of the upper middle classes expressed themselves) to pass any meaningful reforms, and the often frivolous and capricious image of the Queen combined to tarnish the image of the king and monarchy. Many lampooners ridiculing Louis came from a part of the nobility that had a lot to lose, describing him not as “simply the king”, but as a “simpleton king.”


Absolute Monarch of France: 1774-1789

When Louis XVI succeeded to the throne in 1774 he was 20, as his father, the son of the previous king, Louis XV, had died in 1765. He had an enormous responsibility, as the government was deeply in debt, and resentment towards ‘despotic’ monarchy was on the rise. Louis therefore appointed an experienced advisor, Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux, comte de Maurepas who, until his death in 1781 would take charge on many important ministerial decisions.

Radical financial reforms by Turgot and Malesherbes disaffected the nobles and were blocked by the parlements who insisted that the King did not have the legal right to levy new taxes. So Turgot was dismissed in 1776 and Malesherbes resigned in 1776 to be replaced by Jacques Necker. Necker supported the American Revolution, and progressed upon a policy of taking out large international loans instead of raising taxes. This, Louis hoped, would reduce France’s deficit and fund the American Revolutionary War, in which France participated from 1778 onward. When this policy failed miserably, Louis dismissed him, and replaced him with Charles Alexandre de Calonne, in 1783, who increased public spending to ‘buy’ the country’s way out of debt. Again this failed, so Louis convoked the Assembly of Notables in 1787 to discuss a revolutionary new fiscal reform of Calonne’s. When the nobles were told the extent of the debt, they were shocked into rejecting the plan. This signalled that Louis had lost his legitimacy to rule as an absolute monarch, and he fell into depression.

As power drifted from him, there were increasingly loud calls for him to convoke the Estates-General, and in May 1789 he did so, bringing it together for the first time since 1614 in a last-ditch attempt to get new monetary reforms approved. This convocation was one of the events that transformed the general economic and political malaise of the country into the French Revolution, which began in June 1789, when the Third Estate declared itself the National Assembly; Louis’ attempts to control it resulted in the Tennis Court Oath (serment du jeu de paume, 20 June), and the declaration of the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July. Hence, the legitimate power of King Louis had been undermined and became transferred to the elected representatives of the people’s nation. The storming of the Bastille on 14 July symbolised the victory of democratic constitutional monarchy over King Louis XVI’s absolute power.

Revolutionary Constitutional Reign: 1789-1792

On 5 October 1789, an angry mob of women from the Parisian underclass who had been incited by revolutionaries marched on the Palace of Versailles, where the royal family lived. During the night, they infiltrated the palace and attempted to kill the Queen, who was associated with a frivolous lifestyle that symbolized much that was despised about the Ancient Regime. After the situation had been diffused, the King and his family were brought back by the crowd to Paris to live in the Tuileries Palace.

Initially, after the removal of the royal family to Paris, Louis maintained a high popularity and was obliging to the social, political, and economic reforms of the Revolution. Unbeknownst to the public, however, recent scholarship has concluded that Louis began to suffer at the time from severe bouts of clinical depression, which left him prone to paralyzing indecisiveness. During these indecisive moments, his wife, the unpopular Queen, was essentially forced into assuming the role of decision-maker for the Crown.

The Revolution’s principles of popular sovereignty, though central to democratic principles of later eras, marked a decisive break from the absolute monarchical principle of throne and altar that was at the heart of traditional French government. As a result, the Revolution was opposed by many of the rural people of France and by practically all the governments of France’s neighbors. As the Revolution became more radical, several leading figures in the initial revolutionary movement themselves eventually began questioning the principles of popular control of government. Some, notably Honoré Mirabeau, secretly plotted to restore the power of the Crown in a new constitutional form.

However, Mirabeau’s sudden death, and Louis’s depression, fatally weakened developments in that area. Louis was nowhere near as reactionary as his right-wing brothers, the Comte de Provence and the Comte d’Artois, and he sent repeated messages publicly and privately calling on them to halt their attempts to launch counter-coups (often through his secretly nominated regent, former minister de Brienne). However, he was alienated from the new democratic government both by its negative reaction to the traditional role of the monarch and in its treatment of him and his family. He was particularly irked by being kept essentially as a prisoner in the Tuileries, where his wife was forced humiliatingly to have revolutionary soldiers in her private bedroom watching her as she slept, and by the refusal of the new regime to allow him to have Catholic confessors and priests of his choice rather than ‘constitutional priests’ created by the Revolution.

On 21 June 1791, Louis attempted to flee secretly with his family from Paris to the royalist fortress town of Montmédy on the northeastern border of France in the hope of forcing a more moderate swing in the Revolution than was deemed possible in radical Paris. However, flaws in the escape plan caused sufficient delays to enable the royal refugees to be recognized and captured along the way at Varennes. Supposedly Louis was captured while trying to make a purchase at a store, where the clerk recognized him. According to the legend, Louis was recognized because the coin used as payment featured an accurate portrait of him. He was returned to Paris, where he remained indubitably as constitutional king, though under effective house-arrest.

The other monarchies of Europe looked with concern at the developments in France, and considered whether they should intervene, either in support of Louis or to take advantage of the chaos in France. The key figure was Marie Antoinette’s brother, the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, who had initially looked on the Revolution with equanimity, but became more and more disturbed as the Revolution became more radical, although he still hoped to avoid war. On 27 August, Leopold and King Frederick William II of Prussia, in consultation with émigré French nobles, issued the Declaration of Pilnitz, which declared the interest of the monarchs of Europe in the well-being of Louis and his family, and threatened vague but severe consequences if anything should befall them. Although Leopold saw the Pillnitz Declaration as a way of taking action that would enable him to avoid actually doing anything about France, at least for the moment, it was seen in France as a serious threat and was denounced by the revolutionary leaders.

In addition to the ideological differences between France and the monarchical powers of Europe, there were continuing disputes over the status of Austrian estates in Alsace, and the concern of members of the National Constituent Assembly about the agitation of emigré nobles abroad, especially in the Austrian Netherlands and the minor states of Germany.

In the end, the Legislative Assembly, supported by Louis, declared war on the Holy Roman Empire first, voting for war on 20 April 1792, after a long list of grievances were presented to it by the foreign minister, Charles François Dumouriez. Dumouriez prepared an immediate invasion of the Austrian Netherlands, where he expected the local population to rise against Austrian rule. However, the Revolution had thoroughly disorganized the army, and the forces raised were insufficient for the invasion. The soldiers fled at the first sign of battle, deserting en masse and in one case, murdering their general.

While the revolutionary government frantically raised fresh troops and reorganized its armies, a mostly Prussian allied army under Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick assembled at Koblenz on the Rhine. In July, the invasion commenced, with Brunswick’s army easily taking the fortresses of Longwy and Verdun. Brunswick then issued on 25 July a proclamation, written by Louis’ émigré cousin, the Prince of Condé, declaring the intent of the Austrians and Prussians to restore the King to his full powers and to treat any person or town who opposed them as rebels to be condemned to death by martial-law.

Contrary to its intended purpose of strengthening the position of the King against the revolutionaries, the Brunswick Manifesto had the opposite effect of greatly undermining Louis’ already highly tenuous position in Paris. It was taken by many to be the final proof of a collusion between Louis and foreign powers in a conspiracy against his own country. The anger of the populace boiled over on 10 August when a mob — with the backing of a new municipal government of Paris that came to be known as the “insurrectionary” Paris Commune — besieged the Tuileries Palace. The King and the royal family took shelter with the Legislative Assembly.

Arrest and Execution: 1792-1793

Louis was officially arrested on 13 August and sent to the Temple, an ancient Paris fortress used as a prison. On 21 September, the National Convention declared France to be a republic.

Louis was tried (from 11 December 1792) and convicted of high treason before the National Convention. He was sentenced to death (21 January 1793) by guillotine by a very tight vote of 361 to 360, of which 72 effective abstentions.

Stripped of all titles and honorifics by the egalitarian, republican government, Citizen Louis Capet was guillotined in front of a cheering crowd on 21 January 1793. Executioner Charles Henri Sanson testified that the former King had bravely met his fate.

Historical information supplied by Wikipedia.

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