Execution of Louis XVI  

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"To the revolutionaries, the execution of Louis XVI was a regicide, to royalists, it was deicide."--Sholem Stein

"They executed the King with their hats on, and it was without taking his hat off that Samson, seizing by the hair the severed head of Louis XVI., showed it to the people, and for a few moments let the blood from it trickle upon the scaffold." --Memoirs of Victor Hugo

"This man who lacked the strength necessary to hold on to his power, and made people doubt his courage every time he was in need of it to drive his enemies back; this man whose naturally timid intellect was unable either to believe in his own ideas, or even to adopt someone else's, showed himself abundantly capable of that most astonishing of determinations: to suffer and to die." --Madame de Staël

"[...] is this really the same man that I see being jostled by four assistant executioners, forcibly undressed, his voice drowned out by the drums, trussed to a plank, still struggling, and receiving the heavy blade so badly that the cut does not go through his neck, but through the back of his head and his jaw, horribly?" -- Le nouveau Paris, Louis Sébastien Mercier

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The execution of Louis XVI by guillotine on 21 January 1793 on place de la révolution (formerly place Louis XV, and renamed place de la Concorde in 1795) in Paris was a major event of the French Revolution and a message from the French revolutionaries to all the European monarchies. After the events of 10 August 1792, which saw the fall of the monarchy after the Parisians' attack on the Tuileries, Louis was arrested, interned in the prison du Temple with his family, tried for high treason before the National Convention and condemned to death by a majority. His execution made him the first victim of the Reign of Terror and his wife Marie Antoinette was guillotined on 16 October the same year.


  • Necker, Anne Louise Germaine, Considerations on the principal events of the French Revolution (1818)
  • Hugo, Victor, The Memoirs of Victor Hugo (1899)
  • Thompson, J.M., English Witnesses of the French Revolution (1938)

Paul and Pierrette Girault de Coursac have written a number of works on Louis XVI, including:

  • Louis XVI, Roi Martyr (1982) Tequi
  • Louis XVI, un Visage retrouvé (1990) O.E.I.L.

See also

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