11 December 1792

French Revolution: King Louis XVI of France is put on trial for treason by the National Convention.

Louis XVI was the last reigning monarch of France before the French Revolution. He was born on August 23, 1754, in Versailles, France, and he became king in May 1774 at the age of 20, succeeding his grandfather, Louis XV.

Louis XVI faced significant challenges during his reign, including financial difficulties caused by France’s involvement in various wars, especially the American Revolutionary War, where France supported the American colonies against Great Britain. The cost of these wars, coupled with a regressive tax system and a burgeoning national debt, contributed to a financial crisis.

The Estates-General was convened in 1789 to address the financial crisis, and it led to the formation of the National Assembly, representing the common people. This marked the beginning of the French Revolution. In 1789, the National Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, emphasizing principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

As tensions escalated, Louis XVI attempted to resist the revolutionary changes, leading to the storming of the Bastille in July 1789. In 1791, he attempted to flee with his family to Varennes to seek foreign support, but they were captured and brought back to Paris. The monarchy was officially abolished in 1792, and the French Republic was declared.

Louis XVI was put on trial for high treason by the National Convention, found guilty, and executed by guillotine on January 21, 1793, in the Place de la Révolution in Paris. His execution marked a pivotal moment in the French Revolution and the end of the Bourbon monarchy. The radical phase of the revolution followed, including the Reign of Terror led by the Committee of Public Safety.

The death of Louis XVI profoundly influenced the course of French and European history, contributing to the rise of radical political movements and the spread of revolutionary ideals.