On This Day In History: King Louis XVI Of France Was Put On Trial For Treason – On Dec 11, 1792

On December 11, 1792, King Louis XVI of France was put on trial for treason by the National Convention.

Louis XVI (also known as Louis Capet) was King of France from 1774 until his deposition in 1792.

The first part of Louis’ reign was marked by attempts to reform France in accordance with Enlightenment ideas.

These included efforts to abolish serfdom (especially important for many peasants under feudalism) and increase tolerance toward non-Catholics. The French nobility reacted to the proposed reforms with hostility, and successfully opposed their implementation. Louis implemented deregulation of the grain market, advocated by his liberal minister Turgot, but it resulted in an increase in bread prices.

In periods of bad harvests, it would lead to food scarcity which would prompt the masses to revolt. From 1776 Louis XVI actively supported the North American colonists, who were seeking their independence from Great Britain, which was realized in the 1783 Treaty of Paris.

Discontent among the members of France’s middle and lower classes resulted in strengthened opposition to the French aristocracy and to the absolute monarchy, of which Louis and his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, were viewed as representatives.

In 1789, the storming of the Bastille during riots in Paris marked the beginning of the French Revolution.

The credibility of the king was deeply challenged and the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic became an ever increasing possibility.

Finally, Louis XVI was put on trial for treason on December 11, 1792. He was tried by the National Convention (self-instituted as a tribunal for the occasion), found guilty of high treason, and executed by guillotine on 21 January 1793.

His death brought an end to more than a thousand years of continuous French monarchy.

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