Royal flight

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© Bob Denton 2014

Royal flight, 1791

As the discussion of the new constitution droned on, the King and the royal family were essentially being held as captives in the Tuileries.

In June 1791, prompted by his queen, and buoyed by the support of the Swedish king, Louis fled Paris with his family to try to link with elements of the army at Montmédy near the eastern border.

They were recognised by the postmaster along the route of their journey and arrested at Varennes, near Verdun – they were just fifty kilometres away from the royalist military base.

On their return journey the gathered crowds stood silent, the attitude to the royal family had been permanently damaged by the failed escape bid.

Discussions in the Assembly now started to include the abolition of royalty, but in July it that the country would be a constitutional monarchy with Louis XVI still the King.

Jacques Pierre Brissot’s magazine Le Patriote français (The French Patriot) called for a petition to remove the king. This prompted a large crowd to assemble in the Champ de Mars to sign the petition.

Lafayette managed to disperse this crowd, but supported by Danton and Desmoulins an even larger crowd re-assembled later in the day. He called for warning shots to be fired over the crowd’s heads. When that didn’t move them Lafayette ordered them to fire in to the crowd; a dozen to fifty were killed in the Massacre of the Champ-de-Mar. Any remaining popularity Lafayette had enjoyed died with them.

Forward to The route to Regicide – Back to Controlling the clergy
Back to 1789 and all that!
© Bob Denton 2014