Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, might have avoided execution had the queen not done what to their escape plans?
#116087. Asked by star_gazer. (Jul 18 10 12:32 PM)
She was disguised as a maid but attracted attention (broke disguise) by continuing to give orders.|
Flight to Varennes
Many nobles had fled France, and Marie Antoinette feared for her safety and royal authority. She conspired with these émigrés and sought aid from other European rulers including her brother, the Austrian Emperor. After the death of the leading moderate politician, Conte Mirabeau in 1791, and further actions of the Assembly infringing the authority of Roman Catholic clergy, Marie convinced the reluctant Louis to flee France.
The queen’s friend and rumoured lover Axel Fersen from his own pocket arranged the needed coach, assumed identity papers and escape plans. The royal couple with their children all disguised as common travellers, escaped from Paris. The king and queen had insisted that they travel with all needed comforts, so their coach was lumbering and slow. It required extra horses and changes and attracted attention.
At one change an alert patriot noticed an attractive but familiar woman who issued orders though dressed as a maid. He thought he recognized the queen and from a gold piece given as a tip recognized the king. This patriot Jacques Drouet sped ahead and reached the small town Varennes and alerted the people who confronted the king and queen on arrival. They had travelled over 200 miles and were just near the French-Austrian border and loyal troops ready to rescue them. But the rescue did not occur. A humiliated king and queen were forced to return to Paris over dusty roads over the course of the next four days. Frenchmen came from near and far to gaze and glare at the famous captives, on several occasions almost assaulting them. Later members of the assembly arrived and crowded into the coach with them.
When they arrived in Paris they met complete silence with all men keeping on their hats and no salutes or other sign of deference to the king. The weary travellers were caked in dust and sweat. As Campan drew the bath for Marie Antoinette, and Queen removed her hat and veil, both noticed the Queen’s blonde hair was now completely white from the fright and torment of the journey.
On 21 June 1791, Louis attempted to secretly flee 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 enough 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 and his immediate family were viewed suspiciously as traitors. As a result, they were place under tight house arrest upon their return to the Tuileries.
Good research gtho4!|
Also, the original plan had been for Louis to flee alone, from Paris to modern Belgium, in a quick, small carrige. Marie, however, when the time came to seperate, insisted that they travel together. That required a larger coach and made it a slower journey - barely seven miles an hour.
The pair left the Louvre at night, seperately to avoid suspicion. Marie then got lost in the maze of the Tuileries Gardens for some time before she caught up with the king.
The slower pace, and a broken wheel which had to be fixed, put them three hours behind schedule for a rendezvous with their armed guard. The guards, suspecting the plan had misfired, had by then decided to disperse.
The royal pair were apprehended in Varennes. News had already spread of their flight, and an alert postmaster recognized them.
The French King and Queen were apprehended 25 miles from saftey, after an exhausting and terrifying coach ride. They were returned to Paris as prisoners; and, 18 months later Louis was guillotined, with Marie following nine months later.
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