Louis XVI of France

Louis XVI
Antoine-François Callet - Louis XVI, roi de France et de Navarre (1754-1793), revêtu du grand costume royal en 1779 - Google Art Project.jpg
King of France
Reign10 May 1774 – 21 September 1792
Coronation11 June 1775
Reims Cathedral
PredecessorLouis XV
SuccessorLouis XVII
Born(1754-08-23)23 August 1754
Palace of Versailles, France
Died21 January 1793(1793-01-21) (aged 38)
Place de la Révolution, Paris, France
Burial21 January 1815
IssueMarie Thérèse, Queen of France
Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France
Louis XVII of France
Princess Sophie
Full name
Louis Auguste de France
FatherLouis, Dauphin of France
MotherMaria Josepha of Saxony
ReligionRoman Catholicism
SignatureLouis XVI's signature

Louis XVI (French pronunciation: ​[lwi sɛːz]; 23 August 1754 – 21 January 1793), born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, son and heir apparent of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin of France. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he assumed the title "King of France and Navarre", which he used until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of "King of the French" until the monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792.

The first part of his reign was marked by attempts to reform the French government in accordance with Enlightenment ideas. These included efforts to abolish serfdom, remove the taille (land tax) and the corvée (labour tax),[1] and increase tolerance toward non-Catholics as well as abolish the death penalty for deserters.[2][3] 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 economic 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 realised in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The ensuing debt and financial crisis contributed to the unpopularity of the Ancien Régime. This led to the convening of the Estates-General of 1789. 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. Increasing tensions and violence were marked by events such as the storming of the Bastille, during which riots in Paris forced Louis to definitively recognize the legislative authority of the National Assembly. Louis XVI was initiated[when?] into masonic lodge Trois-Frères à l'Orient de la Cour.[4][Cite book verification needed]

Louis's indecisiveness and conservatism led some elements of the people of France to view him as a symbol of the perceived tyranny of the Ancien Régime, and his popularity deteriorated progressively. His disastrous flight to Varennes in June 1791, four months before the constitutional monarchy was declared, seemed to justify the rumors that the king tied his hopes of political salvation to the prospects of foreign intervention. The credibility of the king was deeply undermined, and the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic became an ever-increasing possibility.

In a context of civil and international war, Louis XVI was suspended and arrested at the time of the Insurrection of 10 August 1792; one month later, the absolute monarchy was abolished; the First French Republic was proclaimed on 21 September 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, as a desacralized French citizen under the name of "Citizen Louis Capet," in reference to Hugh Capet, the founder of the Capetian dynasty – which the revolutionaries interpreted as Louis' surname. Louis XVI was the only King of France ever to be executed, and his death brought an end to more than a thousand years of continuous French monarchy. Both of his sons died in childhood, before the Bourbon Restoration; his only child to reach adulthood, Marie Therese, was given over to the Austrians in exchange for French prisoners of war, eventually dying childless in 1851.


The young duc de Berry (right) with his younger brother, the comte de Provence. Portrait by François-Hubert Drouais, 1757.
The duc de Berry as a young boy, artist unknown.

Louis-Auguste de France, who was given the title Duc de Berry at birth, was born in the Palace of Versailles. One of seven children, he was the second surviving son of Louis, the Dauphin of France, and the grandson of Louis XV of France and of his consort, Maria Leszczyńska. His mother was Marie-Josèphe of Saxony, the daughter of Frederick Augustus II of Saxony, Prince-Elector of Saxony and King of Poland.

Louis-Auguste was overlooked by his parents who favored his older brother, Louis, duc de Bourgogne, who was regarded as bright and handsome but who died at the age of nine in 1761. Louis-Auguste, a strong and healthy boy but very shy, excelled in his studies and had a strong taste for Latin, history, geography, and astronomy and became fluent in Italian and English. He enjoyed physical activities such as hunting with his grandfather and rough play with his younger brothers, Louis-Stanislas, comte de Provence, and Charles-Philippe, comte d'Artois. From an early age, Louis-Auguste was encouraged in another of his interests, locksmithing, which was seen as a useful pursuit for a child.[5]

When his father died of tuberculosis on 20 December 1765, the eleven-year-old Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin. His mother never recovered from the loss of her husband and died on 13 March 1767, also from tuberculosis.[6] The strict and conservative education he received from the Duc de La Vauguyon, "gouverneur des Enfants de France" (governor of the Children of France), from 1760 until his marriage in 1770, did not prepare him for the throne that he was to inherit in 1774 after the death of his grandfather, Louis XV. Throughout his education, Louis-Auguste received a mixture of studies particular to religion, morality, and humanities.[7] His instructors may have also had a good hand in shaping Louis-Auguste into the indecisive king that he became. Abbé Berthier, his instructor, taught him that timidity was a value in strong monarchs, and Abbé Soldini, his confessor, instructed him not to let people read his mind.[8]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Ludwig XVI.
azərbaycanca: XVI Lüdovik
Bân-lâm-gú: Louis 16-sè
беларуская: Людовік XVI
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Людовік XVI
български: Луи XVI
čeština: Ludvík XVI.
Deutsch: Ludwig XVI.
eesti: Louis XVI
français: Louis XVI
한국어: 루이 16세
հայերեն: Լուի XVI
Bahasa Indonesia: Louis XVI dari Prancis
íslenska: Loðvík 16.
ქართული: ლუი XVI
қазақша: Людовик XVI
latviešu: Luijs XVI
Lëtzebuergesch: Louis XVI. vu Frankräich
lietuvių: Liudvikas XVI
македонски: Луј XVI
Malagasy: Louis XVI
مازِرونی: لویی شونزهم
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Louis XVI
پنجابی: لوئی XVI
Picard: Louis XVI
polski: Ludwik XVI
Runa Simi: Louis XVI
русский: Людовик XVI
shqip: Louis XVI
sicilianu: Luiggi XVI
Simple English: Louis XVI of France
slovenčina: Ľudovít XVI.
slovenščina: Ludvik XVI. Francoski
српски / srpski: Луј XVI
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Louis XVI od Francuske
suomi: Ludvig XVI
Türkçe: XVI. Louis
українська: Людовик XVI
Tiếng Việt: Louis XVI của Pháp
吴语: 路易十六
粵語: 路易十六
中文: 路易十六