Archive for Guillotine

21 January 1793 – Louis XVI

Posted in Guillotine with tags , , , , on January 21 by Old Sparky

Louis XVI

Even royalty was not beyond the law as Louis XVI of France found out in 1793.

The French king was sent to the guillotine for treason, following the insurrection on 10 August 1792. And, with his execution came the end of total monarchy in France.


He was born Louis-Auguste de France and ruled as King until 1792. But in the grip of famine, disease, increasing poverty, spiralling inflation and a growing communist spirit, the French people turned on their monarch for living in apparent luxury. They directed their ire particularly at his Austrian wife, Marie Antoinette, supposedly because she was of foreign birth.

Prison break

The royal family were virtually imprisoned in their palace as the angry mob closed in. Storming the Bastille, they took the two reigning monarchs into custody.

Louis was tried by the National Convention for treason and found guilty. He immediately had his titles stripped from him. Known from then on as citizen Louis Capet, he lost his head in one clean swipe of the blade, aged 38, watched by a jubilant crowd.

His wife, already in the grip of cancer and TB, and the real focus for the mob’s animosity, was to follow 9 months later, following a sham of a trial, in which she was accused of sexually abusing her son.

King Louis was portrayed by Robert Morley in the 1938 film Marie Antoinette and by Jason Schwartzman in Sophia Coppola’s 2006 cleverly titled update Marie Antoinette.

Neither fine performance should be confused with the character of King Louie from The Jungle Book who was a singing cartoon ape.

Also on this day

21 January 1801 – John Fisher

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