Louis XVI was the last king of France (1774–92) in the line of Bourbon monarchs preceding the French Revolution of 1789. He was married to Marie Antoinette and was executed for treason by guillotine in 1793.

King Louis XVI


Who Was Louis XVI of France?

Louis XVI was born on August 23, 1754, in the Palace of Versailles. Named Louis Auguste de France, he was given the title Duc de Berry signifying his junior status in the French Court.

Louis XVI was the third son of Louis, Dauphin of France and grandson of Louis XV of France . His mother, Marie-Josephe of Saxony, was the daughter of Frederick Augustus II of Saxony, also the King of Poland. Louis XVI’s great-great-great grandfather was Louis XIV of France (also known as the “Sun King”).

Louis XVI grew up strong and healthy, though very shy. He was tutored by French noblemen and studied religion, morality and humanities. He excelled in Latin, history, geography and astronomy and achieved fluency in Italian and English.

With his good health, Louis enjoyed physical activities including hunting and wrestling. From an early age, he enjoyed locksmithing, which became a lifelong hobby.

Louis' parents paid little attention to him, instead focusing on his older brother, the heir apparent, Louis duc de Bourgogne, who died at age nine in 1761. Then, on December 20, 1765, his father died of tuberculosis, and Louis Auguste became Dauphin at age 11. His mother never recovered from the family tragedies and also succumbed to tuberculosis on March 13, 1767.

Louis Auguste was ill-prepared for the throne he was soon to inherit. Following the death of his parents, Louis' tutors provided him with poor interpersonal skills. They exacerbated his shyness by teaching him that austerity was a sign of a strong character in monarchs. As a result, he presented himself as being very indecisive.

King Louis XVI of France

On May 10, 1774, Louis Auguste became Louis XVI upon the death of his grandfather, Louis XV. Only 20 years old at the time, Louis XVI was immature and lacked self-confidence.

While Louis XVI wanted to be a good king and help his subjects, he faced enormous debt and rising resentment towards a despotic monarchy. His failure to successfully address serious fiscal problems would dog him for most of his reign. Louis lacked sufficient strength of character and decisiveness to combat the influence of court factions or give support to reformers in their efforts to improve France's government.

King Louis XVI and the French Revolution

Louis XVI’s policy of not raising taxes and taking out international loans, including to fund the American Revolution, increased France’s debt, setting in motion the French Revolution . By the mid-1780s the country was near bankruptcy, which forced the king to support radical fiscal reforms not favorable with the nobles or the people.

When the pressure mounted, Louis XVI reverted to his earlier teaching of being austere and uncommunicative, posing no solution to the problem and not responding to others who offered help. By 1789, the situation was deteriorating rapidly.

Louis XVI Calls the Estates General

In May 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates General to address the fiscal crisis, an advisory assembly of different estates or socio-economic classes (the clergy, the nobility and the commoners). The meeting did not go well. By June, the Third Estate declared itself the National Assembly, aligned with the bourgeoisie and set out to develop a constitution.

Initially, Louis XVI resisted, declared the Assembly null and void and called out the army to restore order. Public dissension grew, and a National Guard formed to resist the King's actions. By July 1789, he was forced to acknowledge the National Assembly's authority.

On July 14, riots broke out in Paris and crowds stormed the Bastille prison in a show of defiance toward the King. The day is now commemorated in France as a national holiday and the start of the French Revolution.

For a time, it seemed that Louis XVI could mollify the masses by saying that he would acquiesce to their demands. However, he accepted bad advice from the nobility's hard-line conservatives and his wife, Marie Antoinette. He talked of reform but resisted demands for it.

Escape Attempt

The royal family was forcibly transferred from Versailles to Paris on October 6, 1789. Louis ignored advice from advisors and refused to abdicate his responsibilities as king of France, agreeing to a disastrous attempt to escape to the eastern frontier in June 1791. He and his family were brought back to Paris, and he lost all credibility as a monarch.

Louis XVI’s Execution

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed for treason. Louis had failed to address France's financial problems, instigating the French Revolution that eventually descended upon him. He made matters worse by often escaping to more pleasurable activities like hunting and locksmithing. Modern historians attribute this behavior to a clinical depression that left him prone to paralyzing indecisiveness.

In the final two years of Louis’ reign, events moved rapidly. In the fall of 1791, Louis XVI tied his hopes on the dubious prospect of war with Austria in hopes that a military defeat would pave the way for a restoration of his authority. War broke out in April 1792. Suspicions of treason led to the capture of the royal palace and the temporary suspension of the king’s powers.

On September 21, 1792, the Legislative Assembly proclaimed the First French Republic. That November, proof of Louis XVI's secret dealings and counter-revolutionary intrigues was discovered, and he and his family were charged with treason. Louis was soon found guilty by the National Assembly and condemned to death.

Louis XVI was guillotined in the Place de la Révolution on January 21, 1793. His wife, Marie Antoinette, met the same fate nine months later, on October 16, 1793. Their young son, Louis-Charles, died in prison where living conditions were horrible. Daughter Marie-Thérèse was released from prison in December 1795 into the custody of her family in Austria.

Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI’s Children

At age 15 (in May 1770), Louis married the 14 year-old Habsburg Archduchess Maria Antonia ( Marie Antoinette ), his second cousin once removed, in an arranged marriage. She was the youngest daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa.

The marriage was met with some skepticism by members of the French court, as they remembered a previous alliance with the Habsburgs pulled France into the Seven Years War . Though initially charmed by her personality, the French people eventually came to loathe Marie Antoinette, accusing her of being promiscuous and sympathetic to French enemies.

The first few years of marriage for Louis and Marie were amicable but distant. His shyness kept him distant from her in private, and his fear of her manipulation made him cold to her in public.

It is believed the couple did not consummate their marriage for some time, having their first child eight years after their wedding. Historians debate the cause, but most likely, Louis suffered from a physiological dysfunction that took time to rectify.

Eventually, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had four children together: Marie-Thérèse, Louis-Joseph, Louis-Charles and Sophie-Beatrix. All but Marie-Thérèse died in childhood.


In the early years of his reign, Louis XVI focused on religious uniformity and foreign policy. On the homefront, he invoked an edict that granted French non-Catholics legal status and the right to openly practice their faith.

Louis XVI's early foreign policy success was supporting the American colonies' fight for independence from France's archenemy Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War.


Marie Antoinette

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  • Name: Louis XVI
  • Birth Year: 1754
  • Birth date: August 23, 1754
  • Birth City: Versailles
  • Birth Country: France
  • Gender: Male
  • Best Known For: Louis XVI was the last king of France (1774–92) in the line of Bourbon monarchs preceding the French Revolution of 1789. He was married to Marie Antoinette and was executed for treason by guillotine in 1793.
  • War and Militaries
  • World Politics
  • Astrological Sign: Virgo
  • Nacionalities
  • Death Year: 1793
  • Death date: January 21, 1793
  • Death City: Paris
  • Death Country: France

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  • Article Title: Louis XVI Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
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  • Last Updated: April 23, 2021
  • Original Published Date: April 2, 2014
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Biography of King Louis XVI, Deposed in the French Revolution

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Louis XVI (born Louis-Auguste; August 23, 1754–January 21, 1793) was the French king whose reign collapsed because of the French Revolution . His failure to grasp the situation and to compromise, coupled with his requests for foreign intervention, were factors that led to his execution by guillotine and the creation of the new republic.

Fast Facts: King Louis XVI of France

  • Known For : King of France at the time of the French Revolution, executed by guillotine
  • Also Known As : Louis-Auguste, Citizen Louis Capet
  • Born : August 23, 1754 in Versailles, France
  • Parents : Louis, Dauphin of France and Maria Josepha of Saxony
  • Died : January 21, 1793 in Paris, France
  • Spouse : Marie Antoinette
  • Children : Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte, Louis Joseph Xavier François, Louis Charles, Sophie Hélène Béatrice de France
  • Notable Quote : "I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France."

Louis-Auguste, the future Louis XVI, was born on August 23, 1754. His father, Louis, Dauphin of France, was the heir to the French throne. Louis-Auguste was the oldest son born to his father to survive childhood; when his father died in 1765, he became the new heir to the throne.

Louis-Auguste was a keen student of language and history. He excelled at technical subjects and was deeply interested in geography, but historians are unsure about his level of intelligence.

Marriage to Marie Antoinette

When his mother died in 1767, the now-orphaned Louis grew close to his grandfather, the reigning king. At age 15 in 1770, he married 14-year-old Marie Antoinette, daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor. For uncertain reasons (possibly related to Louis’ psychology and ignorance, rather than a physical ailment), the couple did not consummate the marriage for many years.

Marie Antoinette received much of the public's blame for the lack of children in the early years of their marriage. Historians postulate that Louis' initial coolness to Marie Antoinette was due to his fear that she might have too much influence over him—as her family actually desired.

Early Reign

When Louis XV died in 1774, Louis succeeded him as Louis XVI, aged 19. He was aloof and reserved, but possessed a genuine interest in the affairs of his kingdom, both internal and external. He was obsessed with lists and figures, comfortable when hunting, but timid and awkward everywhere else (he watched people coming and going from Versailles through a telescope). He was an expert on the French Navy and a devotee of mechanics and engineering, although this may be overemphasized by historians.

Louis had studied English history and politics and was determined to learn from accounts of Charles I, the English king who was beheaded by his parliament. Louis restored the position of the French parlements (provincial courts) which Louis XV had tried to reduce.

Louis XVI did so because he believed it was what the people wanted, and partly because the pro-parlementary faction in his government worked hard to convince him it was his idea. This earned him public popularity but obstructed royal power. Some historians deem this restoration as one factor that helped lead to the French Revolution.

Weak Ruling From the Start

Louis was unable to unite his court. Indeed, Louis’ aversion to ceremony and to maintaining a dialogue with nobles he disliked meant that court took on a lesser role and many nobles ceased to attend. In this way, Louis undermined his own position among the aristocracy. He turned his natural reserve and tendency to be silent into an act of state, simply refusing to reply to people with whom he disagreed.

Louis saw himself as a reforming monarch but took little lead. He allowed the attempted reforms of Turgot at the start and promoted the outsider Jacques Necker to be finance minister, but he consistently failed to either take a strong role in government or to appoint someone like a prime minister to take one. The result was a regime riven by factions and lacking a clear direction.

War and Calonne

Louis approved support of the American revolutionaries against Britain in the American Revolutionary War . He was eager to weaken Britain, France's longtime enemy, and to restore French confidence in their military. Louis was determined not to use the war as a way of grabbing new territory for France. However, by refraining this way, France accrued ever greater debts, which dangerously destabilized the country.

Louis turned to Charles de Calonne to help reform France's fiscal system and save France from bankruptcy. The king had to call an Assembly of Notables in order to force through these fiscal measures and other major reforms because the traditional cornerstone of Ancien Regime politics, the relation between the king and the parlement, had collapsed.

Open to Reform

Louis was prepared to turn France into a constitutional monarchy, and in order to do so, because the Assembly of Notables proved to be unwilling, Louis called an Estates-General . The historian John Hardman has argued that the rejection of Calonne’s reforms, which Louis had given personal backing, led to the king's nervous breakdown, from which he never had time to recover.

Hardman argues that the crisis changed the king’s personality, leaving him sentimental, weepy, distant, and depressed. Indeed, Louis had so closely supported Calonne that when the Notables, and seemingly France, rejected the reforms and forced him to dismiss his minister, Louis was damaged both politically and personally.

Louis XVI and the Early Revolution

The gathering of the Estates-General soon turned revolutionary. At first, there was little desire to abolish the monarchy. Louis might have remained in charge of a newly created constitutional monarchy if he had been able to chart a clear path through the momentous events. But he was not a king with clear, decisive vision. Instead, he was muddled, distant, uncompromising, and his habitual silence left his character and actions open to all interpretations.

When his eldest son fell ill and died, Louis divorced himself from what was happening at key moments. Louis was torn this way and that by court factions. He tended to think long about issues. When proposals were finally put forward to the Estates, it had already formed into a National Assembly. Louis initially called the Assembly “a phase.” Louis then misjudged and disappointed the radicalized Estates, proving inconsistent in his vision, and arguably too late with any response.

Attempts at Reform

Despite this, Louis was able to publicly accept developments like the "Declaration of the Rights of Man" and his public support increased when it appeared he would allow himself to be recast in a new role. There is no proof Louis ever intended to overthrow the National Assembly by force of arms—because he was afraid of civil war. He initially refused to flee and gather forces.

Louis believed France needed a constitutional monarchy in which he had an equal say in government. He disliked having no say in the creation of legislation and he was only given a suppressive veto that would undermine him every time he used it.

Forced Back to Paris

As the revolution progressed, Louis remained opposed to many of the changes desired by the deputies, privately believing that the revolution would run its course and the status quo would return. As general frustration with Louis grew, he was forced to move to Paris, where he was effectively imprisoned.

The position of the monarchy was further eroded and Louis began to hope for a settlement that would mimic the English system. But he was horrified by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which offended his religious beliefs.

Flight to Vergennes and Collapse of the Monarchy

Louis then made what would prove to be a major mistake: He attempted to flee to safety and gather forces to protect his family. He had no intention, at this moment or ever, of starting a civil war, nor of bringing back the Ancien Regime. He wanted a constitutional monarchy. Leaving in disguise on June 21, 1791, he was caught at Varennes and brought back to Paris.

His reputation was damaged. The flight itself did not destroy the monarchy: Sections of the government tried to portray Louis as the victim of kidnapping to protect the future settlement. His flight did, however, polarize people’s views. When fleeing, Louis left behind a declaration. This declaration is often understood as damaging him; in fact, it gave constructive criticism on aspects of the revolutionary government that deputies tried to work into the new constitution before being blocked.

Recreating France

Louis was now forced to accept a constitution neither he, nor few other people, really believed in. Louis resolved to execute the constitution literally, in order to make other people aware of its need for reform. But others simply saw the need for a republic and the deputies who supported a constitutional monarchy suffered.

Louis also used his veto—and in doing so walked into a trap set by deputies who wished to damage the king by making him veto. There were more escape plans, but Louis feared being usurped, either by his brother or a general and refused to take part.

In April 1792, the French newly elected Legislative Assembly declared a pre-emptive war against Austria (which was suspected of forming anti-revolutionary alliances with French expatriates). Louis was now seen increasingly by his own public as an enemy. The king grew even more silent and depressed, being forced into more vetoes before the Paris crowd were pushed into triggering the declaration of a French Republic. Louis and his family were arrested and imprisoned.

Louis’ safety came further under threat when secret papers were discovered hidden in the Tuileries palace where Louis had been staying. The papers were used by enemies to claim the former king had engaged in counter-revolutionary activity. Louis was put on trial. He had hoped to avoid one, fearing that it would prevent the return of a French monarchy for a long time.

He was found guilty—the only, inevitable result—and narrowly condemned to death. He was executed by guillotine on January 21, 1793, but not before ordering his son to pardon those responsible if he had the chance.

Louis XVI is generally portrayed as the fat, slow, silent monarch who oversaw the collapse of absolute monarchy. The reality of his reign is generally lost to public memory, including the fact that he tried to reform France to a degree few would ever have imagined before the Estates-General was called.

An argument among historians persists as to what responsibility Louis holds for the events of the revolution, or whether he happened to preside over France at a moment when much greater forces conspired to provoke massive change. Most agree that both were factors: The time was ripe and Louis' faults certainly hastened the revolution.

The ideology of absolute rule was collapsing in France, but at the same time it was Louis who consciously entered into the American Revolutionary War , incurring debt, and it was Louis whose indecision and mangled attempts at governing alienated the Third Estate deputies and provoked the first creation of the National Assembly.

  • EyeWitness to History. " The Execution of Louis XVI, 1793 ." 1999.
  • Hardman, John. Louis XVI: The Silent King. Bloomsbury Academic, 2000. 
  • Hardman, John. The Life of Louis XVI . Yale University Press, 2016.
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King Louis XVI

Portrait of King Louis XVI

The last king of the Ancien Regime of France, Louis XVI was born on August 23, 1754. He was the third son of the dauphin or heir. When his father died, Louis became the dauphin, next in line to the throne. As the heir, Louis was taught to avoid letting others know of his true feelings, which led to a disagreement among historians about his true intelligence. He did have an excellent memory, a keen knowledge of English and Latin, and an interest in history and geography. However, he would become known for his weakness of character and lack of political insight, especially in the critical crises that culminated in the French Revolution.

In 1770, to cement an alliance between France and Austria, Louis married Marie-Antoinette, the daughter of Austrian empress Maria-Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I. Four years later, after the death of his grandfather Louis XV, Louis ascended to the throne, gaining the title of King of France and Navarre. The young king, although immature and self-conscious, was well-disposed to his subjects and interested in improving French foreign policy.

His most notable foreign policy pursuit was supporting the American Revolution , to take revenge on Great Britain and make France once again the preeminent power in Europe. Although the Americans were successful, owing largely to French support, financing the endeavor pushed the already-badly off French regime to the brink of bankruptcy. His wife was also accused of spending French gold on an extravagant lifestyle. A grain shortage throughout France added to the king’s woes.

Louis supported radical fiscal, economic, and administrative reforms proposed by his ministers to resurrect the sinking French ship in 1787, but the measures were never implemented on account of hostile opposition by conservatives. In July 1788, Louis summoned the Estates-General for the first time since 1614. The Estates-General was a parliament compromised of the three main “estates” of the French population: the nobles, the clergy, and the commoners. Distracted by his son’s death in June 1789 and a refusal to work with the estates attributed to royal dignity, the Estates-General, after having numerous reform proposals rejected, the Third Estate (the largest by far) declared themselves the National Assembly and pressed forward with reforms regardless of the First or Second Estates agreeing.

Louis was forced to accept the authority of the National Assembly, signing the death warrant of ancient French feudalism. Despite a private belief that the revolution would soon burn out and restore the monarchy, Louis publicly accepted his new role as a constitutional monarch. His popularity surged as a result, especially after he visited Paris instead of remaining isolated in his palace at Versailles. He was even called a “restorer of French liberty.”

However, he soon began to resist the National Assembly’s demands. A mob of angry Parisian women, in reaction, forced the king and his family from Versailles to Paris, where they remained imprisoned in the Tuileries Palace. On June 21, 1791, Louis and his family, dressed as servants, attempted to escape to Austria. In Varennes, they were recognized, caught, and brought back to Paris under guard. This incident undermined whatever was left of Louis’s credibility as a constitutional monarch and turned popular opinion further against him.

Now, Louis and Marie-Antoinette’s last hopes remained in foreign intervention. Louis encouraged the National Assembly to go to war with Austria, as he thought the French revolutionary armies would be quickly defeated and his authority would be restored. He then refused to commit to a new constitution, now operating on a policy of subterfuge and deception, largely influenced by his wife. War did break out in April 1792, when the Duke of Brunswick threatened to destroy Paris if the royal family was placed in danger again. In response, another Parisian mob captured the Tuileries Palace. Repeated military defeats and public unrest led to the declaration of the First French Republic on September 22, 1792, officially abolishing the monarchy.

The National Convention, the legislative body of the First Republic, then decided to try Louis for treason, as they found proof of his counterrevolutionary intrigues in the Tuileries Palace. Louis, now called Citizen Capet, appeared twice before the Convention, but on January 18, 1793, he was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. The former king retained a dignified bearing as he was led to the guillotine in the Place de la Revolution (today the Place de la Concorde), where he was executed on January 21. His wife met the same fate nine months later. Louis’s irresolution, lack of political insight, and foreign policy decisions hastened the arrival of the French Revolution, but it would have taken an extraordinarily strong and steady hand to stop the collapse of the Ancien Regime .

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The Life of Louis XVI

The Life of Louis XVI

by John Hardman

528 Pages , 5.00 x 7.75 in , 24 bw illus

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  • Published: Tuesday, 29 Aug 2023
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John Hardman is one of the world’s leading experts on the French Revolution and the author of several well-regarded books on the subject. He was formerly lecturer in modern history at the University of Edinburgh.

“In a work which must currently rank as the definitive contribution to our understanding of Louis XVI as a man and a monarch, Hardman displays a quite extraordinary grasp of sources relating to the court and to the high politics of the ancien régime .”—P.M. Jones, English Historical Review "The author’s triumph . . . is his admirable balance in presenting the king’s successful traits and actions along with his unsatisfactory steps and misjudgments. . . . An important contribution to the writing and study of French history."—Brad Hooper, Booklist "Sympathetic . . . deeply moving . . . dramatic. . . . This is biography at its finest, by one of the greatest authorities on the subject."— Chronicles "Insightful, engaging and well written, The Life of Louis XVI will remain an indispensable source for scholars of the Old Regime and the Revolution for years to come."—Michael P. Fitzsimmons, H-France Review "This is the product of a lifetime's research and writing on late eighteenth-century France by one of the foremost scholars of the era. Original, gripping and authoritative, it is the best biography in any language of Louis XVI, and a significant contribution to the history of the French Revolution."—Munro Price, author of  The Perilous Crown: France Between Revolutions "John Hardman has written a highly readable, well-paced biography of Louis XVI which draws on the most recent scholarship on French kingship and court politics. He shows sensitivity and sympathy for a monarch who was not blind to what was happening around him but who felt increasingly trapped by forces he could not control."—Alan Forrest, author of  Napoleon: Life, Legacy, and Image "This new life of Louis XVI, by the world’s leading authority, not only tells all the good stories with considerable verve, it also offers insightful analyses of the politics of this tragic life that began in the palace of Versailles and ended on the scaffold of the Revolution. It is simply the most authoritative biography of Louis XVI ever written."—Peter Campbell, former professor of French History, University of Versailles

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short biography on louis 16

King Louis XVI Biography and Facts

BIOGRAPHY OF LOUIS XVI – The last king of the French absolute monarchy was guillotined by the people. Coronation, reign, death .

Short biography of Louis XVI

Born August 23, 1754 in Versailles, Louis XVI is the last king of the French absolute monarchy. His temperament, far from the virtues of leader and reformer, struggles to engage France in the path of modernity and leads the kingdom towards a political, economic and social crisis which takes part in the birth of the French Revolution .  King from 1774 to 1792  and victim of a power he did not control, Louis XVI was one of the martyrs of the French Revolution. Judged by the convention, he died in the guillotine on January 21, 1793 in Paris.

Louis Auguste was born on August 23, 1754, in Versailles. He is the son of Dauphin Louis of France and his second wife Marie-Josèphe de Saxe. Until the death of his father on December 20, 1765, he carried the title of Duke of Berry. He was brought up in a strict religious education and trained in conservative principles under the tutelage of the Duke of La Vauguyon. A studious student, he is passionate about several scientific disciplines and in his spare time reveals a hidden talent for blacksmithing. After the death of his elder brother the Duke of Burgundy and of his father, the Dauphin, son of King  Louis XV , he presented himself as the  heir to the throne of France .

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette

In 1770, Louis married  the Archduchess of Austria  Marie Antoinette , younger daughter of Emperor François I and Empress Marie-Thérèse. This union is the realization of an alliance aimed at improving relations between the Kingdom of France and Austria. From their union will be born four children. 

The coronation of Louis XVI

On May 10, 1774, at the age of 19, Louis Auguste became Louis XVI, King of France and Navarre. He was sacred  in Reims on June 11, 1775  . Little prepared for the royal function, Louis XVI is presented as a sickly shy king who appreciates solitary activities such as hunting, the pleasures of the table and who cares about the well-being of the population. His insecure personality earned him the support and affection of the people during the first years of his reign.

The reign of Louis XVI

Louis XVI surrounded himself with a team of recognized ministers such as Turgot and  Malesherbes . At the same time, he comes up against the aristocratic opposition and recalls the Parliament, via the ordinance of November 12, 1774. This body plays an important role in the decisions of the country. Economic reforms, which promote a new fiscal vision and seek to facilitate trade, find themselves in jeopardy. Some ministers are fired or resign, plunging the country into a wait-and-see situation. In terms of foreign policy, the King of France is much more skillful and allows France to regain its prestige. France reiterates its support for the Americas through a treaty on February 6, 1778. , Louis XVI brings military aid to the United States. With the American War of Independence, France, already weakened by court spending, plunged into a dangerous economic situation.

Louis XVI and the French Revolution

The ensuing economic crisis plunges France into a political and social crisis. The bourgeoisie and the peasantry rose up against the injustice of taxation and the scandals of state spending. Parliamentarians are slowing down a tax reform aimed at reducing the lifestyle of the privileged. The challenge of the third estate is growing. On July 9, 1789, a constituent assembly was formed. Despite this progress, the king struggles to accept the constitutional monarchy. He refuses to abolish privileges and ratify the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens. Not taking the people’s demands seriously, Louis XVI came up against several riots, the most important of which ended with the  Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. . On October 5 and 6, 1789, a second riot broke out, during which Parisians went to the Palace of Versailles and demanded bread.

The death of Louis XVI

The king’s unpopularity reached its end when he was arrested on June 21, 1791, during his famous flight from Varennes, while he was trying to escape abroad with his family. The parliament tries to disguise this episode as a kidnapping, but Louis XVI is totally disowned in the eyes of the people. The king was sworn in on September 14, 1791, before the National Constituent Assembly. He is no longer the king of France, but becomes the king of the French. This change of title symbolizes the transfer of sovereignty to the people. The lull is short-lived. On August 10, 1792, the arrest of the king and his family put an end to the royalty. The king’s trial opens on December 3. Despite three prestigious lawyers (Desèze,  Malesherbes, Tronchain), “Louis Capet” is found guilty and sentenced to the guillotine. He was  executed on the present Place de la Concorde on January 21, 1793  .


August 23, 1754: Birth of Louis XVI

Son of Dauphin Louis of France and his second wife Marie-Josèphe de Saxe, Louis Auguste was born on August 23, 1754 in Versailles. At his birth, Louis Auguste obtained the title of Duke of Berry. His father died when he was only 11 years old and his mother died two years later. He will accede to the royal function on May 10, 1774, under the title of Louis XVI, King of France.

December 20, 1769: The death of the Dauphin of France

Louis of France is more commonly referred to as the Dauphin Louis. Son of Louis XV, he keeps away from politics. His death, on December 20, 1769, proclaimed his son Louis Auguste as the heir to the throne of France to the succession of Louis XV. Under the name of Louis XVI, the latter will accede to the throne of France on May 10, 1774

May 16, 1770: Louis XVI marries Marie-Antoinette

Marie-Antoinette, daughter of Emperor François I of Lorraine and Marie-Thérèse of Austria, and the Dauphin Louis, grandson of Louis XV, get married in Versailles. They are 14 and 16 years old respectively. Minister Choiseul thus hopes to strengthen the alliance with Austria and contain the aggressiveness of Prussia and England. But anti-Austrian resentment will regain the upper hand and Marie-Antoinette will quickly be pejoratively nicknamed the “Austrian”. The two spouses, victims of the Revolution, will be guillotined in 1793.

May 10, 1774: Louis XVI, King of France

Grandson of Louis XV, who has just died, Louis XVI accedes to the throne of France, in the company of his wife, Marie-Antoinette. He is a good and intelligent king who takes the reins of power. But he suffers from a crippling shyness that prevents him from really asserting himself. After a few years, the kingdom will suffer from a catastrophic financial crisis, notably caused by the American War of Independence, and also attributed to the queen’s capricious spending. The situation worsened, until the outbreak of the French Revolution.

November 12, 1774: The return of parliamentarians

By the bed of justice of November 12, 1774, Louis XVI re-established the parliaments. This decision will slow down several of his reforms and destabilize his powers.

June 11, 1775: The coronation of Louis XVI

Louis XVI is consecrated in Reims by the Archbishop of Reims, Monsignor de La Roche-Aymon.

February 6, 1778: Support for the Americas

France signs a treaty of alliance with the Americas. This treaty was ratified by the King of France, Louis XVI, and the United States Ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin. The text seals Franco-American friendship and promotes France’s engagement alongside the American insurgents in the American War of Independence.

June 17, 1789: The beginnings of the Constituent Assembly

The assembly was born during the Revolution, June 17, 1789. This institution, created by the third estate, rejects the vote by order and demands “the vote by head”, a representative vote of the French people. Under the pressure of the people, Louis XVI forced the nobility to join the assembly.

July 9, 1789: Proclamation of the Constituent Assembly

The National Assembly, born of the States General convened at Versailles on May 5 by Louis XVI, declares itself constituting. The deputies want to modify the political and social organization of the kingdom and begin the drafting of the Constitution. The Constituent Assembly will sit until September 30, 1791, to make way for the Legislative Assembly.

July 14, 1789: Storming of the Bastille

Exceeded by the restrictions and the immobility of King Louis XVI, the Parisians revolt. In search of weapons, they first invade the Hôtel des Invalides, then rush to the Bastille prison. The governor of Launay, who holds the keys to the fortress, is ordered to hand them over to the insurgents. But some revolutionaries succeeded in entering the enclosure and De Launay ordered to open fire. More than 80 Parisians are killed. At the end of the afternoon, the governor capitulates. He is killed an hour later. The storming of the Bastille marks the starting point of the French revolutionary movement. The symbol of royal arbitrariness has fallen, the Ancien Régime is coming to an end.

October 5, 1789: Parisiennes demand bread

A few thousand women go to the Palace of Versailles at the end of the afternoon. Tired of famine and the excessively high cost of living, they demanded changes from King Louis XVI. On the night of October 5 to 6, he accepted the decrees he had refused until then. The Parisians want to bring the royal family back to Paris and they invade the castle. Forced to comply, the king and queen moved into the Tuileries Palace, where they became prisoners of the French.

June 21, 1791: Louis XVI arrested in Varennes

Louis XVI, disguised as a valet de chambre, Marie-Antoinette, their two children and the governess were arrested in the village of Varennes-en-Argonne. They had fled the Tuileries Palace the day before in order to join the army of the Marquis de Bouillé in Metz. But the royal procession is recognized in Sainte-Menehould by the postmaster Drouet, who gives the alert. The family is brought back to Paris. The people will feel betrayed by the king’s flight. The Assembly temporarily suspends Louis XVI and, to curb the rise of the Republicans, tries to pass off the royal flight as a kidnapping organized by the counter-revolutionaries. But the events will lead to the shooting of Champ-de-Mars, killing about fifty among the population.

September 14, 1791: Louis XVI, King of the French

Following the flight from Varennes, Louis XVI was suspended from his functions for one month. On September 14, 1791, he judged loyalty to the nation before the Constituent Assembly. From now on, he becomes the “King of the French”.

August 10, 1792: Abolition of the French monarchy

The Parisian insurgents storm the Tuileries Palace. The king is accused of treason and made responsible for the disorganization of the army. In a manifesto published in France on August 1, the Duke of Brunswick, head of the Prussian army, threatens to destroy Paris if he is attacked on the life of the royal family. Furious and convinced of the king’s betrayal, the sans-culottes then marched on the Tuileries, massacred the Swiss guards and looted the palace, forcing the king to take refuge with the Assembly. The monarchy falls and the royal family is taken to the Temple prison.

December 3, 1792: The trial of Louis XVI

The king’s trial opens before the Convention. Named upon his arrest Louis Capet, he was defended by Desèze, Malesherbes and Tronchet. During this trial, Louis XVI will be declared “guilty of conspiring against the freedom of the nation and of attacks against the general security of the State”. He is condemned to death with a slim majority.

January 21, 1793: Death of Louis XVI

At 10:20 am, on the Place de la Révolution (now Place de la Concorde), Louis Capet, 39, former King of France, was guillotined. Imprisoned in the Tuileries with his family since August 1792, he was sentenced to death by the revolutionary tribunal. The Convention accuses him of being a traitor to the Nation. His last words: “French, I die innocent; I forgive my enemies; I want my death to be …”. But the end of his words will be obscured by the drum roll announcing his execution. On October 16, his wife Marie-Antoinette will in turn be guillotined in public.

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The Life of Louis XVI

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Julian Swann, The Life of Louis XVI, French History , Volume 33, Issue 1, March 2019, Pages 130–131, https://doi.org/10.1093/fh/crz021

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In 1993, John Hardman published an acclaimed biography of Louis XVI in which he challenged prevailing popular and academic caricatures of the king as a dim-witted, indolent ruler. Some twenty-five years later, he has returned to his subject offering a much-expanded volume that draws upon a range of new archival sources, most notably the extensive correspondence between the king and his secretary of state of foreign affairs, the comte de Vergennes, as well as recent scholarship. The result is impressive, although it is worth stating at the outset that the title ‘The life of Louis XVI’ is a trifle misleading. In reality, what we are offered is study of the political history of the reign, seen from the perspective of the monarch and his successive ministers, which concentrates upon the highs and lows of attempted reform, the pursuit of war and peace and, from Louis XVI’s perspective, the tragedy of the Revolution. Hardman writes a perceptive chapter on the king’s childhood and education, and he is sensitive throughout to how the king was psychologically affected by the heavy burden of government. However, in general, he does not turn his attention to the world outside of the council chamber. The king’s life with the queen, Marie-Antoinette, is viewed primarily from the political rather than the personal perspective and there is little, or no, reference to his role as a father or to such potentially revealing topics as his relationship with his brothers or the wider House of Bourbon. The management of the court and of royal patronage is another aspect of kingship that deserves closer attention. Hardman makes much of the king’s love of hunting, which during the reign of Louis XV had been connected to an inner courtly circle largely distinct from the world of the ministry, but he does not consider if those patterns continued under his successor.

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The History Hit Miscellany of Facts, Figures and Fascinating Finds

  • French Revolution and Napoleon

10 Facts About King Louis XVI

short biography on louis 16

Sarah Roller

10 dec 2021, @sarahroller8.

short biography on louis 16

King Louis XVI was the last king of France before the monarchy fell to the revolution in 1789: intellectually capable but lacking in decisiveness and authority, his regime has often been categorised as one of corruption, excess and devoid of care for his subjects.

But this black and white characterisation of Louis’ reign fails to take into account the dire circumstances of the crown he inherited, the global political situation and the impact of Enlightenment ideas on the wider population. Revolution and the guillotine were far from inevitable when he became king in 1770.

Here are 10 facts about Louis XVI, King of France.

1. He was born the second son of the dauphin, and the grandson of Louis XV

Louis-Auguste of France was born on 23 August 1754, the second son of the Dauphin. He was given the title  Duc de Berry  at birth, and proved himself to be intelligent and physically capable, but very shy.

After the death of his elder brother in 1761, and his father in 1765, the 11 year old Louis-Auguste became the new dauphin and his life changed rapidly. He was given a strict new governor and his education changed drastically in an attempt to shape him into a future king of France.

2. He was married to the Austrian archduchess Marie Antoinette for political reasons

In 1770, aged just 15, Louis married the Austrian archduchess Marie Antoinette , cementing an Austro-French alliance which was becoming increasingly unpopular amongst the people.

The young royal couple were both naturally shy, and virtually complete strangers when they married. It took several years for their marriage to be consummated: a fact which gained considerable attention and generated tension.

short biography on louis 16

An 18th century engraving of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Image Credit: Public Domain

3. The royal couple had 4 children and ‘adopted’ a further 6

Despite initial problems in the marriage bed, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette went on to have 4 children: the youngest, Sophie-Hélène-Béatrix, died in infancy and the couple were said to be devastated.

As well as their biological children, the royal couple also continued the tradition of ‘adopting’ orphans. The pair adopted 6 children, including a poor orphan, a slave boy, and the children of palace servants who died. 3 of these adopted children lived with the royal palace, whereas 3 merely lived at the expense of the royal family.

4. He attempted to reform French government

Louis became king aged 19, in 1774. The French monarchy was an absolute one and it was deeply in debt, with several other troubles on the horizon.

In line with Enlightenment ideas which were sweeping across Europe, the new Louis XVI made attempts to make reforms to religious, foreign and financial policy in France. He signed the 1787 Edict of Versailles (also known as the Edict of Tolerance), which gave non-Catholics civil and legal status in France, as well as the opportunity to practice their faiths.

He also tried to implement more radical financial reforms, including new forms of taxations to try and get France out of debt. These were blocked by the nobles and parlements. Few understood the dire financial situation the Crown was in, and successive ministers struggled to improve the country’s finances.

5. He was notoriously indecisive

Many considered Louis’ greatest weakness to be his shyness and indecision. He struggled to make decisions and lacked the authority or character needed to succeed as an absolute monarch. In a system where everything relied on the strength of the monarch’s personality, Louis’ desire to be liked and listen to public opinion proved not only difficult, but dangerous.

short biography on louis 16

6. His support for the American War of Independence caused financial problems at home

France had lost most of its colonies in North America to the British during the Seven Years’ War: unsurprisingly, when the opportunity came to wreak revenge by supporting the American Revolution , France was only too keen to take it up.

Military assistance was sent to the rebels by France at great cost. Around 1,066 million livres were spent on pursuing this policy, financed entirely by new loans at high interest rather than by increasing taxation in France.

With little material gain from its involvement and a financial crisis brewing, ministers attempted to hide the true state of French finances from the people.

7. He oversaw the first Estates-General in 200 years

The Estates-General was a legislative and consultative assembly which had representatives from the three French estates: it had no power itself, but historically was used as an advisory body by the king. In 1789, Louis summoned the Estates-General for the first time since 1614.

This proved to be something of a mistake. Efforts to force fiscal reform failed miserably. The Third Estate, made up of ordinary people, declared itself a National Assembly and swore that they wouldn’t go home until France had a constitution.

short biography on louis 16

8. He was increasingly seen as a symbol of the tyranny of the  Ancien Regime

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette lived a life of luxury in the Palace of Versailles: sheltered and isolated, they saw and knew little of what life was like for the millions of ordinary people in France at the time. As discontent grew, Louis did little to placate or understand the grievances people raised.

Marie Antoinette’s frivolous, expensive lifestyle particularly aggrieved people. The Diamond Necklace Affair (1784-5) found her accused of participation in a scheme to defraud jewellers of an extremely expensive diamond necklace. Whilst she was found innocent, the scandal seriously damaged her reputation and that of the royal family.

9. He was tried for high treason

The Palace of Versailles was stormed by an angry mob on 5 October 1789. The royal family were captured and taken to Paris, where they were forced to accept their new roles as constitutional monarchs. They were effectively at the mercy of the revolutionaries as they hashed out how French government would work going forward.

After nearly 2 years of negotiations, Louis and his family attempted to flee Paris for Varennes, in the hope that they would be able to escape France from there and rally enough support to restore the monarchy and quash the revolution.

Their plan failed: they were recaptured and Louis’ plans uncovered. This was enough to put him on trial for high treason, and it quickly became clear that there was no way he would not be found guilty and punished accordingly.

short biography on louis 16

An engraving of the execution of King Louis XVI.

10. His execution marked the end of 1,000 years of continuous French monarchy

King Louis XVI was executed by guillotine on 21 January 1793, having been found guilty of high treason. He used his last moments to pardon those who signed his death warrant and declare himself innocent of the crimes he was accused of. His death was quick, and onlookers described him as meeting his end bravely.

His wife, Marie Antoinette, was executed nearly 10 months later, on 16 October 1793. Louis’ death marked the end of over 1,000 years of continuous monarchy, and many have argued it was a key moment in the radicalisation of revolutionary violence.

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By: History.com Editors

Updated: August 21, 2018 | Original: November 9, 2009

Marie Antoinette At The ConciergerieMarie Antoinette at the Conciergerie. Private Collection. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1755, Marie Antoinette married the future French king Louis XVI when she was just 15 years old. The young couple soon came to symbolize all of the excesses of the reviled French monarchy, and Marie Antoinette herself became the target of a great deal of vicious gossip. After the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, the royal family was forced to live under the supervision of revolutionary authorities. In 1793, the king was executed; then, Marie Antoinette was arrested and tried for trumped-up crimes against the French republic. She was convicted and sent to the guillotine on October 16, 1793.

Marie Antoinette: Early Life

Marie Antoinette, the 15th child of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and the powerful Habsburg empress Maria Theresa, was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1755–an age of great instability for European monarchies. In 1766, as a way to cement the relatively new alliance between the French and Habsburg thrones, Maria Theresa promised her young daughter’s hand in marriage to the future king Louis XVI of France. Four years later, Marie Antoinette and the dauphin were married by proxy in Vienna. (They were 15 and 16 years old, and they had never met.) On May 16, 1770, a lavish second wedding ceremony took place in the royal chapel at Versailles. More than 5,000 guests watched as the two teenagers were married. It was the beginning of Marie Antoinette’s life in the public eye.

Did you know? There is no evidence that Marie Antoinette ever said that starving peasants should “eat cake” if they had no bread. In fact, the story of a fatuous noblewoman who said “Let them eat cake!” appears in the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions, which was written around 1766 (when Marie Antoinette was just 11 years old).

Marie Antoinette: Life at Versailles

Life as a public figure was not easy for Marie Antoinette. Her marriage was difficult and, as she had very few official duties, she spent most of her time socializing and indulging her extravagant tastes. (For example, she had a model farm built on the palace grounds so that she and her ladies-in-waiting could dress in elaborate costumes and pretend to be milkmaids and shepherdesses.) Widely circulated newspapers and inexpensive pamphlets poked fun at the queen’s profligate behavior and spread outlandish, even pornographic rumors about her. Before long, it had become fashionable to blame Marie Antoinette for all of France’s problems.

Marie Antoinette: The French Revolution

In fact, the nation’s difficulties were not the young queen’s fault. Eighteenth-century colonial wars–particularly the American Revolution , in which the French had intervened on behalf of the colonists–had created a tremendous debt for the French state. The people who owned most of the property in France, such as the Catholic Church (the “First Estate”) and the nobility (the “Second Estate”), generally did not have to pay taxes on their wealth; ordinary people, on the other hand, felt squeezed by high taxes and resentful of the royal family’s conspicuous spending.

Louis XVI and his advisers tried to impose a more representative system of taxation, but the nobility resisted. (The popular press blamed Marie Antoinette for this–she was known as “Madame Veto ,” among other things–though she was far from the only wealthy person in France to defend the privileges of the aristocracy.) In 1789, representatives from all three estates (the clergy, the nobility and the common people) met at Versailles to come up with a plan for the reform of the French state, but noblemen and clergymen were still reluctant to give up their prerogatives. The “Third Estate” delegates, inspired by Enlightenment ideas about personal liberty and civic equality, formed a “National Assembly” that placed government in the hands of French citizens for the first time.

At the same time, conditions worsened for ordinary French people, and many became convinced that the monarchy and the nobility were conspiring against them. Marie Antoinette continued to be a convenient target for their rage. Cartoonists and pamphleteers depicted her as an “Austrian whore” doing everything she could to undermine the French nation. In October 1789, a mob of Parisian women protesting the high cost of bread and other goods marched to Versailles, dragged the entire royal family back to the city, and imprisoned them in the Tuileries.

In June 1791, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled Paris and headed for the Austrian border–where, rumor had it, the queen’s brother, the Holy Roman Emperor, waited with troops ready to invade France, overthrow the revolutionary government and restore the power of the monarchy and the nobility. This incident, it seemed to many, was proof that the queen was not just a foreigner: She was a traitor.

Marie Antoinette: The Terror

The royal family was returned to Paris and Louis XVI was restored to the throne. However, many revolutionaries began to argue that the most insidious enemies of the state were not the nobles but the monarchs themselves. In April 1792, partly as a way to test the loyalties of the king and queen, the Jacobin (radical revolutionary) government declared war on Austria. The French army was in a shambles and the war did not go well—a turn of events that many blamed on the foreign-born queen. In August, another mob stormed the Tuileries, overthrew the monarchy and locked the family in a tower. In September, revolutionaries began to massacre royalist prisoners by the thousands. One of Marie Antoinette’s best friends, the Princesse de Lamballe, was dismembered in the street, and revolutionaries paraded her head and body parts through Paris. In December, Louis XVI was put on trial for treason; in January, he was executed.

The campaign against Marie Antoinette likewise grew stronger. In July 1793, she lost custody of her young son, who was forced to accuse her of sexual abuse and incest before a Revolutionary tribunal. In October, she was convicted of treason and sent to the guillotine. She was 37 years old.

Marie Antoinette: Legacy

The story of revolution and resistance in 18th-century France is a complicated one, and no two historians tell the story the same way. However, it is clear that for the revolutionaries, Marie Antoinette’s significance was mainly, powerfully symbolic. She and the people around her seemed to represent everything that was wrong with the monarchy and the Second Estate: They appeared to be tone-deaf, out of touch, disloyal (along with her allegedly treasonous behavior, writers and pamphleteers frequently accused the queen of adultery) and self-interested. What Marie Antoinette was actually like was beside the point; the image of the queen was far more influential than the woman herself.

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    Louis was born at Versailles on 23 August 1754. In 1770, he married Marie Antoinette, daughter of the emperor and empress of Austria, a match intended to consolidate an alliance between France and ...

  8. Louis XVI

    1. Louis XVI was the king of France from May 1774 until his execution in January 1793. The French Revolution unfolded under his rule and eventually toppled him from power. 2. At birth, Louis was third in line to the French throne. He became heir after the deaths of his father and older brother.

  9. Louis Xvi

    LOUIS XVI (1754-1793), ruled as king of France, 1774-1792. Louis-Auguste, duc de Berry, the third son of the dauphin, Louis (1729-1765), and Marie-Josèphe of Saxony, was born at Versailles on 23 August 1754. He never expected to be king, but the high childhood mortality of the age that had bedeviled the Bourbon successions since the ...

  10. Louis XVI

    Louis XVI, who belonged to the Royal House of Bourbon, became King of France in 1774 when his grandfather Louis XV died. Louis XVI father was the next in line to the French throne but he died in 1765. In 1770, at the age of fifteen, Louis XVI married Marie Antoinette, the fourteen year old daughter of the Emperor and Empress of Austria.

  11. King Louis XVI

    King Louis XVI. Date of Birth - Death August 23, 1754 - January 21, 1793. The last king of the Ancien Regime of France, Louis XVI was born on August 23, 1754. He was the third son of the dauphin or heir. When his father died, Louis became the dauphin, next in line to the throne. As the heir, Louis was taught to avoid letting others know of his ...

  12. Trial and Execution of Louis XVI

    The trial and execution of King Louis XVI of France (r. 1774-1792) was one of the most impactful events of the French Revolution (1789-99). In December 1792, the former king, now referred to as Citizen Louis Capet, was tried and found guilty of numerous crimes that amounted to high treason, and he was sentenced to death by guillotine. Louis XVI ...

  13. The Life of Louis XVI

    A thought-provoking, authoritative biography of one of history's most maligned rulers: France's Louis XVI "The definitive contribution to our underst... Skip to content. ... The Life of Louis XVI. by John Hardman. 528 Pages, 5.00 x 7.75 in, 24 bw illus. Paperback; 9780300273649; Published: Tuesday, 29 Aug 2023; $16.99. BUY . eBook;

  14. Execution of Louis XVI

    History Louis stands trial before the convention, as Robespierre watches from the first row. Engraving by Reinier Vinkeles. The convention's unanimous declaration of a French Republic on 21 September 1792 left the fate of the former king open to debate. A commission was established to examine the evidence against him while the convention's Legislation Committee considered legal aspects of any ...

  15. King Louis XVI Biography and Facts

    Short biography of Louis XVI. Born August 23, 1754 in Versailles, Louis XVI is the last king of the French absolute monarchy. His temperament, far from the virtues of leader and reformer, struggles to engage France in the path of modernity and leads the kingdom towards a political, economic and social crisis which takes part in the birth of the ...

  16. Wikipedia


  17. Life of Louis XVI

    The Life of Louis XVI. By. pp. £25. ISBN: 978 0 3002 2042 1. In 1993, John Hardman published an acclaimed biography of Louis XVI in which he challenged prevailing popular and academic caricatures of the king as a dim-witted, indolent ruler. Some twenty-five years later, he has returned to his subject offering a much-expanded volume that draws ...

  18. 10 Facts About King Louis XVI

    Revolution and the guillotine were far from inevitable when he became king in 1770. Here are 10 facts about Louis XVI, King of France. 1. He was born the second son of the dauphin, and the grandson of Louis XV. Louis-Auguste of France was born on 23 August 1754, the second son of the Dauphin. He was given the title Duc de Berry at birth, and ...

  19. Marie-Antoinette

    Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1755, Marie Antoinette married the future French king Louis XVI when she was just 15 years old. The young couple soon came to symbolize all of the excesses of the ...

  20. Marie Antoinette

    Marie Antoinette (/ ˌ æ n t w ə ˈ n ɛ t, ˌ ɒ̃ t-/; French: [maʁi ɑ̃twanɛt] ⓘ; Marie Antoinette Josèphe Jeanne; 2 November 1755 - 16 October 1793) was the last queen of France prior to the French Revolution.She was born an archduchess of Austria, and was the penultimate child and youngest daughter of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis I.She became dauphine of France in ...

  21. PDF Introduction: Louis XVI, a constitutional monarch?

    (London, 1939), is the first modern English biography of Louis XVI; unfortunately its contents have not aged very well. Padover however does have the merit of having been among first scholars to draw attention to the manuscript collection on Louis XVI's education preserved at the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal (see Padover, Life and Death, 13).

  22. Marie-Antoinette

    Marie-Antoinette (born November 2, 1755, Vienna, Austria—died October 16, 1793, Paris, France) was the Austrian queen consort of King Louis XVI of France (1774-93). Her name is associated with the decline in the moral authority of the French monarchy in the closing years of the ancien régime, though her courtly extravagance was but a minor ...

  23. The Life of Louis XVI

    John Hardman. Yale University Press, Jan 1, 2016 - Biography & Autobiography - 499 pages. A thought-provoking, authoritative biography of one of history's most maligned rulers. Louis XVI of France, who was guillotined in 1793 during the Revolution and Reign of Terror, is commonly portrayed in fiction and film either as a weak and stupid despot ...