ROYAL FAMILY FLEES PARIS
IN THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
In the midst of the events of the French Revolution, the French royal family attempted to flee the country in order to avoid retribution from the revolutionaries. This was a major event in the French Revolution as it led to the eventual deaths of both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
On the night of June 20th, 1791, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their children fled the Tuileries Palace to try to make it to Austria, in order to gather support from Marie Antoinette’s country of birth. The royal family had been held prisoners in the palace after a mob of Parisian working class women forced the royals to return to Paris from the Palace of Versailles. Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their children snuck out of the palace in Paris disguised as servants and took a carriage throughout the French countryside towards France’s border with Austria. Louis XVI had hoped to arrive in Austria and spark a counter-revolutionary movement among France’s neighboring countries in order to retake control over the country.
When the carriage arrived in the small French town of Varennes, it was stopped by a town official and the royal family was recognized. Louis XVI had hoped the peasants outside of Paris would still support him and the monarchy that he represented but he was mistaken. Peasants all across France were struggling under his rule and sided with the revolution more than with Louis XVI. The revolutionaries forced Louis XVI and his family to return to Paris and removed the little remaining authority he still had. Louis XVI was, from that point on, viewed as a traitor to the revolution. In fact, the attempt to flee by the royal family removed any remaining respect that the citizens of France had for the king, and the French people now felt betrayed. The failed attempt to flee would also be important in the eventual execution of Louis XVI. The National Convention charged and convicted him with treason for attempting to abandon his country mid-revolution and he was executed by guillotine on January 21, 1793.