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Louis XVI


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The last King of France (1774–92) before the French Revolution. Weak and vacillating, unwisely advised by his Austrian wife, Marie Antoinette, he could neither avert the Revolution by supporting the economic and social reforms proposed by Necker and Turgot, nor, lacking all understanding of popular demands, become its popular leader. To meet the situation he summoned the largely aristocratic Assembly of Notables (1787), which achieved nothing, and then (1789) the States‐General, which had not been called for 175 years. This marked the start of the Revolution. The royal family was forcibly brought back from Versailles to Paris (October 1789) and their attempt to flee the country ended when they reached Varennes (1791). Thereafter they were virtually prisoners in the Tuileries Palace. The monarchy was abolished (September 1792) and Louis was guillotined in January 1793. His wife was executed six months later.

Subjects: History

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