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Louis maligned by history

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Louis maligned by history

Post  Julygirl on Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:56 pm

So much of an ordinary person's knowledge of history comes from films made by people too eager to make a buck at the expense of the historical personage.....and/or too lazy or ignorant to get the facts and present them accurately... Louis XVI being one such historical character. He suffered a hideous death for all the failings of all the French kings who came before him.
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Re: Louis maligned by history

Post  Elena on Fri Oct 28, 2011 5:58 pm

Some biographers, in seeking to change public opinion about Marie-Antoinette, attempt to redeem her at the expense of her husband, King Louis XVI. Louis-Auguste is portrayed as a repressed, impotent, dull-witted, indifferent husband, who drove his wife to gambling, dancing and spending exorbitant amounts of money as an outlet for her thwarted impulses. Stefan Zweig, a disciple of Sigmund Freud, was one of the first to impart to the public the image of the sexually frustrated teenage princess, which successive authors continue to promote to this day.

The drawback of the Freudian theory is that it does not explain why others at the French court, who were enjoying unmitigated pleasures of the flesh, were spending much more money than eighteen year old Marie-Antoinette. In vindicating Marie-Antoinette, still falsely perceived as the queen who took lovers and who danced while the people starved, it is necessary to gain a true perspective of her spouse, beyond the archetype of the fat, indolent husband, spoiling a wife he could not satisfy. One must look behind the myths, deliberately propagated and perpetuated in order to sell books and movies about alleged extramarital love affairs, as well as to justify the excesses of the French Revolution. The reality about this tragic royal couple may not be as sensational as some biographies tell it, but it is as exciting, heart-rending and beautiful as any make-believe romance.

Louis XVI is systematically shown as being ugly, obese, smelly, and stupid. By contemporary standards, however, he was considered handsome, with his aquiline nose, deep set blue-grey eyes, and full sensual mouth. As a youth he was tall and thin, the tallest man at Court, and enjoyed intense physical exercise, such as hunting and hammering at his forge (he was a locksmith by hobby.) His physical strength was legendary; he could lift a shovel to shoulder height with a young boy standing on the end of it. Possessing the hardy Bourbon appetite, he developed a paunch as he approached his thirties. He was awkward and shy in his manner although not without dignity in his bearing. The efforts of his detractors to make him unattractive and therefore unlovable serves the purpose of giving his wife an "excuse" for chronic infidelity, another highly-popularized myth.

Likewise, Louis is presented as being dirty and malodorous. Granted that he was an active man, not a powdered and pampered courtier, and working with metal was not clean work; neither was his daily riding and hunting, as anyone who has ever been around horses will agree. However, he had two tubs of which he made daily use, one for washing and one for rinsing.

As for his intellect, all one has to do is read anything he wrote to see that Louis XVI was an intelligent man. He could read and speak several foreign languages, knew Latin as well as his native tongue, was a skilled amateur cartographer, enjoyed the tragedies of Shakespeare as well as of the great French dramatists Corneille and Racine. He was fascinated with scientific inventions, which he encouraged, and with geography, outfitting a sea voyage of discovery in the Pacific ocean. He would read his mail as his ministers delivered their reports, without missing a word of what his ministers said. He subscribed to several international newspapers, as a means of keeping informed of events and of the opinions of others.

Louis XVI is always portrayed as politically inept and indifferent, and yet he built up the French navy and army so that Great Britain was defeated in the war for American independence. The ships and soldiers outfitted by King Louis were later used by Napoleon Bonaparte to conquer Europe. During the Revolution, he tried to avoid bloodshed at all costs and would not escape because he did not want to abandon his people to the fanatic minority which had seized power. His calm in the face of the calamities is usually interpreted as phlegmatic indifference, but by remaining composed, he was often able to regain control of situations where the mob was thirsting for blood.

Louis was a dedicated Roman Catholic, keeping track of his regular Confession and Communion days in his journal. After the French revolutionary government seized control of the Church, he eventually refused to receive Communion from a priest not in union with Rome. He also vetoed the law forcing priests to be deported for not denying the papal supremacy, even though it brought the angry populace upon the palace in June 1792. As Simon Schama points out in his book Citizens, Louis XVI was more and more torn between his duties as father of his people and father of his family. He tried early in the Revolution to try to persuade the queen to escape with their children, but she refused to leave his side, much to her credit.

Since so many books have speculated about the details of Louis' intimate relations with his wife, I did not touch upon it in my novel, wanting to respect the sacred privacy which should exist between spouses. However, because of the misunderstandings which continue to circulate in books, films and articles I have found it necessary to clarify matters on this blog. Let it be made clear that Louis was not impotent, nor did he have any physical defects which would have prevented him from consummating his marriage, according to the court medical records and affirmed by scholars Bernard Faÿ, Vincent Cronin, and Simone Bertière.

Another rehashed error is that Louis XVI was sexually indifferent and refused to consummate his marriage for seven years. In the beginning of the marriage, as I said above, Marie-Antoinette looked as if she were twelve. Louis should be praised for not wanting to rush upon a child.

Furthermore, Louis belonged to the political clique at Versailles that had been against the Austrian alliance. Austria was the traditional enemy of France, and had leveled a humiliating defeat upon the Bourbons in the Seven Years War. The defeat was blamed upon the mistress of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour, who had also been behind arranging the marriage with the Habsburg Archduchess Antonia. Louis' aunt and godmother, the feisty old maid Madame Adélaïde, daughter of Louis XV, never let him forget that his bride was not only an enemy of France, but that she had been brought over by a courtesan, Madame de Pompadour, who also had reddish hair and was named "Antoinette."

With visions in his mind of the notorious Pompadour, who had led both his grandfather and his country astray, Louis approached his Austrian bride with caution and reserve. (See Vincent Cronin's Louis and Antoinette.)

Since his bride was fourteen years old but looked as if she were twelve, I think it speaks well for Louis that he did not wish to deflower a child. According to the letters written by the Queen to her mother the Empress Maria Theresa, the young couple began to attempt to consummate the marriage as early as 1773, when Marie-Antoinette was seventeen and Louis eighteen. Author Simone Bertiere, in her superb biography L'Insoumise, maintains that Marie-Antoinette had a "narrowness of passage" which made consummating the marriage difficult and painful.

Louis waited for his wife to mature and their first child was born when Antoinette was twenty-two, the first of four, including some miscarriages. Louis XVI was a devoted husband and father, who mingled tears of joy and sorrow with his wife at the births and deaths of their children. Their marriage had problems just like any marriage, but they strove for it to work, and it did work. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were forged into a devoted couple who would be separated only by death.

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Louis Undertook to Ban Bombs

Post  Elena on Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:13 am

Louis XVI shows remarkable compassion and foresight.

http://nobility.org/2011/10/31/louis-xvi-forbids-explosive/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NobilityAndAnalogousTraditionalElites+(Nobility+and+Analogous+Trad

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In Memoriam

Post  princess garnet on Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:30 pm

From "Mad Monarchist" today:
http://madmonarchist.blogspot.com/2012/01/greatness-of-king-louis-xvi.html
Not a good date in French history indeed.

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Execution of Louis XVI

Post  Elena on Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:07 pm

Thanks for posting the link, pg.

January 21, Saint Agnes day, is the dies natalis of the Roi-Martyr, when two hundred and eighteen years ago, Louis XVI was taken from the Temple prison to be guillotined. The previous night he had said farewell to his family, and their reaction was so hysterical that he decided not to see them again in the morning, for fear of faltering in his own courage. His fifteen year old daughter fainted. He rode to his death in a coach accompanied by the Irish priest, Abbé Edgeworth de Firmont, who had been Madame Elisabeth's confessor and who had refused the oath to the government. Together they recited the seven penitential psalms, as described in the novel Trianon.

Arriving at the scaffold, the executioner tried to bind Louis' hands behind his back but he resisted, not wanting to be treated like a criminal who might try to run away. Abbé Edgeworth, fearing the king might be struck, convinced him to submit to the indignity by saying that it was one more way in which he resembled his Master. Louis raised his eyes to the sky as if seeing beyond this world and then with hands bound he ascended the scaffold unassisted. The drummers drowned out his last words to his people.

Some observers later reported that Abbé Edgeworth cried out,"Ascend to heaven, son of St Louis!" although the priest said he did not remember, being overwhelmed. Many ran forward with handkerchiefs to dip in the king's blood, as the executioner raised the head aloft, making obscene gestures. Some of the handkerchiefs were later preserved as holy relics.

The king's last words were:

“I die innocent of all the crimes imputed to me. I pardon the authors of my death, and pray God that the blood you are about to shed will never fall upon France.”

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Re: Louis maligned by history

Post  Elena on Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:29 pm

Pictures from Vive la Reine of Louis' farewell and execution.



http://vivelareine.tumblr.com/post/16192092426





From Tea at Trianon:

http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2010/01/execution-of-louis-xvi.html


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Execution of Louis XVI

Post  Elena on Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:40 am

This picture is really wonderful and probably the most realistic. From Vive la Reine:


The deed is done. The world has changed forever.


http://vivelareine.tumblr.com/tagged/louis-xvi

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Re: Louis maligned by history

Post  Elena on Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:32 pm

People forget that Louis had many great accomplishments as a political leader and was widely admired by the other sovereigns of Europe while still in his 20's. Napoleon used the army and navy which had been equipped and built up by Louis XVI to conquer most of Europe. Louis' victory over England threatened to upset the hegemony of the British Empire, especially since the French were beginning to make a headway in the Far East. Perhaps this is one of the reasons so many pornographic pamphlets were sent into France by the British government to destroy the French monarchy.

To quote from a French history (I found this on Facebook):

Mais qui était vraiment Louis XVI ? MÉRITAIT IL D'ÊTRE RENVERSÉ ET GUILLOTINÉ PAR "LE PEUPLE" ?!?! 21 janvier 1793, Louis XVI, Roi de France est guillotiné place Louis XV, aujourd'hui place de la Concorde. Mais savez-vous vraiment qui était Louis XVI et ce qu'il a fait durant son règne ? Quelques éléments de réponse pour montrer à quel point ce roi était "d'ancien régime" , loin de l'imagerie révolutionnaire pourtant toujours d'actualité :

- Louis XVI mesurait plus d'un mètre quatre vingt dix était doté d'une force musculaire colossale
- Louis XVI décida de soulager son peuple, en le dispensant du "droit de joyeux avènement", impôt perçu à chaque changement de règne.
- Louis XVI créa le corps des pompiers.
- Louis XVI autorisa l’installation de pompes à feu, pour approvisionner Paris en eau de manière régulière.
- Louis XVI créa un mont-de-piété à Paris pour décourager l’usure et venir en aide aux petites gens.
- Louis XVI abandonna aux équipages de ses vaisseaux le tiers de la valeur des prises, qui lui était réservé en temps de guerre.
- Louis XVI décida d’aider l’abbé de L'Epée dans son œuvre pour l’éducation des "Sourds-muets sans fortune" auxquels il enseignait un langage par signes de son invention. Le roi lui versa alors une pension de 6000 livres sur sa propre cassette, contre l’avis de l’archevêché qui soupçonnait cet homme de jansénisme.
- Louis XVI dota l’école de Valentin Hauÿ pour les aveugles.
- Louis XVI donna l’ordre à ses commandants de vaisseaux de ne point inquiéter les pêcheurs anglais et obtint ainsi du gouvernement anglais la réciprocité pour les pêcheurs français ;
- Louis XVI donna aux femmes mariées et aux mineurs de toucher eux-mêmes leurs pensions sans demander l’autorisation de leur mari ou tuteur.
- Louis XVI ordonna aux hôpitaux militaires de traiter les blessés ennemis " comme les propres sujets du Roi ", 90 ans avant la première Convention de Genève.
- Louis XVI fit abolir le servage et la mainmorte dans le domaine royal, et le droit de suite qui permettait aux seigneurs de faire poursuivre les serfs ou mainmortables qui quittaient leur domaine.
- Louis XVI ordonna l’abolition de la question préparatoire et préalable (torture).
- Louis XVI accorda le premier le droit de vote aux femmes dans le cadre de l’élection des députés de l’assemblée des Etats-Généraux.
- Louis XVI fit construire à ses frais des infirmeries "claires et aérées" dans les prisons.
- Louis XVI s’inquiéta du sort qui était réservé aux prisonniers détenus en préventive de par leur inculpation, avant leur procès. Par ailleurs, il décida de leur accorder une indemnité ainsi qu’un droit d’annonce dans le cas où leur innocence serait reconnue lors de leur procès (sujet d’une étonnante actualité).
- Louis XVI supprima de très nombreuses charges de la maison du Roi (plus d’un tiers).
- Louis XVI permit aux femmes d’accéder à toutes les maîtrises.
- Louis XVI finança tous les aménagements de l’Hôtel-Dieu pour que chaque malade ait son propre lit individuel.
- Louis XVI employa le premier l’expression de "justice sociale".
- Louis XVI fonda un hôpital pour les enfants atteints de maladies contagieuses, aujourd’hui nommé Hôpital des Enfants-Malades.
- Louis XVI créa le Musée des Sciences et Techniques, futur centre national des Arts et Métiers.
- Louis XVI fonda l’école des Mines.
- Louis XVI finança sur ses propres fonds les expériences d’aérostation des frères Montgolfier.
- Louis XVI également les expériences de Jouffroy d’Abbans pour l’adaptation de la machine à vapeur à la navigation.
- Louis XVI exempta les juifs du péage corporel et autres droits humiliants, fit construire les synagogues de Nancy et de Lunéville et permit aux juifs l’accès à toutes les maîtrises dans tout le ressort du Parlement de Nancy.
- Louis XVI accorda sept millions aux victimes du froid excessif en 1784.
- Louis XVI accorda des pensions de retraite à tous ceux qui exerçaient une profession maritime.
- Louis XVI demanda l’établissement annuel de la balance du commerce.
- Louis XVI créa le droit de propriété des auteurs et compositeurs de musique.
- Louis XVI accorda l’état-civil aux protestants...

Texte de Louis Naillac, 19 janvier 2004.

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Re: Louis maligned by history

Post  Julygirl on Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:39 pm

I think the post from the Mad Monarchist needs to be quoted at length:
http://madmonarchist.blogspot.com/2012/01/greatness-of-king-louis-xvi.html
King Louis XVI was a man of devout faith. He never took a mistress, never shirked his religious duties, genuinely preferred work to frivolous parties and truly saw his kingship as a sacred duty rather than an opportunity to have the best for himself. All of that is well established and should be well known. However, even those who praise King Louis XVI for his pious spirit often portray him as rather lacking in the more secular qualities most often required of kingship. At times he is contrasted with King Louis XIV who, while certainly far from being a pious man, was a more decisive leader who steered the ship of state with a firm hand, bringing glory to France and around whom almost all the affairs of Europe revolved. The exact opposite of Louis XVI we are to believe. Yet, while it is true that the two men were very different, it is certainly not true that King Louis XVI occupied himself only with other-worldly matters.

It is tragic any time a nation sets to destroying itself rather than accomplishing the great deeds possible if they worked together to channel all of that energy into the pursuit of some more lofty ambition. Although he had trepidations about some of it, there is ample reason to believe that had it not been for the outbreak of the Revolution, King Louis XVI might have gone down in history as one of the greatest Kings of France in secular as well as spiritual terms. In all the focus on the Revolution and his personal character, the great events and foreign policies of his reign are often overlooked. In the first place, he was no despot and from the very start favored giving the people a greater say in how their money was spent and how France was governed. However, even with all of the problems facing France, as a monarch, Louis XVI took a broader look at the past, present and future of France and wanted to see past losses made right and gains made for a greater future for his country. Of course, particularly after the drubbing France had taken in the recent conflicts with Great Britain, it was the British who would be the primary rival in his foreign policy. The King was not malicious or reckless by any means but he was determined to see British gains made at the expense of France reversed.

This was what ultimately led to the French intervention in the American Revolution (or more properly ‘War for Independence’). Louis XVI had deep reservations about helping any rebels in waging war against their sovereign yet he was persuaded to make an alliance with the fledgling United States by a combination of the urging of his advisers and his desire to see an end to the British domination of North America and, perhaps, a much greater French influence in the region. Although not often remembered, following the French and Indian War the French military had been reformed and greatly improved. The expeditionary force sent to North America fought extremely well and, along with the French navy, proved decisive in securing the independence of the United States by forcing Great Britain to give up on the war and come to terms with their former fellow subjects. The islands of Tobago and Grenada were taken from the British (Tobago being retained by France along with Senegal in the final settlement) but, to some extent, Louis XVI was undercut by his American allies who made a separate peace with Great Britain and effectively thwarted the greatest ambition King Louis had for the conflict which was the recovery of Canada. Had the war gone on there is every reason to believe that could have happened.

In the other great arena of colonial competition, Louis XVI also hoped to reverse previous losses and see the growing British dominance in India come to an end. He allied with the Maratha Empire and took the side of the Sultan of Mysore in the Second Anglo-Mysore War in the hope of breaking the dominance of the British East India Company, curtailing British influence in India and increasing French influence. France actually had a much larger sphere of influence in India, controlling large parts of the east coast and holding sway over the majority of the southern subcontinent. French troops and ships were active in the region but due to the distance involved the campaign was overtaken by events elsewhere and when the end of the American Revolution forced France to make a hasty peace with Britain the previous French support for the Indians was withdrawn. In the end Britain and the Indian forces made peace that restored the pre-war status quo in India. Again, had not the situation in American brought hostilities to an end, it is conceivable that France, working through local alliances, might have dethroned Britain from her place of prominence in India.

There was also the Far East to consider and, though not often remembered, it was under King Louis XVI that France first took a serious interest in Vietnam and, indirectly, helped bring about the victory of the last great imperial dynasty of Vietnamese history. Crown Prince Canh, heir of the future Emperor Gia Long, came to Versailles as a boy, converting to Christianity and symbolizing the alliance by which French support was promised to his father in exchange for favorable trade agreements and some minor territorial concessions. The previous regime in Vietnam had viciously persecuted Christians and King Louis was anxious to see a more humane dynasty put in place. A Catholic missionary had saved the life of Gia Long and he vowed that the rights of Christians would always be respected in his domain. However, by the time these great events were to take place in southeast Asia the forces of the Revolution were gaining strength and events rapidly approached a climax. King Louis was not able to play the decisive role he had wished to. Still, the Bishop of Adran acted on his own to help Emperor Gia Long take the throne and so things worked out. The only problems arose in the future when post-revolutionary French regimes tried to collect the payments promised to Louis XVI which the Vietnamese were reluctant to grant since it was the Bishop rather than the government in Paris which had actually helped them at the critical time.

King Louis also sponsored around-the-world voyages of exploration and the world (certainly North America) owes a great deal to Louis XIV for doing the same in his time. The point of all of this is that King Louis XVI was not, as he is so often portrayed, some sort of totally indecisive ditherer who fussed and prayed over one crisis after another. He had big plans for France, he had ambition, he wanted to see France recover her place of greatness in the world and had a few things gone differently there is no reason to believe that she could not have done so.
Read more: http://madmonarchist.blogspot.com/2012/01/greatness-of-king-louis-xvi.html
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Reforms of Louis XVI

Post  Julygirl on Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:47 pm

Here is one of Elena's old posts.
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2008/12/reforms-of-louis-xvi.html



Here are some of the reforms of Louis XVI, made of his own free will beginning from the moment he ascended the throne. He was considered quite the Liberal.

1774 Louis XVI placed Turgot in charge of finances and introduced free circulation of grain. Founded School of Medicine in Paris.

1775 Droits d'octroi were reduced, prison reform begun, and the death penalty for deserters was abolished.

1776 The king signed the six edicts of Turgot comprising the abolition of the corvée. The parlements resisted the edicts, preventing them from becoming law. In the same year he reduced his household.

1778 More taxes reduced.

1779 The king abolished servitude and other reforms were made.

1780 Further reductions in the Royal household were made, hospital reform was begun, prison reform continued, most torture was abolished.

1784 Relief given to Jews.

1786 More hospital reform, aid to the deaf, and provisions made for lost children.

1787 Steps taken towards the total abolition of the corvée, more reductions in royal household, civil rights accorded to Jews and Protestants.

1788 All forms of torture were abolished, greater freedom given to press, steps towards abolition of lettres de cachet.

All of the above is taken from Nesta Webster's Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette during the Revolution, but it is a matter of public record as well. There are also discussions on the king's reforms in Simon Schama's Citizens and Vincent Cronin's Louis and Antoinette. Anyone who thinks Louis XVI was a lazy, sluggish, do-nothing king need only examine the six volumes of laws passed during his reign. He wanted to reform the feudal tax system, which is why he called the Estates-General. If all the nobles and wealthy clergy had been minimally taxed, there would have been no deficit.

The enemies of the king were determined his plans were not to succeed. They had been planning for years. As Marie-Antoinette wrote to her brother Leopold II in August 1790 about the society she had once thought to be innocuous:
Be well on your guard where you are with regard to all associations of Freemasons. You must already have been warned that it is by this means that all the monsters here count on attaining the same end in every country. Oh, God, preserve my fatherland and you from such misfortunes.
(Image: Louis XVI rendant la liberté aux serfs de son royaume. Dessin de Charles de Wailly, 1783.)
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Re: Louis maligned by history

Post  Mata Hari on Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:53 pm

Julygirl wrote:Here is one of Elena's old posts.
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2008/12/reforms-of-louis-xvi.html



Here are some of the reforms of Louis XVI, made of his own free will beginning from the moment he ascended the throne. He was considered quite the Liberal.

1774 Louis XVI placed Turgot in charge of finances and introduced free circulation of grain. Founded School of Medicine in Paris.

1775 Droits d'octroi were reduced, prison reform begun, and the death penalty for deserters was abolished.

1776 The king signed the six edicts of Turgot comprising the abolition of the corvée. The parlements resisted the edicts, preventing them from becoming law. In the same year he reduced his household.

1778 More taxes reduced.

1779 The king abolished servitude and other reforms were made.

1780 Further reductions in the Royal household were made, hospital reform was begun, prison reform continued, most torture was abolished.

1784 Relief given to Jews.

1786 More hospital reform, aid to the deaf, and provisions made for lost children.

1787 Steps taken towards the total abolition of the corvée, more reductions in royal household, civil rights accorded to Jews and Protestants.

1788 All forms of torture were abolished, greater freedom given to press, steps towards abolition of lettres de cachet.

All of the above is taken from Nesta Webster's Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette during the Revolution, but it is a matter of public record as well. There are also discussions on the king's reforms in Simon Schama's Citizens and Vincent Cronin's Louis and Antoinette. Anyone who thinks Louis XVI was a lazy, sluggish, do-nothing king need only examine the six volumes of laws passed during his reign. He wanted to reform the feudal tax system, which is why he called the Estates-General. If all the nobles and wealthy clergy had been minimally taxed, there would have been no deficit.

The enemies of the king were determined his plans were not to succeed. They had been planning for years. As Marie-Antoinette wrote to her brother Leopold II in August 1790 about the society she had once thought to be innocuous:
Be well on your guard where you are with regard to all associations of Freemasons. You must already have been warned that it is by this means that all the monsters here count on attaining the same end in every country. Oh, God, preserve my fatherland and you from such misfortunes.
(Image: Louis XVI rendant la liberté aux serfs de son royaume. Dessin de Charles de Wailly, 1783.)

A great king. sunny

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Re: Louis maligned by history

Post  Bunnies on Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:42 pm

Small correction: The army that Napoleon used to traipse across Europe was built by the Committee of Public Safety not Louis XVI. Contemporaries and historians agree that, in the words of the officer Putigny, "in the Spring of 1794 the army was transformed" absolutely. Some of these changes appear negligible, such as merely combining a series individual battalions into massive corps but others were of a more tangible type, such as the levee en masse and allowing those without noble birth to become officers based on merit (Louis XVI's reign saw a revival of the previous censures). Even outside of the intangible, there is the tangible fact that during the Revolution the army had to be built up yet again, specifically when it came to the Navy's lack of ships.

Whatever Louis XVI's alterations were, they were in turn altered by men such as Saint Just (field tactics), Barère (morale), Lindet (requisitions/supplies), Robespierre (morale, and supplies), Billaud (levee en mass), Carnot and the Prieurs (general organization and engineering), and Saint-Andre (naval organization) -- Collot and Couthon probably contributed as well, but for the life of me I don't know how in specific. Still, it was their alterations that Napoleon used to conquer Europe, a fact that Napoleon himself acknowledged, dubbing Carnot his "organizer of victory" and calling the Committee of Public Safety's war cabinet the "only government [he] ever respected."
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Re: Louis maligned by history

Post  Elena on Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:25 pm

Well, yes, but Louis set it all in motion. His army and navy helped defeat the British in the War for American Independence.

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Re: Louis maligned by history

Post  Bunnies on Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:59 pm

Certainly. But Louis XV's contributions can't be ignored either. It was either at the tail-end of his reign or in the beginning slice of his grandson's that the artillery was standardized - this was the biggest contribution to the French army's power, and whether it happened in the reign of Louis XV or XVI, it wasn't the brainchild of either one.
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Re: Louis maligned by history

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Fri Jul 25, 2014 12:49 am

Not sure if this belongs here but it fits!

Any thoughts on some of the unflattering descriptions of Louis from contemporaries? Even when he was younger. Many accounts describe him as being tall and slender.

I know Madame Du Barry had an unfavorable impression of "Berry" and referred to him as dull and fat. Others commented on his lack of grace. Sure, he wasn't as "polished" as others and and his near-sightedness probably contributed to some of his clumsy manners but I don't think it was too bad.

People were put off by his sense of humor and some of his brusque, blunt comments. I don't think he meant any harm or wanted to make other feels uncomfortable.

Thoughts?
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Re: Louis maligned by history

Post  Sophie on Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:03 pm

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:Thoughts?

These little mocking comments that you mention (his awkward manners, the "bad jokes", the clumsy style because of near-sightedness) seem to be popular among his own Versailles courtiers. It was a fake world where externalities were the most important factors by judging someone. Louis wasn't the prototype of the handsome chevalier - it was Artois -, which was enough to make him a target of ridicule, even if he was the Dauphin or the King himself. But my opinion is that his really bad reputation only came with the Revolution. The loyalty of the average French citizens toward their King wouldn't have disturbed by facts that he is awkward, clumsy or weird, but journals like Marat's or Hébert's persuaded them that Louis is no man with little errors, but a real sinner in various ways. The "rich monarch who spends the country's money", the "murderer of the nation", the "fat king who eats all the time while the nation is starving" - these are real accusations that might have led to the bad image still exists today. In more peaceful times, kings' various failures are easily forgiven and forgotten, but Louis lived in extraordinary days that influenced his reputation until nowadays.
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Re: Louis maligned by history

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:11 pm

This is all true!

I do not believe Louis was unattracitve or as dull and clumsy as people think. There were many other factors to consider. The king was kind though and a sensitive man. So I do not think he meant offense. He did have a bit of a playful nature too which people forget.

And I doubt his portraits really make him look better than he was. There are enough accounts to agree that he was tall and handsome and carried himself well enough even if he wasn't a dandy or had different pursuits.
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