On this day in 1793, the King of France Louis XVI was executed by guillotine in ‘Revolution Square’ in Paris. His execution was a turning point in the French Revolution. His regime had become increasingly unpopular and seen as tyrannical; thus opposition to the French aristocracy grew among the middle and lower classes. The French Revolution began with the storming of the Bastille on July 14th 1789. Louis’s continued opposition to the National Assembly (the transitional assembly from the King’s old Estates-General) and attempt to escape from France in 1791 sealed his fate.
After the fall of the monarchy on August 10th 1792, Louis was imprisoned and charged with high treason by the National Convention and sentenced to death. France was declared a republic on September 21st 1792. He was executed as ‘Citizen Louis Capet’, rather than King Louis XVI, on January 21st 1793. His wife Marie Antoinette was executed on 16th October the same year. Their executions were a major turning point in French Revolution and French history as a whole. Louis XVI was the only French King to ever be executed.
Accounts vary of the day of the King’s execution, with the priest Father Edgeworth saying the King proclaimed:
“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.”