Friday, January 21, 2011

The Death of a King

It was on this day in 1793 that His Most Christian Majesty, King Louis XVI of France and Navarre was executed guillotine after being declared a "traitor" by the French Convention. As had been the case since the reign of King Louis XIII, the King of France was the official protector of the Principality of Monaco and feudal overlord of her princes. Now the Bourbon monarchy had been abolished and Louis XVI was sent to his death for his royal blood. In time his wife would follow him, also sent to the guillotine, and his little son and heir, the Dauphin, would be starved to death in a revolutionary prison. This news undoubtedly sent shock waves throughout the House of Grimaldi. If the French revolutionaries would kill their own king, whose person was once held sacred, what mercy could a deposed monarch of a foreign princely family expect? At the time, HSH Prince Honore III was himself in a revolutionary prison, his country had been torn from him and in due time would be absorbed completely by the French Republic. What horror Prince Honore III and his son Hereditary Prince Honore IV must have felt when this news reached their ears. No doubt they wondered when their own turn to face Madame Guiolltine would come. Thankfully, that day did not come save for the tragic Princess Francoise-Therese de Choiseul-Satinville, wife of Prince Joseph of Monaco.

Although they may not have felt it as severely as the Princes of Monaco sitting in prison in Paris, the whole world was shocked the regicide of Louis XVI and none moreso than the remaining crowned heads of Europe. However, the United States was also not without outrage on the occasion. It had, oddly enough, been Thomas Paine of Pennsylvania, the famous propagandist of the American Revolution who had really sold the American public on dropping their loyalty to the King of England, who was the single member of the Convention to vote against the execution of the King. Paine warned his fellow revolutionaries that America had not forgotten that it had been the intervention of King Louis XVI which had ensured their victory in the war for independence. As Paine said, 'The man you have condemned to death is regarded by the people of the United States as their best friend, the founder of their freedom'. He warned them that by killing King Louis they would instantly turn the United States from a friend to a foe of the Revolution. Although some supporters remained, by and large he was correct.

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