The Trials of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette (1792 &1793):
 Selected Links & Bibliography
by Douglas O. Linder

Scene from the trial of King Louis XVI before the National Convention in 1792.

Louis was officially arrested on August 13, 1792 and sent to the Temple, an ancient Paris fortress used as a prison. On 21 September, the National Assembly declared France to be a republic and abolished the monarchy.

The Girondins were partial to keeping the deposed king under arrest, both as a hostage and a guarantee for the future. The more radical members – mainly the Commune and Parisian deputies who would soon be known as the Mountain – argued for Louis's immediate execution. The legal background of many of the deputies made it difficult for a great number of them to accept an execution without due process of some sort, and it was voted that the deposed monarch should be tried before the National Convention, the organ that housed the representatives of the sovereign people.

On 11 December, among crowded and silent streets, the deposed king was brought from the Temple to stand before the Convention and hear his indictment, an accusation of High Treason and Crimes against the State. On 26 December, his counsel, Raymond de Sèze, delivered Louis's response to the charges, with the assistance of François Tronchet and Malesherbes.

On 15 January 1793, the Convention, composed of 721 deputies, voted out the verdict, which was a foregone conclusion – 693 voted guilty, and none voted for acquittal. The next day, a voting roll-call was carried out in order to decide upon the fate of the king, and the result was, for such a dramatic decision, uncomfortably close. 288 deputies voted against death and for some other alternative, mainly some means of imprisonment or exile. 72 deputies voted for the death penalty, but subject to a number of delaying conditions and reservations. 361 deputies voted for Louis's immediate death.



"Louis XVI of France" Wikipedia

"The Inviolability Controversy in the Trial of Louis XVI" (Ronald L. Hayworth)(pdf)

Indictment of Louis XVI, Account of Execution, Proclamation of Death (The History Guide)

Mock Trial Exercise for the trial Louis XVI (Society for French Historical Studies)

"Trial of Marie Antoinette" (by Thomas Carlyle)

"Marie Antoinette" Wikipedia

The execution of King Louis XVI  (January 21, 1793)

Scene from the two-day trial of Marie Antoinette (October 1793)


History Channel.  The French Revolution (100 minutes, 2005).

PBS.  Marie Antoinette: A Film by David Grubin (120 minutes, 2006).


Cronin, Vincent.  Louis and Antoinette (Morrow, 1795).

Hibbert, Christopher.  The Days of the French Revolution (Harper, 1999).

Jordan, David.  The King's Trial (Univ. of California Press, 1979).

Mason, Laura.  The French Revolution: A Document Collection (Wasdworth, 1998).

Schama, Simon.  Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution (Alfred A. Knopf, 1989).

Walzer, Michael, ed.  Regicide and Revolution: Speeches at the Trial of Louis XVI (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1974).