This paper has to be written as if you where there making the judgement you have to pick a side and fight for it.
!2 font, Times new roman, chicago turabian format for cited work, 7 pages written 1 source page =8 pages rember lots of detail pick a side and defend I would prefer the side of the king but it is up to you just give a good arguement
No doubt about it: the King’s Trial marked a crucial turning point for the French Revolution; the procedures and arguments brought against the king took on a life of their own, helping push the Revolution in increasingly radical directions. Within the National Convention, deputies raised a wide range of arguments over this issue. For our purposes, we can simplify these into three major options:
1) There was neither legal precedent nor basis for trying the king; his abdication was punishment enough.
2) There was plenty of legal basis to try the king; moreover, it was absolutely essential to do so, both to defend the Revolution and uphold the rule of law.
3) The uprising of August 10 had in effect decided the matter; the popular will had declared Louis an enemy to the nation, and justice must be served.
The first two positions are eloquently stated in your Mason sourcebook, in the readings from Morrison and Condorcet, respectively. As for the third, you can draw upon the speeches made at the time by Robespierre and Saint-Just, which I’ve also posted under Assignments at Blackboard.
Each of the above arguments suggested radically different views of the Revolution. Much of the genius of the Constitution of 1791 lay in its artful ambiguities. Because it reserved an important role for the king, it could be seen by monarchists as an affirmation of French royal tradition, even as others could mainly emphasize its bold departures in government and law. Was the new government a radical rupture with France’s past, or a seamless continuation of French tradition? The Constitution of 1791 left the door open to both interpretations.
But as we’ve seen, this artful compromise did not prevail, if only because the king refused to embrace the role given him. The unraveling of the constitution during 1791-92 greatly polarized French opinion regarding Louis XVI; by the summer of 1792, a large and growing number of people had concluded that the king’s persistent resistance to the Revolution required that he be removed from office. That pattern of resistance, moreover, looked very much like treason – especially as France found itself embroiled in wars with Austria and Prussia. But in what exactly did this treason consist? Was it an actionable offense? And what if any legal right did the Convention have to place him on trial?
Now here are the soucres you must use including The French Revolution Document Collection by Laura Mason and Tracey Rizzo. Than these sources.
The First source
The King’s Trial: The Position Against the King
- Maximilien Robespierre (3 December 1792)
Maximilien Robespierre, a leading Jacobin deputy in the Convention, had originally opposed the trial, believing that to try the King was to imply the possibility of his innocence. Nevertheless, once it was under way, Robespierre took the lead in arguing that on trial was not “the man Louis Capet” but the institution of the monarchy . He argued that since the Revolution essentially concerned the sovereignty of the people, a Revolution could not coexist with a king, and thus, he reached his famous conclusion that Louis must die, so that the Revolution could live.
Citizens, without realizing it the Assembly has been lead far from the true question. There is no trial to be conducted here. Louis is not accused and you are not judges. You are, as you can only be, the nation’s statesmen and representatives. No verdict is required, either for or against a man. Rather, a step aimed at the public safety needs to be taken, an act of salvation for the nation. In a Republic a deposed king is good for only one of two things: He either disrupts the peace of the state and weakens its freedom, or he strengthens both simultaneously. I assert that the nature of the deliberations to date are directly at odds with this latter goal. In fact, what rational course of action is called for to solidify a newborn Republic? Is it not to etch an eternal contempt for royalty into everyone’s soul and mute the King’s supporters? . . .
Louis was the King, and the Republic is established. The vital question that occupies you here is resolved by these few words: Louis has been deposed by his crimes. He denounced the French people as rebels, and to punish them he called upon the arms of his fellow tyrants. Victory and the people have decided that he alone was the rebel. Consequently, Louis cannot be judged. Either he is already condemned, or else the Republic is not absolved. To suggest that Louis XVI be tried in any way whatsoever is to regress toward royal and constitutional despotism. A proposal such as this, since it would question the legitimacy of the Revolution itself, is counterrevolutionary. In actuality, if Louis can still be brought to trial, he might yet be acquitted. In truth, he is presumed innocent until he has been found guilty. If Louis is acquitted, what then becomes of the Revolution? If Louis is innocent, all defenders of liberty are then slanderers. . . .
Citizens, defend yourselves against [tyranny]! False ideas have deceived you. . . . You are confusing the state of a people in the midst of a revolution with the state of a people whose government is firmly established. You are confusing a nation that punishes a public official while maintaining its form of government with a nation that destroys the government itself. . . .
When a nation has been forced to resort to its right of insurrection, its relationship with the tyrant is then determined by the law of nature. By what right does the tyrant invoke the social contract? He abolished it! The nation, if it deems proper, may preserve the contract insofar as it concerns the relations between citizens. But the end result of tyranny and insurrection is to completely break all ties with the tyrant and to reestablish the state of war between the tyrant and the people. Tribunals and judiciary procedure are designed only for citizens. . . .
Insurrection is the real trial of a tyrant. His sentence is the end of his power, and his sentence is whatever the People’s liberty requires.
The trial of Louis XVI? What is this trial if not an appeal from the insurrection to some tribunal or assembly? When the people have dethroned a king, who has the right to revive him, thereby creating a new pretext for riot and rebellion and what else could result from such actions? By giving a platform to those championing Louis XVI, you rekindle the dispute between despotism and liberty and sanction blasphemy of the Republic and the people . . . for the right to defend the former despot includes the right to say anything that sustains his cause. You reawaken all the factions, reviving and encouraging a dormant royalism. One could easily take a position for or against. What could be more legitimate or more natural than to everywhere spread the maxims that his defenders could openly profess in the courtroom, and within your very forum? What manner of Republic is it whose founders solicit its adversaries from all quarters to attack it in its cradle? . . .
Representatives, what is important to the people, what is important to yourselves, is that you fulfill the duties with which the people have entrusted you. The Republic has been proclaimed, but have you delivered it to us. You have yet to pass a single law deserving of that title. You have yet to reform a single abuse of despotism. Remove but the name and we have tyranny still, with even more vile factions and even more immoral charlatans, while there is new tumultuous unrest and civil war. The Republic! And Louis still lives! And you continue to place the King between us and liberty! Our scruples risk turning us into criminals. Our indulgence for the guilty risks our joining him in his guilt. . . .
Regretfully I speak this fatal truth. Louis must die because the nation must live. Among a peaceful people, free and respected both within their country and from without, it would be possible to listen to the counsel of generosity which you have received. But a people that is still fighting for its freedom after so much sacrifice and so many battles; a people for whom the laws are not yet irrevocable except for the needy; a people for whom tyranny is still a crime subject to dispute such a people should want to be avenged. The generosity which you are encouraged to show would more closely resemble that of a gang of brigands dividing their spoils.
I propose that you take immediate legal action on the fate of Louis XVI. . . . I ask that the National Convention state that from this moment on he is a traitor to the French nation and a criminal against humanity. I ask that for these reasons, that in the very place where the martyrs of liberty gave their lives on the tenth of August, he be made an example for the world. And I ask that this memorable event be consecrated by a monument that will nurture in the hearts of all people a sense of their own rights and a horror of tyrants, as well as nurture in any tyrant’s soul the salutary terror of the people’s justice.
Source: M. J. Mavidal and M. E. Laurent, eds., Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860, première série (1787 à 1799), 2d ed., 82 vols. (Paris: Dupont, 18791913), 5356:32426.
- Saint-Just on the King’s Fate (27 December 1792)
By late December, the Convention was in the process of trying the King. Louis agreed to testify in his own defense. He justified the decisions of 1789–91 by pointing out that he had still been King and that he had consistently tried to rule within the parameters of the constitution. The next day, Saint–Just spoke for the second time, reproaching the deputies for allowing the proceedings to drag on during the war crisis. Finally he urged them to act decisively for liberty and against tyranny by condemning Louis.
Any sensitive man on earth would respect our courage. What people ever made greater sacrifices for liberty! What people was more betrayed! What people less avenged! Let the King himself look into his heart and ask how he has treated this People who today are no more than just, no less than great?
Citizens, when first you deliberated the question of this trial, I told you that a king was outside the state, and by nature above the law. This is why whatever covenant may have been agreed upon between the People and the King (in this case an illegitimate covenant), it did not bind him. Nonetheless, you formed a tribunal, and the sovereign stands at the bar with the King who is before you pleading his case and defending himself.
You permitted that insult to the dignity of the people. Louis has cast the blame for his crimes on the ministers whom he oppressed and deceived. “Sire,” wrote de Morgue to the King on 16 June 1792, “I hereby resign. The particular orders Your Majesty has given me prevent me from executing the laws.” On another occasion, de Morgue tries to clear himself from having advised the King to approve the writ against fanatical priests. What sort of prince is it, before whom a minister needs to defend his integrity? And that man is supposed to be inviolable! Such is the circle in which you are placed: you are the judges, Louis the prosecutor, and the People the accused.
I do not know where this travesty of the most basic principles of justice will lead you. Had Louis refused your jurisdiction, the trap might not have been sprung. The denial of the sovereignty of the People would have been the final proof of his tyranny. But since the Revolution Louis has tended noticeably less towards open resistance. Supplely, seemingly unrefined and simplistic, he has shown his skill in dividing men. His unflagging policy was to remain motionless or to move in step with all patriots, just as today he seems even to work with his judges in order to make the insurrection appear to be but the rising of a lawless mob.
Defenders of the King, what would you require of us? If he is innocent, the nation is guilty. We must finish answering, for the very act of deliberating accuses the People.
I have heard talk of an appeal to the People of the verdict which the People itself will pronounce through us.
Citizens, if you permit an appeal to the People, you will be saying to them, “the guilt of your murderer is in doubt.” Do you not see that such an appeal would tend to divide the People and the legislature, would tend to weaken representation, to restore monarchy, to destroy liberty? And if plotting succeeds in altering your verdict, I ask you gentlemen if you would be left with any option besides renouncing the Republic and returning the tyrant to his throne. There is but a small step from the King’s exoneration to his triumph, and from there to the triumph of monarchy. Yet should the accusing people, the ravaged people, the oppressed people, be the judge? Did they not decline that responsibility after the tenth of August? Nobler, more scrupulous, less cruel than those who would send the accused before them, the People wanted a council to decide his fate. That tribunal has already shown too much weakness, and that weakness has already softened public opinion. If the tyrant appeals to his accusers, he does what Charles I never dared. In a functioning monarchy, it is not you who judge the King, for you are nothing by yourselves, but the People judge and speak through you.
Today will decide the fate of the Republic. It is doomed if the tyrant goes unpunished. The enemies of the common good will reappear, meet, and hope. The forces of tyranny will pick up their pieces like a reptile renewing its lost tail. All evil men are for the King. Who here then can join him? False pity is on the lips of some, anger on the lips of others. Everything serves to either corrupt us or frighten us down to our souls. Be steadfast in your severity and rest assured of the People’s gratitude in time to come. Be more attuned to the true interests of the People than to the empty concerns and empty clamor by which the schemers seek to play upon the respect you have for the rights of the People, the better to destroy those rights and deceive the People. You called for war on all the tyrants of the world, and you would respect your own! Are bloody laws enforced only against the oppressed, and is the oppressor to be spared? . . .
We have shown an odd scorn towards the principles and character of this situation. Louis wishes to be King, to speak as King even while denying it. But a man unjustly placed above the law can present the judge only with his innocence or his guilt. Louis can only challenge us by proving his innocence and innocence has no need to challenge its judges for it has nothing to fear. Let Louis explain how the papers you have seen may favor liberty, let him show his wounds, and let us judge the People.
Some will say that the Revolution is over, that we have nothing more to fear from the tyrant, and that the law now calls for the death of a usurper. But, citizens, tyranny is like a reed which bends with the wind and which rises again. What do you call a Revolution? The fall of a throne, a few blows levied at a few abuses? Moral order is like physical order: abuses disappear for an instant, just as the morning dew dries, and then just as it falls again with the night, so the abuses reappear. The Revolution begins when the tyrant ends.
I have attempted to show the conduct of the King. It is now for you to be just. You must put aside all considerations but those of justice and the common good. Above all, you must not compromise your liberty which was acquired at so high a price. You must pronounce a verdict which allows for no appeal. If you do not, the greatest of criminals, and a King, will have been the first to enjoy a right refused to citizens, and the tyrant will once again be above the law, even after his trial. Nor should you permit the verdict to be challenged, for it reflects the wishes and opinions of all. If those who spoke of the King are challenged, we will challenge, in the name of France, those who said nothing for our country or those who deceived it.
France is amongst us; let each man choose between her and the King, between the exercise of justice by the People and the exercise of your own weaknesses.
Weigh, if you will, the example which you owe the world, the impetus you owe liberty and the unflagging justice you owe the People, against criminal pity for one who never felt such a sentiment. Say to Europe as it bears witness: Unite your kings against us for we have rebelled against kings. Have the courage to speak the truth, for it seems to me that there are those here who fear sincerity. Truth burns silently in all hearts, like a lamp burning over a tomb. Yet if there be someone among you unconcerned by the fate of the Republic, let him fall at the feet of the tyrant, let him return the knife with which he slaughtered your fellow citizens, let him forget all crimes of the King and tell the people that we have been corrupted, and that we have been less interested in their well-being than in the fate of an assassin.
Source: M. J. Mavidal and M. E. Laurent, eds., Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860, première série (1787 à 1799), 2d ed., 82 vols. (Paris: Dupont, 1879–1913), 53–56:706–10.
The Second source
Two additional documents for your review:
- a) the relevant portions of the French Constitution concerning the king and his immunity from prosecution;
- b) the accusations (all thirty-three) made against Louis as he was put on trial in December 1792
- Relevant Constitutional Passages:
Article 2: The person of the king is inviolable and sacred: his only title is King of the French.
Article 5: If, one month after the invitation of the legislative body, the King shall not have taken this oath [given in article 4], or if, after having taken it, he retracts it, he shall be considered to have abdicated the throne.
Article 6: If the King puts himself at the head of an army and directs the forces thereof against the nation, or if he does not by a formal instrument place himself in opposition to any such enterprise which may be conducted in his name, he shall be considered to have abdicated the throne.
Article 7: If the King, having left the kingdom, should not return after the invitation which shall be made to him for that purpose by the legislative body and within the period which shall be fixed by the proclamation, which shall not be less than two months, he shall be considered to have abdicated the throne.
Article 8: After the express or legal abdication, the king shall be in the class of citizens and can be tried like them for acts subsequent to his abdication.
- The Accusation
What follows are the 33 charges read against Louis at the onset of his trial, December 10, 1792
Louis, the French people accuse you of having committed a multitude of crimes in order to establish your tyranny by destroying its liberty.
- On 20 June 1789, you attacked the sovereignty of the people by suspending the assemblies of its representatives and by driving them by violence from the place of their sessions. Proof thereof exists in the procès-verbal drafted at the Tennis Court of Versailles by the members of the Constituent Assembly.
- On 23 June you wished to dictate the laws to the nation; you surrounded its representatives with troops; you presented them with two royal declarations, subversive of every liberty, and you ordered them to separate. Your declarations and the minutes of the Assembly established these outrages undeniably.
- You caused an army to march against the citizens of Paris; your satellites caused their blood to flow, and you withdrew this army only when the capture of the Bastille and the general insurrection apprised you that the people were victorious. The discourses that you gave on 9, 12, and 14 July to divers deputations from the Constituent Assembly indicated your intentions, and the massacres of the Tuileries stood as evidence against you.
- After said events, and in spite of the promises you made on the 15th in the Constituent Assembly, and on the 17th at the Paris City Hall, you persisted in your designs against national liberty. For a long time you evaded executing the decrees of 11 August concerning the abolition of personal servitude, the feudal regime, and the tithe. For a long time you refused to acknowledge the Declaration of the Rights of Man. You doubled the number of your bodyguards and summoned the Flanders Regiment to Versailles. In orgies held before your very eyes your permitted the national cockade to be trampled under foot, the white cockade to be raised, and the nation blasphemed; finally, you occasioned a new insurrection, caused the death of several citizens, and only after the defeat of your guards did you change your language and renew your perfidious promises. The proofs of these facts are present in foot your observations of 18 September on the decrees of 11 August, in the minutes of the Constituent Assembly, in the events of 5 and 6 October at Versailles, and in the discourse that you gave on the same day to a deputation from the Constituent Assembly, when you told it that you wished to enlighten its counsels and never to separate yourself from it.
- At the federation of 14 July you took an oath which you have not kept. Soon you attempted to corrupt the public mind with the aid of Talon, who acted in Paris, and of Mirabeau, who was to impart a counter-revolutionary movement to the provinces. You disbursed millions to accomplish such corruption, and you even wished to make popularity a means of enslaving the people. These facts derive from a memoir of Talon, postscripted by your own hand, and from a letter written to you by Laporte on 19 April, and in which, reporting a conversation that he had had with Rivarol, he told you that the millions pledged to you for distribution had produced nothing.
- For a long time you contemplated flight: on 23 February a memoir was sent to you indicating the means therefore, and you approved it. On the 28th a multitude of nobles and officers distributed themselves throughout your apartments at the Tuileries Palace to facilitate such flight. On 18 April you wished to leave Paris to go to St. Cloud, but the resistance of the citizens showed you that opposition was great; you sought to dissipate it by communicating to the Constituent Assembly a letter that you were sending to the agents of the nation in foreign countries, to announce to them that you had freely accepted the constitutional articles presented to you, but on 21 June you made your escape with a false passport; you left a declaration against those same constitutional articles; you ordered the ministers not to sign any documents emanating from National Assembly, and you forbade the Minister of Justice to deliver the Seals of State. The people’s money was wasted in achieving the success of this treason, and the public force was to protect it under the orders of Bouillé, who but lately had been charged with directing the massacre of Nancy, and to whom you had written concerning that event to attest to his popularity because he might be useful to you. These facts are proven by the memoir of 23 February, postscripted in your own hand; by your declaration of 20 June, entirely in your handwriting; by your letter of 24 September 1790, to Bouillé, and by a note from him in which he gave you an accounting of the use of 983,000 livres provided by you and employed in part in the corrupting of the troops which were to be your escort.
- After your arrest at Varennes, the exercise of the executive power was for a time taken form your hands; and still you conspired. On 17 July the blood of citizens was shed at the Champ-de-Mars. A letter in your handwriting, written in 1790 to Lafayette, proves that a criminal coalition existed between you and him, and that Mirabeau had acceded thereto. Revision began under these cruel auspices; all kinds of corruption were employed you paid for libels, pamphlets, newspapers intended to pervert public opinion, to discredit the assignats, and to uphold the cause of the émigrés. The registers of Septeuil show that enormous sums were spent in these liberticide stratagems. On 14 September you apparently accepted the Constitution; your speeches announced a desire to maintain it, and you worked to overthrow it before it even was achieved.
- An agreement was made at Pillnitz, on 24 July, between Leopold of Austria and Frederick William of Brandenburg, who pledged themselves to restore to France the throne of the absolute monarchy; and you were silent on that agreement up to the time when it was known to all Europe.
- Arles raised the standard of revolt; you favored it by sending three civil commissioners, who concerned themselves, not with repressing the counter-revolutionaries, but with justifying their attacks.
- Avignon and the Comtat Venaissin were joined to France; and you did not have the decree executed until a month had elapsed; and during that time civil war desolated that territory. The commissioners you successively sent there completed the work of devastation.
- Nimes, Montauban, and Jalès experienced great disturbances from the first days of counter-revolution, up to the time when the conspiracy of Dussailant manifested itself.
- You sent twenty-two battalions against the people of Marseilles who were marching to subdue the counter-revolutionaries of Arles.
- You gave the command of the South to Wittgenstein, who wrote to you on 21 April 1792, after he had been recalled; “A little throne thousands of Frenchmen who have again become worthy of the vows you are making for their welfare.”
- You paid your former bodyguards at Coblenz; the registers of Septeuil stand proof thereof, and several orders signed by you show that you had considerable sums passed on to Boullé, Rochefort, La Vauguyon, Choiseul-Beaupré, Hamilton, and Mme. Polignac.
- Your brothers, enemies of the state, have rallied the émigrés under their colors; they have raised regiments, borrowed money, and contracted alliances in your name; you disavowed them only when you were quite certain that you could not harm their plans. Your understanding with them is proved by a letter written in the handwriting of Louis-Stanislas-Xavier, signed by your two brothers, and worded as follows: “I wrote to you, but it was by post and I could say nothing. We are here two persons acting as one, with the same sentiments, the same principles the same ardor to serve you. We are maintaining silence; but that is because, by breaking it too soon, we might compromise you; but we shall speak as soon as we are sure of general support, and that moment is near. If we are addressed on the part of those people, we shall listen to nothing; if it is on your behalf, we shall heed; but we shall go straight along our way; so, if they want you to make us say something, do not worry. Be at ease about your safety; we live only to serve you; we are working ardently for that purpose, and all is going well; even our enemies take too great an interest in your presentation to commit a useless crime which would complete their destruction. Farewell. L.-S. –Xavier and Charles-Philippe.”
- The army of the line, which should have been brought to a war footing, was only 100,000 strong at the end of December; you thus neglected to provide for the external security of the State. Narbonne, your agent, requested a levy of 50,000 men; but he stopped the recruiting at 26,000, giving assurance that everything was ready. Nothing, however, was ready. After him, Servan proposed the formation of a camp of 20,000 men in the vicinity of Paris; the Legislative Assembly so decreed; you refused your sanction. An outburst of enthusiasm caused citizens to set out from all sides for Paris; you issued a proclamation which tended to stop them. However, our armies were lacking in soldiers; Dumouriez, Servan’s successor, declared that the nation had neither arms, munitions, nor provisions, and that the positions were not defendable.
- You were issued an order to the commanders of the troops to disorganize the army, to drive entire regiments to desertion, and to have them cross the Rhine in order to place them at the disposal of your brothers and Leopold of Austria; this fact is proved by a letter from Toulongeon, commander of Franche-Comté.
- You charged your diplomatic agents with favoring the coalition of foreign powers and your brothers against France; and particularly to strengthen peace between Turkey and Austria, in order to excuse the latter from supplying its frontiers on the Turkish boundary and thereby to procure for it a greater number of troops against France. A letter from Choiseul-Gouffier, former ambassador to Constantinople, establishes this fact.
- You waited to be actuated by a requisition made to Minister Lajard, whom the Legislative Assembly was asking to indicate his means of providing for the external security of the State, before proposing by a message the levy of forty-two battalions.
- The Prussians were advancing on our frontiers. Your minister was called upon, on 8 July, to give an account of the state of our political relations with Prussia; on the 10th you replied that 50,000 Prussians were marching against us, and that you were advising the Legislative Body officially of these imminent hostilities, as required by the Constitution.
- You entrusted the Department of War to Dabancourt, nephew of Calonne; and such was the success of your conspiracy, that the positions of Longwy and Verdun were surrendered as soon as the enemy appeared.
- You destroyed our navy. Many officers of that body were émigrés; hardly any remained to perform the service of the ports: however, Bertrand always granted passports; when the Legislative Body exposed his guilt to you, on 8 March, you replied that you were satisfied with his services.
- You favored the maintenances of absolute government in the colonies; throughout them, your agents fomented disorder and counter-revolution, which took place at the same time that it occurred in France, a sufficient indications that your hand conducted this plot.
- The interior of the State was disturbed by fanatics, and you declared yourself their protector by manifesting the obvious intention of recovering your former power through them.
- On 29 September the Legislative Body issued a decree against rebellious priests; you suspended the execution thereof.
- Disturbances increased; the minister declared that, under existing laws, he knew of no means of prosecuting the guilty parties. The Legislative Body issued a new decree; you suspended its execution also.
- The lack of patriotism on the part of the guards whom the Constitution had given you necessitated their disbanding. The next day you wrote them a letter of satisfaction; you continued to pay them. This fact is proved by the accounts of the treasurer of the Civil List.
- You kept the Swiss Guards with you; the Constitution forbade them, and the Legislative Assembly had expressly ordered their departure.
- In Paris you had special companies charged with carrying on activities useful to your counter-revolutionary plans. D’Angremont and Gilles were two of your agents; they were on the payroll of the Civil List. The receipts of Gilles, charged with the organization of a company of sixty men, will be presented to you.
- You tried to bribe, with considerable sums, several members of the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies; letters form Dufresne Saint-Léon and several others, which will be presented to you, establish this fact.
- You allowed the French nation to be disgraced in Germany, in Italy, and in Spain, since you did nothing to exact reparation for the ill treatment which the French experienced in those countries.
- On 10 August you reviewed the Swiss Guards at five o’clock in the morning; and the Swiss Guards fired first on the citizens.
- You caused the blood of Frenchmen to flow.