Why was the execution of Louis XVI alarming for other countries such as Britain?
The January 21st 1793 execution of the former French monarch Louis XVI at the height of the French Revolution has remained one of the most controversial and discussed executions in history. The execution took place in Paris after the National Convention put the king on trial with 33 counts that include sabotage, betrayal and leadership failure on December 1792 (Perry et al., 2015). After weeks of trial and testimonies, the National Convention deputies unanimously voted 693 to none in favor of King Louis XVI’s guilt. Subsequently, the King was condemned to execution without right to legal appeal or appeal to the citizens. The execution that was conducted publicly before a crowd of more than 100,000 people occurred on 21 January 1793 and was done by means of guillotine (McNeese, 2000).
There are a number of reasons as to why many countries, such as Britain were alarmed by the king’s execution. First, other countries, including Britain saw the execution of the king as needless. For example, the London Press described King Louis XVI’s execution as a needless act of regicide. This was because Britain was not convinced that there was valid reason to execute Louis XVI’s. In fact, it was for this reason that England reacted angrily to the execution by expelling the French ambassador four days after the King’s execution. The execution of King Louis XVI was also alarming to many other countries because the king was not accorded the right of legal appeal or appeal to the people. Constitutionally, King Louis XVI like any other citizen had the right to legal appeal to the decision by the National Convention that voted in favor of his execution (McNeese, 2000). Unfortunately, the National Convention denied the king neither the right to legal appeal or nor appeal to the French people and this was alarming. Further, King Louis XVI’s execution was alarming to other nations including Britain because the execution was conducted publicly in front of more than 100,000 people. Perry et al. (2015) note that many European countries, such as Russia, Prussia and Austria condemned the king’s public execution describing it as violent and unwarranted. In particular, Europe saw the execution of King Louis XVI’s in public without fair trial an act of terror and this made them declare war against the revolutionizing France.
McNeese, T. (2000). The age of Napoleon (EnhanceD eBook). London: Lorenz Educational Press.
Perry, M., Chase, M., Jacob, J., Jacob, M., & Daly, J. W. (2015). Western civilization: Ideas, politics, and society: Since 1400. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.