The royal Flight to Varennes (French: Fuite à Varennes) during the night of 20–21 June 1791 was a significant episode in the French Revolution in which King Louis XVI of France, his queen Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family unsuccessfully attempted to escape from Paris in order to initiate a counter-revolution at the head of loyal troops under royalist officers concentrated at Montmédy near the frontier. While he distrusted Mirabeau, the king seemed to accept his advice about retreating from Paris. The king and his family were arrested at Varennes and returned to Paris. Whatever public affection the king had enjoyed in early 1791 was shattered by the events of June 20th and 21st. Privately, the king refused to attend any Mass given by a constitutional priest, believing this might endanger his immortal soul. This incident only confirmed what most already suspected: that the king and his family were virtual prisoners in Paris. By this stage, the escape party was some four hours behind schedule – but with around half the journey to Montmedy completed, the royals were confident their plan would succeed. - The King's lack of sincerity had become increasingly obvious - Increased fears of a royalist, foreign intervention ... How important was Louis personally for the rise of Robespierre and the Jacobins? The flight to Varennes proved to monarchical Europe that, despite protestations to the contrary, the French king did not approve the course of the revolution and in fact had become a prisoner of it. [11], Due to the cumulative effect of slow progression, time miscalculations, lack of secrecy, and the need to repair broken coach traces,[12] the royal family was thwarted in its escape attempt after leaving Paris. Mirabeau’s advisory notes to the king, discovered after his death in April 1791, were comprehensive and astute. The flight to Varennes refers to the royal family's failed attempt to escape Paris in June 1791. Students may jump on the idea of the king being a ‘traitor’ it’s important at this point to remind … Finally, Jean-Baptiste Drouet, the postmaster of Sainte-Menehould, recognized the king from his portrait printed on an assignat in his possession. 3. 5. Factors behind the king’s decision to flee included his lack of faith in the revolution and the Constitution of 1791, his personal religious beliefs, advice from Mirabeau and urging from his wife. Fersen, a regular visitor to France from the late 1770s, had become a favourite of Marie Antoinette. Search. In a letter drafted for presentation to the Diet of the Swiss Cantons at Zurich, the royalist baron de Breteuil stated that "His Majesty desires to have such imposing forces at his disposition, that even the most audacious rebels will have no other option than to submit". (Louis XVI) * shows Louis had failed to understand the popularity of the changes which had taken In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Stripping the king of his powers would alienate him from the revolution and lead it to failure. [10] The escape was largely planned by the queen's favourite, the Swedish Count Axel von Fersen and the Baron de Breteuil, who had garnered support from Swedish King Gustavus III. Other Sellers on Amazon. The royal family had been brought to Paris after the events of the 5 th October 1789 when a mob stormed the Versailles Palace. The Flight to Varennes. 4. Primary Sources. Students may jump on the idea of the king being a ‘traitor’ it’s important at this point to remind … Flight to Varennes. Discuss how different interest groups in France would respond on his return – what options were open to the Assembly? If the monarchy fell, Mirabeau believed, the revolution would collapse into leaderless anarchy. The question of what to do with the king after Varennes widened the gulf between political moderates and radical republicans. Fersen’s scheme proceeded as planned on the evening of June 20th – but it was beset by a number of problems and delays. They escaped only as far as the small town of Varennes-en-Argonne, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould. What was the significance of the flight to Varennes? Add to My HA. The king was appalled by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and its implications for the church in France. [4], The intended goal of the unsuccessful flight was to provide the king with greater freedom of action and personal security than was possible in Paris. The king had spent two years mouthing support for the constitution but his actions in June 1791 showed only contempt for it. A contingent of National Guard was immediately dispatched in pursuit of the royal family. On 28 February 1791, while the Marquis de Lafayette was handling a conflict in Vincennes, hundreds of royalists came to the Tuileries to demonstrate in support of the royal family, only to be expelled from the palace by National Guards. The king was arrested at 11pm on June 21st and dispatched back to Paris at 7am the following morning. He also mistakenly believed that he enjoyed particular favor with the peasantry and other commoners. Hébert on the flight to Varennes (1791). One was the advice of Honore Mirabeau. Nine months later, Marie Antoinette was also convicted of treason, and was beheaded on 16 October. Seeking to avoid this, the king and his family planned to leave Paris on April 18th and spend Easter at their summer house at Saint-Cloud. The king had attempted to flee the revolution and could no longer be trusted. This would mean receiving communion from a constitutional priest. A note left by Louis XVI after fleeing Paris (1791) It was further delayed near the city gates by a wedding party. SpaceX’s first-ever manned space flight with two NASA astronauts on Wednesday is a major milestone for Elon Musk’s private spacecraft company … Add to folder. during his flight from Paris to Montmédy was one of the most important events in the history of the French Revolution, and probably one of the most important in the history of France. Furthermore, he overestimated popular support for the traditional monarchy, mistakenly believing only Parisian radicals supported the revolution and that the populace as a whole opposed it. His Majesty was treated, as Pétion noted, like nothing had happened: “After a few minutes, we moved [to] the king’s apartments. Why did the flight to Varennes provoke such a strong reaction? Louis and his family were promptly detained and hustled back to Paris under guard. Henri Grégoire on the flight to Varennes (1791) Home. A historian’s view: By the summer of 1791 the royal family had been living in the Tuileries in the heart of Paris for almost two years. Once underway, the king’s entourage was forced to take a longer route out of Paris than originally planned. The king’s failed attempt to escape Paris was dubbed the flight to Varennes (something of a misnomer given the real objective of his flight was Montmedy). He successfully escaped, and spent the French revolution in exile, later returning to be crowned King Louis XVIII. "France: History". Publisher: Alpha History This event was a turning point in the revolution because it exposed the untrustworthiness of the king and the unworkability of the newly devised constitution. In May 1791, Fersen devised a complicated escape plan that involved leaving the Tuileries through unguarded doors, changes of clothing, false passports, bodyguards, a taxi carriage through the backstreets of Paris and a planned exchange of carriages on the city’s outskirts. According to the author, Timothy Tackett, “The King’s Flight to Varennes” - has marked a major turning point of the French Revolution. At the Estates-General two years earlier, Mirabeau had seemed an arch-radical, defiantly proclaiming that the National Assembly would only disperse at the point of bayonets. Did You Know? A member of the Assembly had to in fact protect Marie Antoinette from the crowds. (Louis XVI) * shows Louis had failed to understand the popularity of the changes which had taken It was as if those around him thought that he had returned home after a few days’ absence. It seemed as if the king had merely returned from a hunting expedition, and everyone was assisting him with his toilet. Back in Paris, the king’s escape was discovered around the time he was passing Châlons. The royal flight to Varennes took place on June 20th, 1791. The plan, hatched by Count Axel von Fersen and supported by Marie Antoinette, was to travel by coach to Montmedy, a fortress near the German border garrisoned by royalist troops. He decided to leave the country. A number of factors caused Louis XVI to lose whatever faith he had in the revolution. He immediately resumed his state of representation. 801–929. Already all valets were in attendance, wearing their usual court dress. Why was the flight to Varennes important? Article. what was the response of the people of france. He appeared twice, on 11 and 23 December, before the National Convention. Henceforth, the king seems to have become emotionally paralyzed, leaving most important decisions to the politically untrained queen. He was so phlegmatic and tranquil, as if nothing was out of the ordinary. They were located and detained the following day and returned to the capital. Even at full speed, such a journey would take an entire day and require around 20 stops for fresh horses. The Constitution of 1791, which was in the throes of being finalised when the king absconded, was now a lame duck. [5] At Montmédy General François Claude de Bouillé, the marquis de Bouillé, had concentrated a force of 10,000 regulars of the old royal army who were considered to still be loyal to the monarchy. In seeing the king, in observing him closely, it was impossible to guess that something momentous had just happened. They planned to escape to Austria and then recapture the French crown through foreign assistance. The flight to Varennes refers to the royal family's failed attempt to escape Paris in June 1791. Everyone was aware that foreign intervention was imminent. While stopped there they were identified by the local postmaster, Jean-Baptiste Drouet who, according to legend, recognised the king from his portrait on a coin or assignat. Title: “The flight to Varennes” But after Varennes, the mistrust built up by his long record of apparent ambivalence burst out into widespread demands from the populace of the capital and a number of radical publicists for the king to be dethroned.” [2], The king's flight was traumatic for France, inciting reactions ranging from anxiety to violence and panic. [6] De Bouillé himself had shown energy in suppressing a serious mutiny in Nancy in 1790. The Paris sections and radical journalists demanded the immediate abolition of the monarchy and the creation of a republic. This attack led in turn to the suspension of the king's powers by the Legislative Assembly and the proclamation of the First French Republic on 21 September. It was now no longer possible to pretend that the reforms of the French Revolution had been made with the free consent of the king. Louis himself chatted with peasants while horses were being changed at Fromentieres and Marie Antoinette gave silver dishes to a helpful local official at Chaintrix. Add to folder. From the autumn of 1791 on, the king tied his hopes of political salvation to the dubious prospects of foreign intervention. The Assembly responds to the flight to Varennes (1791) $32.75 + Free Shipping. His plans were shrouded in secrecy, but he probably intended to flee to Montmedy in Lorraine, where he hoped to gain the protection of the royalist military commander and negotiate the terms of the new constitution. The Flight to Varennes. Whatever public affection the king had enjoyed in early 1791 was shattered by the events of June 20th and 21st. In May 1790, he signed a secret deal with the crown, agreeing to work for the king’s benefit in the National Constituent Assembly. Flight to Varennes. He instead secretly committed himself to a policy of covert counter-revolution. As the French citizens were in the midst of terror and destruction of the Revolution, King Louis XVI attempted to flee Paris to Belgian frontiers almost succeed, but fortunately he was stopped just miles away from the frontier. De Bouille on his role in the flight to Varennes (1791) Jerome Pétion, the Republican politician who later became mayor of Paris, was amazed at the reception afforded the king on his return to the city. The Flight To Varennes: A... has been added to your Cart Add gift options. Prompted by Marie Antoinette, Louis rejected the advice of the moderate constitutionalists, led by Antoine Barnave, to fully implement the Constitution of 1791, which he had sworn to maintain. Article. The arrest of Louis XVI. Another factor in Louis’ decision to flee Paris was his devout religious faith. The royal flight to Varennes took place on June 20th, 1791. By Marisa Linton, published 9th February 2017. what actually happened on the night of the flight to Varennes? The realization that the king had effectually repudiated the revolutionary reforms made up to that point came as a shock to people who had seen him as a well-intentioned monarch who governed as a manifestation of God's will. While the Assembly had every intention of creating a limited or constitutional monarchy, after June 1791, such an idea became increasingly suspect. While the National Assembly took no immediate action, radicals demanded the abolition of the monarchy and the formation of a republic. However, various factions in Paris like the Cordeliers and the Jacobins disagreed, and this led to a protest at the Champ de Mars; the protest turned violent, resulting in the Champ de Mars Massacre.[16]. Another hour was lost near Châlons when the king’s carriage fell and damaged its harness sometime around dawn on June 21st. He gave the following statement to explain his flight to Varennes the week before: “The reasons for my leaving were the insults and threats given against my family and myself on April 18th. If any king could have coped with the French Revolution it was not Louis XVI. The midnight escape of the disguised royal family out a forgotten back door of Some went further and insisted the king be put on trial for treason against the constitution. By early 1791, Mirabeau was advising Louis to relocate to Rouen or some other provincial capital; once there he could rally support, appeal to the people and lead a national revolution, free of the dark influences in Paris. The escape was planned over the preceding month by Count Axel von Fersen, a Swedish general and favourite of Marie Antoinette, who planned to sneak the royal family out of Paris to the loyalist stronghold at Montmedy, in north-eastern France. Date accessed: January 14, 2021 The king’s failed attempt to escape Paris was dubbed the flight to Varennes (something of a misnomer given the real objective of his flight was Montmedy). Citation information Their failed adventure triggered a rush of crude propaganda that ridiculed the royals and their fumbling escape attempt. Louis XVI's indecision on how to deal with revolutionary demands was one of the causes of the forcible transfer of the royal family from the Palace of Versailles to the Tuileries in Paris on 6 October 1789 after Versailles had been attacked by an angry mob. This would have involved the splitting up of the royal family, however, thus Louis and Marie-Antoinette decided on the use of a heavy and conspicuous coach drawn by six horses. A large contingent of Royalist troops arrived as the king’s carriage was about to depart Varennes. 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