The Trial of King Louis XVI



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The Trial of King Louis XVI
Background: It’s the year 1792 in the city of Paris. The National Convention has arrested King Louis XVI and is forcing him to stand trial for his crimes. The National Convention believes that he is a traitor, and they have charged him with the following crimes:


  1. Bankrupting the nation

  2. Plotting against the revolution

  3. Trying to flee

  4. Accepting a constitution he despised

  5. Helping the Austrian invasion of France


Characters: The following people all have a role in this trial of King Louis XVI. They are:

The Prosecution The Defense Judges


Prosecuting Attorney Defense Attorney Deputy of the National Convention

Prosecuting Attorney Defense Attorney Deputy of the National Convention

Prosecuting Attorney Defense Attorney Deputy of the National Convention

Prosecuting Attorney Defense Attorney Deputy of the National Convention

Maximillien Robespierre Louis XVI Deputy of the National Convention

George Danton Marie Antoinette Deputy of the National Convention

Jean Paul Marat Jacques Necker Deputy of the National Convention

Voltaire Thomas Hobbes Deputy of the National Convention

John Locke Émigré (Deputy of the National Convention)

Sans-culotte Leopold II (Deputy of the National Convention)

French peasant (Holy Roman Emperor)

Frederick the Great



(Frederick William II)

The Prosecution Team

  1. The team will consist of four attorneys.

  2. The team will prepare its case to prove that King Louis XVI is guilty of each of the five counts listed above.


  3. Each attorney will help to prepare and deliver a four-minute speech introducing and summarizing the case against Louis XVI.

  4. The prosecution will be able to ask four primary questions and four follow-up questions about King Louis XVI and three primary and follow-up questions of each other witness (not exceeding 5 minutes).



The Defense Team

  1. The team will consist of four attorneys.

  2. The team will prepare its case to prove that King Louis XVI is not guilty of each of the five counts listed above.


  3. Each attorney will help to prepare and deliver a four-minute speech introducing and summarizing the case for Louis XVI’s acquittal.

  4. The defense will be able to ask four primary questions and four follow-up questions about King Louis XVI and three primary and follow-up questions of each other witness (not exceeding 5 minutes).



Witnesses


  1. In addition to Louis XVI’s testimony, there will be witnesses available for questioning.

  2. Each witness must be familiar with the issues that would have concerned their character and be familiar with the general ideas and issues of the French Revolution.

  3. Attorneys for the prosecution and defense will question each witness.



Judges


  1. There are eight or ten judges for this trial. Each is a deputy of the National Convention. While they are most likely revolutionaries, they understand and support the enlightenment belief in a fair trial. They will have to judge Louis XVI’s case based on the issues presented and decide whether or not he should be executed.

  2. The judges will:

  • Preside over the trial

  • Evaluate and rule on admissibility of evidence and arguments

  • Maintain order and decorum in the court

  • Reach a verdict and impose a sentence



Trial Procedure


    1. Chief Justice reads the charges against Louis XVI

    2. Opening statement for the prosecution (4 minutes)

    3. Opening statement for the defense (4 minutes)

    4. Testimony and questioning of witnesses (5 minutes per witness on each side)

    5. Closing statement for the prosecution (4 minutes)

    6. Closing statement for the defense (4 minutes)

    7. Judges (Deputies of the National Convention) deliberate and reach a verdict and sentence



Assignment/Grade


  1. We will begin working on the simulated trial next class. You will be given 2 classes in the LMC and the trial will begin the following class period.

  2. The written assignments for each character are:

  • Attorneys: Case briefs with the attorneys’ opening/closing speech and prepared questions. Must be completed pre-trial.

  • Witnesses: A written deposition by each witness outlining their position on the French Revolution and the charges against Louis XVI. Must be completed pre-trial.

  • Deputies: An overview of the real trial and sentencing of Louis XVI. This part must be completed pre-trial. The written decision of the judges and their sentence and its justification. This part will be completed post-trial.

  1. No written aspect of this assignment is to be more or less than two typed pages of 12-sized font double-spaced.

  2. You will also be graded on character performance during the trial, which includes preparedness, enthusiasm, clarity of speaking, staying on the topic, and understanding of the content.



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