Trial Fact file The trial took place in December 1792. Louis could have lawyers, but could not call witnesses for the defence. The case was heard by the National Convention whose 749 deputies acted as judge and jury. National Convention



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Trial Fact file

  • The trial took place in December 1792.

  • Louis could have lawyers, but could not call witnesses for the defence.

  • The case was heard by the National Convention whose 749 deputies acted as judge and jury.

National Convention – like a parliament.

Deputy – A representative elected by the people to sit at the convention. Like MPs.

Treason – a crime against the country.



The Charges

Louis faced a total of 33 charges. They included; bankrupting the nation, plotting against the revolution, trying to flee, accepting a constitution he despised, helping the Austrian invasion of France. He was basically accused of being a traitor.




Source 1. From a speech by Saint-Just, the youngest deputy.

“He oppressed a free nation; he declared himself its enemy; he abused its laws; he must doe to ensure the peacefulness of the people, since to assure his own he intended that the people be crushed. Monarchy is an outrage. No man can reign innocently. Louis is an alien among us and not a citizen. He must die.”




Source 2. From a speech by De Seze.

“Louis was the first king to voluntarily give up some of his power for the good of the people. You called him the ‘restorer of French liberty’.”






Source 3. From Louis XVI

“I have not broken the law since the constitution was introduced. I will defend each of my actions as morally correct and faithful to the letter of the law. I have done nothing except for the good of the people. I will argue for my life but I will not beg for it.”






Source 4. From a speech by Mailhe, a deputy from Toulouse.

“After having accepted the 1791 constitution, Louis declared he was a prisoner. That was a signal for foreign powers to come to his aid. Instead of resisting the Prussian and Austrian invasions, he organised treason in all border towns.

He continued to support the émigrés with money and paralysed the actions of the government. His acceptance of the constitution was just a trick to keep him on the throne while he waited for the foreign armies to re-establish his rule on the ruins of the constitution.



Source 5. Louis’s response when questioned about hidden documents which showed him trying to encourage foreign armies to invade France, and trying to bribe deputies.

“I have no knowledge of it. It is not my handwriting.”






Source 6. From a speech by Malesherbes.

“On 6th October 1789 at Versailles Louis ordered his armed guards not to defend him. At Varennes he preferred to be brought back rather than cause the death of a single man. You blame him for the blood that has been shed, but on 10th August 1792 he came to the Assembly to prevent it being shed.”




Source 7. From a speech by a radical deputy (talking about King Louis)

“Citizens, let me repeat his infamous words: ‘In my heart I cannot approve the Revolution and the detestable constitution.’”




Source 8. Louis’s response to the charge of disorganising the army.

“Never did the idea of counter revolution enter my head. There is not one word of truth in this accusation.”




Your Tasks


  1. Use the sources to fill in the A3 source investigation sheet titled ‘Should Louis XVI be executed?’ You will need to decide which sources support Louis and which ones go against him.




  1. Which of the sources are most trustworthy? Using the diamond worksheet place the sources in order of how far we can trust them as historians.

E.G. If you think we can trust the source then write the source number at the top of the diamond. The source which you think is least trustworthy goes at the bottom and then you can arrange the middle ones.
3. When you have ranked the sources in order of how far we can trust them, stick the diamond into your exercise book and then explain why you have chosen this order. Why do you trust one source more than another?

The most trustworthy source goes here






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