i don’t have the energy to deal with people who defend louis.
he could have helped the homeless mothers that were so emaciated that they couldn’t nurse their babies. he could have helped the old men left rotting in the rain and he could’ve fed his own citizens. but instead he wallowed in his own wealth and did nothing for his people. he wasn’t a leader. he was a tyrant and a pig.
before i’m accused of not seeing both sides of the story by all of the self-righteous tumblr users out there who are waiting to jump at this chance, i’m going to say it once and only once: i. don’t. care.
the man had the power to do so much, and because of his greed, did nothing and allowed people to suffer and die in the streets. i can’t respect anyone like that.
maybe he did deserve to die. because there were deaths that were caused by his political negligence.
the only other choice was to let him rot in a prison cell for the rest of his life, so really, i don’t blame anyone for his execution except for he himself.
I’m not going to pretend like the French monarchy was sunshine and rainbows, because the system in France was incredibly unfair and it contributed to thousands of deaths, and yes, the French aristocracy had food to spare while others starved to death.
But, I don’t think it’s right at all to paint Louis XVI as a tyrant when, looking at contemporary accounts (ignoring revolutionary & Bourbon Restoration exaggerations) he cared about his subjects. To the point where it cost him his life. If he was a tyrant, why not put down the early rebellions with brute force like he could have? Why not order his guards to plow through the townspeople of Varennes and guarantee his own safety? Instead, he continuously insisted on soldiers and guards protecting him to put down their weapons to avoid bloodshed. The one moment in his trial where he got emotional, where even revolutionary contemporaries reported tears, was when they insisted he had spilled the blood of French people. He gave to charities, he gave to people who needed help when their situation was brought to his attention. He cut down his household, and his own personal spending. He constantly looked after the benefit of the people that served him. He supervised the delivery of firewood and food to the poor of Paris and Versailles during the harsh winters in the 1780s himself. Did he feed every starving person in France? No. Did people die of starvation in France? Yes. But he was not “wallowing” in his wealth.
No ruler in history that I am aware of has ever solved the issue of feeding every starving subject, nor fixed the problem of the poor in the country. Yet it’s always Louis XVI who is the tyrant for not feeding everyone and not, say, Elizabeth I or Napoleon.
He made reforms, even early on in his reign. He attempted to correct the massive corruption within the French government and court. Did he succeed in fixing everything? No. Saying that he had the power to do anything is severely overestimating the power of the monarchy in France. If he could have done anything he wanted with the snap of a finger and no consequence, then plenty of his early reforms would have been completed within years without any problem—and not stalled, rejected, protested. If he could have done anything he wanted with the snap of a finger and no consequence, then many of his problems likely would have been avoided. He was not perfect. There were times when he did not know how to deal with a situation and had people (like Orleans) exiled for a time, or attempted to exercise a force of control that might have worked under Louis XIV or even XV but not his own leadership. He was indecisive at times and it exacerbated certain problems when a quick decision and firm decision was needed.
I will never say that the plight of the poor in France was not a disturbing one. It was. It’s hard to imagine a world where you have to fight for a crust of bread for yourself, much less feed your family; where the daily life of many people was absolutely horrendous. But it’s not right to place the blame of everything wrong in France on Louis XVI or Marie Antoinette. I don’t understand why people always put the blame of everything wrong in France in the 18th century (or even just the starvation of the poor) solely with these two people. It’s simplifying history to an extreme.
If someone is a tyrant because they have power and wealth but they can’t solve all of the problems in a country, then we are all tyrants.
I’m with Vivelareine on this one. She basically said every feeling I had towards this post in the most eloquent way.