Today in World History: January 21st

Louis XVI of France, the monarch during the French Revolution, was executed on this day in 1793. In the first half of his rule he attempted to modernize France. He passed legislation to abolish serfdom, among other things, but his ideas were opposed by the French elite. This caused resentment in the rest of the citizens, along with a financial crisis that prompted wide spread revolts. Many peasants had grown tired of letting the elite having all the wealth, and so they marched on the famous prison Bastille, where they released many of Louis XVI’s political allies. They later captured the fleeing King and his infamous wife, Mary-Antoinette, who antagonized the rebels by responding to the bread shortage with “Let them eat cake!”. A democracy was then declared in France, founding the First French Republic. However, after the reign of terror, and then the Napoleonic Wars, Louis’s son, Louis XVII, was put on the throne until the Second French Republic.

“I am the successor, not of Louis XVI, but of Charlemagne.”

-Napoleon Bonaparte

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