louis xvi - The Execution of Louis XVI During the French...

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The Execution of Louis XVI During the French Revolution, the guillotine was the only form of execution in France. During the French Revolution, an estimated amount between fifteen thousand and forty thousand fell victim to decapitation by means of this device. 1 The most famous execution in the Revolution was King Louis XVI. The trial, which determined the fate of the former king of France, was discussed by three groups with different ideologies. Monarchists argued, through the Constitution of 1791, that the king could not be punished for crimes he committed while he was king. Two prominent factions of the National Constituent Assembly, the Girondins and Jacobins, rejected the monarchists by agreeing that the king should be accountable for his crimes. The Girondins advocated that the king’s fate should be given to the people of France. The Jacobins, however, expressed how the king must be executed immediately. The king met his demise without a trial that involved the citizens of France. The king was sentenced to death by the National Convention on the twentieth of January 1793. The decision to execute King Louis XVI changed the direction of the French Revolution. On September 21, 1792, the newly formed National Convention declared France as a republic nation without a monarch. With the loss of his position and the removal of the Constitution of 1791, Louis XVI was accused of treason. In debate of the fate of Louis XVI, Charles-Francois-Gabriel Morrison, in his speech on November 13, 1792, pleads with the people of France that they uphold the Constitution of 1791 and not punish 1 Jorn Fabricius, "The Guillotine Headquarters," Jorn Fabricius, http://www.metaphor.dk/guillotine/Pages/ Guillot.html (accessed November 17, 2006).
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Louis XVI for treason. The Constitution stated that a king cannot be convicted or tried of any crime he commits. The only punishment the king can receive, under the Constitution of 1791, was his dismissal from the position as king. Once he is considered a citizen, a former king can then be convicted for a crime he commits after his removal from the government. 2 Morrison argues that “Yet when a nation has promulgated a law, although it be a bad law, although that nation have the right to change the law at will, nevertheless, that changed law cannot have a retroactive effect, and the previous law must apply to all events which took place while it was in force.” 3 He expresses that going against the law in place during the crime is going against “basic principles of justice.” 4 Morrison tries to strengthen his argument by admitting that Louis XVI did commit treason. At the opening of his speech, he describes the former king in a very negative way: “…I consider the many crimes, the atrocities, with which Louis XVI is stained. My first and doubtless most natural impulse is to see this bloody monster expiate his crimes by the cruelest torments that can be devised. I now that he has earned them all.” 5 In addition, Morrison adds that
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