What Were The Causes of The Downfall of Louis XVI- Is he fully responsible for his own downfall?

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As the tragic events of the French Revolution unfolded, King Louis XVI of France soon found himself in the centre of it and gradually became one of the victims. In the morning of Tuesday 21st January 1793, he was woken by his guards and taken to Place de la Revolution. "My people, I die an innocent man" were his last words to the crowd, and moments later, his head was held up to the crowd . However, what caused the end of monarchy? Was Louis XVI completely responsible for his own downfall? There is no questioning that Louis XVI is, in fact, partially responsible for his own downfall, but other factors, both short term and long term, also contributed to his downfall.

Awkward and timid, Louis XVI found himself on the throne at the age of twenty, succeeding his grandfather Louis XV. Soon, after 15 years, he found his crown being taken away. His downfall is partially caused by his nature of being indecisive and lazy. Louis XVI's wife, Queen Marie-Antoinette, though she knew very little of state affairs, often interfered with in government. King Louis XVI was never able to oppose her for a long time. This was mainly because before their downfall, Queen Marie-Antoinette had quite a lot of power. Besides, the King was indecisive, allowing the Queen to take a lot of advantages from him. For example, in 1776, Marie-Antoinette managed to bring down Louis's reforming minister, Jacques Turgot, because he had offended one of the Queen's favourites---the Count de Guines. The arrogant Queen not only wanted Louis XVI to demote him, but to also send him into prison at the Bastille . King Louis XVI could be viewed as a lazy King, because he never truly cared about his country, France. Instead of using his mind on trying to improve his country, Louis XVI tends to enjoy the simple pleasures of a king's life, especially hunting. He was often seen riding in the forests surrounding the palace of the Versailles. Also, he had a huge appetite. "One observer noted that Louis once consumed for breakfast, 'four cutlets, a chicken, a plateful of ham, half a dozen eggs in sauce and a bottle and a half of champagne' " . With his nature of being lazy and indecisive, King Louis XVI gradually lost control of the government and his people, giving them chances for overthrowing him. Moreover, his flight to Varennes at midnight on 20 June 1791 enabled the French to lose trust on him, Queen Marie-Antoinette and his family . Therefore, we can say that the King himself is partially responsible for his own downfall. However, the behaviours of Louis XVI himself are not the only contributing factors to his downfall. Certainly, other factors, both long term and short term also contribute greatly to his loss of power. Some short term factors include the influences of the philosophers, helping the Americans with the American Revolution; some long term factors include population increase and financial difficulties.

During the 18th century, all the major countries of Europe experienced strong influences by the Enlightenment. France was at the center of the movement. The ideas of French thinkers such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu were widespread. Their writings greatly influenced the bourgeoisie and strongly encouraged them to rebel against tyranny. For example, Rousseau believed that everyone should have equal rights . This idea is very dangerous to the government. The reason is that before the French Revolution, there are three estates, the clergy, the nobles and the peasants. The first and second estates, the clergy and the nobles, though only forming 3% of the people in France, were relatively wealthy and, perhaps, powerful. They even had privileges such as not needing to pay the taxes. Meanwhile, the third estate, which was made up of mainly peasants and workers, needed to pay very heavy taxes despite the fact that they were poor and often did not have enough money to buy sufficient food. Besides, they never had any say in the running of the country ....
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