Cut the Head off the Snake and the Body will Wither

21 Jan 2022
by Samuel Taylor

On this day- VIVE LE REVOLUTION! Ahem. Sorry.

On this day, the 21st of January 1793, an important head was removed from its body. King Louis XVI, the last "King" of France (there were others after him, but really they weren't the same) was executed by guillotine to the joy of the masses in France. In a trial 4 days prior, The National Convention, the revolutionary parliament, almost unanimously declared him guilty of high treason and sentenced him to death.

This execution is often regarded as the turning point of European history. In many ways his execution by his subjects marked the decline of absolute monarchy in Europe, and the birth of democracy.

King Louis XVI (Head on)

On a more gruesome note, the details of his execution! Now in those days executions were something of a spectacle, and crowds would clamour to get front row seats. Whether it was a berserk and fervent hunger for blood, or merely a good opportunity to see a celebrity up close, people loved it when royals were offed.

In Louis' case, after the chop went through, some citizens rushed to dip their handkerchiefs in the pooling blood, to keep as a souvenir. I like to imagine those folk were just sentimental royalists. Très sentimental royalists.

Louis' death was a spurring moment for the revolutionaries; more praxis for their theory. It bolstered and emboldened their actions, leading to greater alterations to the political and social structure of France over the coming years. 9 months later, Marie Antionette, Louis' wife and former queen, would be guillotined at the very same spot.

What fun!