Browse Primary Sources

Image of the Queen’s Defense

The trial of the Queen is here depicted in a tinted engraving by Jean Duplessi–Bertaux as part of his series of Historical Scenes of the French Revolution. Although it refers to her as "Marie Antoinette, the Austrian," the etching portrays her somewhat sympathetically, showing her in a graceful pose with a concerned look on her face amid a hostile prosecutor, judge, and soldiers.

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Trial of Marie Antoinette of Austria

Some months after the execution of her husband, Marie Antoinette found herself in the dock of the public prosecutor, Antoine Quentin Fouquier–Tinville. The intervention of the radical journalist Jacques–René Hébert had pushed her case to the top, and she was accused most notably of immorality and treason. She defended herself bravely and calmly, as the above image suggests.

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The Queen Exhausted

An image produced well after the Revolution shows a Queen, assaulted by the gaze of the people, controlled by the soldier, and tentative in her stance and appearance.

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Hell Broke Loose, or, The Murder of Louis

In this English image, as the King’s head is about to fall into the executioner’s basket, bats out of Hell emerge, symbolizing the Revolution. At the same time, God’s favor seems to fall on Louis through a shaft of light coming from heaven. From the first, some English, especially Edmund Burke, were skeptical, indeed critical of the Revolution, and the numbers grew over time.

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Louis XVI, King of France, born 23 August 1754, beheaded 21 January 1793

Louis quickly became a matyr to the royalist cause, as this and other memorials indicate.

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Louis Arrives in Hell

In classical mythology, the journey to Hell involved crossing the river Styx. Revolutionary cartoonists often invoked this image when describing the fate of their enemies. This is no exception. See the boat on the left with the dog, Cerberus, who was the guardian of the gates of the underworld. Arriving here is the headless Louis, greeted by other prior monarchs.

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Rare Animals; or, the Transfer of the Royal Family from the Tuileries to the Temple. Champfleury, 1792

Here the events of 10 August were expressed by reducing the royal family to animals. Driven from their palace to prison, the family became no more than a group of barnyard animals. Contrast these common four–footed animals with the erect revolutionary whipping them along.

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King and Queen as Two–headed Monster

The Queen, never popular to begin with in France, also bore the brunt of popular anger in 1792, as seen in images of the King and Queen as animals. This reversal from old regime portrayals of the monarchy is made more remarkable by the fact that beyond 1789 cartoons tried, if somewhat unsuccessfully, to integrate royalty and revolution.

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Louis Rides a Pig

Equestrian skills were expected of a monarch. But portraying the King mounted on a pig was most unflattering. Linking royalty to animals was a theme that emerged after the flight to Varennes.

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