THE reign of Louis XVI will forever be associated with the French Revolution and the end of the Versailles’ royal era.
Here's a look at the memorable rise and fall of the former French King.
Who was Marie Antoinette's husband Louis XVI?
Louis XVI, born August 1754, was the last King of France in the line of Bourbon monarchs preceding the French Revolution of 1789.
He was the son of Louis, Dauphin of France, and Maria Josepha of Saxony.
When his father died in 1765, he became the new Dauphin and heir-apparent of King Louis XV.
Then, upon his grandfather's death on May 10, 1774, he became King of France and Navarre, reigning as such until September 4, 1791, when he received the title of King of the French.
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On May 16, 1770, Louis-Auguste married Archduchess Marie Antoinette who was just 15 years old – she was his second cousin once removed and the youngest daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and his wife, the empress Maria Theresa.
What happened to Louis XVI?
During his time as King, Louis XVI was met with hostility from the French public.
As the 18th century drew to a close, France’s costly involvement in the American Revolution, combined with extravagant spending by King Louis XVI, had left the country on the brink of bankruptcy.
Not only that, several years of poor harvests, drought, cattle disease and skyrocketing bread prices had kindled unrest among peasants and the poor.
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Increasing tensions and violence were marked by events such as the storming of the Bastille, during which riots in Paris forced Louis to definitively recognise the legislative authority of the National Assembly.
Many expressed their desperation and distain towards a regime that imposed heavy taxes, yet failed to provide any relief.
Alongside Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette had also became highly disliked among the French.
As a result, in October 1789 the people of France marched on the royal palace at Versailles and the French Revolution began – helping to shape modern democracies by showing the power inherent in the will of the people.
In June 1791, opposition to the royal pair had become so fierce that the two were forced to flee to Austria after the government had placed them under house arrest.
One year later, in 1792, the royal couple were arrested by the sans-culottes and imprisoned – as a result, the monarchy was abolished.
In November, evidence of Louis XVI’s opposition with Austria and other foreign nations was discovered, and he was put on trial for treason by the National Convention.
On January 21, 1793, Louis was sent to the guillotine – an apparatus designed for efficiently carrying out executions by beheading – and was killed.
Nine months later, his wife met the same fate.
Did Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI have any children?
Despite claims the royal couple struggled to conceive, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette shared four biological children – three of which tragically died before the revolution ended.
Marie Thérèse Charlotte, born on December 9, 1778 was the couple's first child.
She was the only royal child to survive the revolution.
She died in 1851.
A few years later in 1781, Marie gave birth to Louis Joseph Xavier François – heir to the throne.
Tragically, Louis Joseph died of TB aged seven.
The couple welcomed their third child and second son, Louis XVII of France in March 1785.
The new heir Louis Charles, was captured with his parents, older sister Marie Thérèse, and aunt Elisabeth.
Monarchists declared him as King XVII after his father was executed.
However he was separated from his family and died in solitary confinement aged ten.
The final child the pair shared was a second daughter named Sophie Hélène Béatrix, born July 1786.
Sophie sadly died before her first birthday, leaving the already devasted parents in turmoil.
Despite the sadness Louis XVI and Marie faced after loosing three of their own children, they made the decision to adopt.
As a result, four children found a home with the French royal family.
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