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Thread: You are Louis XVI

  1. Top | #11
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    Well the mobs certainly worked up over a variety of ills. But the mob that stormed the Bastille and the women who later stormed Versailles in October were not anti monarchical. They had no intention of establishing a Republic. Few were arguing for such at that time including Robespierre. But the storming of the Bastille did shake Louis to his corps. He pretended to accept the outcome and to a constitutional monarchy but secretly plotted against it. The Constitution of 1791 left him with some powers still. Yet it could have been stronger for him but he just let the Assembly do it all. He ceded leadership to them rather than work with them and try to shape it in a way more to his liking.

    His final mistake was to side with those who wanted to go to war in 93. He hoped France would lose. He thought for sure they would. Marie Antoinette really was plotting with foreign powers to see the revolution crushed. It was an incredibly risky and stupid move. It demonstrates something basic about history. You can’t stop it from happening. The will of the people cannot be denied. But it can led. And it can be shaped towards purposes that few had in mind to begin with. If Louis had grasped that point, I just wonder if he could have gone down as perhaps Frances greatest monarch. Instead he’s viewed as a bumbling fool. And he was.

  2. Top | #12
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    War is an interesting idea. It didn’t work for Argentina but did for Thatcher. Thatcher could have let it go and Britain’s would hardly have noticed. But the victory really did make her a supposedly great prime minister. At least at the time.

    The problem for Louis was that he was broke. War had already been successfully prosecuted by him earlier but it had busted his budget wide open. The victory wasn’t profitable. Another one would surely not have helped the situation.

    With respect to money though he had to find a way to tax the nobles on whom he depended for support and control but who violently opposed any loss of their privileged and tax immunity. At the estates general though they did lose it. They in fact decided to give it up precisely because they feared what was coming.

  3. Top | #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SLD View Post
    It is 1787 and you’ve been informed that you are effectively bankrupt. And there are bread shortages in Paris.

    Your move.
    1. Install the look-alike piss boy as the fall guy and get the hell out of dodge.
    2. Let them eat cake?

  4. Top | #14
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SLD View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Yeah, I'm in the "too late to be reversed" camp. I'd say, start looking around to find someone who can be convincingly blamed.
    It’s too late to maintain complete autocratic rule. But the monarchy could have been saved albeit with far less power. But i think it was just too far to go for Louis. He’d been raised to believe that the only way he could rule was through sheer autocracy. He couldn’t imagine any other way. But if he had led the reforms and embraced them rather than fight them he might have have radically altered the course of the revolution. Calling the estates general was a ballsy move but he should have known it would unleash forces he couldn’t comprehend.
    I doubt that the monarchy could have been saved with compromise. The mob was already worked up and angry mobs can not be reasoned with. But they can be misdirected by giving them a different emotional stimulant.

    But then the OP asked what we would do (I would have gotten the fuck out of France), not what Louis could have done to maintain his life and some semblance of power. He could have done what authoritarian rulers have historically done when national sentiment turns against them, start a war. Wars and 'national causes' seem to always unite the public to support the leadership. France had traditional enemies that could serve the purpose. War with either Britain or Germany would have worked.

    The Falklands war is a good recent example. In the early 1980s, the military dictator of Argentina had become damned unpopular and was close to being ousted so he invaded the Falklands. This created mass support from the public for both the war and the dictator with people marching in the streets chanting, "las Malvinas son Argentinas". If Argentina had won then he would have gone down in Argentina's history as a great leader but, since they lost, the mob remembered how much they hated him and ousted him.
    While in the victorious UK, Magaret Thatcher was returned to power at the 1983 election, despite that having seemed very unlikely prior to the Falklands War, due to high unemployment and a very weak economy during the first three years of her term (she was first elected PM in 1979).

    It's not just Argentine dictators who can gain massive popularity despite awful conditions at home, by going to war. The trick, of course, is to win (or at least, not to lose before the elections are held).

  5. Top | #15
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    I have always been puzzled by the hubris of powerful people. They could easily put in place a plan B when in power but seem to believe they are invincible. Recent examples are Saddam, Hitler, the tsar family, Mussolini and yes Louis XVI and Robespierre. Some seem to get kind of away with a last minute improvisation. The Shah, Mengele, Batista and Pol Pot are amongst them. Louis and Marie Antoinette tried a last minute improvisation but failed. So did Mussolini and Clara Petacci btw.

    So, for Louis XVI, which was a rather enlightened monarch, he should have made a serious bullet proof plan B before attacking two of the pillars on which his reign was based : church and nobility. Or maybe have launched a total ruthless attack on them instead of trying a kind of soft slow reform. But that is easy said with hindsight.

  6. Top | #16
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    1. Intensify my royal bearing by having the populace believe that my male member is the size of two (2) mini baguettes.
    2. Create an imaginary nemesis who is responsible for the people's woes: Hilaire, the sinister Hilaire. Lock her up!! To ze guillotine with her!!
    3. Create an imaginary chronicler of the age, the mysterious Q of Q-Etat, who leaves perfumed lettres et communiques all about Paris, in the boudoirs of courtesans and in the sidewalk cafes, telling of L'Etat-So, So Deep, in which Robespierre forces ten-year-old prostitutes to cannibalize each other and Talleyrand kidnaps young nuns, skins them alive, and dances in skin-suits at midnight.
    4. Ditch the unpopular Austrian wife and attend an auction in, say, Slovenia or whatever it is back then, for the new wife.
    5. Find my exact double and keep him in reserve for close calls. Teach him, in the best movie Francais: It iz a fahr, fahr bettair ting zat I dew, zhan I hahv effer doan...
    6. In any event, do not release my tax returns, and cultivate a friendship with Catherine the Great in case I should need help from the Russkies.
    7. Have a mob that can be summoned at a moment's notice (Les Garcons-Proud) for any & all dirty work, i.e., storming the National Convention.

  7. Top | #17
    Super Moderator Mediancat's Avatar
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    Grab some jewels, take my wife and a couple of bodyguards, and slip onto a boat to the United States. I may no longer be king, but I should be able to at least live.


    Rob

  8. Top | #18
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mediancat View Post
    Grab some jewels, take my wife and a couple of bodyguards, and slip onto a boat to the United States. I may no longer be king, but I should be able to at least live.


    Rob
    Napoleon is said to have considered just such a strategy some decades later. Louisiana or Saint-Domingue/Haiti might make more sense than the United States for Louis XVI, though, as he would in fact have been king, there. Good time for a royal audit? Saint-Domingue was starting to crumble by that point, but the sudden arrival of the entire French Court might have had some interesting effects on the outcome of that conflict, as happened in Brazil in later times. In Louis' case, I might prefer it over Lousiana, as it was vastly wealthier and a Caribbean court might be seen as less of a threat by the other players in the continental Americas.

    It is interesting that no European monarch ever did visit the Americas, for this or any other reason, until 1807. No French monarch ever visited the French colonies at all, though a French-backed Hapsburg audaciously tried to create a new one once. There seems to be some acknowledgement that before the 19th century, "the colonies" were not a safe place for any king or queen to be even on diplomatic or military business. Perhaps because of the danger of travel, perhaps because of politics? Or some combination of both? When Maria I and her court finally broke this unspoken rule, it was under extreme desperation relating to Napoleon himself, and she did it with a small fleet of ships, a foreign ally who had just been given a strong economic incentive to keep her alive, and thousands of soldiers and courtiers.
    "Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the tree of knowledge."

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