The constitutional monarchy, de jure, started in 1989 with the fall of the ancien regime and the absolute monarchy. There were various reasons as to why it fell apart, one being the ideas of enlightenment sweeping across the country which led to people actually questioning Louis XVI’s authority and power. Another major reason which added to that was the actions of the king himself as it could be argued, led to the fall of the constitutional monarchy and the declaration of the Republic of France. I will prove that the king’s actions were to blame for the end of the constitutional monarchy. I will be looking at various factors, alongside the king’s actions during the period, such as the constitutions introduced, classes and actions of others alongside Louis.
One of the main reasons why the constitutional monarchy fell apart was because of the King’s actions. Firstly, after the storming of the Bastille took place, the king wore the revolutionary cockade to show his support for the Parisians and show that he was with them during the revolution but days after this occurred, at a royal banquet he was found to be mocking the revolution which angered the sans coulotte even further. Furthermore, the king did many things which actually pushed the sans coulotte and the Jacobins to become much more radical and against the King, plus his supporters such as the moderates and the loyalists. Some may argue that the loyalty and trust for the king fell on 21st June 1791 when the mission of flying to Varennes to gain foreign support and re-gaining his power again to become an absolute monarchy and the absolute leader of France was unsuccessful and Louis was underpinned as a traitor of both the revolution and his country. However, looking at the after-period of the flight to Varennes shows that this wasn’t the reason for the fall of the constitutional monarchy as the royalists had claimed, in response to the anti-monarchical atmosphere the flight had created, that he had been the victim of evil counsel and had been kidnapped. Louis was a very smart man and right after the flight to Varennes was spread across France through pamphlets, the national assembly passed through the new constitution to cover the mess of the king up and although the king allegedly accepted the constitution of 1971, he called it “monstrous” behind the assembly to his wife and despite looking like he was supporting the Parisians, he actually had little support for their popular movement. However, one thing that overwhelmingly suggested the king was rapidly becoming very weak as he couldn’t prevent the development of extremist views and ideas. Louis believed that the constitutional monarchy was a temporary situation as he saw the work of the constituent assembly merely provisional and hoped he could bring a new regime based on the programme he had previously mentioned in the estates general. Another action of Louis which may have arguably led to the fall of the constitutional monarchy in 1792 is that he was easily influenced by the anti-revolutionary views of both his wife and his sister which was a big reason as to why he made the national assembly unworkable and always vetoed legislation which was attempted to be passed. This would have sealed the fate of the constitutional monarchy as it would have angered the radicals which wanted to abolish the constitutional monarchy in the first place altogether. Additionally, the kings decision to go to war with Hungary revolutionised the revolution even more as this lead to the people’s thoughts of thinking that the King, Queen and the émigrés were traitors as they thought the country was going to be handed over to Prussia. Personally, I think the worse action taken by the king which ultimately removed his authority and power as the king was when the Brunswick Manifesto was issued by the commander in chief of