Monday, July 23, 2012

King Louis XVI

King Louis XVI

With one week left in the Paris in July event, I thought that today we would have a little history lesson.

King Louis XVI, also known as Louis-Auguste, duc de Berry, was born August 23, 1754 in Versailles, France. He married Marie Antoinette when he was 15 and she was a mere jeune fille of 14. It was not for love, but for political strategy that the two young people, he a Bourbon and she an Austrian Hapsburg, were united.

He became king of France at the age of 20. His reign was frought with troubles, intrigues, and financial missteps. After the storming of the Bastille in 1789, he tried to escape from Paris with his family, but was captured. He was arrested, tried for high treason and crimes against the state, and beheaded on January 21, 1793. His Queen was executed on October 16 the same year.

I only write about King Louis XVI as my hometown, Louisville, chartered in 1780, is named in his honor for assisting us in the American Revolution. There is a marble statue of King Louis downtown in front of the courthouse. It was commissioned by his daughter Marie-Therese and unveiled in 1820 in France. It came to rest here in 1967 as a gift from the city of Montpellier, our sister city.  It is 12 feet tall and weighs nine tons.

I must admit that for years I had no idea that my hometown was named for an executed criminal. Oh, the truths we sometimes have to face.

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