Saturday, January 21, 2012

Brief Book Recommendations: Louis XVI

Louis XVI: The Silent King by John Hardman

Louis XVI is frequently portrayed as a weak and lazy king, dominated by his wife and ministers. John Hardman, who has written an earlier biography of Louis XVI, challenges this stereotype by drawing in evidence from Louis XVI's own letters and other contemporary source material. A fresh and important look at Louis XVI.

The King's Trial: Louis XVI vs. The French Revolution by David P. Jordan

An account of the political turmoil behind the trial of Louis XVI which considers the trial and execution of the king and important historical moment, rather than a simple episode of the French Revolution. The 25th anniversary edition provides a new preface which considers new scholarship on the trial and how the trial of Louis XVI fits into contemporary context.

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette Before the Revolution; Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette During the Revolution by Nesta Webster

A two volume study of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette which primarily seeks to correct the abundance of poor scholarship and myth that surrounds the royal couple. Although Webster occasionally delves into conspiracy theories regarding the Revolution itself, her study of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette is an essential one.

When the King Took Flight by Timothy Tackett

A gripping account of the royal family's flight to Montmedy, which argues that the royal family's flight transformed the popular attitude of the public towards the king and helped pave the way for the Reign of Terror by inflaming fears of foreign invasion and royal conspiracy.

The Deaths of Louis XVI: Regicide and the French Political Imagination by Susan Dunn

The death of Louis XVI inspired a variety of conflicted view and memory: Jacobins viewed his death as the coronation of the people, royalists viewed it as an example of utmost horror. In the 19th century, it was viewed both as martyrdom and an inevitable consequence of the Revolution. Today, Louis XVI's death still inspires a host of reactions and mythology. Dunn examies how the memory of his death has changed over two centuries and how his death (and the French's vision of it) has affected France even today.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent list. I would also recommend Bernard Fay's biography, Louis XVI and the End of a World.