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Tthe French Revolution and Louis XVI

When looking at the French Revolution through the convenient lens of 20/20 hindsight, we are generally left with the impression that the juggernaut of events that preceded and followed the storming of the Bastille could have all been avoided if Louis XVI had just made the effort to listen to his people and assert himself as a leader.

With these notions in mind, discuss what you think Louis could have done differently to literally save his own head. As you do this, keep in mind that people make decisions based on the information available to them at the time. Remember, as Mark Twain so aptly put it, "To arrive at a just estimate of a renowned man's character one must judge it by the standards of his time...not ours" (Quotes by Twain, 2006).

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Case Scenario:

When looking at the French Revolution through the convenient lens of 20/20 hindsight, we are generally left with the impression that the juggernaut of events that preceded and followed the storming of the Bastille could have all been avoided if Louis XVI had just made the effort to listen to his people and assert himself as a leader.

With these notions in mind, discuss what you think Louis could have done differently to literally save his own head. As you do this, keep in mind that people make decisions based on the information available to them at the time. Remember, as Mark Twain so aptly put it, "To arrive at a just estimate of a renowned man's character one must judge it by the standards of his time...not ours" (Quotes by Twain, 2006).

Storming of the Bastille (a jail or prison) occurred in Paris on July 14, 1789. The British, and others criticized the jail, not for any type of conditions, but rather for the imprisonment for political reasons, e.g. close confinement. It is referred to as "the pit of darkness," "profound darkness," and "abode of the dead" which was likened to a grave more than a jail. The prison is a symbol of punishment for independent freedom of political thought. The Bastille was portrayed in the media e.g. British Newspapers and literary works not simply a state prison; it was a fortress in which captives are held for unjust and arbitrary reasons. As well, many prisoners reported that the Bastille was an evil institution and they perceived themselves to be prisoners of the letters de cachet, which means they were victims of arbitrary tyranny. (2)

What could have been done differently?

Perhaps, leading up to the event, ...

Solution Summary

When looking at the French Revolution through the convenient lens of 20/20 hindsight, this solution highlights what Louis XVI could have done to save his head.

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