The Road from Versailles: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the Fall of the French Monarchy

Overview

What becomes of leaders when absolute power is wrested from their hands? How does dramatic political change affect once-absolute monarchs? In The Road from Versailles, acclaimed historian Munro Price confronts one of the enduring mysteries of the French Revolution: What were the true actions and feelings of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette as they watched their sovereignty collapse?

Dragged back from Versailles to Paris by the mob in October 1789, the king and queen became ...

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The Road from Versailles: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the Fall of the French Monarchy

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Overview

What becomes of leaders when absolute power is wrested from their hands? How does dramatic political change affect once-absolute monarchs? In The Road from Versailles, acclaimed historian Munro Price confronts one of the enduring mysteries of the French Revolution: What were the true actions and feelings of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette as they watched their sovereignty collapse?

Dragged back from Versailles to Paris by the mob in October 1789, the king and queen became prisoners in the capital. They were compelled to publicly approve of the Revolution and its agenda, but, in deep secrecy, they began to develop a very different and dangerous strategy. The precautions they took against discovery, and the bloody overthrow of the monarchy three years later, dispersed or obliterated most of the clues to their real goals. Much of this evidence has until now remained unknown.

The Road from Versailles reconstructs in detail, for the first time, the king and queen's clandestine diplomacy from 1789 until their executions. To do so, it focuses on a vital but previously ignored figure, the royal couple's confidante, the baron de Breteuil. Exiled from France by the Revolution, Breteuil became their secret prime minister, and confidential emissary to the courts of Europe.

Along with the queen's probable lover, the comte de Fersen, it was Breteuil who organized the royal family's dramatic dash for freedom, the flight to Varennes. Breteuil's role is crucial to understanding what Louis and Marie Antoinette secretly felt and thought during the Revolution. To unlock these secrets, Munro Price draws on highly important unpublished and previously unknown material.

Meticulously researched and utterly fascinating, The Road from Versailles provides fresh insight into some of the most controversial events in modern history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Important and engrossing."

—Antonia Fraser, bestselling author of Marie Antoinette

"Truly riveting reading."

—Michael Hochedlinger, International History Review

"Resurrecting a wealth of historical documentation, [Price] has scrupulously detailed the previously unknown underground diplomacy of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, creating a significant contribution to the analysis of the French Revolution."

Booklist

"This exhaustively researched study should be the definitive diplomatic history of the fall of Louis XVI."

Publishers Weekly

"The most important book written on the subject for a very long time."

—T.C.W. Blanning, author of The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture

"Through brilliant detective work, Price has uncovered documents that shed a definitive light on the French Crown's policy toward the revolution. This definitive study moves well beyond such works as Michel Vovelle's The Fall of the French Monarchy."

Library Journal

"Fascinating and genuinely groundbreaking....a truly revolutionary book."

—Andrew Roberts, Sunday Telegraph (U.K.)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312326135
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Munro Price was born in London and educated there and at Cambridge, where he received his Ph.D. He specializes in eighteenth-century France and the French Revolution and has lived and taught in Lyon and Paris. He is currently a Reader in History at the University of Bradford. The Road from Versailles is his third book.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii
Acknowledgements ix
Introduction xi
Map xxi
1 The King and His Family 1
2 The Monarchy in 1789 18
3 Breteuil in 1789 35
4 The Summer of 1789 55
5 The Turn of the Screw 101
6 Mirabeau Versus Breteuil 119
7 Preparations 136
8 The Flight to Varennes 169
9 The King's Secret 192
10 The King and the Constitution 206
11 Winter 1791: Breteuil, the Powers and the Princes 231
12 Endgame 263
13 Royal Blood 304
14 After the Deluge 342
Appendix 369
Notes 373
Bibliography 402
Index 412
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