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Annie Duprat

"The madness of King Louis" : newspapers on Louis XVI in 1791

Le Temps des médias n°7, hiver 2006-07, p.10-19

This article discusses the origins and the political motives behind a rumour that was current in June 1791 and that has been generally ignored by historians : the madness of king Louis XVI following his attempted escape, thwarted at Varennes. The pretext for the rumour was the mere breaking of glasses in a café ; this led to accusations that the king had gone mad and was breaking anything he could lay his hands on in the Tuileries. In late June and in July 1791, royalist and revolutionary newspapers gave very different accounts of what was purported to have happened. Different versions of a caricature illustrating the “event” were in circulation. Were the king to have been declared mad, he could have been removed from power. DrapeauFrancais

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