The Life of Louis XVI

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Yale University Press, 2016 - France - 499 pages
A thought-provoking, authoritative biography of one of history's most maligned rulers

Louis XVI of France, who was guillotined in 1793 during the Revolution and Reign of Terror, is commonly portrayed in fiction and film either as a weak and stupid despot in thrall to his beautiful, shallow wife, Marie Antoinette, or as a cruel and treasonous tyrant. Historian John Hardman disputes both these versions in a fascinating new biography of the ill-fated monarch. Based in part on new scholarship that has emerged over the past two decades, Hardman's illuminating study describes a highly educated ruler who, though indecisive, possessed sharp political insight and a talent for foreign policy; who often saw the dangers ahead but could not or would not prevent them; and whose great misfortune was to be caught in the violent center of a major turning point in history.

Hardman's dramatic reassessment of the reign of Louis XVI sheds a bold new light on the man, his actions, his world, and his policies, including the king's support for America's War of Independence, the intricate workings of his court, the disastrous Diamond Necklace Affair, and Louis's famous dash to Varennes.

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User Review  - elucubrare - LibraryThing

The goal of revisionist history should be to find the truth, rather than to exalt the subject. It seems from Hardman's work that Louis XVI doesn't deserve the reputation he has earned, but it also ... Read full review

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User Review  - Schmerguls - LibraryThing

5433. The Life of Louis XVI, by John Hardman (read 21 Dec 2016) I have had a life-long interest in the French Revolution, so I thought I should read this 2016 biography, in a jacket blurb called ... Read full review


1 A Dark and Difficult Childhood
2 Youth on the Throne
3 The Bright Beginning 177476
4 Drift Towards War 177678
5 American Liberty and Royal Debt 177882
6 The Embarrassments of Peace 178385
7 Unravelling 178586
The Assembly of Notables of 1787
11 The Invasion of a Palace
12 The Revolution Caricatures Itself October 1789June 1791
13 The Flight to Montmédy
14 Playing by the Book of the Constitution 13 September 179110 August 1792
15 The Prisoner in the Temple

9 The Road to the EstatesGeneral May 1787May 1789
10 The Silent King and the Third Estate

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About the author (2016)

John Hardman is one of the world's leading experts on the French Revolution and the author of several well-regarded books on the subject. He was formerly lecturer in modern history at the University of Edinburgh.

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