Difficulties Louis XVI Faced on His Accession
But Louis nursed a prejudice against violence. Even during his life, when his subjects generally liked him and exempted him from their harsh and bitter sarcasm, Louis XVI did not know how to sell himself to his people” (Padover, 1939, p. viii)The nation cried for a king, and it was given an image of a stout man too shy to play to the galleries. Louis XVI built no bridges between himself and his subjects, and the wonder is that he retained their affections as long as he did. Almost to the very end, Frenchmen were attached to the monarchy, but they demanded something more of the monarch than ritualized inertia. In no way, except intentions, did Louis meet the expectations of his people. This interplay of forces, as expressed by what an aroused nation wanted and a slow-moving ruler did not offer.One of the curious ironies in the career of Louis XVI is that his death came to be perhaps more important than his life. From the point of view of the Revolutionary reforms, the king’s death was unnecessary because it took place after the Revolution had achieved its program. and from the point of view of French history, the decapitation of Louis XVI was a national tragedy because it tore the country from its traditional moorings and cast it into a sea of violence.One of the major difficulties Louis XVI faced at succession was that he was a young boy devoid of any social contacts. Initially, he was frightened at such a responsibility that he was not expecting. Louis XVI as a bewildered boy had never before had to make decisions or take action on his own. Always there had been somebody mastering him father, mother, brother, or wife but now he was king and absolute lord of the realm, and the entire world expected him to rule and command. Yet he did not have the remotest idea of his specific functions, or any knowledge of finance and legislation, or any awareness of the complex problems that waited for solution.