The National Convention’s charges against the king (1792)

On December 11th 1792, French king Louis XVI appeared before the National Convention, where he was charged with treason against the people. The following charges were put to him:

“Louis, the French nation accuses you. The National Convention decreed, on December 3rd, that you would be judged by it. On December 6th it decreed that you would be brought before its bar. The act stating the crimes that are ascribed to you will be read to you…

Louis, the French people accuses you of having committed a multitude of crimes in the establishment of your tyranny, and in destroying its freedom. On June 20th 1789 you violated the sovereignty of the people by suspending the assemblies of its representatives, and by driving them out from the place of their meetings with violence. The proof of this is in the report drawn up at the Versailles tennis court, by the members of the Constituent Assembly.

On June 23rd you attempted to dictate laws to the nation. You surrounded its representatives with troops, you presented two royal declarations to them, subversive of all freedom, and you ordered them to disperse. Your declarations and the reports from the Assembly record these violations. What do you have to say in response?

(The king responds) I was the ruler of the troops at that time but I never intended to spill any blood…

Following your arrest at Varennes, the exercise of executive power was for some time suspended from your hands, yet still you conspired. On July 17th 1791 the blood of citizens was spilled at the Champ de Mars. A letter from your hand, written in 1790 to Lafayette, proves that a criminal coalition existed between you and Lafayette, with which Mirabeau was complicit… All types of corruption were used. You paid for satires, pamphlets and newspapers destined to pervert public opinion, to discredit assignats and to support the cause of the emigres. The ledgers show the enormous sums that were put to the use of these manoeuvres to kill liberty. What do you have to say in response?

(The king responds) What happened on July 17th can have nothing to do with me. As for the rest, I have no knowledge of it.”