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 If the flight to Varennes had succeeded... 
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Duc/Duchesse
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Post If the flight to Varennes had succeeded...
I realize this is kind of an odd topic title, because if the royal family had made it out of the country it wouldn't be known as the flight to Varennes.

I think this was one of the most significant moments in the Revolution and the result was so much one of chance and bad luck on the part of the royal family.

What do you think would have happened if the royal family successfully escaped from France? How would history have changed?

I love history "what if?" questions.


Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:28 pm
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Post Re: If the flight to Varennes had succeeded...
I don’t think they could have arranged some huge attack to bring back the monarchy and have a permanent power in the country again. I think that their escape would only give them a chance to live peacefully in an exile. Louis XVI would have demanded to have a throne again but without making any successful plan. Grieve and bitterness wouldn’t do much good. We would see Marie Antoinette differently and, at that point, nothing could radically change the course of history (if they managed to escape).

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Sat Aug 16, 2008 2:23 pm
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Post Re: If the flight to Varennes had succeeded...
I'm not sure what I think about a military invasion. On one hand, the royalist forces outside of France were not strong enough to stage a successful invasion and given the foreign monarchs' general lack of support for the royal family, I don't know if they could have been relied on to provide forces. But perhaps so, especially Austria. It's kind of a predicament when it comes to having a fleeing monarch in your country, especially because if you did nothing it would be tacitly accepting the people chasing the king out of their country. Although I doubt Louis XVI personally would want to attack France, he would be surrounded by émigrés who were more revenge-minded than himself and pressure from foreign monarchs.

If there was an attempt to restore the king by military force, it's hard to know how that would have turned out... Aside from massive civil war. The flight to Varennes destroyed the monarchy's last vestiges of popularity. A successful escape either would have had the same result, or if there was a possibility of restoring the king backed by military force, some people might have supported him, thinking that at least he had a chance. But more likely than not, any military action to restore the throne would have led to civil and foreign war.

I would say that it definitely would alter the course of history... If everyone got lucky and there was no military action to restore the King, then the French government could either choose a new constitutional monarch (d'Orléans?) or transition to a republic. Either way, this would happen without the massive pressures of foreign and civil war and economic collapse that led to the Terror. For these reasons, one does wish that they had managed to escape. The royal family would have been alright and the French government hopefully could have sorted itself out.

However, if civil or foreign war broke out, which I think would be rather likely, who knows what would have happened. I doubt the National Assembly was strong enough to act as a war government. Perhaps the revolutionary government would have fallen... Or perhaps people would have been so enraged by a war led against them by their king that they would have managed to repulse the royalists. I suspect France would have quickly become a republic then, no luck for Orléans.

What if, what if...


Sat Aug 16, 2008 9:00 pm
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Post Re: If the flight to Varennes had succeeded...
Marija Vera wrote:
I don’t think they could have arranged some huge attack to bring back the monarchy and have a permanent power in the country again. I think that their escape would only give them a chance to live peacefully in an exile.


well, that is what I could imagine too :roll:


reine :angel6:


Wed Oct 29, 2008 4:14 pm
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Post Re: If the flight to Varennes had succeeded...
Marija Vera:

That was my thought too. They might have been called back to rule when the monarchy was turned consitutional, but if they had fought it even then, the result may have been the same; those mainly in charge of the new constitutional monarchy may have decided that a dead king and queen were better than an exiled king and queen.


Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:40 am
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Post Re: If the flight to Varennes had succeeded...
The situation had deteriorated to the point where no compromise was possible from either side. Louis could not bear the thought of French blood being spilled especially in his name; he had virtually no support by his own army who referred to him still as a 'fat pig' and referred to he and Marie Antoinette as 'the baker and the baker's wife'. Louis would have been satisfied to remain in exile away from the uproar of the revolution and away from the burdens and pressures of the job he never wanted.

Marie Antoinette wanted revenge but was smart enough to realize that the troops needed were not available. Loyal French troops were almost non-existant and she had been all but abandoned by the brother she felt sure would intercede; when asked about his sister's predicament he replied, "I have a sister in France, but France is not my sister." So much for the Austrian Emperor. She had been in contact with other crowned heads of Europe who offered verbal support, but talk is cheap and no concrete invasiion plans could be made.

Each of the royal couple had totally different views of the future; so different that it amounted to a King Marie and Queen Louis. Marie Antoinette was not one to hold her tongue which helped make Louis look even weaker. Louis on the other hand hated discord and would have been happy with a return to lock making and clock repair. A happy future together would not have been possible; their love up to this point was enough to sustain them. Ater all that had transpired up to Varennes their differences had become too obvious and the ongoing bloodshed of the revolution would just be salt in their wounds.


Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:32 pm
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Post Re: If the flight to Varennes had succeeded...
I don't think they were THAT different under that point of view. And I don't think MA would have liked revenge. What I think is that, as for their personalities, they could have bth, in theory, appreciaty a life far from court and ruling: Ma, just like Louis, was no politician, and was somehow forced to rake the reins of the situation because of her husband breakdown. This-in theory, as I said; because, after all that had happened, they would have felt too bittered after being sent into exile. I think too many things had gone on for them to just be content with a new peaceful life. But, of course, in my dreams I wish the flgiht had succeded: maybe the political situation wouldn't have changed, but at least they would have been safe!

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Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:49 pm
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Post Re: If the flight to Varennes had succeeded...
hmmm if they had succeeded i have pondered this many times!!


I believe once the monarchy was restored the first time they would have come back and maybe made France into a constitutional monarchy?
or maybe they would be force to live in exile once more and live peacefully on the English countryside :)

how wonderful it is to dream :angel9:


Mon May 04, 2009 3:59 am
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