The Compromising of Louis XVI

BookThe Compromising of Louis XVI

The Compromising of Louis XVI

The Armoire de Fer and the French Revolution

Exeter Studies in History


March 31st, 1989





In November 1792, an iron wall-safe, or armoire de fer, was discovered hidden within a wall in the Tulieries palace. It contained secret correspondence which Louis XVI had kept from the outbreak of the Revolution until he overthrew on 10 August. The discovery of the armoire de fer gravely compromised the cause of the King, who was awaiting trial, and who would be executed on 21 January 1793. Much cited by historians of every viewpoint writing on the Revolution, the actual contents of the armoire are often misrepresented and remain surprisingly little-known.In this fresh and innovatory study, Andrew Freeman provides a cool and dispassionate survey of the contents of the armoire de fer, and finds contents which throw new light on the mentality of Louis XVI. The King emerges as a more thoughtful and perspective critic of the discovery of the armoire in the political context of 1792, and shows that the secrecy which the existence of such a cache of documents represented was perhaps more damaging than their actual content. The volume contains a representative sample of documents culled directly from the contents of the armoire. Many of these have never been published before and all are available in English translation for the first time.