I’m a fan of the French Revolution and should you should be too! A million things have been written about that revolution, but I’d like to highlight one of the most important events in my opinion. Two years after the Storming of the Bastille, Europe started to get really nervous regarding the treatment of the king by its “subjects”.
This is when a great truth is finally revealed in writing for all to read: That the monarchs of Europe are all in active support of each other and that the real enemy is, and always has been, the people!
Let’s jump right in:
The Padua Circular was a diplomatic note produced by Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II on 6 July 1791 in response to the arrest of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette while trying to flee France. Circular called on the kings of Spain, England, Prussia, and others to join him in demanding their freedom.
I am sure Your Majesty will have learned, with as much surprise and indignation as I, of the unprecedented outrage of the arrest of the King of France, of my sister the Queen, and of the Royal Family. I am also sure your sentiments cannot differ from mine with regard to this event which immediately compromises the honor of all sovereigns and the security of all governments by inspiring fear of still more dreadful acts to follow, and by placing the seal of illegality upon previous excesses in France.
I am determined to fulfill my obligation as to these considerations, both as chosen head of the Germanic State, with its support, and as Sovereign of the Austrian states. I therefore propose to you, as I propose to the Kings of Spain, England, Prussia, Naples, and Sardinia, as well as to the Empress of Russia, to unite with them and me to consult on cooperation and measures to restore the liberty and honor of the Most Christian King and his family, and to limit the dangerous extremes of the French Revolution.
The most pressing [need] appears to be our immediate cooperation . . . having our ministers in France deliver a common declaration, or numerous similar and simultaneous declarations, which may curb the leaders of the violent party and forestall desperate decisions. This will still leave them an opportunity for honest repentance and for the peaceful establishment of a regime in France that will preserve at least the dignity of the crown and the essential requirements for general tranquility. For this purpose, I propose to Your Majesty the plan annexed hereto which appears to me satisfactory.
I regard it as an infinitely precious advantage that the disposition they all show for the reestablishment of peace and harmony gives promise to the removal of the obstacles which might be detrimental to the unanimity of the views and sentiments concerning an event so closely associated with the welfare of all Europe.Signed, Leopold, Padua, 5 July 1791
Notice how all of a sudden, historical enemies which have waged war for centuries with each other should now join together in “honor of all sovereigns and the security of all governments” in Europe.
Notice what’s really being said here. The people are the true enemies of the Kings and Queens of Europe. A threat to one monarchy is a threat to all monarchies. When Austria wages war with Prussia, or when France wages war with Austria, that’s just business as usual. The real enemy is the people!
So obviously, the Prussian empire responded and joined forces with the Holy Roman Empire and issued the Declaration of Pillnitz:
His Majesty the Emperor and His Majesty the King of Prussia (…) declare together that they regard the actual situation of His Majesty the King of France as a matter of communal interest for all sovereigns of Europe. They hope that that interest will be recognized by the powers whose assistance is called in, and that they won’t refuse, together with aforementioned Majesties, the most efficacious means for enabling the French king to strengthen, in utmost liberty, the foundations of a monarchical government suiting to the rights of the sovereigns and favorable to the well-being of the French. In that case, aforementioned Majesties are determined to act promptly and unanimously, with the forces necessary for realizing the proposed and communal goal. In expectation, they will give the suitable orders to their troops so that they will be ready to commence activityLeopold and Friedrich Wilhelm, Pillnitz, 27 August 1791
And now for my favorite: The Brunswick Manifesto.
Their Majesties the Emperor [of Austria] and the king of Prussia having entrusted to me the command of the united armies which they have collected on the frontiers of France, I desire to announce to the inhabitants of that kingdom the motives which have determined the policy of the two sovereigns and the purposes which they have in view.
After arbitrarily violating the rights of the German princes in Alsace and Lorraine, disturbing and overthrowing good order and legitimate government in the interior of the realm, committing outrages and brutalities against the sacred person of the king and his august family… those who have usurped the reins of government have at last completed their work by declaring an unjust war on his Majesty the emperor…
His Majesty the King of Prussia, united with his Imperial Majesty by the bonds of a strict defensive alliance and himself a preponderant member of the Germanic body, would have felt it inexcusable to refuse to march to the help of his ally and fellow-member of the empire…
To these important interests should be added another aim equally important and very close to the hearts of the two sovereigns: namely, to put an end to the anarchy in the interior of France, to check the attacks upon the throne and the altar, to reestablish the legal power, to restore to the king the security and the liberty of which he is now deprived, and to place him in a position to exercise once more the legitimate authority which belongs to him. Convinced that the sane portion of the French nation abhors the excesses of the faction which dominates it, and that the majority of the people look forward with impatience to the time when they may declare themselves openly against the odious enterprises of their oppressors, [we] call upon them and invite them to return without delay to the path of reason, justice, order, and peace.
In accordance with these views I, the commander in chief of the two armies, declare:
1) That drawn into this war by irresistible circumstances, the two allied courts entertain no other aims than the welfare of France, and have no intention of enriching themselves by conquests.
2) That they do not propose to meddle in the internal government of France, and that they merely wish to deliver the king, the queen, and the royal family from their captivity, and procure for His Majesty the necessary security to enable him, without danger or hindrance, to make such engagements as he shall see fit, and to work for the welfare of his subjects, according to his pledges.
3) That our allied armies will protect [French] towns and villages, and the persons and goods of those who shall submit to the king and who shall cooperate in the immediate reestablishment of order and the police power throughout France.
4) That the members of the National Guard who shall fight [against us] and who are taken with arms in their hands, shall be treated as enemies and punished as rebels to their king and as disturbers of the public peace…
7) That the inhabitants of the towns and villages who may dare to defend themselves against [our troops], either in the open country or through windows, doors, and openings in their houses, shall be punished immediately according to the most stringent laws of war, and their houses shall be burned or destroyed…
8) The city of Paris and all its inhabitants shall be required to submit at once and without delay to the king, to place that prince in full and complete liberty, and to assure to him… the inviolability and respect which the law of nature and of nations demands of subjects toward sovereigns… If the chateau of the Tuileries is entered by force or attacked, if the least violence be offered to their Majesties, and if their safety and their liberty are not immediately assured, [we] will inflict an ever memorable vengeance by delivering over the city of Paris to military execution and complete destruction, and the rebels guilty of the said outrages to the punishment that they merit…
It is for these reasons that I call upon and exhort in the most urgent manner all the inhabitants of the kingdom not to oppose the movements and operations of the troops which I command, but rather, on the contrary, to grant them everywhere a free passage and to assist and aid them with all goodwill as circumstances shall demand.Signed at Coblenz, July 25th 1792, Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick
Did you catch that? The people must “submit” to their King as the “law of nature and of nations demands of subjects towards sovereigns”!
The people of France gave their response. On Monday, 21 January 1793, Louis XVI, at age 38, was beheaded by guillotine on the Place de la Révolution.
A proper response indeed 🙂
Thanks for reading,