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The Flight to Varennes

The Flight to Varennes.png A Prussian King's DaughterThumbnailsLouis XIVA Prussian King's DaughterThumbnailsLouis XIVA Prussian King's DaughterThumbnailsLouis XIV

One June night in 1791, between eleven o’clock and midnight, the king and queen and their two children slipped out of the Tuileries disguised, threaded their palpitating way through Paris, circled round from the north of the city to the east, and got at last into a travelling-carriage that was waiting upon the road to Chalons. They were flying to the army of the east.[439] The army of the east was “loyal,” that is to say, its general and officers at least were prepared to betray France to the king and court. Here was adventure at last after the queen’s heart, and one can understand the pleasurable excitement of the little party as the miles lengthened between themselves and Paris. Away over the hills were reverence, deep bows, and the kissing of hands. Then back to Versailles. A little shooting of the mob in Paris—artillery, if need be. A few executions—but not of the sort of people who matter. A White Terror for a few months. Then all would be well{v2-323} again. Perhaps Calonne might return too, with fresh financial expedients. He was busy just then gathering support among the German princes. There were a lot of chateaux to rebuild, but the people who burnt them down could hardly complain if the task of rebuilding them pressed rather heavily upon their grimy necks....

All such bright anticipations were cruelly dashed that night at Varennes. The king had been recognized at Sainte Menehould by the landlord of the post house, and as the night fell, the eastward roads clattered with galloping messengers rousing the country, and trying to intercept the fugitives.