King Louis XVI of France—spoilt, coddled, out of touch—presided over a period of economic catastrophe. Faced with mounting debt incurred by financing a number of wars, including the American Revolution, he needed to raise the taxes on the nobility and the clergy. He did not. Instead, he tried first to repudiate the debt, then to take out still more loans, and, finally, to do absolutely nothing. This led to a financial crisis in his country. While his subjects starved, the king and his wife, Marie Antoinette, enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. When told commoners could not afford to buy bread, the queen famously said, “Let them eat cake.”--By 1789, the situation was untenable. The people rose up in revolt. The French Revolution was underway. The king and queen first tried to flee to her native Austria, but were detained. The monarchy was abolished. Then, in January of 1793, Louis was executed. In October, Marie Antoinette also went to the guillotine. The popular nursery rhyme “Jack and Jill” is about their executions some months later—after Jack “lost his crown,” Jill came “tumbling after.”Add To Wish List
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