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LOUIS XVI

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 45 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LOUIS XVI. (1754-1793), king of France, was the son of Louis, dauphin of France, the son of Louis XV., and of Marie Joseph of Saxony, and was born at Versailles on the 23rd of August 1754, being baptized as Louis Augustus. His father's death in 1765 made him heir to the throne, and in 1770 he was married to Marie Antoinette, daughter of the empress Maria Theresa. He was just twenty years old when the death of Louis XV. on the loth of May 1774 placed him on the throne. He began his reign under good auspices, with Turgot, the greatest living French statesman, in charge of the disorganized finances; but in less than two years he had yielded to the demand of the vested interests attacked by Turgot's reforms, and dismissed him. Turgot's successor, Necker, however, continued the regime of reform until 1781, and it was only with Necker's dismissal that the period of reaction began. Marie Antoinette then obtained that ascendancy over her husband which was partly responsible for during which time she remained ignorant of the fate which had befallen her parents. She died on the 19th of October 1851. Her life by G. Lenotre has been translated into English by J. L. May (1908). See the articles FRENCH REVOLUTION and MARIE ANTOINETTE. F. X. J. Droz, Histoire du regne de Louis XVI. (3 vols., Paris, 186o), a sane and good history of the period; and Arsene Houssaye, Louis XVI. (Paris, 1891). See also the numerous memoirs of the time, and the marquis de Segur's Au couchant de la monarchie, Louis XVI. et Turgot (1910). For bibliographies see G. Monod, Bibl. de la France; Lavisse et Rambaud, Hist. Univ., vols. vii. and viii. ; and the Cambridge Modern History, vol. viii. (R. A.*)
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