Sanson’s Account Of The Execution Of Louis XVI | History And Other Thoughts

After the execution of Louis XVI, the revolutionary journal ‘Thermomètre du jour’ published an inaccurate report of the event. The paper stated, among other calumnies, that the King had to be led to the scaffold with a pistol held at his temple and that the guillotine had struck his neck instead than his head, thus horribly mutilating him. When the executioner Charles Henri Sanson read this article, he decided to write a full account of the event to set the record straight and sent it to the newspaper. The King, according to Sanson, showed bravery and calmness of mind, which in his opinion, he derived from religion. Here’s his account:

Paris, 20 Feb. 1793; 1st year of the Fr. Rep.

Citizen,

A short absence has prevented my sooner replying to your article concerning Louis Capet. But here is the exact truth as to what passed. On alighting from the carriage for execution, he was told that he must take off his coat; he made some difficulty, saying that they might as well execute him as he was. On [our] representation that that was impossible, he himself assisted in taking off his coat. He again made the same difficulty when his hands were to be tied, but he offered them himself when the person who accompanied him [his confessor] had told him that it…

Source: Sanson’s Account Of The Execution Of Louis XVI | History And Other Thoughts.

Remembering Reg, an Old Contemptible

Writer's notebook

reg

Today is Armistice Day, and I want to pay tribute to Reg Hill, one of the last of the Old Contemptibles.

He was awarded the Croix de Guerre with star for conspicuous gallantry and I was sent to interview him when I worked on a weekly newspaper. Being a junior reporter and only 19 I didn’t really know much about anything, and that day when I arrived on his doorstep in November 1978 was no exception. My knowledge of the Great War was fairly sketchy and I had just pushed the doorbell when I realised I had nothing to write on and nothing to write with.

croix de guerre

But by then it was too late. Reg had already opened his front door. He was 96 and he looked small and vulnerable. I couldn’t help thinking that he actually looked like a tortoise that had lost its shell. But in two ticks he…

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