Was Louis XVI of France a weak king, or was he simply in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Essay by seastarwolfHigh School, 10th grade May 2004

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King Louis XVI deserves to be king of France by both his heritage and his virtue. Despite a shadowed childhood, Louis grew up to be a caring king who greatly respects his subjects' happiness and ideas. His excellent memory and profound knowledge on history and geography are important features in a monarch, as well as his interests in all professions and social levels, such as his hobbies of masonry and blacksmithing. At the age of 12, Louis announced "Thus, by our primordial origin , all men without exception are my equals." During his reign, Louis aimed for equality of the classes by abolishing feudalism on his court lands, emancipating the serfs, abolishing torture, and agreeing to sacrifice his own rights for a constitutional monarchy, all according to his subjects' wishes.

Louis XVI also did his best to reduce the enormous debts that he inherited from his father and grandfather. He tried to incorporate help from financial ministers and nobles, but unfortunately was not provided with sound advice and cooperation.

Despite the numerous setbacks, the noble but young king had the courage to call upon the Estates General so that France would not lose her dignity by going bankruptcy. His calling upon the Estates General also gave all the estates a say in the government. On may, 5, 1789, Louis opened the meeting with a heart-warming speech, starting with: "Sirs, this day which my heart awaited since a long time has finally arrived and I see myself surrounded by the representatives of the nation which I am honored to command." Yet his aim for equality was not forgotten, for later on Louis called for the first two orders to renounce their financial privileges so that the taxes would be distributed equally among all. He also stated his preference of voting by...