Originally published on Happy Ever After by Joyce Lamb
The ball was to have been a festive occasion, celebrating the dissolution of the monarchy and the victory at Valmy. The survival of the nascent Revolution. But as the chill of night settled over Paris, the snow-flecked Seine glistening like a vein of molten silver, the citizens’ hunger for bread was surpassed only by their hunger to hear the latest reports circulating throughout the city: would the king face the guillotine?
Following Paris’s bloody summer and the imprisonment of the royal family, the Jacobins had grown in number and consolidated power within the National Convention. The victory at Valmy had, for the moment, halted the threat of foreign invasion, allowing a band of radical and ambitious young lawyers to grab the reins of government, promising expanded suffrage, abolition of noble privileges, and a sweeping new constitution to rival any document that had come out of the Americas. And on this night in late December, all of Paris was humming with the rumors that the Bourbon king himself might face France’s new justice. Read more on USA Today.