The Sad Life of Louis-Charles

Born March 27, 1785 to King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette, Louis-Charles should have had a charmed life.  He was the second son and named the Duke of Normandy until the death of his older brother, upon which he became the Dauphin or heir to the throne.  Madame de Rambaud was his governess and she cared for him as if he were her own.  Although he had a governess, Louis-Charles was still close to his mother.  He was described as a bright, good looking child, “…his blue eyes, aquiline nose, elevated nostrils, well-defined mouth, pouting lips, chestnut hair parted in the middle and falling in thick curls on his shoulders, resembled his mother before her years of tears and torture. All the beauty of his race, by both descents, seemed to reappear in him.”  His life was set fair.  Then the revolution came.

The royal family was kept prisoner in the Tuileries Palace in Paris under close guard for three years.  His mother devoted her time to her children, but it was difficult.  For example, the guards insisted she keep her hands behind her back to make sure no letters were smuggled in or out to the prisoners.  They family tried to escape, but the attempt failed and a year later the Tuileries Palace was stormed by an armed mob.  The family fled for their lives and sought sanctuary at the Legislative Assembly.  They were then transferred to the tower of the Square du Temple, and Louis XVI was removed from the family for his trial and subsequent execution on September 21, 1792.

The rest of Europe hailed Louis-Charles as Louis XVII, and this did not make the revolutionaries happy.  After another failed escape attempt, they took young Louis away from his mother and put him in the care of a cobbler who had been named as his guardian by the Committee of Public Safety.  Antoine Simon was charged with turning young Louis into a productive citizen of the Republic.  His methods were nothing short of monstrous.  In fact, Louis’ sister, Marie Therese, called this man “monster Simon” in her memoirs.  Louis was only eight years old.

According to later reports, Louis was subject to cruel treatment by both Simon and his wife.  He was beaten and abused in countless ways.  The couple tried to induce him to deny the existence of God, and when he refused beat him brutally.  The taught him obscene songs and how to swear and forced him to do so on command.  There were also reports that he was shown pornography and raped by prostitutes to give him venereal diseases.  The eight year old child.  This breaks my heart both as a parent and a decent human being.  The couple then used the boy’s knowledge of all of this to fashion an accusation that Marie Antoinette had been molesting her son.  The boy signed, but it is little wonder.  Through it all, Louis is reported to have tried to have been a good child.  Simon wouldn’t even give him his own name, referring to him only as “Capet” one of his long dead ancestors.  This exchange was recorded after a regular beating.  “On one of these occasions, when the child had fallen half stunned upon his own miserable couch, and lay there groaning and faint with pain, Simon roared out with a laugh, “Suppose you were king, Capet, what would you do to me?” The child thought of his father’s dying words, and said, “I would forgive you.””   Item:  I am not that nice.  Not long after signing the declaration against his mother, the Simons blessedly left, but child was put in a dark room like an animal where food was pushed through the bars to him.

After six months of darkness, Louis was given some freedom.  They had ordered Louis to have a new attendant and be let out of the dark room.  He was still in prison, but was allowed to walk outside and a clean room and clothes.  A Dr. Desault came to treat Louis and found he no longer spoke.  Jean Jacques Christophe Laurent was put in charge of young Louis with the help of a man named Gomin.  Gomin attempted to be kind to Louis, but there was only so much he could do.  Eventually Louis began speaking to Gomin, and it was clear he was very ill.  A doctor was summoned and diagnosed tuberculosis as well as a severe case of scabies.  There was no way the weakened boy was going to survive.  Gomin stayed with his sad charge until the end.  He reported Louis heard voices, including his mother’s, comforting him until he died.  He states, “At a quarter past two he died …The poor little royal corpse was carried from the room … where he had suffered so long, – where for two years he had never ceased to suffer. From this apartment the father had gone to the scaffold, and thence the son must pass to the burial-ground.”

An autopsy was performed by Dr. Pelletan, head surgeon of the Grand Hospice de l’Humanite and he found his little body ridden with scars from his treatment at Temple prison.  He was buried in Sainte Marguerite cemetery, but minus his heart.  It was French tradition that the heart of the king be removed after death.  Dr. Pelletan secreted Louis’ heart away in a handkerchief and kept it a bottle of distilled wine.  The heart was passed around through the years, and was finally buried next to the remains of Louis’ parents in June 2004.  Hopefully, the little lad found peace.


  • AlexanderYpsilantis

    The French Revolution was monstrous and was perpetrated by monsters.

  • GuitarJam

    guess they didn’t want any cake

  • Crystal Spurlock-Mayfield

    OMG I hope you’re right. This is heartbreaking!!!

  • Michelle

    It’s not false. There are reports and signed letters from doctors and others that saw this abuse with their own eyes.
    The boy was physically abused, forced to drink alcohol, woken in the middle of the night with water poured over him.for no reason, he didn’t have a bucket to relieve himself so he did it on the floor. On August 19 1793, a school teacher, magistrate and municipal representative, known as Commissionaire Leboeuf, visited the tower and witnessed Simon hitting Louis-Charles. Leboeuf protested at Simon’s brutality. The minutes for the General Council of the Paris Commune reveal that on 28 August Leboeuf was denounced “because he had complained of the too republican kind of education given to little Capet”. (Simon would get Louis-Charkes drunk and make him sing bawdy songs and swear). Leboeuf pointed out as a teacher he did not like to hear a young boy repeat obscenities. Leboeuf was accused of daring to find fault with educating the little Capet to be a sans-culottes. It was not long before Leboeufs house was raided by police and he was imprisoned. He was later acquitted but fled Paris fearful of his life. After this, no more formal complaints were made.
    But after Robespierre’s death, General Barras was put in charge of the tyrants children so he went to visit them and was appalled at Louis-Charles cell. He entered a foul smelling, dark room covered in filth and excrement with vermin everywhere where a child was curled up on a cot shaped like a cradle and not in the bed. The cot was too small for him, he had no sheets or blanket and wore dirty, tattered clothes. As Barras came closer he realised the boy wasn’t sleeping but watching him.
    The boy couldn’t stand without feeling pain and Barras realised hus clothes were too small for him and cutting into his skin. He had the trousers cut open. He saw the child’s knees, ankles and hands were swollen and a ghastly colour, his face was puffed and he was covered in bruises, sores and cuts.
    Barras ordered the boys cell cleaned but it still wasn’t done for weeks. 1 September 1794, eight months after the commencement of Louis-Charles solitary confinement his cell was cleaned out. There was eight months of excrement on the floor.
    So no it wasn’t all lies. These were the people that thought they were better than the king and queen whose heads they cut off. It makes me wonder why the French celebrate Bastille Day. I would be ashamed of what was just a blood lust by the people.