The Bibliothèque Nationale

Author: Ronald Gower

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The Flight of Louis XVI



In Paris: Lord Gower

June 22, 1791. I take the first opportunity of informing your Lordship of the surprising event which happened yesterday, no person whatever having till this moment been permitted to leave Paris.

Between seven and eight in the morning it was discovered that the king and all the royal family had left the Tuileries unknown to the Guard. It is supposed that they quitted the palace between one and two o’clock, and it is imagined that they have taken the route through the forests of Compiègne and the Ardennes to the Low Countries but nothing certain is as yet known. Monsieur and Madame have also left the Luxembourg.

June 23, 1791. The most recent account of the king’s situation was brought this afternoon by a Mr. Mangin, son to a member of the Assembly, who resides at Varennes, a small town between Stenay and Clermont in Argonne. He says that early on Wednesday morning the king and royal family passed through Sainte Ménéhould in a Berline with six homes but with only two attendants on horseback. The postmaster of that place suspected that they were not common travellers and questioned them particularly about their route. They said that they were going to Verdun, the first town on the great road. He followed them, but seeing them take the bye road which leads to Varennes, he rode in haste to that town and gave the alarm. When the king arrived at the inn the inhabitants insisted that he should not proceed on his journey until they knew for certain who he was and the motives of it. His Majesty was therefore obliged to enter the inn where he was seen by Mr. Mangin who, being acquainted with his person, informed the astonished multitude that they possessed their king.

The way in which the royal family contrived to leave the Tuileries is not yet known. The thing is wonderful and the more so because the Mayor and Mr. la Fayette had been apprised of their intention for some days before and had accordingly taken all possible precautions to prevent it. They both stayed with his Majesty till one o’clock, when they retired perfectly secure that no attempt of the sort could be made that night; having left a double guard and an extraordinary number of officers upon duty against whom there is no suspicion of corruption.

Lord Gower, June 22, 23, 1791.


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Chicago: Ronald Gower, "The Flight of Louis XVI—I," The Bibliothèque Nationale in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Co., 1951), Original Sources, accessed June 19, 2024,

MLA: Gower, Ronald. "The Flight of Louis XVI—I." The Bibliothèque Nationale, in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, edited by Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris, Harrisburg, Pa., Stackpole Co., 1951, Original Sources. 19 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: Gower, R, 'The Flight of Louis XVI—I' in The Bibliothèque Nationale. cited in 1951, History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. , Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, Pa.. Original Sources, retrieved 19 June 2024, from