My memories of Louis XVII date back to the epic encounter described by Mark Twain: Huck Finn gets to travel in the pretender’s company down Mississippi. In the Age of Romanticism this French boy was considered lost in spite of all the brutal facts of life. According to the right of succession he became Louis XVII at the moment of his father’s head fell into the basket. The event took place in January. When you look at the pictures of his dad’s execution, people appear to be under-dressed for the occasion, perhaps the global warming began to kick in a little early, perhaps they were thick-blooded back then. Daddy is wearing a white shirt, did he really, or is it the painter who plays the fashion designer? Black pants? Where are the clothes used to make the hair pins? History is one frustrating mess. Anyway, the King is dead! Long Live the King!
Next thing the nine-year-old king was taken away from his mother to be raised by some common folks. There are two versions of the story, in the first he is treated like Oliver Twist, and in the second, it is actually not so bad. The question to ask, of course, is how closely the common people’s living conditions resembled those of Oliver Twist? But leaving the idle speculation aside, we focus on the facts. We know for sure that a signed statement was obtained from the nine-year-old for the trial of his mom. The statement was need for the prosecution to prove the incestual nature of the mother-son relationship. Sounds like a regular US divorce, but we also know that the boy wouldn’t speak to anyone ever since. Unlike his American peers, the little Louis understood what was going on and must have taken a vow of silence. We are talking about a little king here.
So how bad was it? We don’t know, but whatever was his actual situation, it didn’t last, for he was re-incarcerated after the uprising in his name of the God-loving Vendee peasants. An uprising against the revolutionary excesses of the Commune of Paris had cost Louis XVII a solitary confinement. This time the conditions were really appalling, but they have somewhat improved once it had been discovered that he was dying of consumption. The dead body was placed in a common grave, for at this point of the Revolution everyone was believed to be equal to anyone else.