Which factor had the greater impact on Louis XVI's deteriorating position between July of 1791 and August of 1792: the King's failure; or the outbreak of war?

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8th December 2015

Which factor had the greater impact on Louis' deteriorating position between July of 1791 and August of 1792: the King's failure; or the outbreak of war?

Both the outbreak of war and the King's own failure had an impact on Louis position. However the results of both events differed in their impact on France and the King. Overall the King's own failures, which occurred later and within Paris itself, had the greater impact on his position.

The outbreak of war sparked popular belief that the King was an enemy of the revolution and the French Republic. Rumours had existed that Marie Antoinette was, in fact, allied to the Austrians of the Hapsburg Empire since before the revolution even started, meaning it impacted the trust between the King and the people. However, at the outbreak of war, the consecutive defeats of the French army at the hands of the Austrians and Prussians caused these rumours concerning the "Austrian Party" to grow in popularity (and in truth: Marie had been informing the Austrian military of French plans). This almost directly impacted Louis, as his own wife (and to that extent he, himself) was accused of being a counter-revolutionary, leading to an increase in anti-monarchist sentiment amongst the majority pro-war sans-culottes, and a decrease in the King's standing.
Most members of the Legislative Assembly were pro-war, especially Jacques Brissot, who was hugely responsible for Louis' deterioration in position and had been calling for Louis' trial since the Flight to Varennes. The Brissotists and Girondins gained a majority in the Assembly after Brissot outlined factors in support for the war, increasing the chances of anti-monarchist legislature being passed in the future, which would have severely impacted the King's position. This consensus corresponded with that of the sans-culottes - encouraged by Lafayette, who remained popular amongst the people.

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However Louis own failures at this time were at least partly responsible for the sharp rise in anti-monarchist feelings. Louis actions of dismissing his majority Girondin government and vetoing the laws proposed by the Assembly led to organised demonstrations from the Paris Sections, Cordeliers, National Guardsmen and Sans-Culottes. These demonstrations showed that the majority of Parisians felt Louis had abused his right of veto, and furthermore, wished for his abdication, since the Tuileries were stormed and Louis confronted by the diverse mob, which had surpassed the strength of the Assembly and the King.
However Louis' main failure was his stubbornness. In ...

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