Illustration of a well dressed man, woman and child surrounded by soldiers with weapons.

Revolutionaries captured King Louis XVI as he tried to escape.

The Royal Family Tries to Escape

Meanwhile, Marie Antoinette and others had been urging the king to escape their humiliating situation. Louis finally gave in. One night in June 1791, a coach rolled north from Paris toward the border. Inside sat the king disguised as a servant, the queen dressed as a governess, and the royal children.

The attempted escape failed. In a town along the way, Louis's disguise was uncovered by someone who held up a piece of currency with the king's face on it. A company of soldiers escorted the royal family back to Paris, as onlooking crowds hurled insults at the king. In place of the old shouts of “Long Live the King!” people cried, “Long Live the Nation.” To many, Louis's dash to the border showed that he was a traitor to the revolution. As new crises arose, the French Revolution entered a new, more radical phase.


  1. Apply Concepts How did France's social divisions in the late 1700s contribute to the revolution?
  2. Draw Conclusions Why was the conflict between the clergy and the Third Estate the most divisive in the course of the revolution?
  3. Compare How might the complaints of a peasant and a merchant compare during the revolution?
  4. Identify Cause and Effect What characteristics of the Third Estate helped fuel the Revolution?
  5. Connect What did the Tennis Court Oath foretell about the coming events of the French Revolution?

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments