January 21 - 1793 - The Execution of Louis XVI of France
The execution of Louis XVI of France during the French Revolution was one of the signature moments in history. Regicide is always shocking, but when a Republic, based on revolutionary ideals, kills their former King with no thought of replacing him, it becomes something else entirely, an epochal shift. Yet the execution of Louis XVI was really the culmination of many smaller events in the Revolution. The French Revolution began as a reform, with Louis himself seeking to have a constitutional monarchy. Then a Republic is formed, after which Louis is held prisoner, and then the monarchy is abolished. Once Louis is tried for treason at the end of 1792, it is obvious he will be found guilty. Although it is less obvious he would be executed, the punishment meted out was death by guillotine, which did in fact cement the truly revolutionary act of executing a king.