Off with his head!

Beatriz y Chema nos plantean esta actividad como trabajo práctico del curso “Mejora de la competencia comunicativa en Inglés” y para su posible aplicación en el aula.



  • Acknowledgement of the History sources in the native language.


  • This activity is destined for students of 4th ESO in a bilingual school.


  • Reading and comprehension of an English text.
  • Expression of your  ideas.
  • Location of the main text idea.
  • Acknowledgement of the French Revolution.


  • Read the text.
  • Write the main idea.
  • Explain the words underlined.
  • Answer these questions:
    • How did the news arrive to London?
    • Where was the king executed?
    • How did the king die?
    • How was he dressed?
    • Explain the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and the relation with this text.
    • In groups of four, take the role of royalist or republican members of Parliament and explain the others why you are for or against the king´s execution.
    • The newspaper:
      • What is the newspaper´s function?
      • Search information about The Times.
      • Are they agreeing with the king´s execution? Find in the text expressions to support your opinion.
      • Why they have such an opinion?


By an express which arrived yesterday morning from Messrs. Fector and Co. at Dover, we learn the following particulars of the King’s execution:

At six o’clock on Monday morning, the KING went to take a farewell of the QUEEN and ROYAL FAMILY. After staying with them some time, and taking a very affectionate farewell of them, the KING descended from the tower of the Temple, and entered the Mayor’s carriage, with his confessor and two Members of the Municipality, and passed slowly along the Boulevards which led from the Temple to the place of execution. All women were prohibited from appearing in the streets, and all persons from being seen at their windows. A strong guard cleared the procession.

The greatest tranquillity prevailed in every street through which the procession passed. About half past nine, the King arrived at the place of execution, which was in the Place de Louis XV. between the pedestal which formerly supported the statue of his grandfather, and the promenade of the Elysian Fields. LOUIS mounted the scaffold with composure, and that modest intrepidity peculiar to oppressed innocence, the trumpets sounding and drums beating during the whole time. He made a sign of wishing to harangue the multitude, when the drums ceased, and Louis spoke these few words. I die innocent; I pardon my enemies; I only sanctioned upon compulsion the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. He was proceeding, but the beating of the drums drowned his voice. His executioners then laid hold of him, and an instant after, his head was separated from his body; this was about a quarter past ten o’clock.

After the execution, the people threw their hats up in the air, and cried out Vive la Nation! Some of them endeavoured to seize the body, but it was removed by a strong guard to the Temple, and the lifeless remains of the King were exempted from those outrages which his Majesty had experienced during his life.

The King was attended on the scaffold by an Irish Priest as his Confessor, not choosing to be accompanied by one who had taken the National oath. He was dressed in a brown great coat, white waistcoat and black breeches, and his hair was powdered.

When M. de Malsherbes announced to LOUIS, the fatal sentence of Death, “Ah!” exclaimed the Monarch, “I shall then at length be delivered from this cruel suspense.”

The decree was imported that LOUIS should be beheaded in the Place de Carousel, but reasons of public safety induced the Executive Council to prefer the Place to la Revolution, formerly the Place de Louis XV.

Since the decree of death was issued, a general consternation has prevailed throughout Paris;—the Sans Culottes are the only persons that rejoice.—The honest citizens, immured within their habitations, could not suppress their heart-felt grief, and mourned in private with their families the murder of their much-loved Sovereign.

The last requests of the unfortunate LOUIS breathes the soul of magnanimity, and a mind enlightened with the finest ideas of human virtue. He appears not to be that man which his enemies reported. His heart was sound—his head was clear—and he would have reigned with glory, had he but possessed those faults which his assassins laid to his charge. His mind possessed the suggestions of wisdom; and even in his last moments, when the spirit of life was winged for another world, his lips gave utterance to them, and he spoke with firmness and with resignation.

Thus has ended the life of LOUIS XVI. [ . . . ]

From the London Times, January 25, 1793

Beatriz Pérez/ José Mª Navarro

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