Little Dauphin - George Upton

This book tells the story of the French revolution from the point of view of the crown prince of France, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. After the execution of his parents, the seven-year-old boy was taken from his family and kept prisoner for three years, during which time he was tortured, beaten and abused. His story, told with enough discretion to make it suitable for young people, provides a dramatic and pathetic insight into the cruelties and viciousness of the French revolution.

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[Book Cover] from The Little Dauphin by George Upton
Dauphin, Louis XVII


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Translator's Preface

The story of Louis Charles, second son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, is one of the most pathetic in the history of royalty, and has an added interest because of the attempts of many romancers and some historical writers to raise doubts as to his fate. The brief space of the little Dauphin's life is measured by the awful period of the French Revolution and Reign of Terror. Franz Hoffmann, the writer of the original (which was published under the title of "Ein Konigssohn," or, "A King's Son "), follows the ordinarily accepted version that the Dauphin was separated from the King and Queen and confined in the Temple, and that after their execution he was deliberately and cruelly allowed to waste away in body and become the victim of hopeless disease, remaining thus until death ended his sufferings and the inhuman barbarity of his keepers.

In the course of his narrative the author touches upon the most striking events of the Revolution, that "dreadful remedy for a dreadful disease," as it has been called, and brings out in strong relief the character of the well-meaning but weak King and imperious Queen, as well as that of the brutal cobbler Simon, the Dauphin's keeper; but the principal interest centres in the pathetic figure of the little prince. The historic doubts raised as to the Dauphin's fate also lend interest to the tale. One of these has to do with the identity of Naundorff, who passed himself off as the Duke of Normandy, the Dauphin's title, and the other with the Rev. Eleazar Williams of Green Bay, Wisconsin, missionary among the Indians. The claims put forth by friends of Williams attracted widespread attention and provoked much discussion in this country and France, half a century ago, because of the extraordinary coincidences attaching to the alleged identity. It is the generally accepted verdict of history, however, that the Dauphin was the victim of the Revolution and died in the Temple in 1795, and as such he appears in these pages. The details of his fate can never be stated with accuracy, so involved and uncertain is the tragic mystery, but Hoffmann's narrative is undoubtedly correct in its general outlines. There are almost as many different versions as there are histories of that thrilling period.

G. P. U.

CHICAGO, July 1, 1905.

[Contents] from The Little Dauphin by George Upton
[Illustrations] from The Little Dauphin by George Upton


The following is a chronological statement of the most important events mentioned in this volume, as well as of those directly connected with the French Revolution:

Aug 23, 1754 Birth of Louis XVI.
  1770 Marriage of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
  1774 Louis XVI ascends the throne.
March 27, 1785 Birth of Louis XVII.
  1789 Louis XVII becomes Dauphin.
May 5, 1789 Meeting of States General. Revolutionary agitations.
June 17, 1789 Third Estate takes the name of Constituent Assembly.
July 14, 1789 Storming of the Bastile.
July 14, 1790 The "Feast of the Pikes", and the oath of Federation.
June 20, 1791 Flight of the Royal Family to Varennes.
June 25, 1791 Brought back to Paris as captives.
Sept, 1791 Constitution adopted.
April, 1792 War with Prussia and Austria.
Sept 21, 1792 Proclamation of the Republic.
Jan 21, 1793 Execution of Louis XVI.
March, 1793 Establishment of Revolutionary Tribunal.
April, 1793 Establishment of Committee of Public Safety.
July 3, 1793 Imprisonment of the Dauphin in the Temple.
July 13, 1793 Assassination of Marat.
Oct 16, 1793 Execution of Marie Antoinette.
  179394 Reign of Terror.
April 6, 1794 Execution of Danton.
July 27, 1794 Execution of Robespierre.
June 8, 1795 Death of the Dauphin in the Temple.
Oct 5, 1795 Victory of Buonaparte over the Sections.
  1796 Beginning of the Napoleonic Wars.
Nov, 1799 Beginning of the Consulate.
  1802 Napoleon made Life Consul.
March 18, 1804 Establishment of the Empire.