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January 21, 1793 was a cold day in Paris. The dreary winter of 1792-93 brought a morose, dark and icy atmosphere upon the French capital. On the morning of his execution, locked in his cell at the Temple, Louis prayed for the salvation of his soul and prepared to meet his creator.
At the foot of the scaffold, his hands were bound. He proceeded to climb the steps. Once atop the scaffold next to the guillotine, he stood up straight as he had at his trial and decided to speak to the crowd: "I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge. I pardon those who have occasioned my death, and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never fall on France." An order was given to roll the drums to drown out his voice.
Louis was nudged forward to the guillotine plank, whereupon his voice failed and his words were lost. It was 10:24 am. In the space of a few seconds, Louis' head was placed in the headstock, then the executioner pulled the release mechanism and the blade fell down and severed his head, which toppled into a wicker basket. The executioner grasped it by the hair and held it up for the people to see. Cries of "Vive la Nation!" and "Vive la République!" were heard. The crowd then chorused the emblematic revolutionary song "Ça ira" (literally, "it'll be fine"). *
* Hardly the most rousing or confident sentiment to come out with after chopping off a King's head. "It'll be fine! Honestly, it'll be fine!". I'd be looking for a little more certainty in my songs.