With the aim of making the child forget that he was King of France, Louis XVI having died on 21 January 1793, the Commune decided to separate the boy from his mother.

On 3 July 1793, at about 10 pm, the Dauphin was given to Citizen Simon, whose job it was to guard him.  He was assisted in this by his wife, Marie-Jeanne Aladame.

Despite stories about the shoemaker Simon’s brutality, he and his wife took good care of the child.  Madame Simon washed him, combed his hair, taking great care of his cleanliness and of his food.  She also gave him the syrup which Dr Thierry had prescribed for his intestinal worms.

A lot has been made of the so-called bad treatment dished out by the Simons, including punishments given to the Dauphin, which supposedly degraded his health.  However, from July 1793 to January 1794, during the time that he was in their custody, notes made by doctors and pharmacists mention only worm syrups, veal broth and frog legs.  Therefore, the Dauphin had only suffered slight indispositions.

Great credit has been given to the writings of the Duchess of Angouleme who declared in her Memoires, on the subject of the bruised testicule sustained by her brother, that “his health started to grow worse, and he never recovered afterwards”.  We know that he had completely recovered from it within a few weeks.  The duchess did not see her brother at all between 3 July and 7 October 1793, and then only for a few minutes in front of the deputies charged with making the case against their mother.  She never saw him again.

If Citizen Simon was sometimes rather short-tempered with the child, any bad treatment stopped in October 1793.  Did he receive secret instructions from Robespierre telling him to be gentler?  Did Robespierre decide on this after the child had been made drunk and forced to give a disgusting statement against the queen?  Whatever the reason, the date of the queen’s death corresponds with the ceasing of any supposed rigour in the treatment of her son.  Therefore, it cannot be accepted that his health had continued to decline.

Another proof comes from an official document.  On 2 January 1794, the municipal body decided that members of the General Council could not hold other positions.  Simon was affected by this decision and offered his resignation three days later.

On 16 January, the General Council decided that four of its members, Temple guardians, would henceforth directly oversee the security of the prisoners kept there.  On 19 January, the Simons handed the “little Capet” over to the guardians and asked for a discharge.  This discharge is mentioned in the Moniteur on 22 January 1794.


“The decision shows that the young Capet will remain under the direct supervision of the guardians of the Temple; yesterday, Simon and his wife handed the child over to us in good health, asking us to give them discharge of him; we gave it to them.”

The Council ratified the discharge given to Citizen Simon.  Therefore, the Dauphin was in good health when he passed from the hands of Simon to those of the Temple guardians.

After Simon left, supervision was relaxed: each of the guardians only having to reappear every forty days, which was strictly carried out in the beginning.  However, as time went by, a lot of them excused themselves, and replacements of some of them by others were frequent.

Of all these guardians, none has left any verbal or written communication about the prisoner.  On top of that, the Restoration Government got rid of the Temple registers for this period, which could have shed some light on the mystery which hangs over the prisoner’s existence from the first month of 1794.

We do know that in March 1794, the General Council feared an evasion.  It was fairly easy to enter the Temple walls.  Passes, which were numerous, could easily be given or exchanged, because they did not include the bearer’s name.  For 1792 alone, six to seven thousand were issued each month.

A police report shows that Robespierre went to get the king at the Temple, in the night of 23 to 24 May 1794, and took him to Meudon.  He was brought back in the night of 24 to 25.  This was a trial run to make sure that it would be easy to move him.  However, this is a police report, and we know that they were not always true.

According to some biographies of Louis XVII, Robespierre went to the Temple on 11 May, the day after the execution of Madame Elisabeth.  His visit was kept secret and was only known much later through the Duchess of Angouleme.

Part three tomorrow.