Arts & Humanities


Mark Antaki: The Trial of Louis XVI

The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial of the “major war criminals” of 1945-1946 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 are often understood as opposite sides of the same very modern moral coin: the trial articulating an understanding of supreme wrong and the Declaration a vision of the ultimate good. It is customary to locate one of the origins of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the French Revolution’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789.

However, the trial of Louis XVI (1792-1793), the opposite side of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, tends not to be identified as an antecedent of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. This lecture will consider the trial of Louis XVI as perhaps the first trial for crimes against humanity, a trial in which the medieval figure of the tyrant begins to give way to the modern figure of the criminal against humanity.

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    December 9, 2011 at 2:28 pm