Many Royalists and Jacobins were jailed together at the Tower of the Temple, named after its first owners, the Templars. Within its grim walls had been jailed the royal family: Louis XVI until his execution on January 21, 1793, Marie-Antoinette until her transfer to the Conciergerie in August of the same year. Madame Elisabeth, Louis XVI’s devoted sister, had stayed behind until her turn had come to face the guillotine. There too had poor little Louis XVII died in 1795. His elder sister Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte had stayed there until she was exchanged against other prisoners and freed a few months later.
In 1800, all royal prisoners were long gone, but the medieval Tower of the Temple, with its pointed turrets, remained the political jail of choice for all prominent opponents to Bonaparte’s regime. Many of them were held there indefinitely without trial. Some only left the Temple the face the summary proceedings of a Military Commission and, later the same night, the guns of a firing squad.