Bit of History: Marie Antoinette

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Marie Antoinette was born in Vienna, Austria , in 1755, and was born Maria Antonia Joseph Johanna von Habsburg-Lothringen. She was an archduchess of Austria, the 15 and second-youngest child of Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor and Empress Maria Theresa.

At the tender age of 14 years, Marie was sent off to France to live her life as the future Queen and was married to Louis-Auguste, heir to the throne of France.

Seven years into their marriage, there still was no heir, that’s when Marie Antoinette’s mother grew concerned and sent Joseph II (Marie’s brother) to help the couple. Simply put, Marie Antoinette and Louis did not know how to have intercourse, and so Joseph instructed his brother-in-law as to how to go about doing it.

As Queen, Marie had a reputation for extravagant spending, and when the poor people of France complained of high price of bread, she is rumoured to have said “Let them eat cake”.

Angry mob at an execution during the French Revolution. The guillotine symbolizes the excesses, terror, and capriciousness of the French Revolution.

In 1789, Marie and Louis son died of tuberculosis of the spine. She was thrown into a great depression at the death of her son Louis Joseph just before the outbreak of the French Revolution which was on July 14th, 1789, where 900 French Revolutionaries took the Bastille Prison.

On October 5, thousands of Parisian women stormed the palace at Versailles. They ransacked the place, killed a couple of her guards, and essentially took her and her family prisoners and brought them back to Paris where she would spend the rest of her very short life.

The royal family lived for two years at the Tuileries Palace for two years while the French Revolution raged on outside their door. After October 1789, Marie Antoinette becomes the central figure for French counter-revolution. She conspired with other European powers and with sympathisers within Franc attempting to reverse the French Revolution.

In 1792, a mob stormed the Tuileries Palace killing hundreds of guards and noblemen, and took the royal family to the temple prison.

On December 26, Louis stood trial and was executed. Marie was in the biggest depth of grief, for her relationship with her husband had gotten stronger than when they were first married at the young ages of 14.

On October 14 1793, Marie Antoinette was tried for treason. Her trial was a mockery, they had her eight year old son testify against her in court that she had interfered with him inappropriately. Even as Marie Antoinette said “Is there any mother in this court room who would accept this, knowing what a mother’s love for her son was like.”

Even that couldn’t save her, two days later, she was taken to the guillotine. The last Queen of France was dead.

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