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Marie Antoinette's Death
- Marie Antoinette
- November 2, 1755
- October 16, 1793
The life and death of Marie Antoinette:
"Let them eat cake." Whether or not she actually said it in so many words is not clear, but it is part of her legend. That infamous quote attributed to this French Queen about the starving masses who could not afford to eat bread led to an even more enraged populace. She and her husband, King Louis XVI were consumed in the French Revolution, literally losing her head over the whole affair.
Baptized Maria Antonia Josefa Johanna, she was born as Archduchess of Austria. Her education emphasized manners, appearance, music and dance. She was said to be an excellent dancer and a good singer. However, her penmanship was said to be sloppy and she struggled with reading and writing in German and French.
In April 1770, marriage was arranged to Louis-Auguste, the heir apparent to the French throne, or Dauphin of France. However, it was noted her teeth were crooked and corrective surgery without anesthesia was performed. With her beautiful new smile, she became Dauphine, or wife of the probable next King.
The royal couple's reputation suffered because the consummation of the marriage did not take place on their wedding night, as custom assumed.
When his King Louis the 15th died, his grandson and her husband assumed the French throne as King Louis the 16th. And Marie Antoinette became the Queen of France, reigning from 1774 to 1792.
They had four children…
…this portrait depicting her with three of them.
At first the French people found her personality and beauty alluring. She had blonde hair, blue eyes and fair complexion. However, as time passed, the populace started disliking her, accusing her of being allied with the country's Austrian enemies. They also used a French word connoting bitch and she was also accused of overspending, blamed for her country's financial woes. There were also rumors of her being promiscuous.
King Louis the 16th was deposed and the French monarchy was abolished on September 21, 1792. The Royal family was imprisoned and eight months after her husband was executed, Marie Antoinnette was herself tried, convicted and executed. Her hair was cut off and she was driven through Paris in an open cart, wearing a plain white dress…
…to be executed by guillotine.
This is purportedly the actual blade used…
…still on display at Madame Tussaud's wax museum in London.
Her body and that of her husband were exhumed during the Bourbon Restoration in 1815 and they were reinterred in the necropolis of French Kings at the Basilica of St. Denis.
Some say the French Revolution started because of her. Others say she was treated unfairly and the views of her should be more sympathetic.
Her image is captured in these wax figures…
…death masks created by Madame Tussaud.