Queen Marie Antoinette

Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France and Archduchess of Austria (born 2 November 1755 – executed 16 October 1793) Daughter of Maria Theresa of Austria, wife of Louis XVI and mother of Louis XVII. She was guillotined at the height of the French Revolution.

Marie-Antoinette was the fifteenth child (the youngest daughter; she had a brother one year younger) of the Austrian empress, Maria Theresa and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. She was born at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna on 2 November 1755. She was christened Maria-Antonia-Josepha-Johanna. Maria was in honour of the Virgin Mary, Antonia in honour of Saint Anthony of Padua, Josepha in honour of her elder brother, Archduke Josef and Johanna in honour of Saint John the Evangelist. A court official described the new baby as "a small, but completely healthy Archduchess."

Marie-Antoinette was conveyed to the royal palace at Versailles, where she met her future grandfather-in-law Louis XV and the other members of the royal family. Her future husband, the Dauphin Louis-Auguste was shy, awkward and distant. He was only a year older than she was and had no sexual or romantic relationships to prepare him for dealing with his fiancée. Their marriage was conducted within hours of Marie-Antoinette arriving at Versailles. The Wedding Mass was celebrated with great pomp in the Chapel Royal on 16 May 1770. Just before the wedding, Marie-Antoinette was presented with the magnificent jewels which traditionally belonged to a French dauphiness. This collection included an elaborate diamond necklace which had belonged to Anne of Austria and pieces which had also belonged to Mary Queen of Scots and Catherine de Medici. The large collection of gems was valued at approximately 2 million livres. Marie-Antoinette then received King Louis's personal wedding gift to her. It was a fan, encrusted with diamonds.

Louis XVI's coronation took place at Rheims during the height of a bread shortage in Paris. Tradition would later state that it was at this point that Marie-Antoinette joked, "If they have no bread, then let them eat cake!" ("Qu'ils mangent de la brioche.") However, this phrase was never uttered by Marie-Antoinette – although it might have been said by an earlier French queen (Maria Theresa of Spain). When Marie-Antoinette actually heard about the bread shortage she wrote, "It is quite certain that in seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness. The king seems to understand this truth; as for myself, I know that in my whole life (even if I live for a hundred years) I shall never forget the day of the coronation."

On the morning of October 16th, a guard arrived to cut her hair and bind her hands behind her back. She was forced into a common, slow-moving cart and paraded through the streets of Paris for over an hour before reaching the Place de la Révolution where the guillotine stood. She stepped lightly down from the cart and stared up at the guillotine. The priest who had accompanied her whispered, "This is the moment, Madame, to arm yourself with courage." Marie-Antoinette turned to look at him and smiled, "Courage? The moment when my troubles are going to end is not the moment when my courage is going to fail me."

At 12:15 on Wednesday 16th October 1793, Marie-Antoinette's head was taken off by one swish of the guillotine and exhibited to a cheering crowd. Her body was then taken and dumped in an unmarked mass grave in the Rue d'Anjou.

Marie-Antoinette went down in history as shallow, weak, self-indulgent and stupid. Only royalists, who saw her as a martyr, viewed her any differently. They later recovered her body and reburied it in the Bourbon dynasty crypt in Paris, they also retrieved the bodies of Louis XVI and Princess Elisabeth (who was executed in 1794).

(Taken From Wikipedia: Marie Antoinette)

An Illustration Of Marie Antoinette's Execution