Queen Marie Antoinette

Born on November 2, 1755, Marie Antoinette was the youngest daughter of the Emperor and Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, Maria Theresa and Francis Stephen I. Marie Antoinette was the most beautiful of all their children and was preened for a royal destiny from the very earliest years of her life. In 1790, Marie Antoinette married the crown prince of France and when he, representing the House of Bourbon, was crowned Louis XVI four years later, Marie Antoinette became the queen of all France.

The Truth About Her Reign

Queen Marie Antoinette's true personality may be lost to history, but it is known that accounts of her excesses are greatly exaggerated. If actions speak louder than words as the old saying goes, the fact that Marie Antoinette reduced the numbers of her own household staff, thus eliminating many unnecessary positions, does speak a bit more for itself than "let them eat cake." She irritated the nobility much more than the common people of her day, and it was the nobility, and not Marie Antoinette or her husband, the king, who blocked the financial reforms suggested by the government ministers. The royal couple were both pawns in the cosmic chess game of dynamic historical forces that would, in the end, eliminate them both as symbols of a passing political ideology.

Death and Aftermath

In 1789, Queen Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis XVI were captured in their palace at Versailles. Despite an attempt to escape Paris in 1791 when Prussia declared war on France, Marie Antoinette was accused of treason and imprisoned. On January 21, 1793, King Louis XVl was convicted of treason and executed on the guillotine. Later that same year on October 16th, Queen Marie Antoinette met the same fate as her husband, despite the fact that there was no proof that she ever committed the crime for which she was accused, namely the passing of military secrets to the enemy.

Marie Antoinette died at the age of 37, and after the fall of Napoleon in 1814, the Bourbon monarchy was restored. The new monarchy lasted until the ascension of Napoleon III in 1848. After he abdicated in 1871, France finally became a republic.

Queen Marie Antoinette should best be remembered not for "let them eat cake" which she may not even have ever said, but rather for these words: "Courage, I have shown it for years; think you I shall lose it at the moment when my sufferings are to end?"