Tuesday, 16 October 2012

On this Day: 16th October 1793, Marie Antoinette, is guillotined at the height of the French Revolution

Born an archduchess of Austria, Marie Antoinette was the fifteenth child of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa. She married the French dauphin, Louis, grandson of Louis XV of France, in 1770 and became Queen when he ascended the throne in 1774 as Louis XVI

She was at first welcomed in France but her frivolity contrasted with the withdrawn personality of her husband and her extravagant lifestyle led to growing resentment by the French people who were suspicious of her ties to Austria and her influence on the King.

Add to this, throughout the late 1780’s France was struggling with economic, political and social upheaval and Paris was besieged with riots which culminated in the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789.

The escape of the royal couple from Paris was stopped at Varennes on October 21, 1791. Imprisoned with the king, Marie Antoinette continued to plot, hoping her brother, the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II would intervene to end the revolution and free the royal family.

Charged with treason, Louis was executed on 21 January 1793, at the age of thirty-eight and Marie Antoinette was put on trial charged with aiding the enemy and inciting civil war. She was declared guilty of treason in the early morning of 16 October, after two days of proceedings and driven through Paris in an open cart, wearing a simple white dress. At 12:15 p.m., she was beheaded at the Place de la Révolution (present-day Place de la Concorde). Her last words were "Pardon me sir, I meant not to do it", to Henri Sanson the executioner, whose foot she had accidentally stepped on after climbing the scaffold. Her body was thrown into an unmarked grave in the Madeleine cemetery, rue d'Anjou.

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Research courtesy of Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Antoinette


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