On 16 October 1793, Marie Antoinette, formerly the Queen of France, was guillotined at the Place de la Concorde. She was not yet 38 (her birthday was 2 November). Her husband, Louis XVI had been executed in January, 10 months before, and her son, Louis Charles, was taken from her in July.
On the day of her execution, she wore a simple white dress (she was denied black though, ironically, white was the mourning colour of queens of France) and was driven through Paris in an open cart. Her hair was cut off before she was guillotined around 12:15PM.
Her last words were to the executioner, whose hand she had accidentally stepped on: “Pardon me sir, I did not mean to do it.”
Marie Antoinette was survived by her eldest daughter, Marie Therese, who moved to Austria in a prisoner exchange.
Today, visitors can pay their respects to her at the Basilica of St Denis.
background of my interest
Marie Antoinette (or Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna) is one of my 2 favourite queen consorts (Anne Boleyn is my other favourite). I first read about her when I was 11 from the Royal Diaries series. It was the first time in my life that I couldn’t put a book down and that is how my love for reading began. Of course, since I was always very curious, I spent the next x-number years of my life researching on her life until I could talk about her as if I knew her. Unfortunately, at one point, my interest turned to Anne Boleyn and I forgot quite a bit on MA and the French Revolution.
I had the privilige of visiting her childhood homes in Austria 3 years ago. It is my hope that I will be able to visit Versailles and other palaces where MA lived in France someday. And, of course, to visit the Basilica of St Denis to pay my respects.
She was a misunderstood and harshly critised queen who was too young when she became queen and too ill-liked because of her Austrian heritage to win any sympathy.
Whether you like her or not, please remember one thing at least: do not quote her for saying, “Let them eat cake.” She never said it and she was not heartless nor ignorant enough to have said that.
This is one of my favourite portraits of the queen:
Rest in peace