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MARIE ANTOINETTE, QUEEN OF FRANCE Austrians were not always popular in France – many wars had been fought against them. Maria Antonia was born on 2 November 1755 in Vienna, Austria. Her mother was the Empress of Austria. As a princess, she had a very privileged upbringing.
In 1770 – aged 15 – she married the Dauphin – the future King of France, Louis XVl. This marriage was designed to form an alliance (friendship) between France & Austria.
Marie Antoinette was not a popular queen. She spent huge sums of money on clothes, jewellery and hats and was famous for her elaborate hairstyles.
She had 4 children: Marie Therese, Louis Joseph, Louis Charles (future King Louis XVII ) & Marie Sophie. Only Marie Therese survived childhood Having an heir to the throne was very important to most French people. This meant there was huge pressure on the queen to have children, especially sons.
She also spent a lot of money on buildings such as the Petit Trianon and the Hameau, a miniature village where she and her friends dressed up and played at being peasants. Le Petit Trianon
She was completely out of touch with the lives of the peasants and the bourgeois . . . although she probably did not say those famous words, “Let them eat cake” when told that the people had no bread.
In spite of the meeting of the National Assembly and the storming of the Bastille, women were still angry about the price of bread and the bread and grain shortage. A hungry group of 7000 working women marched on the Palace of Versailles taking cannon and other weapons with them. On 5 October 1789, a rumour started that most of the grain was being stored by the royal family. Many in the group blamed the queen for the bread shortage and it is reported that they sang songs about killing her. Versailles Palace
Early in the morning the mob broke into the palace and killed two bodyguards and cut off their heads. The queen escaped through a secret passage to the king's apartment. The crowd outside the palace demanded that the queen should come out so she went out onto the balcony and stood there alone. Then she bowed her head quietly and went inside. Many people in the mob praised her bravery. This brave action calmed the crowd but some women demanded that the royal family should leave Versailles and go to Paris. The king agreed to this and he moved to Paris but they lived under house-arrest.
Every day the lives of the royal family seemed to be more and more in danger. They decided to escape from Paris in disguise. Prince Louis Charles wore a dress! But, just when they thought they were safe, on 22 June 1791 – over 200 miles from Paris – they were recognized and arrested. They were returned to Paris and held captive, and on 21 January 1793, at 20:10, Louis XVI was guillotined.
Marie Antoinette was executed on 16 October 1793 at 12h15 by the same guillotine.