Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna was born 2 November 1755 to the Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Teresa of Austria. Born in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Maria Antonia (best known by her French name Marie Antoinette), was born a princess to the most powerful monarchy on the continent of Europe at that time. She was the fifteenth out of sixteen children born to the Emperor and Empress of Austria.
The French Revolution has been the inspiration and model for
all socialist and communist revolutions in modern history.
The Prototype Revolution
The tools of the French Revolution were: dis-information,
propaganda, the subversion of language, malice, envy,
hatred & jealousy………………
Tools of Revolution
…the press… was spearhead, font, and fuel for the
Revolution… the journals were mixtures of politics and smut.
They admired agitators extravagantly and
never discussed the Church without
mention of scandal, nor the government
They relied heavily on tales of sin in high places and
high handed outrages of the court; no name,
however highly placed and illustrious, escaped.
…through its journals and pamphlets …it could distort, colour,
plead, argue, lie, report, and mis-report the information upon
which the balance of the realm depended.”
(Otto Scott, Robespierre)
…The most outrageous
example of this media
was the malicious
targeting of Queen
Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna was born 2 November 1755
to the Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Teresa of Austria.
Born in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Maria Antonia
(best known by her French name Marie Antoinette),
was born a princess to the most powerful monarchy
on the continent of Europe at that time.
She was the fifteenth out of sixteen children
born to the Emperor and Empress of Austria.
Maria enjoyed music and learned to play the harpsichord.
She excelled in dancing and was described as having an
“exquisite pose” and “famously graceful deportment.”
She had a menagerie (mini-zoo) at home in Austria,
which she later recreated in the Petit Trianon in France.
A series of events led to her betrothal to the Dauphin of
Her father, Francis I, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire
died of a stroke in August, leaving her mother
(whom she more feared than loved) Maria Theresa
to co-rule with her older brother, the Emperor Joseph II.
The Seven Years War temporarily united the traditional
enemies France and Austria, and Maria Theresa planned to
marry one of her daughters to the heir to the French throne.
In 1767 a small pox epidemic killed several of her siblings and
this left the 12 year old princess as the only potential bride in
the family for the 14 year old Louis Augusta (who was also
her second cousin and heir to the French throne).
France at that time was the most powerful nation in
continental Europe. The young princess could hardly have
hoped for a more prestigious marriage.
The French King Louis XV pronounced her “delightful!” and
the Dauphin and Dauphine married
in the Palace of Versailles, 16 May 1770.
At her first official appearance in Paris, 8 June 1773
at Tulieries a tremendous crowd of 50 000 people
gathered to see the princess.
She was described as a “charming beauty with fair
skin, strawberry blonde hair and deep blue eyes.”
Although the princess
was initially very
popular, there were
elder members of the
court who deeply
resented having an
Austrian as heir to the
throne and made her
the target of
gossip and slander.
Her first enemy was Madam Du Barry,
the mistress of Louis XV.
Marie Antoinette soon came to be the leading example of
fashion in Versailles, outshining all the other women at court.
To make up for the lack of affection from her awkward
husband and the endless criticisms from her mother,
Marie Antoinette began to throw herself
wholeheartedly into shopping and partying.
The princess also became a major patron of the arts and
sponsored soup kitchens for the poor, innovating education
for orphans and even adopting some unfortunates.
Despite all this, her enemies circulated rumours
that she was extravagant, immoral
and plastered the walls with gold and diamonds!
The real reason for France’s increasing financial woes was
actually the enormous debt incurred by France during the
Seven Years War, and later the expense of assisting the
North American colonies in their war against France’s
traditional rival and enemy, Great Britain.
The French involvement in the
American War of Independence against Great Britain
created an enormous debt for France.
The Debt Crisis
This debt added to the financial crises which had started with
France’s involvement in the earlier ruinous Seven Years War
against Great Britain and Prussia.
The colossal debt added to the financial crises which
propelled the French state into bankruptcy.
As Louis ignored
his wife for the
first seven years
taunted for her
produce an heir
to the throne.
A visit from her brother, the Emperor Joseph I, was necessary
to persuade Louis XVI to become a devoted husband.
She suffered a number of miscarriages, yet gave birth to four
children, including the Dauphin who became Louis XVII.
When King Louis XV died of small pox at age 64 in 1775,
her husband was crowned King Louis XVI of France at the
Cathedral of Rheims. Marie Antoinette then became
Her Majesty, the Queen of France.
The Queen instituted
significant changes in
practised at court,
and abandoning the
heavy make-up and
and personally directed the
education of her children.
This was against all
previous traditions of
Despite her enemies depicting her as frivolous and heartless,
she had many meaningful friendships, was an
avid reader of historical novels, studied English,
and certainly never said the quote attributed to her:
“If they have no bread, let them eat cake!”
All historians dismiss that as revolutionary propaganda which
was attributed to the Queen because,
being an Austrian by nationality,
she made a convenient target for the revolutionaries.
France’s financial house of cards collapsed in 1789.
Capital fled the country and economic depression resulted.
Inspired by the defiance of the Assembly and stirred
up by revolutionary pamphlets and speeches,
mobs began to roam the streets of Paris attacking
and murdering royal officials.
Soldiers were ordered into the streets of Paris
as a show of strength.
The appearance of the soldiers inspired mobs to seize
whatever weapons they could find and to storm the old
fortress of the Bastille.
When the news
reached the palace
King Louis was
The Duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt responded:
“No, Sire, it is a Revolution!”
While many seemed optimistic for the future,
Marie Antoinette was filled with foreboding
and burned her private papers.
Nobles started to flee the court and the country,
many settling across the border.
On 6 October the royal family were escorted by the rioters to
Paris where they could be under the control of the
Louis XVI attempted to flee with his family from France
on the night of 20 June 1791.
Abolishing The Monarchy
When radicals discovered them, they blocked their path and
escorted the royal family back to Paris.
this event as
was now a
The mob stormed the king’s residence and massacred
the royal Swiss guards.
Marie Antoinette demonstrated tremendous courage
and steadfastness in the face of the violent mobs
which stormed the palace at Versailles
and kidnapped her and her family, imprisoning them and
and finally separating her husband and her son from her.
In December 1792, the Convention summoned the deposed
King, Louis Capet as he was now called.
Killing The King
After the summary trial of
the king and his execution,
21 January 1793 at the age of
37, Marie Antoinette was
plunged into deep mourning
and her health rapidly
deteriorated as she suffered
from tuberculosis and cancer
during her last months.
The Jacobins mobilised the mob to
invade the Convention and arrest the
31 leading Girondists.
The Reign Of Terror
This launched the Reign of Terror, which officially began
2 June 1793. Robespierre established the Committee of
A policy of mass public terror was
unleashed with Revolutionary Tribunals,
in which all “enemies of the Revolution”
were summarily tried.
to verdicts of guilt.
The trials were
abrupt with no
granted to the
The accused were quickly convicted
and carted off to the guillotine.
The Queen, 37 year old Mary Antoinette,
was dragged through the mockery of a trial
on 16 October 1793 and guillotined the very next day.
Killing of The Queen
She was tried by the Revolutionary Tribunal and remained
composed in the face of outrageous accusations and abuse.
She declared her clear conscience, her Christian faith
and her love for her children.
Within a day her hair was cut short and she was driven
through Paris in an open cart wearing a simple white dress.
at the age
of 37 she
Place de la
Her son, later
recognized as Louis XVII
died as a result of
inhumane treatment by
his revolutionary jailers.
In 1815 during the Restoration both her body and that of
Louis XVI were exhumed and received a decent Christian
burial in the Necropolis of French Royalty
at the Basilica of St. Denis.
Few women have had to endure such a total reversal of
fortunes, being born at the very apex of power and privilege
in Europe and dying at the hands
of such a brutal mob during the French Revolution.
a victim of
outside of her
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