Birthday: November 2, 1755
Died At Age: 37
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Also Known As: Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna
Born Country: Austria
Born in: The Hofburg, Vienna, Austria
Famous as: Queen of France
Quotes By Marie Antoinette
Spouse/Ex-: Louis XVI of France (m. 1770–1793)
father: Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
mother: Maria Theresa (m. 1736–1765)
siblings: Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria, Archduchess Maria Anna, Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria, Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria, Archduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela of Austria, Archduchess Maria Josepha of Austria, Archduke Charles Joseph of Austria, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este, Archduke Maximilian Franz of Austria, Duchess of Teschen, Duke of Breisgau, Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II, Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold II, Maria Carolina of Austria, Maria Christina
children: Dauphin of France, Louis Joseph, Louis XVII of France, Marie Thérèse of France, Princess Sophie Hélène Béatrice of France
Died on: October 16, 1793
place of death: Place de la Concorde, Paris, France
Cause of Death: Execution
City: Vienna, Austria
Who was Marie Antoinette?
Marie Antoinette was the queen of France and Navarre from 1774 to 1792. She is considered a major historic figure and is said to have been the biggest force in provoking the ‘French Revolution.’ Born as the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa, Marie was married to Louis-Auguste who ascended the throne as Louis XVI of France in 1774. Marie, who became the Dauphine of France upon her marriage, was conferred the title ‘Queen of France and Navarre’ when her husband became the king. When she was newly married into the royal household, the French people adored her for her beauty and charm. However, the public sentiment towards her began to change when she was suspected of harboring sympathy for France’s enemies and for her utter lack of concern for people’s welfare. The public outrage towards the queen increased when her ignorance led to the beginning of the ‘French Revolution’ in 1789. The French public started demanding the monarchy to be brought down. They also demanded a trial in Paris to be faced by the unpopular king and his wife. When the monarchy was overthrown, both the king and the queen were sentenced to death and executed at the guillotine.
Childhood & Early Life
Marie Antoinette was born Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna in Austria as the 15th child of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Maria Theresa.
As an 18th century aristocratic girl, she received training in dance and music. She was taught Italian, French, and German, the languages the imperial family was fluent in. She was also tutored in music and could play the harpsichord, spinet, and clavichord. She was a skilled dancer in her youth and was appreciated for her grace.
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‘The Seven Years’ War,’ which involved most of the great powers of Europe, ended in 1763, and the relations between Austria and France were fragile at the time. The Austrian Empress Maria Theresa proposed a matrimonial alliance between her daughter Marie Antoinette and Louis Auguste, the heir to the French throne, in order to improve the relations between the two nations.
Marie Antoinette got married to Auguste in a lavish wedding ceremony on 16 May 1770 in the presence of more than 5,000 guests. Both the bride and the groom were just teenagers at the time of their wedding. Though it was customary for the royal couples to consummate their marriage on the wedding night, the couple did not consummate their wedding for the next seven years.
King Louis XV passed away in 1774 and Louis Auguste succeeded him to the French throne as Louis XVI. The king and the queen had a difficult relationship as they had many differences. In order to distract herself from her troublesome marriage, the queen indulged in partying and gambling.
Due to marital discord, she had several affairs for which she was scorned upon. She was also a lavish spender and indulged in mindless spending even when France was going through a period of financial turmoil.
The French public, which once adored her, started displaying its hatred towards her. She was nicknamed ‘Madame Deficit.’ Pamphlets that accused the queen of adultery, ignorance, and extravagance were printed and circulated.
An incident in 1785 tarnished her image further. A thief disguised as the queen obtained an expensive diamond necklace and smuggled it to London. Although the queen was innocent, the public was convinced that she had committed the theft.
The worsening living conditions of the common people in France convinced them that the monarchy was responsible for their problems. Revolts were held throughout the country, demanding the monarchy to be brought down.
1789 marked the beginning of the ‘French Revolution.’ Public emotions ran high as thousands demanded a trial to be held for the king and queen in Paris. The incompetent king was seized with terror, while the queen made futile attempts to save the monarchy.
The French monarchy was abolished by the ‘National Convention’ in 1792, and the royal couple was arrested. Louis was tried by the ‘Convention’ which found him guilty and sentenced him to death. He was executed at the guillotine on 21 January 1793.
Marie Antoinette was also tried for several charges, including theft and treason. She was also wrongly accused of sexually abusing her own son. She too was sentenced to death and executed at the guillotine on 16 October 1793.
Personal Life & Legacy
She was married to Louis Auguste, the heir to the French throne, in 1770 when she was just 14 years old. The marriage was not a happy one. It was rumored that she had many extra-marital affairs because of her unsatisfactory married life. She had four children—their parentage was a topic of debate.
After the fall of the monarchy in France, she was tried for several charges and found guilty. She was sentenced to death and beheaded on 16 October 1793 when she was 37 years old.
Marie Antoinette was the woman who played the biggest role in instigating the ‘French Revolution.’ She was the last queen of France. Though she was initially liked by her subjects, she soon became the least-liked queen because of her lavish spending. It is said that she once infamously asked the people to eat cake while being informed about the shortage of bread in France.