Marie Antonia Josepha Joanna, better known as Marie Antoinette, was born on November 2, 1755 in Vienna, Austria.
She was born as the 15th child of the empress of Austria, Maria Theresa, and the Holy Roman Emperor, Francis I. As a child, she grew up carefree. She received the kind of education of a typical 18th century aristocratic girl, and all of her attention was mainly on religious and moral principles. Establishing alliances through matrimonial connections was a common practice the European royal families performed at the time.
Louis dauphin de France, the son of French monarch Louis XV, passed away. His 11-year-old grandson, Louis-Auguste, was heir to the French throne, and within only a few months, he and Marie were pledged to join hands in marriage. In the year of 1768, Louis XV sent a tutor to Austria just to instruct his grandson’s future wife, which was Marie. The tutor came in conclusion that Marie was “more intelligent than generally supposed” but is “lazy, frivolous, and hard to teach.” Marie was only of the age of 14 years, and she was a beautiful young lady with ash-blonde hair and gray-blue eyes. She soon set out for France in the month of May in 1770 to be married. She was escorted by 117 footmen, 57 carriages, and 376 horses. The young couple married each other on the 16th of May in the year of 1770.
Marie did not adapt well to her newly-wedded life. She was obviously not ready and her letters that she sent home clearly showed her homesickness. She was also not extremely fond of some of the rituals that she had to partake in as being a lady of the French royal family.Louis XV soon died in the year of 1774, which then made Louis-Auguste the king of France, which also made Marie the queen of France at the age of 19 years. It was obvious that they were both two different people with different personalities.
He was more of an introvert, who kept to himself. He was a shy guy who rarely spoke and had a hard time making up his mind, but he enjoyed reading and metalwork. Marie was an extremely outgoing person, confident, and loved to socialize. She enjoyed partying, extravagant fashions, and gambling. But when word reached her mother, Maria, that Louis XV and Marie had not yet consummated their marriage, she sent Marie’s older brother, Joseph II, to act as a form of marriage counselor. Whatever actions he performed, they worked, and a year later, Marie birthed a daughter by the name of Marie Therese Charlotte. Marie then started to spend an abundant amount of time at her private castle on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles with the absence of the king in 1780. Rumors started to spread like wildfire that she was in a relationship with someone other than the king.
With the French government starting to veer into financial problems and grain prices being raised, Marie’s extravagant lifestyle that she lived became a popular subject which brought about the anger in the people. Many pamphlets accused her of adultery and being ignorant, and she also received the nickname “Madame Deficit.” 900 French workers and peasants stormed the Bastille prison to get a hold of arms and ammunition on July 14, 1789, which marked the start of the French Revolution. That same year, on October 6, a large crowd of about 10,000 people crowded outside the Palace of Versailles and ordered that the king and queen be brought to Paris.
While at the Tuileries Palace in Paris, Louis XVI acted as if he were almost paralyzed, so Marie stepped into his place immediately and met with advisers and administrators. She also sent out critical letters to other European rulers, hoping that if she begged, they will help save France’s monarchy. King Louis XVI was placed on trial and convicted of treason and was sentenced to death in January of 1793. He was taken to the guillotine and executed there on January 21, 1793. That same year in the month of October, Marie was put on trial for treason and theft and also falsely accused of sexual abuse against her own son. She was then found guilty after her two-day trial and was sent to the guillotine and was executed on October 16, 1793.
Marie Antoinette was the last queen of France and is now well known for the story of when she heard that the people had no bread to eat, she simply replied with, “Let them eat cake.”