Maria Antonia

Marie Antoinette, as she became known, was born on November 2nd 1755 and baptised Maria Antonia Josepha.

She was born an Archduchess of Austria and would become Dauphine of France from 1770 to 1774 and Queen of France and Navarre from 1774 to 1792.

She was the fifteenth child and last of the girls to be born to Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor.

Born in 1755 and died 1793.

She would be executed on October 16, 1793 at the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

She would eventually be buried at the Basilica of St Denis, Saint-Denis in Paris on January 21, 1815.

She was only 14 years old when she married the future Louis XVI.

To seal the newfound alliance between longtime enemies Austria and France that had been forged by the Seven Years’ War, the Austrian monarchs offered the hand of their youngest daughter to the heir apparent to the French throne, Dauphin Louis-Auguste.

On May 7, 1770, the 14-year-old royal bride was delivered to the French on an island in the middle of the Rhine River, and a grand procession escorted the archduchess to the Palace of Versailles.

The day after Marie Antoinette met the 15-year-old future king of France, the two were married in a lavish royal ceremony.

Politics literally made strange bedfellows in the case of Marie Antoinette and Louis-Auguste. Just hours after they first met and married, the young teenagers were escorted to the bridal chamber on their wedding night by the groom’s grandfather, King Louis XV.

The king is said to have blessed the marital bed, gave both a kiss then left the room for them to start producing a male heir.

It is well known that nothing happened that night between the new complete strangers, nor indeed for the next 7 years.

It would take seven years for the future king and queen to consummate their marriage. The dauphin suffered from a painful medical condition that rendered him impotent, and of course the gossip spread at speed throughout Europe.

Maria Theresa had suffered enough hearing the gossip and in 1777 dispatched her son Emperor Joseph II, to Versailles. It’s not known, surprisingly, what he said or done, however, he did comment that both had been ‘two complete blunderers’.. Inside a year Marie Antoinette bore the first of the couple’s four children.

Marie Antoinette in her early years in France was treated as an idol. When she would appear in Paris as a teenager, a crowd of 50,000 Parisians grew so uncontrollable that at least 30 people were trampled to death in the crush.

Her hair creations were famous, once having been made into a replicat of the warship La Belle Poule to commemorate its sinking of a British frigate. Léonard Autié became the royal hairdresser and one of Marie Antoinette’s confidants. He would build creations up to four feet tall with her hair.

While peasants starved in villages throughout France, Marie Antoinette commissioned the construction of the Petit Hameau, a utopian hamlet with lakes, gardens, cottages, watermills and a farmhouse on the grounds of Versailles.  

The queen and her ladies-in-waiting dressed up as peasants and pretended to be milkmaids and shepherdesses in their picturesque rural retreat.

Marie Antoinette’s extravagant spending on frivolities such as the Petit Hameau infuriated revolutionaries and earned her the moniker “Madame Deficit.”

When told that starving French peasants lacked any bread to eat, the queen is alleged to have callously declared, “Let them eat cake!” There is no evidence, however, that Marie Antoinette ever made such a comment.

Nine months after the execution of the former King Louis XVI, a Revolutionary Tribunal tried the former queen on trumped-up crimes against the French republic that included high treason, sexual promiscuity and incestuous relations with her son Louis-Charles, who was forced to testify that his mother had molested him. After a two-day show trial, an all-male jury found the former queen guilty on all charges and unanimously condemned her to death.

Following her execution, her body was placed in a coffin and dumped into a common grave behind the Church of the Madeline.

In 1815, after the Bourbon Restoration returned King Louis XVIII to the throne following the exile of Napoleon, he ordered the bodies of his older brother, Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette exhumed and given a proper burial alongside other French royals inside the Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis.


Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria

FULL NAME: Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna

BORN: November 2nd 1755

DIED:  October 16th 1793


Her Royal Highness Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria, Princess of Hungary and Bohemia.

Her Royal Highness The Dauphine of France, Archduchess of Austria, Princess of Hungary and Bohemia

Her Most Christian Majesty The Queen of France and Navarre

Her Most Christian Majesty The Queen of the French

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