Marie Antoinette, queen of France

BORN 2 Nov 1755, Wien: Hofburg - DIED 16 Oct 1793, Paris: Place de la Révolution
BIRTH NAME Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna
CAUSE OF DEATH executed by beheading by guillotine
GRAVE LOCATION Saint-Denis, Seine-Saint-Denis: Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis (in the center of the crypt)

Marie Antoinette was born as Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna. She was the youngest daughter of empress Maria Theresa of Austria and Roman Emperor Francis I. When she was fourteen years old she married Louis-Auguste, the heir the throne of France. On 10 May 1774 he became king Louis XVI and she became qyeen of France.

She wasn't popular in France at the court, but her status improved after the marriage was finally consummated in August 1777 and in the following years her her children were born. Among the people she was unpopular because of her suspected sympathies for Austria and other countries that were seen as enemies of France. The affair of the Diamond Necklace (1784-1785) made things worse. Her spending of huge amounts of money led to her nickname Madame Déficit during the French Revolution.

In 1789 the Royal Family was placed under house arrest at the Tuileries Palace in October 1789. A flight to Varennes failed in June 1791 and 13 August she was imprisoned in the Temple Prison. The monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792 and her husband was executed on 21 January 1793. After that she was called Widow Capet. Thomas Paine suggested that she sould be exiled to America, but she was transported to the Conciergerie on 1 August 1793 and her own trial started on 14 October 1793. On 16 October 1793 she was convicted of high treason and executed on the same day by guillotine, on the Place de la Révolution.

She was buried in an unmarked grave at the Madeleine cemetery at the rue d'Anjou. Her body and that of her husband were exhumed on 18 January 1815 and on 21 January 1815 they were reburied at the Basilica of Saint-Denis.

• Mother: Maria Theresia, Erzherzogin von Österreich

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2/11/1755An earthquake kills between 20,000 and 40,000 inhabitants of Lisbon. It was said that the earthquake was felt as far away as Scotland. Afterwards a fire broke out in Lisbon that was largely destroyed. At the same day the future queen Marie Antoineete was born in Austria. 
2/4/1766Large party in Vienna in honour of the marriage of Marie Antoinette. At the time Maria Antoinia, the future Marie Antoinette, was only eleven years old and would marry the future Louis XVI in 1770. 
16/4/1770Festive audience at the Hofburg because of the marriage of Marie Antoinette. It was kind of an initial ceremony, in which a French delegation formally asked for the hand of princess Maria Antonia in the name of Monsieur le Dauphin, the future king Louis XVI. 
14/5/1770Marie Antoinette meets the future Louis XVI at Compiègne. The woods of Compiègne were chosen as the meeting location. In later years Napoleon would also meet Marie Louise there. In 1918 the armastice was signed at Compiègne and the capitulation of 1940 was well. 
1/1/1772Marie Antoinette recognizes Marie du Barry. She had never spoken a word to the mistress of her stepfather Louis XV, but from all sides there was pressure on her to recognize Madame du Barry. This finally happened during the New Year's party. She approached Madame du Barry, spoke one sentence and immediately walked away afterwards. 
30/5/1777Joseph II says goodbye to Marie Antoinette in France. He had visited her and told her that she shouldn't behave in a frivolous way. He also commented on 'dubious friends'. He also made clear to Louis XVI that he fell short as a husband, since the marriage was still not consummated. 
30/8/1777Marie Antoinette writes to her mother that her marriage was thoroughly consummated. It was rumoured that Louis XVI had to undergo and operation before they finally could have sex. [Maria Theresia, Erzherzogin von Österreich]
27/4/1784Premiere of Beaumarchais' "Le Mariage de Figaro". It has been banned by Louis XVI but queen Marie-Antoinette liked it and in 1784 Louis XVI lifted the ban. [Beaumarchais, Pierre Augustin Caron de]
4/10/1784An Austrian ship enters de Schelde and is shot at. The austrian wanted to tests if the Dutchmen would put up resistance if an imperial ship would enter the river Schelde. They certainly did because they started shooting immediately. The Schelde remained closed for Austrian ships and the Dutchmen refused to pay a compensation to the Austrians. Thanks to the efforts of Marie Antoinette France quaranteed half of the compensation to avoid an European war. 
1/2/1785De Rohan hands over a diamond necklace to Jeanne Lamotte. It was his intention that she would hand it over to queen Marie Antoinette. 
15/8/1785Cardinal de Rohan is arrested. Three days later 'countess' Lamotte was arrested as well. Her husband managed to escape to England. The Lamottes had told De Rohan falsely that they were friendly with Marie Antoinette. They suggested that he would buy a diamond necklace that was refused by the queen because of its high price. He would give it to the queen through the Lamottes. After the Lamottes got hold of the necklace they sold it in England. The case became public after the necklace wasn't paid for in France. 
31/5/1786Jeanne de Lamotte is convicted for her part in the affair of the diamond necklace. She was sentenced to flogging, brands and life imprisonment. Her husband as sentenced in absence. Carinal de Rohan was acquitted. The scandal further damaged the reputation of queen Marie Antoinette. 
5/6/1787Jeanne de Lamotte escapes from prison. Together with another girl she escaped with help from the outside. She travelled through Luxembourg to London. There she published pornographic writings and an autobiography, "Vie de Jeanne de St.-Rémy de Valois". She claimed falsely that there had been lesbian relations between her and queen Marie Antoinette. 
10/8/1792The Tuileries Palace in Paris is attacked. The Royal family is arrested and members of the Swiss Guard of Louis XVI are killed 
13/8/1792The French royal family is locked up in the Temple prison in Paris 
29/9/1792Louis XVI is separated from his wife Marie Antoinette. He was locked up in a different part of the Temple prison. 
20/1/1793Last meeting between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Louis XVI was sentenced to death because of contact with the enemy and support for an invasion. He would die under the guillotine the next day. 
3/7/1793Marie Antoinette is separated from the Dauphin. The decision to separate them was taken on 1 July. 
2/8/1793Marie Antoinette is transferred to the Conciergerie. She had been imprisoned at the Temple, but she was transported to the Conciergerie in anticipation of her trial. The transfer took place at three o'clock in the night. She was only allowed to take her watch from Vienna, a handkerchief and a bit of perfume. At the Conciergerie general Custine was quickly put in another cell and she was locked up in his. Little is known about her little dog, that accompanied her and still lived at the Conciergerie in 1796. Her watch was taken from her four days after her arrival. 
12/10/1793Preliminary questioning of Marie Antoinette. Preliminay questioning preceeded the public treatment of a case in France. 
14/10/1793Start of the trial of Marie Antoinette. The process took place in a rook packed with people in Paris. Marie Antoinette was dressed in black. She was accused of high treason and also, falsely, of incestuous relations with the dauphin. Hébert had made the young dauphin sign a document. This was a stupid move, because Marie Antoinette spoke her famous words 'I make an appeal to every mother in this room'. Robespierre broke a plate in his anger because he thought this would save Marie Antoinette. It didn't. 
16/10/1793Marie Antoinette is executed in Paris. She was sentenced to death at 4.00 AM that morning. The prosecutor asked if she had anytrhing to add and she shaked no. At 7.00 AM the judges read her sentence to her in her cell. Her hands were bound behind her back and she was placed on a cart and driven to the scaffold. She ascended the stairs of the scaffold herself, was bound more extensively, laid down and she was guillotined around noon. 


The grave of Marie-Antoinette at the Basilique Saint-Denis, Paris.
Picture by Androom (20 Feb 2016)


The monument for Marie-Antoinette at the Basilique Saint-Denis, Paris.
Picture by Androom (20 Feb 2016)


• Belloc, Hilaire, Marie Antoinette, Het Spectrum, Utrecht
• Hearsey, John, Marie Antoinette, Sphere Books, London, 1974
• McGuigan, Dorothy Gies, Familie Habsburg, Molden Taschenbuch Verlag, 1976
Marie Antoinette - Wikipedia

Marie Henriëtte of Habsburg, Queen of Belgium

Published: 06 Dec 2020
Last update: 19 Apr 2022