Was she one of the significant catalysers behind the watershed French Revolution? The revolution that led to ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’ the French motto. It’s another matter whether the motto became just the entitlement of those who thought of themselves as the watchdogs of the so called enlightenment and civilization. The French monarchy is gone and has been replaced by the mammoth sized business houses like in most countries and that is yet another matter.
Perhaps the anecdote about the cake is correct. At the same time, it would be fair to take into account what she wrote to her mother Empress Maria Theresa of Austria “It is quite certain that in seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness. The King seems to understand this”. The quote was written soon after the bread shortages in France that led to riots which came to be known as the Flour War.
Was she viewing the world of peasants who lived in poverty, through rose tinted glasses? It would appear so. Historical facts say she was one of the most hated persons in France so how did she come to think that the peasants treated them well?
Even though the scandal surrounding her in what came to be known as the ‘affair of the diamond necklace’ was later proved to be unfair and further proven to have had no connection to her, the French people preferred to continue to believe she was involved. They just wanted to believe the worst of her.
Unpopular and hated she remained and The War of the First Coalition was her final undoing. Historians will argue whether France was attacked by other monarchies to save the monarchs and nobility of France or if they did attack France for their own benefit to capture parts of it, fact remains Marie Antoinette was convicted for treason for having invited the other monarchies to quell the revolution.
If Louis XVI had not been a weak king there is a good chance that Marie Antoinette would not have been much involved, most especially in foreign policy. Events being as they were historians believe she came to be involved not of her own choosing. Some historians are also of the opinion that Louis XVI was hampered sexually during the initial years of marriage on account of phimosis. Later documents have proved otherwise and that the King had an unusually large penis which impeded the sexuality between the King and the Queen.
Marie Antoinette prisoner in the Temple Tower, Attributed to Alexander Kucharsky – http://www.ladyreading.net/marieantoinette/index-en.html, Public Domain, Link
In any case the monarchy fell and more than 40,000 people not just comprising of the aristocracy and nobility were put to death by the guillotine. A method considered comprising of ‘kindness’ and invented by a doctor. Oh yes, there were much worse methods that were used before the invention of the guillotine.
So on October 16, 1793 came the end of Marie Antoinette.
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