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Queen Marie-Antoinette murdered 220 years ago

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  • Queen Marie-Antoinette murdered 220 years ago

    Queen Marie-Antoinette of France was born on 2nd November 1755 and murdered on 16th October 1793.

    Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793/1774-1792) with her children, painted in 1787 by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun.
    King Louis XVI was tried and executed in January 1793. Queen Marie-Antoinette's eight-year-old-son was taken from her and brain-washed until he accused her of sexually abusing him. He later died of hunger, illness and neglect. The Queen had several opportunities to escape alone but refused to do so without her family.

    Marie-Antoinette before the Revolutionary Tribunal.
    She was tried by the Revolutionary Tribunal on 14th October 1793. The outcome of the trial had already been decided by the Committee of Public Safety and she was declared guilty of treason in the early morning of 16th October, after two days of proceedings. Back in her cell, she composed a letter to her sister-in-law Madame Élisabeth, affirming her clear conscience, her Catholic faith and her feelings for her children.

    The Queen on her way to the execution.
    On 16th October 1793 Henri Sanson, the executioner, arrived at her cell to cut her hair and prepare her for execution. She left through the doors of the Concièrgerie for the last time. Unlike her husband who was driven in a private coach to la Place de la Concorde, she was seated facing the rear of a common wagon, hands tied behind her, during the long ride through the streets of Paris. Marie-Antoinette was beheaded by the guillotine. The famous royal head once renowned for beauty and splendour, now the white haired head of “Widow Capet”, as the bloodthirsty revolutionaries called her, was then shown by the executioner to the cheers of the Paris multitude assembled.

    Queen Marie-Antoinette's fare well.
    Only for the records: Contrary to legend, Queen Marie-Antoinette never told the hungry peasants to eat cake. She certainly never wore Manolos, as Kirsten Dunst did when she played the Queen of France in Sofia Coppola’s frothy film.

    The revolution exposed in her unsuspected depths of fortitude, courage and loyalty. By contrast, the Jacobin “democrats” and mobs who took over in 1793, acting in the name of common humanity and “the rights of Man”, demonstrated little but pettiness, bad faith and viciousness.

    The reign of terror ("La Terreur" was the official policy of the revolutionaries) did not happen under Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette - it was a republican practise.

    French Royalists commemorate the murder of Queen Marie-Antoinette on the Place de la Concorde (in 1793: Place de la Révolution), where the guillotine stood.