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Marie Antoinette (Escape to Metz)

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Marie Antoinette baptised as Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna (2 November 1755- 10 July 1799) born an Archduchess of Austria, later became the wife of King Louis XVI. She was the fifteenth child of Maria Theresa and Francis I of the Holy Roman Empire. 

The people of France did not like her due to her Austrian heritage but continued to hate her and she suffered a downfall near the end of 1781. Many referred to her as Madame Deficit after the Diamond Necklace Affair which ruined her reputation and made her a scandalous figure head for the rest of her life, to the people of France. 

She married King Louis XVI in 1770 and was the Dauphine of France for four years until, in the year 1774, King Louis XV died and her husband was declared the new king. He was fashioned with the title King Louis XVI, King of France and Navarre. 

Marie Antoinette of Austria
Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette painted by Vigée-Lebrun c. 1779
Queen consort of France and Navarre
Tenure 10 May 1774 – 10 July 1799
Spouse Louis XVI of France
Marie Thérèse, Duchess of Angoulême

Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France

Louis XVII

Princess Sophie

Full name
Maria Antonia Josephina Johanna
House House of Habsburg-Lorraine

House of Bourbon

Father Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Empress Maria Theresa
Born 2 November 1755

Hofburg PalaceViennaAustria

Died 10 July 1799 (aged 43) 

21 July 1799 

Chapel Royal, Versailles

Signature [1]
Religion Roman Catholic

Early Life '

Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna was born in Hofberg Palace, Vienna, Austria. Her parents were Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Fancis I of the Holy Roman Empire. Her godparents were the King and Queen of Portugal. She was the fifthteenth child born to her parents. She was describe as "small, skinny, but a perfect little Archduchess" 

Marie Antoinette had a simple childhood and often looked as a 'carefree lifestyle.' Her parents let her play games with common children, and encouraged her to see how the rest of the world functioned. She had very little friends of royalty growing up in fact, most of them were just middle-class citizens of Vienna. 

She learned how to play music, which was popular in Hofberg and all throughout Austria. As she thrived in art and musical work, her talent in her education lacked. Her education was poor, and her handwriting was not as good as her other siblings. 

Marriage to Louis '

In the year 1767, smallpox hit the large family. Marie Antoinette suffered smallpox when she was a fairly young girl and was, as a result, immuned. Her sister, Empress Maria Josepha, suffered from smallpox, died, than passed it on to their mother, Maria Theresa who survived but had to live with the side effects for the rest of her life. Maria Elisabeth, another sister of Marie Antoinette, got the disease but luckly managed to survive. Her brother Charles Joseph, and sister Maria Johanna both died from the disease years before. 

Marie Antoinette, after several painful surgeries, got her crooked teeth fixed and was ready to be betrothed at the tender age of 14. Louis Auguste, heir to the throne of France, was also ready for marriage therefore the betrothal was announced to end the rivalry between Austria and France and to "unite the two nations as one." After a long time of working out several issues, France and Austria agreed on 200,000 crowns as the dowry. Finally Marie Antoinette was married by proxy in April 1770.

She was officially handed over to France in May 1770, on an island in the Rhine River near Kehl. She met the king of France and her soon-to-be-husband Dauphin Louis Auguste.

The wedding of the Dauphin and Dauphine of France took place on 16 May 1770, in the Palace of Versailles, the palace that the two would live in until The Woman's March on Versailles of 1789 which forced them out of the safety of the palace gates. 

The initial reaction to the marriage between Marie Antoinette and Louis-Auguste was decidedly mixed. On the one hand, the Dauphine herself was popular among the people. Her first official appearance in Paris on 8 June 1773 at the Tuileries was considered by many royal watchers a resounding success, with a reported 50,000 people crying out to see her. People were easily charmed by her personality and beauty. She had fair skin, straw-blond hair, and blue eyes.

The elderly citizens of France were not happy with the marriage because they're was originally much tension between France and Marie Antoinette's homeland of Austria. Many courtiers had actively promoted a marriage between the dauphin and various Saxon princesses instead. Behind her back, Mesdames called Marie Antoinette "l'Autrichienne", the "Austrian woman." (Later, on the eve of the Revolution, and as Marie Antoinette's unpopularity grew, l'Autrichienne was easily transformed into l'Autruchienne, a pun making use of the words autruche "ostrich" and chienne "bitch".) 

From the beginning, the Dauphine had to contend with constant letters from her mother, who wrote to her daughter regularly and who received secret reports from Mercy d'Argenteau on her daughter's behaviour. Marie Antoinette would write home in the early days saying that she missed her dear home. Though the letters were touching, in later years Marie Antoinette said she feared her mother more than she loved her.

On 27 April 1774, a week after the première of Gluck's opera, Iphigénie en Aulide, which had secured the Dauphine's position as a patron of the arts, Louis XV fell ill with smallpox. On 4 May, the dying king was pressured to send the Comtesse du Barry away from Versailles; on 10 May, at 3 pm, he died at the age of 64.

Although the Petit Trianon had been built for Louis XV's mistress, Madame de Pompadour, it became associated with Marie Antoinette's perceived extravagance. With the "English garden" Marie Antoinette and her court adopted the English dress of indienne, of percale or muslin.

An even bigger problem, however, was the debt incurred by France during the Seven Years' War, still unpaid. It was further exacerbated by Vergennes' prodding Louis XVI to get involved in Great Britain's war with its North American colonies, due to France's traditional rivalry with Great Britain.[53]

In the midst of preparations for sending help to France, and in the atmosphere of the first wave of libelles, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph came to call on his sister and brother-in-law on 18 April 1777, the subsequent six-week visit in Versailles a part of the attempt to figure out why their marriage had not been consummated.[54] It was due to Joseph's intervention that, on 30 August 1777, the marriage was officially consummated.[55] Eight months later, in April, it was suspected that the queen was finally pregnant with her first child. This was confirmed on 16 May 1778.

Motherhood '

Marie Antoinette's daughter, Marie-Thérèse Charlotte, given the honorific title at birth of Madame Royale, was finally born at Versailles, after a particularly difficult labour, on 19 December 1778, following an ordeal where the queen literally collapsed from suffocation and hemorrhaging.[59] The queen's bedroom was packed with courtiers watching the birth, and the doctor aiding her supposedly caused the excessive bleeding by accident. The windows had to be torn out to revive her. This incident has a variant: some sources purport that it was the Princesse de Lamballe who lost consciousness, and to prevent the queen from doing the same, the king himself – rather unusually – let in some air by tearing off the tapes that sealed the windows.[60] In any case, as a result of this harrowing experience, the queen and the king banned most courtiers from entering her bedchamber for subsequent labours.[61]

The birth of a daughter meant that pressure to have a male heir continued, and Marie Antoinette wrote about her worrisome health, which might have contributed to a miscarriage in July 1779. Antonia Fraser expresses doubts as to whether there was a pregnancy in 1779, ascribing the queen's belief that she had a miscarriage to Antoinette's irregular menstrual cycle. The memoirs of the queen's lady-in-waiting, Madame Campan, state explicitly that the miscarriage came about after the queen exerted herself too strenuously in closing a window in her carriage, felt that she had hurt herself, and lost the child eight days later. Campan adds that the king spent a morning consoling the queen at her bedside, and swore to secrecy all those who were aware of the accident.[63]

 Empress Maria Theresa began to fall ill with dropsy and an unnamed respiratory problem. She died on 29 November 1780, in Vienna, at the age of 63, and was mourned throughout Europe. Marie Antoinette was worried that the death of her mother would jeopardise the Franco-Austrian alliance (as well as, ultimately, herself), but Emperor Joseph reassured her through his own letters (as the empress had not stopped writing to Marie Antoinette until shortly before her death) that he had no intention of breaking the alliance.

Three months after the empress' death, it was rumoured that Marie Antoinette was pregnant again, which was confirmed in March 1781. Another royal visit from Joseph II in July, partially to reaffirm the Franco-Austrian alliance and also a means of seeing his sister again, was tainted with false rumours that Marie Antoinette was siphoning treasury money to him.

On 22 October 1781, the queen gave birth to Louis Joseph Xavier François, who bore the title Dauphin of France, as was customary for the eldest son of the King of France. The reaction to the birth of an heir was best summed up by the words of Louis XVI himself, as he wrote them down in his hunting journal: "Madame, you have fulfilled our wishes and those of France, you are the mother of Dauphin".[68] 

In June 1783, Marie Antoinette was pregnant again. That same month, Count Axel von Fersen returned from America, in order to secure a military appointment, and he was accepted into her private society. He left in September to become a captain of the bodyguard for his sovereign, Gustavus III, the king of Sweden, who was conducting a tour of Europe.[citation needed] Marie Antoinette suffered a miscarriage on the night of 1–2 November 1783, prompting more fears for her health.[76]

Despite the many things which Marie Antoinette did in her spare time, her primary concern became the health of the Dauphin, which was beginning to fail. By the time Fersen returned to Versailles in 1784, it was widely thought that the sickly Dauphin would not live to be an adult. As a consequence, it was rumored that the king and queen were attempting to have another child.[76] During this time, Beaumarchais' play The Marriage of Figaro premiered in Paris. After initially having been banned by the king due to its negative portrayal of the nobility, the play was ironically finally allowed to be publicly performed because of its overwhelming popularity at court, where secret readings of it had been given.[84]

Declining Popularity & Start of the Revolution '

In August 1784, the queen reported that she was pregnant again. With the future enlargement of her family in mind, she bought the Château de Saint-Cloud, a place she had always loved, from the duc d'Orléans, the father of the previously disgraced duc de Chartres. She intended to leave it as an inheritance to her younger children without stipulation, but later realized that her children would not appreciate it. This was a hugely unpopular acquisition, particularly with some factions of the nobility who already disliked her, but also with a growing percentage of the population who felt shocked that a French queen might own her own residence, independent of the king. Despite having the baron de Breteuil working on her behalf, the purchase did not help improve the public's image of the queen as frivolous. The château's expensive price, almost 6 million livres, plus the substantial extra cost of redecorating it, ensured that there was less money going towards repaying France's substantial debt.[85]

On 27 March 1785, Marie Antoinette gave birth to a second son, Louis Charles, who was created the duc de Normandie. Louis Charles was visibly stronger than the sickly Dauphin, and the new baby was affectionately nicknamed by the queen, chou d'amour.[86] The fact that this delivery occurred exactly nine months following Fersen's visit did not escape the attention of many, and though there is much doubt and historical speculation about the parentage of this child, public opinion towards her decreased noticeably.[87] These suspicions of illegitimacy, along with the continued publication of thelibelles, a never-ending cavalcade of court intrigues, the actions of Joseph II in the Kettle War, and her purchase of Saint-Cloud combined to turn popular opinion sharply against the queen, and the image of a licentious, spendthrift, empty-headed foreign queen was quickly taking root in the French psyche.[88]

A second daughter, Sophie Hélène Béatrice de France, was born on 9 July 1786, but died on 19 June 1787.

The continuing deterioration of the financial situation in France – despite the fact that cutbacks in the royal retinue had been made – ultimately forced the king, in collaboration with his current Minister of Finance, Calonne, to call the Assembly of Notables, after a hiatus of 160 years. The assembly was held to try to pass some of the reforms needed to alleviate the financial situation when the Parlements refused to cooperate. The first meeting of the assembly took place on 22 February 1787, at which Marie Antoinette was not present. Later, her absence resulted in her being accused of trying to undermine the purpose of the assembly .[89]

However, the Assembly was a failure with or without the queen, as it did not pass any reforms and instead fell into a pattern of defying the king, demanding other reforms and for the acquiescence of the Parlements. As a result, the king dismissed Calonne on 8 April 1787; Vergennes died on 13 February. The king, once more ignoring the queen's pro-Austrian candidate, appointed a childhood friend, the comte de Montmorin, to replace Vergennes as Foreign Minister.[90]

Revolution & Later Life '

The situation began to escalate violently in June as the National Assembly began to demand more rights, and Louis XVI began to push back with efforts to suppress the Third Estate. However, the king's ineffectiveness and the queen's unpopularity undermined the monarchy as an institution, and so these attempts failed. Then, on 11 July, Necker was dismissed. Paris was besieged by riots at the news, which culminated in the storming of the Bastille on 14 July.[101]

In the days and weeks that followed, many of the most conservative, reactionary royalists, including the comte d'Artois and the duchesse de Polignac, fled France for fear of assassination. Marie Antoinette, whose life was the most in danger, stayed behind in order to help the king promote stability, even as his power was gradually being taken away by the National Constituent Assembly, which was now ruling Paris and conscripting men to serve in the Garde Nationale.[102]

By the end of August, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (La Déclaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen) was adopted, which officially created the beginning of a constitutional monarchy in France.[103] Despite this, the king was still required to perform certain court ceremonies, even as the situation in Paris became worse due to a bread shortage in September. On 5 October, a mob from Paris descended upon Versailles and forced the royal family, along with the comte de Provence, his wife and Madame Elisabeth, to flee. During the early hours of 6 October, King Louis XVI his wife and children decided they would flee Versailles and escaped the mob out of a side gate. The couple left at 3:00 in the morning leaving the side gate open, as a result the mob found the gate and started going through the private gardens and the palace. At around 5 or 6 o'clock that morning the mob soon understood they were gone and left back to Paris. [104] Marie Antoinette and her children drove in one carriage and Louis was taken into another while roughly 20 other carriages carried 120 armed guards. It was not until the next morning that they arrived at the city of Metz. During this time no one not even the nobility knew the whereabouts of the royal family, and many people thought the mob literally killed the couple. The couple were not excepted into the fortress by the guard and the 120 armed guards convinced the guards at the fortress of Metz to open the gate. The guard's of Metz however, absolutely hated the royal family and would turn on them any chance they could; however, there was only 50-60 guards that worked at Metz. 

On 7 October news spread that the royals were at Metz. A large militia started marching from Paris to Metz but marched very slowly. That day the king fired all of the guards working at Metz, which made most of the guards loyal to the crown uneasy, and some willing to be anti-loyalist. 

It was not until 9 October that the militia of 300 men and women got to Metz. Marie Antoinette, King Louis and their children all left Metz a couple hours before the militia got to the fortress. In order to not rise suspicion they left one-third of their guards back at Metz. Most of the guards fleed and the ones that stayed got either killed or sent straight to prison without a proper trial. It was during the Siege of Metz that the royal family knew their situation was growing unbareable. 

Marie Antoinette and her family went to Lyon, France and arrived there four days after they left Metz. It was at Lyon that they were more protected and approximately two out of three people living in Lyon were still loyal to the king. King Louis XVI begged for help in letters that were sent to America, Britain, and the Holy Roman Empire. 

Emperor Joseph declared his support for the crown in mid-October 1789. Revolts started breaking out in neighboring towns of Lyon, but the monarch was still secure in their less luxurious Chateau. Marie Antoinette begged for troops, her brother the Emperor gave them the troops they needed but did not send them until November 1789. Emperor Joseph declared war on Rebel France on 13 November 1789. 

The first mission conducted was to get to Lyon to protect the royal family, but it was very hard to get to Lyon espically during the winter time. It was not until March 1790 that the Holy Roman Empire made it to Lyon. Rumors were circulating about the weakness of the great and powerful Empire. Many Anti-Loyalists thought they would capture the royals almost instantly. 

In April more troops arrived at Lyon and Lyon became the offical royal and military base of the French crown. 

Six months into the war, Emperor Joseph declared his support for preparing to invade the Rebel France capital of Paris. Maximilien Robespierre helped the militia heavily prepare for battle against one of the most famous Empire's still surviving in Europe. During this time, the royal family were having doubt about taking back Paris and were thinking about ending their fight. These thoughts of giving up forced the Empire to halt their invasion of Rebel France. This postponement gave the rebels much more time than they orginially thought they had to prepare for the invasion of Paris. 

The Rebels declared their independence and took charge of Normandy, Paris and Nantes on 4 August 1790. This did not mean however that the royal family was no longer in charge. The rebels declared their independence and called themselves the State of the Republic of France. 

King Louis XVI gave the orders on 6 August 1790 to invade Paris. Two days later, Maximilien Robespierre became the Governor of the State of the Republic of France, and was elected by members of the National Third Estate Assembly. The National Third Estate also agreed on the term limit of the office of Governor to a limit of 5 years and the Governor was given no right to declare a re-election unless no other candidate was willing to challenge him. The Governor also could resign but was only allowed to resign on the first week of August of any year in their term. 

The invasion occured on 14 August 1790 just days after the Governor of the State of Republic-France was declared to be Robespierre. Paris was evacuated two days before the invasion to avoid large lose of life. The Siege of Paris went on for seven months. Governor Robespierre, who managed headquarters at the city of Rouen, was given no other opition but to surrendor Paris in March of 1791. This was a huge blow to the revolution and caused many to grow angry at their Governor. Despite all of the preparation that was involved, it was no use and the lose of Paris tarnished the Governor's reputation for the rest of his life. 

The invasion of Rouen happened on 16 January 1792, almost a year after King Louis XVI took Paris back. By now the family moved into the Tullieries Palace in Paris. Versailles was, oddly, still under rebel control and was not safe for them to go back. The Siege of Rouen lasted a little less than the Siege of Paris. The main issue with the Siege was the fact that the Governor along with government officals were still in the city along with some citizens who refused to leave their homes. King Louis surrendored and retreated back to Paris with his troops failing to capture of Governor. 

A Siege of Versailles was conducted and started in early May of 1793 when Marie Antoinette decided she wanted to feel safe again and could only feel safe at Versailles. They negotiated a deal that they could have the palace while the rebels could still have the precious gardens that were now looking dead and dried out due to four years of neglect. 

Three months later the Second Siege of Rouen occured and this time government officals left along with Governor Robespierre. Robespierre left and fleed to the safety of Nantes. After taking Rouen the army of France and the Holy Roman Empire were starting to weaken. 

After a full year of recovering and paying off debt, the Holy Roman Empire went back into the war and on 21 March 1795 Robespierre was captured. He was then taken to Versailles and his trial started in June of that same year. Robespierre was executed on the palace's front yard on 21 June 1795 after a short three day long trial. 

Since no law was set for a replacement Governor in the event that the Governor died during his term, the National Third Estate Assembly abolished the Governmental rule and granted themselves the power. 

Assassination attempt & Death '

Marie Antoinette's health started failing shortly after her thirty-seven birthday. Issues occured when a bulge on her left breast was found in 1795 after the execution of the Governor of the State of Republic-France. Surgery was needed to cure it, although the royal family refused the surgery in fear that it would kill her. It wasn't until a year later that she approved of getting the surgery. The surgery was successful in removing the cancerous tumor forming in her breast, but Marie Antoinette was never the same after the unbareably painful procedure. 

During the Siege of Nantes, the last city of the Republic of France, rebels stormed the palace wanting Marie Antoinette and her husband dead. Marie Antoinette was found in her bed sleeping, when a man stabbed her with a small 3 inch blade that punctured her just below her left rib cage. She managed to escape, however the mob killed Madame Elisabeth, the sister of King Louis. The royal family was then taken to the Tullieries Palace. When they were at the Tullieries Palace they received word that the remaining members of the National Third Estate Assembly were all captured at Nantes. A trial started in July 1797 very close to the Tullieries Palace but the trials lasted until November until they were conducted at Lyon for another nine months. All of the National Third Estate Assembly members were found guilty of all charges against them and executed between 6-12 October, 1798. The State of the Republic-France was declared no longer an independent state on 14 October 1798. 

Another assassination attempt happened on 29 September 1797 when the royal family made a balcony appearence. A woman who was not loyal to the crown took a gun and pointed it at Marie Antoinette and her family. Louis, Marie, and their two children named Marie, 18 and Louis-Charles, 12 also were at the balcony. Two shots were fired before guards pinned her down and killed the unidentified woman straight away. The first shot fired missed but the second shot that was fired hit King Louis in the forearm. The bullet was quickly removed and he had a fast recovery. 

In June 1798, while trials on the members of the National Third Estate Assembly were on going, Marie Antoinette complained constantly about a large stabbing sensation in her stomach region most likely from ovarian cysts uterine cancer. She could no longer walk without an increasing amount of pain around February of 1799. 

It was annonced that on 10 of July 1799, Marie Antoinette died in her sleep after long months of a great deal of pain. King Louis along with their children never recovered from her death. She was given a proper funeral and was buried at Versailles. Shortly after her death, King Louis XVI declared Versailles, once again, the offical royal residence because he knew that is what Marie would have wanted. 

Sources '

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