A tribute to Queen Marie Antoinette of France. A Great Queen murdered by the ungrateful French people.

Contents.

Queen Marie Antoinette. Tragic victim of an ungrateful people.

Marie Antoinette. Beauty and Goodness in La Conciergerie.

To the eternal shame of the Nation of The French.

Some beauty as an antidote to the evil.

A life in pictures. Marie Antoinette.

Hall of Mirrors Versailles.
Hall of Mirrors Versailles.
Queen Marie Antoinette and her children.
Queen Marie Antoinette and her children.
The Queen in prison.
The Queen in prison.
The final act.
The final act.

Queen Marie Antoinette. Tragic victim of an ungrateful people.

"It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the Queen of France, then the Dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to move in, glittering like the morning star full of life and splendour and joy."

The above quotation is taken from "On the death of Marie Antoinette" by Edmund Burke. Can you imagine the splendid scene that is unfolded? The young beautiful princess presiding at a ceremony in the magnificent room, often described as the most beautiful room in the world. She is surrounded by adoring courtiers, and is the happily married wife of a husband who worships her, and soon to be the mother of little children, who are destined to be the future glory of their country. Who could not be happier than the beautiful centrepiece of all that pageantry and splendour?

When Marie Antoinette paid her first visit to Paris, as the new young wife of the heir to the ancient throne of France, hundreds of thousands of people crowded the streets to cheer her. The whole of the country seemed to be in love with her. Later as Queen she showed a great devotion to her adopted country. (Marie Antoinette was Austrian by birth). Her charitable works were endless, and she went out of her way to instil in her children, the feeling for the less fortunate in society that she felt herself. One year at Christmas she ordered the most expensive Childs toys imaginable to be brought to the palace. After the royal children had admired them, she told them about all the children that had not enough to eat at Christmas, so instead of spending all the money on toys, the generous family made sure that blankets and food were sent to the poor in the city. The citizens of Paris were so grateful, that they used to erect special statues of her made of snow, with inscriptions praising her kindness. The Queen didn’t really like that, because she believed that charity that was shouted about wasn’t real charity, so most of the good that she did was done privately.

Sadly, despite all these good things about the tragic queen of France, beneath the painted ceilings of the Hall of Mirrors there was much jealousy of, and animosity towards, the wife of King Louis XVI. The disgraceful slanders that ate away at the popularity, that she once enjoyed, did not start with the people of France, but they were spread by high ranking members of the French nobility. Some of the worst of them were started by members of the royal family. Chief amongst these offenders was the cousin of the king, The Duke of Orleans.

The upshot of all these false rumours was that in October 1789, the mirrored hall was invaded by a mob seeking to tear their queen to pieces, and it was only by a miracle that she, and her children, managed to escape. This is what can happen to institutions, and to people, when lies are allowed to get out of control. Perhaps if Marie Antoinette had shown less regard for the poor people, and spent some of her money on counter propaganda, instead of feeding the starving, there would have been no French Revolution. The good die young.


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To the eternal shame of the Nation of The French.

Some beauty as an antidote to the evil.

Marie Antoinette. Beauty and Goodness in La Conciergerie

"Oh, what a revolution! and what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her, in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honour, and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult."

The second paragraph from the immortal words of Edmund Burke makes a good introduction to a vision of the last room occupied in this world by Queen Marie Antoinette. La Conciergerie was at one time a palace in Paris. But in 1792 it was being used as a prison to hold the victims of the reign of terror. The most prominent of the "guests of the people" was the woman whose grace and beauty used to dazzle the halls of the great palace of Louis XIV at Versailles. The lady that had once denied her children Christmas presents in order to feed the poor, was now imprisoned by the self-appointed guardians of those same poor, and the children, that had wept with her over the fate of those less fortunate than themselves, had been brutally torn from her arms. Indeed during her trial, the prosecutors, in their efforts to blacken her name as much as possible, had accused her of sexually molesting her son, the infant Louis XVII. They bullied the child into giving false evidence against his own mother. Their efforts spectacularly backfired, when even the hardened spectators were revolted at this slur on a mother's love.

The queen that had once been surrounded by admiring courtiers in the Hall of Mirrors was now alone in a damp cell, with nothing in her future to look forward to, but a journey to the guillotine. The hundreds of thousands that had been in love with her, in the far off day when she had first visited them in their city on The Seine, would now spit at her, and boo, when she was dragged through the streets to be murdered as one of the many victims that lose their lives when a people go mad.

I’m not sure if the people of France benefited from their revolution. It is certain that the world, at least in the short term, did not. The six and a half million that died in the wars that immediately followed on from that cataclysm testify to that. But shouldn’t the French, instead of parading in the streets on July 14th to commemorate the start of the revolution, rather stay in their houses and do penance for the horrible treatment meted out to a woman who strived all her life to gain their love, but was rewarded, by them, with hatred and death.


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