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Did Marie Antoinette Deserve The Death Penalty or She Was Only An Poor Victim of The French Revolution?

Updated on November 27, 2014
Queen of France, Marie Antoinette
Queen of France, Marie Antoinette

As the youngest girl of the queen of Austria—Maria Theresa, Marie Antoinette was engaged to the prince of the France— Louis XVI who was the grandson of Louis XV in 1766 and married him in 1770, then in 1774, after the death of Louis XV, Marie Antoinette became the queen of the France.

After 20 years’ career as a queen who never paid any attention to policy but totally threw herself into the pleasure of enjoyment, Marie Antoinette was execute in 1793 after the outburst of the French Revolution. It is obvious that she is not a qualified queen, but did what she do deserved the death penalty sentenced by her people? Or she is just a poor victim of the epoch, a poor victim of the policy?

Child Marie Antoinette
Child Marie Antoinette

The Carefree Childhood

As the youngest girl of the queen of Austria— Maria Theresa, Marie Antoinette was born in Vienna Hofburg Palace in 1755. As a child, Marie was cute and naughty. She had an elegance manner and always showed her kindness when she treated people. But on the other hand, she was self-willed and capricious. Though she has immense talent in aesthetics and art, she barely accepted the true education. She never cherished her admirable learning environment and always spent her talent on how to escape from the boring curriculums. She was lack of essential historical knowledge and can’t write her article accurately. She made no progress in French for many years which she should master very well since she would be married to the prince of France very soon, but it seems all these problems never bothered her.

The Weeding Scene of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI
The Weeding Scene of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI

The Extravagant Wedding

In what kind of ostentation the wedding of two young royals was held is in vary opinions, but all agreed that it was a rare luxurious wedding. Two countries spent heavily on this wedding not only showing their delight for the union and the hope for the peace but also showing the strength of their countries. All the French royals went to greet the princess and only the true royals were qualified to attend the wedding.

The Queen of France

After a few days of struggling with smallpox, Louis XV dead in 1774. At the age of 18, Marie became the queen of France. As a young lady, how to answer the peeresses which are older than her, how to survive in luxurious Versailles, how to deal with the politic issues between France and Austria and how to use her queen’s power made the queen a long way on the road of study. But these seem no problems for the queen, because she was natural straight and too lazy to think. She only talked to people who she would like to. For the people she did not like, though they have noble status, she would not show any of her kindness. The first one also the last one sentence she said to Madame du Barry was “there are so many people in Versailles”. She never showed any interest in policy and one of her hobbies was to break the rules of royal.

All the power of the queen she used to satisfy her extravagant desires. Countless expensive gems and diamonds flew into her palace. The luxurious style of life was fashioned in noble circle because of her demonstration. She always invited the royals she was close to into her palace to participate her gambling partys and balls.


The Pleasure Life of The Queen
The Pleasure Life of The Queen

Once she had a whimsical idea, she would push her husband to realize it for her. Louis XVI, the king of France who was so cowardly had no ability to restrain his little queen. It was said that this poor king had problems in his sexual life with his wife in his early age which made the cowardly character of him. But whatever it is, the truth is that he satisfied every unreasonable demand of his wife and though he always tried to persuade the queen, it never worked.

Amazing money was spent by the queen in her pursuing of pleasure and the most costly one was the reconstruction of small Trianon which was the present from Louis XV to his mistress, the total cost was seven hundred and sixty-six thousand francs which was a large amount at that time in France.

In the same time she estranged the royals and intimate with young people who were keen on enjoyment and constantly obtained profiteering for her friends by her power of the queen. The money French Treasury paid for one of her friend named Mrs. Polly was up to 500000 francs a year.

The constantly lavish made French Treasury heavily in debt and the queen was called “The Deficit Queen” by the people.

The Turning Point-The Affair of Diamond Necklace

The affair happened when the queen was 29, after many years’ squander the queen lost her reputation gradually and exactly this fact made the happen of the affair became possible. A woman called Jeanne who was a sorehead ex-British princess deceived the Cardinal Ressa that the queen took a fancy to a diamond necklace which valued 1.6 million francs, but as the king did not approve it and she had not enough money so she hope that the Cardinal could be the intermediary and signed the installment for her. Here I want to introduce this poor man, before he served as the Cardinal he was The French ambassador to Austria and his extravagant life style offended the queen Maria Theresa so the old lady warned Marie in letters that she should not put the man in any important position. Though he begged the queen many times in many years, the queen never paid any attention to him. Mrs. Jeanne took advantage of Cardinal’s urgent aspiration to acquire the queen’s affection and pretended to be one of the best friends of queen. She and her complice forged the queen’s letters and deceived the Cardinal that the queen had forgave him already, she even found a whore to act the queen in an evening to dispel the Cardinal’s doubts. So when the Cardinal signed the contract of installment he didn’t have any doubt. But when the first date of payment came, the whole thing was exposed and the queen was so angry. At first the king wanted to solve the affair privately but the queen didn’t agree and the angry blinded her eyes and made her believe that the Cardinal was behind the whole thing. She forced the king to arrest the Cardinal barbarously and encouraged court to sentence a death on him. The Cardinal escaped the death sentence at last but he lost his position in court and the behavior of the queen made her a very bad reputation. Though the queen is innocent, but were it not for her extravagant reputation, how could the Cardinal believe she would buy a necklace by installment?

The Execution Scene of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI
The Execution Scene of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI

The Death of The Queen

In 1789, the French Revolution broke out, the king and the queen became the primary goal of the attack, the gentle king didn’t look very detestable, but because of the extravagance, people attribute the deficit of France to the queen and she was described as an evil witch and a shameless whore. The queen refused to lower her head to the revolutionaries and used her power to defend the sovereignty when many royals escaped. As the politician Mirabeau said, she was the only “man” in Versailles at that time.

On October 5th, 1789, Versailles was captured and the king and his family were escorted to Paris and confined in Tuileries Palace. After making a series of effort which all failed to turn the situation, Marie Antoinette and her husband were executed in the end and became the first queen and king who were executed in the history of France.

Did The Queen Deserve What Happened To Her Or She Was The Victim of Policy?

Throughout the whole life of Marie Antoinette, it seems that she was a lively and kindly woman and never deliberately hurt someone, and she was quite outstanding in art and aesthetics. Though she lived an extravagant life and cost a lot of money, isn't the sentence of death too serious for her? I think the biggest sorrow of Marie Antoinette is that she lived in the turning point of the epoch and as the queen of France she paid no attention to it. The rotten Absolute Monarchy was destined to be taken over by the democracy and as a queen at that time her ignorance of it caused her death. Though it was unfair for her, but this is her fate and this is her country’s fate, though I feel sorry for her, but the only thing I can do is to imagine the rococo life of her and learn a lesson from her life story.

Do you think that Marie Antoinette deserved the death penalty or she was just a victim of policy?

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      .T.YORK 6 months ago

      She did nothing out of character to her accepted station

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      Pierre Bastien 11 months ago

      She did not deserve the death penalty any more than the four Romanov Grand Duchesses.

    • Glenis Rix profile image

      GlenR 2 years ago from UK

      I don't think anyone deserved the guillotine but I can appreciate why the revolution happened.