This Day in History: Marie Antoinette’s Execution

History

| LAST UPDATE 10/16/2022

By Amie Alfaro
marie antoinette guillotine execution
powerofforever via Getty Images

Today in history marks an unforgettable day: the moment the French monarch, Marie Antoinette, was executed by her own people. On October 16th, 1793, the royal was taken from her cell in the Conciergerie and transported to the Place de la Révolution in Paris, where she spent her final moments before being executed by a guillotine. Here's a look at her life and the moments that led to this fateful ending.

Marie Antoinette was born Maria Antonia in Vienna, Austria, in 1755. She was the daughter of Empress Maria, which made her a princess. When she was only 11 years old, the young girl was betrothed to Louis Auguste, heir to the throne. From that point, she was taught everything she would need to know to fit in with French society and was trained on how to behave in the French court. After years of education, she was considered ready. So at the age of 14, Marie was wed to Louis. Only 4 years later, in 1774, the couple was crowned king and queen. It seemed to take no time for Marie to get into the spirit of the French court...

Marie Antoinette Queen Portrait
After Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun via Wikimedia Commons
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She was nicknamed Madame Déficit due to her love for indulgences -gambling, partying, and buying anything she could. Marie was also known for her frivolity and recklessness. The impoverished and angry people were upset by the court's spending and lavish lifestyles while they suffered. Eventually, the French people's patience wore thin, and their anger grew, and they revolted in the summer of 1789. While the French Revolution was happening around them, Marie was confined to the Tuileries Palace. In June 1791, Marie and her family attempted to escape to the Netherlands, which was under Austria's control. However, they were caught and afterward arrested. The people declared France a republic, ending the monarchy, and sentenced King Louis XVI to death in January 1793. A few months later, Marie Antoinette was put on trial. It was not until October 16th that she would be charged guilty of high treason, depletion of the national treasury, and conspiracy against the state's security.

As we know now, Marie Antoinette was eventually brought to the guillotine. When she was walking to her death, she accidentally stepped on the executioner's foot and uttered her last words to him, "Pardon me, sir, I didn't mean to." Then, she was executed on this day 229 years ago. Though her mark in history seems to live on forever... 

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