The Life of Marie Antoinette
by Erin Gonce

         Marie Antoinette was born on November 2, 1755. Her parents were the Empress Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I. In 1770, at the age of fifteen, the Austrian Princess Marie was married to the Dauphin Louis, the heir to the French throne. After his father death he would become Louis XVI of France, and Marie Antoinette would become the Queen. Sadly, she isnít remembered as a great queen or ruler, but rather because of the way her husband and she met their deaths on the guillotine when the French revolution began.

Louis XVI, Marieís husband

        There isnít really much that can be said about her life between the time she was born until she married Louis. She lived a pretty comfortable life, which isnít surprising considering who her parents were. Unfortunately, she didnít receive much training to prepare her to become a queen during her childhood. Her marriage to the heir of French throne was actually intended to form a dynastic union between the French royal family, the Bourbons, and that of her parentís family, the Habsburgs of Austria. Four years after their marriage, Louis inherited his position as King and thus she was put on the throne. Later, in the years following this momentous event, Marie and her husband had a daughter and two sons. The happiness that the couple must have felt, would soon, however, be destroyed.

Their palace: Versailles

        Marie Antoinette was greatly disliked by the French due to the fact that she was indeed a non-native to the French area. She also made herself even more "unpopular", you could say, by the way she devoted most of her interests in Austrian customs and practices. Another big thing that deteriorated the peoples like of her was her supposed involvement in the "Affair of the Diamond Necklace". This scandal, which took place in 1785, involved a necklace that was suppose to be given to the Queen, but it never showed up. This event may have been the start of the peoples tarnished images of Marie, but nothing was as bad as her idea of running away.

Marie Antoinette with her children

        Once the Revolution in 1789 had begun, Marie Antoinette sided with the close-minded people at court who were against compromising with the more modest revolutionaries and started asking help from her brother, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II. Marie being a member of the Hapsburg family of Austria, made plans for the royal family to escape to the Austrian Netherlands. Louis could then work with other people trying to crush the Revolution, but be safely away from where it was happening. On June 20, 1791, Marie and her family fled out of the palace. As they were heading toward the border, some of the local townspeople noticed that the royal family was leaving, and thus some guards arrested them. They were forced to return to Paris and no one was happy to see them.

The guillotine and the way Marie was killed

        This attempt to escape cost Marie and Louis their subjectís support. Many of the people in their court now suspected the queen and king of trying to destroy the new improvements made in the revolution. The people of Paris had been calling for changes in government. In 1792, the monarchy was abolished. The King was beheaded on January 21, 1793. Later that year (October 16, 1793), after being separated from the rest of her family, Marie was sentenced to death for treason and was guillotined in Paris.
        Iím usually a very opinionated person, but when it comes to the life of Marie Antoinette, Iím really at a loss of words. She definitely wasnít innocent, but I donít know if anyone really deserves the guillotine. Her life seems to have been a very fulfilling one, and she was a powerful women, though quite "air headed" about what her people needed. I liked learning about her life and hope that I can be as strong a women as she was, but smarter and without the "illegal stuff", that is.


Encarta 98 (CD-ROM) Microsoft, Inc. 1998

"Marie Antoinette" (website) @, February 14, 2000.

"Marie Antoinette" (website) @

"Louis XVI" (website) @ Student/Humanites/hum9-Renata/Rikki.htm.

"The Affair of the Diamond Necklace" (website) @


Picture #1 - "Marie Antoinette" from:

Picture #2 - "Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette" from: Student/Humanites/hum9-Renata/Rikki.htm.

Picture #3 - "Marie Antoinette" from: versailles.

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Picture #5 - "Marie Antoinette" from: