Marie Antoinette Biography


Born: 2 November 1755
Died: 16 October 1793 (beheading)
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Best known as: Queen of France, 1775-93

Name at birth: Maria Antonia

Marie Antoinette was the Queen of France during the French Revolution. Resented by the French citizenry for her foreign birth and extravagant lifestyle, Marie has gone down in history as the arrogant monarch who, when told the peasants were starving because they had no bread, said "let them eat cake." These days most scholars dismiss the quote as phony revolutionary propaganda, but Marie was known to have been a wild spender as a young queen. The daughter of Francis I and Maria Theresa, Emperor and Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, Marie left Austria for France in 1770 to marry the prince of France. In 1774 the prince became King Louis XVI and Marie became queen. As revolution swept Paris in 1789, the king and queen tried to flee but failed. While the revolutionaries were trying to hash out a new system of government, Marie and Louis XVI were stuck as prisoners at the palace at Tuileries. Failing to get help from royal supporters in England, Prussia and Austria, they were arrested and charged with treason in 1792. Louis was beheaded on 21 January 1793 and Marie was beheaded months later, on 16 October 1793.

Extra credit: According to legend, Marie's last words were an apology to the executioner after accidentally stepping on his foot... Marie was played by Kirsten Dunst in the 2006 film Marie Antoinette, directed by Sofia Coppola.

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