What was the fault of Queen Marie Antoinette to the French people? Basically, because she was a foreigner, she wanted to live cheerfully and carefree, to have many beautiful outfits and ornaments. But she was born a princess and just could not live in another way. The queen’s last words were: “Forgive me, monsieur, I’m not on purpose.” She pronounced them, accidentally stepping on the foot of the executioner. Even on the scaffold, she remained a queen, retaining greatness, equanimity and tact…
A frisky child
Maria Antonia was the fifteenth child of the Austrian imperial couple Maria Theresa and Franz I of Lorraine. She was born on November 2, 1755 and received the baptismal names of Mary – in honor of the Blessed Virgin, Antonia – in honor of St. Anthony of Padua.
However, all of her numerous sisters, and those who died in infancy, and the living, as well as their mother, were named Maria. This name was in fact the visiting card of the imperial family of the Habsburgs.
The most beautiful among her sisters, Maria Antonia was also the friskiest and mischievous child. Despite the strict etiquette and harsh customs of the court, the Empress Maria-Theresia for a while was staring at the daughter’s reluctance to follow the educational program developed by the empress herself and incorporating lessons from history, spelling, mathematics, foreign languages and the basics of government.
Maria Antonia much more willingly spent time playing and playing games than reading and doing needlework. Even the lessons of dance and music did not particularly enthrall her. Contemporaries noted that at the age of twelve the princess could hardly write German, let alone other languages, read no books, avoided any serious conversations.
Her mentor, Abbot Vermont, however, noted that the intellect of Maria Antonia is quite high, but she does not want to develop it, confining herself to superficial knowledge. The free life for the princess ended when the imperial houses of Austria and France decided to strengthen the alliance between the states at the expense of the marriage of the heir to the French throne with the princess from the house of the Habsburgs.
“To win the love of an entire nation”
In 1769, Maria Theresa finally received an official proposal for the marriage of her youngest daughter with the French Dauphin, and from this moment the life of Maria Antonia changed dramatically.
Numerous teachers were employed, the task of which was to teach the princess in the shortest possible time the dances, the French language and etiquette – in short, everything that would help the young Maria Antonia to fulfill the duties of the future Queen of France.
The princess was no longer allowed to spend time in games and games, she did not have a minute of free time. From now on she slept in her mother’s room so that no accident or evil libel could interfere with the realization of grandiose plans – the princess had to be a model of purity and chastity.
And in April 1770 Maria Antonia left Vienna and went with an escort towards the French border. On the border itself was installed a large tent, the entrance to which was located on the land of Austria, the exit – already on French territory. Representatives of the noblest families of France were waiting for the princess in the tent.
At the entrance to the tent, the princess said goodbye to her Austrian companions. She was completely stripped, disguised in all French, took away even her favorite dog – that was the order. Nothing should have been in the new shape of the future Dauphin to remind of her former life, about the young princess Marie-Anthony of Habsburg-Lorraine.
A young dauphin, Maria-Antoinette, dressed in the latest French fashion came out of the tent. Full of hopes for a happy future.
“My dear mother, Tuesday was a holiday that I will never forget. We solemnly moved to Paris. As for honors, we received all the honors that can only be imagined, but they did not touch me the most.
What really impressed them was the poor people, who so zealously expressed their joy, despite the daring of their taxes … I cannot describe to you, my dear mother, the affection and joy that everyone showed to us. Leaving, we allowed people from the crowd to kiss our hands, which gave them great pleasure.
What happiness, that people of our rank can easily conquer the love of an entire nation. I appreciate this love and will never forget it. ”
(From the letter of Maria Antoinette to her mother, Empress Maria Theresa, dated June 14, 1770)
France of 1770
Dauphine of France, fifteen-year-old Louis, was not too attractive externally – fat and pimpled. But the character was good-natured and complaisant, did not participate in the rampant Versailles life, and even condemned it, loved physical labor and hunting, was interested in metalworking and mechanics.
Louis sincerely hoped that when his time came to enter the throne, he would be able to carry out a lot of useful reforms and help his people to get out of poverty. However, while on the throne was his grandfather, Louis XV, and in Versailles reigned the royal favorite of Madame Dubarry, who took the place of the former royal pass, the Marquise de Pompadour.
Both favorites were ladies extremely wasteful, as, indeed, most of the representatives of the nobility. Dresses and ornaments cost fabulous money, once an impressive treasury emptied with incredible speed.
The only way to somehow improve the financial situation was to increase taxes, which were already almost impossible for ordinary people. After all, only the lower classes paid taxes, the nobility and clergy were freed from them. Thus, the gap between the nobility and the people grew, the country simply did not have enough bread, the people’s anger increased every day.
At such a difficult time, Marie Antoinette arrived at the French court. The people, knowing about the character and aspirations of Dauphin Louis, met her with sincere joy – after all, the young couple could really help their people, sooner or later they took the royal throne.
Marie Antoinette, by nature kind and generous, but completely inexperienced in public affairs, did not even suspect about the conditions under which the common people of France live.
She, who grew up in the luxury of the Austrian court, was completely unaware that in the world there are hunger and poverty. Of course, she heard these words, but hardly correlated them with those people who greeted her so happily on the streets of Paris and waved their handkerchiefs and flowers.
Marie Antoinette was happy, ahead of her was waiting for a luxurious life full of joy, fun and love. She treated her good-natured good husband well, the reigning King Louis XV was quite supportive and friendly, so what else could she have for her?